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15 Dishes That Prove Octopus Is So Hot Right Now

Octopus is the new pork belly.

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As recently as five years ago, many Angelenos would have considered octopus far too exotic an ingredient to be included in their restaurant order. In a surprising seafood switch up, the leggy cephalopod has recently become the rightful star of a slew of restaurants across Los Angeles.

When cooked properly, octopus can have an unbelievably supple texture that puts lobster to shame, and has historically been a vehicle for cultures around the world to highlight the flavors and textures that characterize their cuisine. From classic Mediterranean preparations, to being ground into balls and bolognese, or even left alive and squirming on a plate, here are some of the best octopus dishes in the city, in no particular order.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Saint Martha

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This Koreatown gem serves one of the best examples of octopus in Los Angeles. Extraordinarily tender tentacles of octopus sit atop Koshihikari rice, and are enhanced by lardo and espelette. The salinity of the fat and rice make the dish reminiscent of the ocean, while the Pollock-esque plating illustrates the artistry of Chef Nick Erven. [Photo: Saint Martha]

Fishing with Dynamite

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Fishing with Dynamite, chef David LeFevre’s seafood-centric branch of his expanding empire of Manhattan Beach restaurants offers a complex octopus dish with Mediterranean flair. The supple octopus has a slight char, and comes with cranberry beans, date-tomato ragu, preserved lemon, and olive tapenade. [Photo: Rick Poon]

Wassada

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Wassada specializes in Korean sashimi service, similar in concept to omakase at Japanese restaurants, but with a seemingly never-ending overhaul of Korean dishes. A staple of this multi-course feast is san nakji, or live octopus. Adventurous diners will plunk the wiggling pieces of octopus into salted sesame oil then will chew vigorously to keep the octopus from suctioning on to tongues.

Hamasaku

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Hamasaku’s extensive selection of small plates includes the newest addition of grilled sakura ni octopus. The complex dish that comes by way of Executive Chef Wonny Lee and Executive Sushi Chef Yoya Takahashi marries ankimo, Nitsume, yuzu zest, pickled wasabi, and sansho pepper, resulting in sophisticated flavor profile that combines sweet, citrusy, and savory notes.

Ten Raku

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Ten Raku offers a variety of popular Korean octopus dishes. Their nakji bokum is a sort of spicy octopus stir fry that can be mixed with pork belly and is cooked table side. Wash it down with a few bottles of soju, and you’re in for one hell of a night.

Mitsuru Cafe

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It is worth waiting in line for a skewer of takoyaki, or octopus balls, at this Little Tokyo temple of Japanese street food. Perfect as a quick snack as you wait for a table at the neighboring ramen shops, or as a meal completed by their famous red bean cakes that are prepared fresh through the shop’s window.

One of the more innovative preparations of octopus comes by way of the longtime Los Angeles staple Sotto. Sous vide octopus is ground to make a unique Bolognese laced with anchovy that is accompanied by toothsome pasta, a generous portion of burrata, and house-made breadcrumbs for a dish with intense seafood flavor and perfect textural balance.

Papa Cristo's Catering & Greek Taverna

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This iconic Greek market and restaurant serves octopodakia, or grilled baby octopus. The traditional dish is drizzled with lemon, olive oil, and oregano, and exemplifies simple Mediterranean cooking.

Bestia's grilled octopus is mixed with calamari, and is tender, slightly smoky, and comes with arugula, mushrooms, fennel, aged balsamic, and chili lemon vinaigrette. Seems Chef Ori Menache can just do no wrong.

RivaBella

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Chef Luigi Fineo’s take on a classic Sicilian dish comes by way of Rivabella’s popular octopus salad, served with briney taggiasca olives, potato, and salsa verde.

fundamental LA

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Eater LA forum participants have named this Westwood gem as one of the most underrated restaurants in LA. The Mallorcan octopus is glazed with barbecue sauce and plated with persimmon and fennel for one of the most visually appealing, seasonal dishes of the moment.

Petty Cash Taqueria

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Petty Cash puts their spin on the cephalopod by wrapping charred tentacles in a toothsome tortilla with chile de arbol, peanuts, jack cheese, and avocado for a taco that is spicy and meaty with a nice cheesy crust. [Photo: Ryan Tanaka]

Fig & Olive

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Fig & Olive’s Mediterranean spin on the cephalopod comes in the visually stunning Octopus a la Gallega. The carpaccio dish is comprised of thinly sliced braised octopus with marinated bell pepper, fingerling potato, black olive, basil, arugula, pimenton lemon dressing, and Cobrancosa olive oil.

Tanzy, Westwood’s California Italian restaurant by Executive Chef Bryan Podgorski, offers grilled Spanish octopus with warm potato salad, celery branch, lemon, and parsley emulsion.

Pistola

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The ritzy redesign of the old AOC space by Vic Casanova and Seth Glassman offers roasted octopus that sits atop braised escarole, a rich white bean passato, and lemon agrumato.

Saint Martha

This Koreatown gem serves one of the best examples of octopus in Los Angeles. Extraordinarily tender tentacles of octopus sit atop Koshihikari rice, and are enhanced by lardo and espelette. The salinity of the fat and rice make the dish reminiscent of the ocean, while the Pollock-esque plating illustrates the artistry of Chef Nick Erven. [Photo: Saint Martha]

Fishing with Dynamite

Fishing with Dynamite, chef David LeFevre’s seafood-centric branch of his expanding empire of Manhattan Beach restaurants offers a complex octopus dish with Mediterranean flair. The supple octopus has a slight char, and comes with cranberry beans, date-tomato ragu, preserved lemon, and olive tapenade. [Photo: Rick Poon]

Wassada

Wassada specializes in Korean sashimi service, similar in concept to omakase at Japanese restaurants, but with a seemingly never-ending overhaul of Korean dishes. A staple of this multi-course feast is san nakji, or live octopus. Adventurous diners will plunk the wiggling pieces of octopus into salted sesame oil then will chew vigorously to keep the octopus from suctioning on to tongues.

Hamasaku

Hamasaku’s extensive selection of small plates includes the newest addition of grilled sakura ni octopus. The complex dish that comes by way of Executive Chef Wonny Lee and Executive Sushi Chef Yoya Takahashi marries ankimo, Nitsume, yuzu zest, pickled wasabi, and sansho pepper, resulting in sophisticated flavor profile that combines sweet, citrusy, and savory notes.

Ten Raku

Ten Raku offers a variety of popular Korean octopus dishes. Their nakji bokum is a sort of spicy octopus stir fry that can be mixed with pork belly and is cooked table side. Wash it down with a few bottles of soju, and you’re in for one hell of a night.

Mitsuru Cafe

It is worth waiting in line for a skewer of takoyaki, or octopus balls, at this Little Tokyo temple of Japanese street food. Perfect as a quick snack as you wait for a table at the neighboring ramen shops, or as a meal completed by their famous red bean cakes that are prepared fresh through the shop’s window.

Sotto

One of the more innovative preparations of octopus comes by way of the longtime Los Angeles staple Sotto. Sous vide octopus is ground to make a unique Bolognese laced with anchovy that is accompanied by toothsome pasta, a generous portion of burrata, and house-made breadcrumbs for a dish with intense seafood flavor and perfect textural balance.

Papa Cristo's Catering & Greek Taverna

This iconic Greek market and restaurant serves octopodakia, or grilled baby octopus. The traditional dish is drizzled with lemon, olive oil, and oregano, and exemplifies simple Mediterranean cooking.

Bestia

Bestia's grilled octopus is mixed with calamari, and is tender, slightly smoky, and comes with arugula, mushrooms, fennel, aged balsamic, and chili lemon vinaigrette. Seems Chef Ori Menache can just do no wrong.

RivaBella

Chef Luigi Fineo’s take on a classic Sicilian dish comes by way of Rivabella’s popular octopus salad, served with briney taggiasca olives, potato, and salsa verde.

fundamental LA

Eater LA forum participants have named this Westwood gem as one of the most underrated restaurants in LA. The Mallorcan octopus is glazed with barbecue sauce and plated with persimmon and fennel for one of the most visually appealing, seasonal dishes of the moment.

Petty Cash Taqueria

Petty Cash puts their spin on the cephalopod by wrapping charred tentacles in a toothsome tortilla with chile de arbol, peanuts, jack cheese, and avocado for a taco that is spicy and meaty with a nice cheesy crust. [Photo: Ryan Tanaka]

Fig & Olive

Fig & Olive’s Mediterranean spin on the cephalopod comes in the visually stunning Octopus a la Gallega. The carpaccio dish is comprised of thinly sliced braised octopus with marinated bell pepper, fingerling potato, black olive, basil, arugula, pimenton lemon dressing, and Cobrancosa olive oil.

Tanzy

Tanzy, Westwood’s California Italian restaurant by Executive Chef Bryan Podgorski, offers grilled Spanish octopus with warm potato salad, celery branch, lemon, and parsley emulsion.

Pistola

The ritzy redesign of the old AOC space by Vic Casanova and Seth Glassman offers roasted octopus that sits atop braised escarole, a rich white bean passato, and lemon agrumato.

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