Jan 2019

The Year in Delicious: Top 10 Bites of 2018

Hayato Restaurant - Los Angeles

It’s difficult to reflect upon 2018 without first acknowledging two events that shook me to my core: the passing of Jonathan Gold and the closing of Good Girl Dinette. It was a deeply sad year for those who root for the good guys, and truth be told, I’m not sure things will ever be the same. Still, I can appreciate the terrific meals that I had the privilege of sitting down to this past year.

Thank you for reading Gastronomy these past twelve years. And without further ado, here are the 10 best dishes that I ate this year…

HiHo Cheeseburger - Santa Monica

Double HiHo Cheeseburger from HiHo Cheeseburger in Santa Monica, California

Made with 1/3 pound of house-ground, mustard-grilled beef, the burger’s fixings included American cheese, ketchup, onion jam, lettuce, and house-made pickles, all on a house-baked bun.

Bavel - Los Angeles (Downtown)

Foie Gras Halva at Bavel in Los Angeles, California

There’s much to love about the entire menu at Bavel, but the “Foie Gras Halva,” a smooth and rich paté prettied with date paste, black sesame, and coarse salt, is on a whole ‘nother level.

Hog Island Oyster Co. - Marshall, CA

BBQ Oysters at Hog Island Oyster Farm  in Marshall, California

Quite possibly even better than Hog Island’s famed the raw oysters were the meatier barbecued ones topped with chipotle bourbon garlic butter and grilled ’til cooked through. The Astronomer and I thoroughly adored this sweet and spicy preparation and had to get another four to share.

Lasa - Los Angeles - Chinatown

Beef Kilawin at LASA in Los Angeles, California

The Beef Kilawin, a flat-iron steak tartare served with salt and vinegar chips, stole the show with its funk-forward patis (fish sauce) aioli. I want every steak tartare from here on out to be served with homemade, thick-cut potato chips.

Porridge & Puffs - HiFi - Los Angeles

Yakimiso+Sausage Porridge at Porridge+Puffs in Los Angeles, California

My favorite porridge was the “Yakimiso+Sausage.” From the mashup of grilled black eyed peas with miso and nectarine to the numbing spice-braised pork sausage and the fennel in black bean sauce, it was impossible to say which element I adored most. It all tasted so good and so right atop the silky porridge canvas.

Hayato Restaurant - Los Angeles

Spanish Mackerel Sushi at Hayato in Los Angeles, California

The Spanish mackerel sushi was served on rice speckled with Japanese chives and topped with grated ginger. I could’ve easily polished off an entire roll or two or three—so it goes for a sushi fiend.

Estela - New York City

Fried Arroz Negro with Squid and Romesco at Estela in New York City, New York

I adored all the dishes on the table, but the “fried arroz negro with squid and romesco (nut and red pepper-based sauce)” was my favorite. The textures and flavors brought me back to the shores of Valencia.

Best of Kauai Food Restaurants

Chirashi at Konohiki Seafoods in Lihue, Kauai

I loved how on Kauai there was an abundance of mom- and pop-run markets. While some specialized in prepared hot foods, others were better known for their poke and sashimi selections. One of my favorites was Konohiki. The chirashi with scallops, salmon, yellowtail, tuna, and tobiko was stunningly fresh.

Freedman's LA - Los Angeles

Smoked Dates at Freedman’s in Los Angeles, California

The smoked dates in schmaltz were one bite wonders. The combination of sweet, salty, and schmaltz-y was unexpectedly divine. Our one small complaint was that the dates weren’t deseeded, disrupting the rapture of each bite.

Friends & Family - Los Angeles (East Hollywood)

Chocolate Buckwheat Cake from Friends & Family in East Hollywood, California

The Chocolate Buckwheat Cake with miso caramel, toasted coconut flakes, and coffee ice cream was the dreamiest dessert of 2019. Every element on the plate, from the dense, rich, and deeply chocolatey cake to the intriguingly salty caramel sauce and java-spiked ice cream, was swoon-worthy perfection. The plate was scraped clean and then some.

Honorable mentions: Trout Roe Popovers at Freedman’s; burger and biscuits at Everson Royce Bar; seared scallops with huitlacoche rice at Maestro; sweet corn cappellacci at HiPPO; all the bings at Majordomo; and last but least, BBQ Pork Rice Noodle Roll at Mr. Champion.

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