Charles Phan (The Slanted Door)
1142 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 8/12/13
Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post) has been a hot spot in the area since opening over two years ago (helping to spawn another restaurant, Fishing with Dynamite, earlier this year). Chef David LeFevre hosts a recurring guest chef series called “Can You Dig It?” that benefits partner charity Common Threads. For this iteration, he teamed up with chef Charles Phan of San Francisco’s The Slanted Door.
Charles Phan is one of the old school notable Asian chefs in America; he’s best known for his flagship modern Vietnamese restaurant, The Slanted Door, which opened in the mid-1990s. His mini-empire now spans 7 restaurants in the San Francisco area. I don’t think he can be found in The Slanted Door kitchen as much nowadays, so this was an opportune chance to sample some of his cooking straight from the source. Chef LeFevre’s food has a lot of Asian influences and I was curious to see if he could adapt his cuisine to seamlessly fit in with Phan’s.
The menu for this evening was a collaborative effort, with 5 dishes being prepared by Phan and 3 by LeFevre for $75. Phan brought a couple of notable The Slanted Door plates as well as a few new ones. As far as I know, LeFevre’s dishes were making their first appearance here at M.B. Post.
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.
408 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 7/15/13
I’ve been to Josef Centeno’s popular Baco Mercat multiple times for lunch and have been meaning to try it for dinner. I live relatively close but have procrastinated for so long; two weeks ago, I finally made this dinner visit as my final ‘birthday dinner’ of the year.
The dinner menu is definitely more expanded than lunch, particularly in the small plates section. While the baco and coca (flatbreads) have been the restaurant’s claim to fame thus far, Centeno’s small plates offer a lot more in terms of variety. There are also a few delicious-sounding ‘big plate’ options that are dinner-only. The whole menu setup is not unlike what Centeno was doing at Lazy Ox Canteen.
Project by Project (what is Project by Project?) is hosting its 11th annual fundraising tasting event this Saturday, Plate by Plate. Located in downtown’s Vibiana (the former cathedral), the event brings together heavy hitters in the world of LA food & drink for an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink fest.
Net proceeds go to a partner charity each year; this year, the charity is Asian American theater organization East West Players. The food-fest isn’t exactly cheap ($150 GA & $250 VIP), but I have an opportunity to give away two free VIP passes ($500 retail value) to Saturday’s event to one lucky reader. The exhaustive list of participants is below.