LudoBites 6.0 at Max
13355 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
This past Sunday was the final night of LudoBites 6.0. I was happy to have a chance for a return visit, coming full circle from my first meal opening night. It was clear that this was a night to remember, as a professional photographer and camera crew were wandering about the restaurant. The Lefebvres even left a disposable camera on each table so that each party could document their own viewpoint of the night.
The mood in the dining room on this night was pretty different from the opening – one of triumph and celebration. While this was a relatively short pop-up, it was evident that a lot of work and preparation went into each meal, and I could feel the sense of relief and accomplishment by the end of the night.
Warm Baguette, Baratte Smoked Butter, Sardine-Laughing Cow Cheese
The baguette was excellent as always, and we had the same duo of cheese/butter spreads as the first night.
Hamachi, Vietnamese Style
This dish has been served since night one, and it’s sure to be one of the most memorable dishes of 6.0. We had the textural components of the fried lotus root and shallots up front. Combined with the tender, flavorful fish and a little bit of acidity and this was a fantastic dish!
Escargot, Brussel Sprouts, Red Mole, Corn Ice Cream
I had this dish during my last visit, and I actually enjoyed it more this time around. The escargot was perfectly cooked, yielding a really tender piece of meat. Loved the sweet corn ice cream in tandem with the rich mole too.
Boudin Noir ‘Parmentier’, Apples, Mustard Tapioca
This was another standout dish, inspired by the flavors of a Shepherd’s Pie. The duck fat mashed potatoes and blood sausage “pudding” combined rich, deep flavors. I especially liked the purple potato chips to add just a bit of crunch to each bite, as well as the mellow heat from the tapioca.
White Rice Veloute, Mascarpone, Poached Egg, Spinach, Fresh Black Truffle, Parmesan Bubbles
This was a brand new dish for me. The veloute itself reminded me of a Chinese congee in a way, which I thought was really interesting. However, I found that the spinach gave a slightly overwhelming “vegetable” flavor. The parmesan bubbles and shaved black truffles made for an interesting presentation, but I didn’t get those flavors if I got too much spinach.
Marinated Mackerel, Leche Del Tigre, Baby Leeks, Verdolagas Leaves
This is another of the most memorable dishes of 6.0, served since opening night. The mackerel, enhanced by the marinade, was very flavorful and had a pretty meaty texture. The bruleed skin added a subtle sweetness and a great crispy texture to the fish.
Salmon ‘a l’huile’, Somen Noodles, Carrots, Red Wine Vinaigrette, Grilled Salmon Roe
I appreciated this dish for the salmon and crispy shaved carrots; however I found the grilled salmon roe to be the most interesting component. The roe imparted a nice smoky, charred flavor to the dish, which I thought really added an interesting (and welcome!) complexity. I didn’t really need the somen noodles though.
Beef Tartar, Celery Root Remoulade, Red Port, Foie Gras Powder
This was another brand new dish for me – it looked nothing like what I was expecting. Unfortunately, I thought the beef and foie gras “snow” were both overwhelmed by the milky, creamy remoulade.
Roasted Pickled Foie Gras, Honey, Autumn Fruits, Rose Flowers
Loved the perfect preparation of the foie gras here. Really tender and very rich. I appreciated the sweetness of the fruits, but found the rose petals to be overwhelmingly floral.
Cod, Smoked Potato, Pickled Bell Pepper, Pil-Pil Sauce, Amaranth
We rebounded with one of my favorite dishes of the night. The cod was very moist and flavorful, and there was a nice sweetness from the bell pepper. A little bit of heat from the sauce rounded out the flavors, and I liked the potato crisps, which added some welcome texture.
Braised Veal Ravioli, Umami Broth, Dried Tuna, Radish & Gingerbread Mayo
This was probably my favorite dish of the night. I really liked the ravioli for its rich and meaty filling which was balanced by the cool and crisp radishes (can you guess which one is the watermelon radish?). The aptly-named “umami broth” was just that..full of in-your-face flavor. I loved it! I thought it worked really well with the pasta; though, it was so delicious I could’ve eaten a bowl of this with the somen noodles and been content.
Marinated Korean Steak, Crispy Kimchi, Radish, Bone Marrow, Shiso
The steak was very flavorful, and I really appreciated the charred exterior. The kimchi added a little bit of heat and crispy texture – perfect for the steak. I don’t think the bone marrow was necessary, but I wasn’t complaining.
Crème Fraiche Panna Cotta, Caramel, Caviar
Great dessert. We had two orders of this during my last trip, and we ordered two of them again here. The light, yet creamy, panna cotta melded so well with the sweet caramel and briny caviar. I don’t know who else uses caviar in their desserts…but maybe more chefs should!
Cantal Cheese Mikado, White Chocolate, Candied Black Olive
I’m never really a cheese fan, so this wasn’t necessarily down my alley. I did enjoy the sweetness of the white chocolate in tandem with the firm, nutty cheese.
Warm Carrot Cake, Coconut Thai Curry, Mango Sorbet, Kaffir Lime Oil
A staple on the menu since night one, the carrot cake came out steaming hot. Combining all the elements really gives the flavors of a thai curry – albeit, in a dessert setting.
So ends another LudoBites. I’m always amazed at Ludo’s innovation in creating really interesting dishes using both familiar and new ingredients. Some of the most memorable dishes that I had from this run are the hamachi, marinated mackerel, veal ravioli, Nebraska ribeye, the chicken and the panna cotta. I likely will never have any of those dishes again, so I’m happy I was able to get a chance to try them.
I look forward to seeing where and what Ludo cooks up next…and I’m already worried about how I’m going to get a reservation!