When it comes to the culinary institution that is Los Angeles, there is a huge amount of selection of great eats throughout the city to choose from. But, if you suffer from decision paralysis when presented with the age-old question: "What do you want to eat?", we've compiled a few choice picks for you to have at the ready from some of our favorite LA spots, as well a few of the new cool kids on the block you'll want to get acquainted with.
319 E 2nd St., Suite 202
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tucked away in a hidden crevice of Little Tokyo is a gem of a flavor den by chef-owner Shawn Pham. His playful rendition of modern heritage cooking offers up a creative taste of nostalgia for diners with an affinity for Southeast Asian cuisine.
The spotlight is on the Mussels, made with chili jam, galangal, kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, and basil is an intoxicatingly aromatic dish that combines familiar and exotic flavors. It is served with Chinese doughnuts, giving textural contrast and a delicious sponge to sop up every last drop of the broth.
Other must-haves include the delightfully different Beef Tartare with larb seasoning and housemade sesame bread and the braised Shrimp Congee, served with a poached egg and rice paddy herb.
Bulgogi Hot Pot
3829 Main St
Culver City, CA 90232
The newest cool kid on the block is Hanjip, hooking up Culver City with its very own chef driven Korean BBQ restaurant by partners Chef Chris Oh of Seoul Sausage fame and Restaurateur Stephane Bombet (Vivian, Faith & Flower, Terrine). Like the "open, open, open" lady in those old Mervyn's commercials, this eagerly anticipated joint has people lining up single file for the "6s" model of KBBQ. What to try first? We say the Bulgogi Hot Pot, a hearty, delicious one-pot communal meal meant for sharing. Did we mention it comes with a sous-vide duck egg dipping sauce? Yeah, you'll want to keep that saucer on your side of the table.
Herringbone @ The Seychelle
1755 Ocean Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90401
At Herringbone's beachside digs, Chef Brian Malarkey's seafood focused offerings feature whimsical coastal cuisine alongside local market driven picks. For a taste of the sea and land, his Salt & Brine raw bar is what you'll want to peruse for fresh picks like the Seafood Tower. Is your hunger ambitious? Give it something to talk about, with the Yacht – a tower that includes 6 prawns, 12 oysters, mussels, bay scallops, octopus, king crab, ½ a lobster, and Cajun poached prawns. It's a conviviality instigator, especially when you catch that signature So Cal sunset coating the coast during dinner.
Love & Salt
317 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
This Manhattan Beach darling attracts admirers from near and far. Chef Michael Fiorelli's Cal-Italian fare features local ingredients made with, you guessed it, that secret ingredient we call love. For an indulgent experience, order the house made Cavatappi. The presentation is tableside, giving guests a special opportunity to gawk at the ingredients as they culminate into a perfect symphony of decadence. Roasted bone marrow and a ramekin of accoutrements are mixed with pasta noodles, resulting in a dish that will make your heart go pitter-patter.
11616 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
When the snack attack for Mexican street food strikes, this vibrant and airy spot is where valley dwellers satisfy it. Chef Eddie Garcia uses seasonally conscious ingredients boasting bold flavors for his menu offerings.
The Aguachile is a ceviche dish found in the mountainous area of Sinaloa, making it an appropriate choice for a light and refreshing snack with a kick. This dish is prepared with fresh Mexican shrimp that is submerged in a cucumber-lime juice with chili peppers, thinly sliced red onions, salt, and serrano pepper. For a healthy slant perfect for Studio City, it's served with cucumber chips and is killer with beer or "coctele."
Hutchinson Cocktails & Grill
826 N. La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90069
An exciting brand new addition to La Cienega's Restaurant Row, Hutchinson offers a menu crafted by Chef James Trees that plays off traditional Indonesian fare with robust, exotic flavors. The one not to miss is their beef rendang, a culturally significant dish with a multitude of renditions throughout Southeast Asia. Hutchinson's version is a labor of love, combining a family recipe with a good 70 hours of R&D that went into the development of this dish. The result is a refined taste that eloquently captures the unadulterated Indonesian flavors that can't be ignored.
The preparation is almost as intense, incorporating traditional Indonesian techniques with a few French and new school approaches mixed in. It starts with short rib, a cut with enough collagen to stand up to the arduous steps it will go through, thereby maintaining the coveted tenderness we've all come to expect. The meat is caramelized on all sides in a condensed sauce to produce a lovely, unctuous texture. Aromatic ingredients like onion, garlic, galangal, turmeric, and lemongrass are caramelized onto the beef that is then braised in fresh coconut milk for over three and a half hours at 350 degrees. Chef Tree employs a French technique at this juncture, pressing the meat in a metal pan overnight, revealing the most beautifully shaped blocks that are trimmed and portioned the next day.
Half of the braise sauce is combined with Sambal (fish sauce) and seasonings before it is strained and put aside (it will later be served with the dish) and the other half is cooked until it breaks down. Coconut milk is then caramelized in the oil from beef and fat until the color changes from yellow into brown. More Sambal is added until it is cooked all the way down. The portioned ribs are then Cryovacked in a bath of this umami-rich liquid and held on the line at 120 degrees (bonjour, sous-vide). When all is said and done, the entire process takes about 48 hours. Execution is very critical for this dish to come out just right. It is served with coconut rice and caramelized bok choy, rounding out a dish with a massive dose of immaculate Indonesian flavors that you have the privilege of enjoying right here in your own city.
Blue Crab Hand Roll
421 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
You know that feeling of anticipation you get when you're at SUGARFISH and it's time for the blue crab hand roll to be presented in front of you? Now you can have it (as well as a host of other hand rolls) all dinner long thanks to KazuNori, the first restaurant of its kind, offering unmistakably fresh hand rolls made right before your eyes in an informal environment. As expected, the commitment to quality fans of SUGARFISH have come to expect is unwavering at this new outpost.
The blue crab hand roll is based on a recipe perfected by Chef Kazunori Nozawa more than 25 years ago at his namesake restaurant, Sushi Nozawa (now reincarnated as SUGARFISH Studio City). The preparation is really simple: they begin with super premium seaweed, top it with Nozawa's signature warm, loose rice, and place a generous serving of blue crab on top. The roll is then wrapped into a cylinder and served immediately to guests, along with a house made soy sauce. This longstanding, perennial favorite strikes an immaculate balance with the briny sweetness of crab, crisp texture of nori, and Nozawa's loose, warm rice that brings it all together.
Bäco Flatbread Sandwich
408 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Bäco Mercat is one of what will soon be four establishments by Josef Centeno, the chef that is steadfastly dominating the historic Old Bank District. It's also the home of a signature flatbread sandwich known as the bäco. It's a dish that originally started as an unassuming meal improvised for late-night staff, filled with whatever ingredients were left in the kitchen. And just like that, they found their way onto the menu.
The original bäco was the crispy pork belly and beef carnitas with caraway pepper, however the el pesco has fast taken the spotlight as another favorite to enjoy. The flatbread is made by scratch with a lebni sauce made with Greek yogurt, garlic, ginger, and lavender. Once the dough rises, it is rolled out and cooked in a hot griddle with house made ghee. The fresh bäco is then filled with crispy shrimp, sriracha, and chive dressing. The wonderfully supple texture of the lightly charred outside, tender inside bäco serves as the perfect vessel to showcase the explosion of flavors resulting in this culinary symphony.
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