10610 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Dining date: 7/23/13
I haven’t been to Totoraku, the “secret beef place,” in just about two years. There are two main reasons for this: one, it’s very expensive ($200+) and two, I’m not actually able to make reservations. You see, only those that make some sort of impression and develop a relationship with chef/owner Kaz Oyama are able to get a table. Luckily, a friend of mine has the ability and invited me to go.
While somewhat exclusive, Totoraku’s menu is rather simple. It changes pretty infrequently, relying on a few staple raw beef courses and various cuts of beef that you grill yourself. The key to the meal is the quality of the beef, which is almost Japanese wagyu-like in marbling. It comes from a secret ranch that the chef won’t disclose, but it’s surprisingly domestic.
Aside from the beef, the chef is a known oenophile and bringing pricey Bordeaux to complement the beef and share with the chef has been an oft-used way to get a ticket for future entry. The wall separating the kitchen and dining room shows off some of his consumed bottles with names like Mouton Rothschild, Margaux, Haut Brion, La Tache and domestically, Harlan Estate and Opus One.
108 W 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 6/21/13 and 7/16/13
Badmaash opened earlier this year in downtown LA, on the border of Little Tokyo, Civic Center and the Historic Core. I think it’s one of the more unique concepts to open recently calling itself an ‘Indian gastropub.’ Most of the menu offerings are traditional Indian fare, but it’s mixed in with some intriguing Westernized, “pub” twists. The most unique of these is perhaps one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes – chicken tikka masala poutine. Seriously, when I heard about this I knew I had to try it.
Opposite the food on the gastropub concept, Badmaash has a pretty lengthy wine and beer list. However, the beer list is surprisingly pricey, with 12oz. craft beer bottles like Stone IPA starting at $8 (no beers on draft).
Plate by Plate 2013
214 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 8/3/13
This weekend was the 11th annual Plate by Plate event. Each year, Project by Project partners with a local nonprofit to help fund-raise and promote awareness for their cause (this year it’s East West Players). The chief fundraising event comes in the form of a large, annual tasting benefit which brings together many well-known local restaurants and bars.
The location for this year’s event was the same venue as the last couple of years – downtown’s Vibiana. I really like the place (and not just because it’s within walking distance for me), with its mix of outdoor and indoor space and its rich personality/history. General Admission tickets this year were $150 ($250 VIP) for the all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink feast. I attended as a media guest.