Did you hear? Lien Ta and Chef Jonathan Whitener, the former Animal chef de cuisine, are opening a restaurant. Woo! Here’s Looking at You is slated to debut later this spring in the former Whiz space in Koreatown. Los Angeles is in for a real treat.
In anticipation of their grand opening, Lien and Jonathan popped up at Chinatown’s Unit 120 back in January to give a sneak peek of their Japanese-Mexi-Cali concept. Priced at $75 per person, the family-style supper included three starters, two mains, and two desserts.
Dinner started with a cocktail—a cupful of the chef’s signature Mai Tai from the community punch bowl.
The trio of starters was quick to arrive. Pristine cuts of hamachi were given the Vietnamese treatment with tamarind, rau ram (Vietnamese coriander), palm sugar, and hibiscus onion. Continue reading ‘Here’s Looking at You at Unit 120 – Los Angeles (Chinatown)’
The original Little Sister in Manhattan Beach has always piqued my interest, but I never got around to dining there because: Bacon Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits. You know how it goes. It took a shiny new Downtown outlet, as well as the initiative of a few colleagues, for me to finally make my way here. And let me tell you, it was well worth the wait.
Here at this newish and very bustling spot, Chef Tin Vuong cooks up solid Vietnamese and Asian-inspired fare. Drawing from family recipes and his San Gabriel Valley roots, Chef Vuong’s creations are beautifully composed, boldly flavored, and straight-up tasty.
To start, our party ordered one of every item under the “Introductions” section of the menu. First up was the house-made sesame sourdough baguette with Echire AOC butter and sea salt ($5).
Continue reading ‘Little Sister – Los Angeles (Downtown)’
The arrival of Pok Pok Phat Thai was a mixed bag for me. As a Thai food lover, I was thrilled to have superb regional noodles available a stone’s throw from home. The only downside was that the restaurant took the space formerly occupied by Hoan Kiem, a Northern Vietnamese spot that served terrific banh cuon and pho ga. Alas, that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes.
Phat Thai is the first of two Pok Pok concepts that Chef Andy Ricker is bringing to L.A. His full-service Pok Pok, which I was a fan of when I visited it in Portland, should be arriving before year’s end.
Phat Thai’s menu is succinct, and service is efficient. After ordering at the counter and grabbing a seat at the communal picnic table out front, we received our food within five minutes or so. Fast service makes for happy parents, always.
I had heard (and read) that careful application of condiments is key to a great Pok Pok experience. Otherwise, the food can taste bland. This cart full of fish sauce, sugar, and vinegar was on hand to season our dishes to taste. The chili-spiked fish sauce and fresh lime juice were essential for Pok Pok perfection for The Astronomer and me.
Continue reading ‘Pok Pok Phat Thai – Los Angeles (Chinatown)’
I had the pleasure of dining with my mom at Q Sushi a few Fridays ago. She’s been taking care of June while The Astronomer and I are bringing home the bacon, so this meal was a small token of our gratitude. Bà Ngoại is the best!
Chef Hiroyuki Naruke, who ran a six-seat sushi bar in Tokyo’s Roppongi district prior to relocating to Los Angeles, serves a hyper-traditional, omakase-only sushi experience at Q. I am a total purist when it comes to sushi, so I knew that Q and I would get along swimmingly from the start.
Priced at $165 per person, the omakase typically begins with a slew of tsumami (small appetizers), followed by a perfectly orchestrated parade of sashimi and nigiri sushi courses. All in all, it’s a 2.5 hour feast comprised of 20 or so courses that passes by much too quickly.
Taking care of Mom and me this evening was Chef Rui. He seemed a bit chattier than Chef Hiro, which was a good thing, because I had plenty of questions up my sleeve (per usual).
Continue reading ‘Q Sushi – Los Angeles (Downtown)’