Hinoki & The Bird (Los Angeles, CA)

Hinoki & The Bird
10 Century Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Dining date: 7/12/13

hinoki exterior

Hinoki & The Bird was one of the most notable LA restaurant openings in the first half of the year. The restaurant represents David Myers’ first new foray into the city in a while, joining French brasserie Comme Ca. My lone experiences with Myers’ restaurants have been somewhat lackluster (Sona, Pizzeria Ortica), but I’ve heard generally positive reviews of Hinoki & The Bird. It’s been high on my list of restaurants to try for a some time, and a surprise birthday dinner is what finally brought me in.

The open kitchen and bar flank the main dining room, while a large patio provides additional seating. We were seated outside on the loud (energetic?), dark patio.

hinoki dining room1

hinoki kitchen

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Animal (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

Animal
435 N Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dining date: 7/7/13

animal exterior

Even though it’s been open for just over five years now, Animal still seems to be one of the more talked-about and popular restaurants in the city. It’s amazing that it’s evolved to stay current throughout this time, when it seems like dining trends change so quickly. Part of this popularity is what’s kept me from returning as often as I’d like. I feel as if getting a reservation is still not very easy (unless you’re willing to eat early or late), as a result it’s been some time since I dined at the restaurant. My last experience was at the Christopher Kostow (Meadowood) collaborative dinner at Animal in January; the Dotolo & Shook pair really impressed me with their level of refined cooking, trading punches with the 3-star chef. A return to the ‘regular’ restaurant was long overdue – an early birthday dinner was the impetus for the return (stay tuned for subsequent birthday dinners: Hinoki & The Bird, Wolvesmouth, Baco Mercat).

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LA Weekly Web Awards 2013: Best Food Instagrammer

Please excuse me for a brief intermission from the usual food/restaurant posts, I’d like to share some exciting news:

I know that pictures of food are one of the most critical aspects of just about any food blog. In an age where everyone is constantly short on time, a picture of a dish instantly conveys so much more emotion than a few lines of text (not to discount the text, which is an integral part of a food blog too). Many of the pictures I upload to this blog are initially shared on my Instagram feed, and I know there are tons of people in LA that love to share their food pursuits just like me. Thus, I’m honored to be nominated as a finalist for one of this year’s LA Weekly Web Awards in the category of “Best Food Instagrammer.” Coincidentally, this nomination follows in the footsteps of last year’s winner and friend Pinoy Panda aka LIMER35, who was actually the one that convinced me to start an Instagram account in the first place.

If you’ve liked the pictures you’ve seen here, please help me by taking a minute to vote. Literally – voting takes under a minute and ends Friday, July 19th. Best Food Instagrammer is category #23, and you can even vote for just one category…as many times as you’d like.

Links below:
My Instagram
LA Weekly Web Awards Poll

Thank you for your continued support!

-Darin

Farmshop (Santa Monica, CA)

Farmshop
225 26th St. Ste 25
Santa Monica, CA 90402
Dining date: 6/30/13

farmshop exterior

My previous visit to Farmshop yielded one of my favorite singular dishes in Los Angeles – their fried chicken. Golden brown and crispy on the outside, while juicy and moist on the inside, it’s the best fried chicken I’ve had in this city. It’s been a while, but when recently pondering the choice of best spot for a fried chicken meal, a re-visit to Farmshop was in order.

Farmshop typically serves a seasonal/local a la carte dinner menu, but Sundays are reserved for a family style feast centered around the fried bird. The ever-changing three courses are $48, making this one of the steeper fried chicken meals you can get around here. Surrounding the main dish are typically lighter salads and sides which showcase the season’s produce.

Since my last visit, Farmshop has expanded to include a small marketplace full of artisan goods. Unfortunately it closed before our dinner ended, but my brief glimpses revealed some top-notch meats, cheeses, and a variety of other items a home cook would love.

farmshop marketplace

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Truffle Risotto

Dining date: 6/28/13

truffled risotto

Risotto is one of the rich, luxurious dishes associated with fine dining. The single most expensive dish I’ve ever eaten was a risotto, but it’s also something I’ve found to be fairly easy to make at home without costing a lot. I’ve definitely made my share of risotto dishes at home (my favorite thus far probably being this lobster risotto), and figured I’d make a truffled version (a classic pairing) when recently purchasing a fresh truffle.

This was my first time buying a fresh truffle, stumbling upon a black summer truffle at my local Japanese market. Unfortunately I couldn’t tell where it was from, but it looked/smelled as good as expected and the price was right…so I figured I’d buy it and give it a try.

Inspired by The French Laundry’s white truffle risotto, I sought out to duplicate Keller’s version at home, substituting my summer truffles for the white ones used in his recipe.

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Mo-Chica (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

Mo-Chica
514 W 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining date: 4/29/13 and 6/25/13

mo-chica

Ricardo Zarate and business partner Stephane Bombet have been a busy tandem, opening three restaurants in the past two years. Mo-Chica opened just over a year ago, the current middle-child in the growing group of restaurants. Given its downtown location is very convenient to me, I’ve made more than my fair share of visits for both lunch and dinner.

interior

This post actually covers a recent lunch as well as a visit for their special anniversary menu. The lunch special is something my coworkers and I have partaken in a number of times. It’s a good deal for downtown standards; $15 buys a main course that comes with a couple of small sides and dessert. The latest promotion, slightly more limited, was to celebrate their anniversary – the restaurant served a $27 five-course dinner on Tuesdays in June.

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