Jul 2022

Locust – Nashville

Locust - Nashville

I can’t even begin to tell you how long I hemmed and hawed before booking a table at Locust in Nashville. As you can imagine, traveling to the South to eat Asian-leaning food cooked by an Irishman gave me some pause. But after reading more about the chef and the concept, I took a gamble and it paid off in spades. Locust was spectacular.

Locust - Nashville

Behind the stoves is chef Trevor Moran who spent four years cooking at Noma in Copenhagen before running the kitchen at The Catbird Seat in Nashville. He opened Locust in 2020 during the height of the pandemic.

Locust - Nashville

The vibe at Locust was wonderfully chill considering the fine dining chops in the kitchen. Warm mugs of sourdough soup, complete with a crouton that sunk to the bottom of the vessel, greeted us on an unseasonably cold spring day in Nashville.

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Jul 2022

Camphor – Los Angeles

Camphor - Los Angeles

I met up with my colleague and friend Mona for a lovely dinner at Camphor back in March. Behind the stoves at this contemporary bistro in Downtown Los Angeles are chefs Max Boonthanakit and Lijo George. The duo met while working at Michelin-starred Blue by Alain Ducasse in Bangkok and opened Camphor in the former Nightshade space earlier this year.

Camphor - Los Angeles

Camphor’s cooking is as technically precise as one would expect from two fine dining chefs, while the flavors lean toward South Asian and French in equal measure. To start, a small complimentary bite reminiscent of pani puri.

Camphor - Los Angeles

Mona said that the bread ($10) served with époisses butter was a must-order and of course, she was right. Époisses can be too strong for me at times, so the addition of butter to smooth out its funk was welcomed. The warm, thickly sliced bread made for a fine accompaniment.

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Jun 2022

Here’s Looking At You – Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Here's Looking At You - January 2022

Sidling up to the bar at Here’s Looking At You in late January night felt like something out of a pre-pandemic dream. Chefs Jonathan Whitener and Thessa Diadem were cranking in the kitchen, while owner-slash-hostess Lien Ta was charming diners in the front of house; the dining room was packed with revelers and bursting with energy.

Here’s Looking At You was finally back after an unplanned slumber, and it didn’t miss a single beat. My girlfriend Thien and I practically ordered the entire menu, and each dish was as creative and delightful as ever.

Here's Looking At You - January 2022

Kumamoto oysters, hibiscus, ginger, cassava, wasabi ($18).

Here's Looking At You - January 2022

Especially memorable was the uni panna cotta ($17) — a cool, savory, and oceanic pudding prettied with ikura, dill, and wild rice. It was so good that we honestly should have ordered two. Next time… 

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