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.
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!
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.
Continue reading ‘Ludo Bites 6.0 at MAX – Los Angeles (Sherman Oaks)’
The Astronomer and I had such a positive experience at Flour Bakery + Cafe that we decided to check out Chef Joanne Chang’s latest restaurant concept a few days later. Opened in the fall of 2007, Myers + Chang is a modern and funky diner offering personal interpretations of Taiwanese soul food and Southeast Asian street food.
As much as I love seeking out authentic dining experiences with dishes that can be traced back to the motherland, the opportunity to taste well-executed fusion fare excites me as well. In fact, seeing how traditional flavors and techniques are transformed and reinterpreted can oftentimes be even more intriguing. At Myers + Chang, age-old recipes are tweaked and spun, and the results are seriously tasty.
Myers + Chang is a joint venture between Chef Chang and her husband Christopher Myers, a restaurateur (Radius, Great Bay, Via Matta) and “front-of-the-house wizard” according to Gourmet magazine.
The restaurant, which occupies the ground floor of a luxury apartment complex, feels like a diner as re-imagined by a really hip designer with a penchant for pink accents and Asian motifs. The space is brightly lit, casual, and fun. I would kill to have a place like this in my neighborhood.
Any restaurant that offers a choice of wooden or plastic chopsticks in a vintage tea tin is cool in my book.
Continue reading ‘Myers + Chang – Boston’
After a round of deep-fried sushi, followed by Korean-flavored balls, The Astronomer and I made one last stop at the pretty in pink Flying Pig truck before calling it a night. Flying Pig hit the mean streets of Los Angeles last October, which in truck years seems like a lifetime ago. Even though it’s been around for a while and has been well received by diners, our paths and appetites never crossed until tonight.
The two dudes behind Flying Pig are Joe Kim and James Seitz, culinary school grads from the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. Taking a cue from the truck that started it all, Flying Pig’s menu blends Asian and Pacific Rim flavors with French technique. Back when the truck first launched, owner Joe Kim informed the L.A. Weekly that Flying Pig was a testing ground for Butalanai, a restaurant that he planned to open in early 2010. While a brick and mortar joint has yet to come to fruition, the Flying Pig continues to do its porky fusion thing all around town.
Ripped straight out of the Momofuku playbook, the pork belly bao ($3.25) was braised to melt-in-my-mouth perfection. The red onion escabeche and pickled sesame cucumber provided enough tang to keep the pork’s fatty richness at bay. The truck’s signature “death sauce” wasn’t exactly deadly, just spicy with a touch of hoisin. The bao was one of the tastiest dishes I’ve eaten from a truck. The Flying Pig’s crunchy tofu bao ($2.75), which I tasted on a different occasion, is a great option for those with meatless leanings.
Continue reading ‘Flying Pig – Los Angeles’
When I stopped by the Ahn Joo truck a little over a month ago, Debbie Lee tipped me off that a meatball truck would be hitting the streets shortly. Meatballs and I get along quite swimmingly, so this was one launch that I was a wee bit more excited for than the rest.
After polishing off two gut busting deep-fried sushi rolls from Yatta-! Truck at Art Walk, The Astronomer and I moseyed on over to Great Balls on Tires for our second course.
Great Balls on Tires was founded by Clint Peralta and Michael Brombart. According to the truck’s website, the duo chose to focus on meatballs because of their universal popularity and appeal. “They are found in nearly every culture with names like polpette, kofta and frikadel. They are found in dumplings and on top of spaghetti all covered with cheese.”
Inspired by travels abroad, the menu encompasses a wide range of flavors from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. By the time we arrived at the truck, they were sold out of the “IncrediBall” (Kobe Beef ball wrapped in bacon and gruyere) and the “Ballywood” (Garam Masala chicken ball cradled in a coconut curry and set atop saffron basmati rice), two of the most enticing menu items. After a bit of hemming and hawing, we finally settled on the “Ball Gogi” ($5.50).
Continue reading ‘Great Balls on Tires – Los Angeles’
I was initially frightened by the thought of cheeseburger sushi. Both dishes are delicious in their own right, but combining them seemed like a terrible, half-baked idea. As positive reports rolled in from Serious Eats, Grub Street, and Squid Ink, my fear transitioned to intrigue. I eventually succumbed to my curiosity and tasted Yatta-! Truck‘s headline-grabbing roll at this month’s Downtown Art Walk.
Owned and operated by Jun Hua and chef Hiro Igarashi, Yatta-! is L.A.’s first fusion sushi bar on wheels. The truck offers a small menu of inspired rolls, as well as a “creation station” that allows customers to dream up a customized roll. Yatta-!, which means “I did it!” in Japanese, is what one is supposed to proclaim when “u get ur own favorite rolls.” Or something like that…
Yatta-! is far and away the silliest nouveau food truck that I have ever encountered. There’s a sign posted on the truck claiming that “no Pokemon were harmed during the making of your roll” and a mysterious ninja sneaks in and out of the truck during service. Not to mention, Yatta-! is staffed by some really funny dudes. I must say that it’s pretty refreshing to be around an establishment that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Continue reading ‘Yatta-! Truck – Los Angeles’