Archive for the 'Asian Fusion' Category

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Red Medicine – Los Angeles (Beverly Hills)

Red Medicine - Beverly Hills

It’s a crying shame that Red Medicine got off on such an awful foot during its early days. First there was the uproar over the communist propaganda-inspired logo emblazoned with Ho Chi Minh’s face, which was followed by the brouhaha for exposing and ejecting the Los Angeles Times restaurant critic.

These events kept me and my curiosity at bay for quite some time, but I’m glad that I finally pulled up a seat at this “Vietnamese punk” establishment, because Chef Jordan Kahn‘s cooking is some of the most modern, forward, and interesting fare that I’ve ever experienced in Los Angeles.

Red Medicine - Beverly Hills

As its manifesto declares, “This is not a traditional Vietnamese restaurant.” Instead, Chef Kahn, the former pastry chef at the French Laundry, Per Se, and Alinea, picks and chooses flavors and ingredients from the cuisine that inspire him to create dishes that are as pleasing to the palate as they are to the eye.

Red Medicine - Beverly Hills

My friend Diep and I grabbed two seats at the bar and proceeded to order cocktails, a duo of dishes, and dessert. We had just come from a taco binge on the corner of Venice and La Brea, so this was the perfect way to get our feet wet without committing to an entire dinner.

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Red Curry Peanut Noodles

Vegetarian Red Curry Peanut Noodles

The Astronomer and I have been staying up later than usual these past few nights securing restaurant reservations in London and France for our European jaunt this summer. Skype-ing in French and stalking Open Table when we should be sleeping has been simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting.

While our dining itinerary isn’t completely settled (there are a few elusive restaurants that I’m still hoping to rope in), we are guaranteed a nose to tail feast in London, exquisite escargots and souffles in Paris, and wines of all stripes at every lunch and dinner. This trip is going to be epic.

In preparation for what will surely be two-and-a-half weeks of non-stop indulging, I’m making a greater effort to eat healthily at home in the month and a half leading up to the trip. This recipe for Red Curry Peanut Noodles from the February 2008 issue of Food & Wine is the latest addition to my solid lineup of meatless meals that pack a satisfying punch.

Peanut noodles are terrific straight up, but add in a few tablespoons of fiery red curry paste and everything gets turned up to eleven. Perking up the noodles is a saucy blend of peanut butter, cilantro, lemongrass, chilies, garlic, galangal, and kaffir lime. The original recipe calls for just bean sprouts and carrots, but I’ve added tofu, red peppers, and edamame too to kick up the nutrition quotient.

Even though I’m buckling down on my eating habits these next few weeks, I still insist that everything that passes through these lips be delicious. Red Curry Peanut Noodles—it’s just what my taste buds and waistline ordered.

  • 1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1 package extra firm tofu (approximately 19 ounces)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 2/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed cilantro leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 12 ounces shelled edamame, prepared according to package directions
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts quartered and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 carrot, coarsely grated
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup salted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Vegetarian Red Curry Peanut Noodles

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until it is al dente. Drain the spaghetti and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain very well and set aside.

Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes and lay on paper towels to absorb excess moisture. On medium-high heat, saute the tofu in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes on each side to lightly sear the outside and heat the inside. Set aside.

Vegetarian Red Curry Peanut Noodles

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the peanut butter with the lime juice, red curry paste, stock, and 1/4 cup of the cilantro leaves and puree. Season the sauce with salt.

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A-Frame – Los Angeles (Culver City)

A-Frame - Los Angeles

I found myself on the west side of town last Monday night following a photo shoot at Sotto. Rather than hop in my car and make the long drive home at the tail end of rush hour, I convinced my friends and fellow Eastsiders, Nastassia and Diep, to meet me for a bite to eat. Our destination this evening was A-Frame, stop number two on the Roy Choi Express. Choo choo.

A-Frame - Los Angeles

While Chego dishes up “refrigerator food” in a fast-casual setting, A-Frame is a full-service “modern picnic” channeling the aloha spirit.

Chefs Jude, Chris, and Fernando on the beats. Beth on the sweets. Picnic! – @RidingShotgunLA

There’s usually a long wait due to the restaurant’s firm no reservation policy, but the crowds were mellow tonight, so our party of three was seated immediately.

A-Frame - Los Angeles

Carrying on the picnic theme were communal tables, do-it-yourself silverware, and perfectly sensible enamelware. Diep loved these little touches, which made the place feel cozy and comfortable.

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Ludo Bites 6.0 at MAX – Los Angeles (Sherman Oaks)

Ludo Bites 6.0 at Max Restaurant - Sherman Oaks

Three days before the sixth iteration of Ludo Bites came to a close, The Astronomer and I finally scored a table due to a last minute cancellation. It was a bit of a nightmare driving from Pasadena to Sherman Oaks during rush hour, but a little traffic couldn’t stop us from experiencing Chef Ludo LeFebvre’s latest creations.

We arrived a little frazzled, but on time for our 6:30 slot. Krissy seated us immediately and presented us with the evening’s menu and a wine list. The tables were packed quite cozily in the dining room, but I didn’t mind because my neighbor to the right was the incomparable Jo of My Last Bite—I love how she brings good cheer wherever she goes. My neighbor to the left was sporting a DSLR camera and a little cell phone light, which helped to forge an instant bond between us too.

Ludo Bites 6.0 at Max Restaurant - Sherman Oaks

With so many enticing dishes on the menu, we decided to forgo adult beverages to save precious real estate. I was also thinking about forgoing bread, but thankfully, The Astronomer talked some sense into me. To start, we shared a warm baguette served with smoked butter and sardine-Laughing Cow cheese ($5). The bread and butter were both solid, but the highlight upon the wobbly plank was the sardine-laced Laughing Cow cheese. Fishy flavored cheese? Yes, please!

Ludo Bites 6.0 at Max Restaurant - Sherman Oaks

About midway through the bread course, the Vietnamese-style hamachi ($15) arrived. The presentation was reminiscent of the confit pork belly with Thai-style choucroute from Ludo Bites 5.0. However, the flavors and ingredients in this dish were much lighter.

Tucked underneath the jicama slaw were the most pristine slices of hamachi. Lightly dressed in a nuoc cham-like dressing, the plate was brimming with fresh, clean, and bright flavors. This was definitely one of my favorite dishes of the evening.

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