Daikokuya – 5/18/10
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Daikokuya – 5/18/10

Daikokuya is my favorite ramen shop in Southern California. I’ve been so many times I’ve lost count. I first went when I was in college, and the rich, murky, pork fat-laden broth really opened my eyes. Having grown up in San Francisco, we didn’t have any of this – ramen was served in a miso or shoyu broth. While these were tasty in its own right, a pork tonkotsu broth was on a different level. Daikokuya simmers kurobuta pork bones for almost a full day as the basis for their broth – how can you miss with that? I’ve been coming back ever since, each time braving the seemingly ever-present lines.

Providence – 5/14/10
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Providence – 5/14/10

My friend is graduating from law school next week, and she’s been meaning to come here for a while.  We made the reservation and were on our way!

I first sampled Michael Cimarusti’s cooking when he was at Water Grill. Soon after, he would set out on his own, opening up Providence in 2005.  It became a hit instantly, garnering numerous accolades – currently, it’s one of four restaurants in LA with two Michelin stars (none have three). I’ve considered Providence the second-best restaurant in LA (behind Urasawa) and hadn’t been in a  number of months – another visit was in order.

LudoBites – 5/11/10
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LudoBites – 5/11/10

What’s the most sought-after reservation in Los Angeles right now? It’s likely a table at LudoBites, Ludovic Lefebvre’s pop-up restaurant now happening in downtown LA. The buzz around Ludo is immense, from his most recent feature in Time Magazine (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1986775,00.html), to his recent appearance on Top Chef Masters, to his continued popularity with Jonathan Gold (who was a fellow diner on this night), and to his extreme devotion among food bloggers. Reservations to his 1.5 month stint at Gram and Papa’s were fully booked on the day of the announcement. Luckily, I was able to get two of them

Cornish Hen – 5/9/10

Cornish Hen – 5/9/10

Roasted chicken is such a simple dish, and is something that can also be very satisfying. A roasted whole chicken is a great way to economically serve a number of people. At it’s most basic, all one needs is a chicken and some seasonings. While very simple, a lot can go wrong in the dish. The breast meat is often overcooked, or the dark meat undercooked, as they both cook at different speeds. In addition, it can be difficult to get a nicely browned, crisp skin on the bird. The heat needs to be just right – if the heat is too high, the skin will burn before the meat is done; if it is too low, the meat will cook before you get any browning.

Father’s Office – 5/8/10
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Father’s Office – 5/8/10

Father’s Office is one of the best (in my opinion – the best) gastropubs in Los Angeles. In my opinion, they also have the best burger in the city. Granted, I haven’t tried a number of the chief competitors (Umami Burger , Rustic Canyon, 8 oz., Foundry come to mind), but this burger has so far been my #1 – taking into account the Counter, Lazy Ox, 25 Degrees, Pie ‘n Burger, Back Abbey, and Golden State. This was the first stop in a mini tour of burgers/gastropubs with Golden State.

Chicken Curry – 5/1/10

Chicken Curry – 5/1/10

I’m not sure what inspired me to make this dish. I enjoy curries, and I’ve been braising a lot, so I suppose this was a logical dish. I found one of Ming Tsai’s recipes (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ming-tsai/braised-chicken-curry-with-yams-recipe/index.html), and it was quite simple. I figured I’d give it a try. I didn’t want to make one of those packaged sauce curries that you add as a sauce to your meat – you miss out on a lot of the flavor. Here, where the chicken meat and bones cook for a while in the curry, makes a much more flavorful dish.

The Dining Room at the Langham – 4/30/10
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The Dining Room at the Langham – 4/30/10

I had been to the Langham a little over a year ago, when Craig Strong was the chef. I had a good meal at the time, but I’ve been really looking forward to going back to try Michael Voltaggio’s cuisine. Voltaggio, as you might know, won last season’s Top Chef, beating out his brother. Voltaggio helped open the Bazaar, Jose Andres’ highly-acclaimed eatery in LA.  Blending modern, molecular gastronomy with classic French technique, Voltaggio creates some really creative, beautiful dishes – thus, why I’ve been wanting to go for so long.