727 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 5/3/13
The street food-slinging Kogi food trucks are undoubtedly what chef Roy Choi is most known for, but Chego may be my favorite of his restaurants (I haven’t been to A-Frame yet though). Chego shares the same in-your-face, full-flavored approach as Kogi, but primarily in the form of rice bowls and within a brick-and-mortar format. I’d been to the Westside location a couple of times and enjoyed it both times; the cross-town location just didn’t often justify a trip for me. However, the expiration of their lease a few months ago prompted a move to a very unexpected location – Chinatown.
Douglas Keane (Cyrus)
The Strand House: Culinary Masters Series
117 Manhattan Beach Blvd
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 4/29/13
For just over a year now, Manhattan Beach’s The Strand House has been doing a monthly dinner hosting notable chefs from across the country. The Culinary Masters Series presents a unique meal; local chefs prepare something different from what they’re serving at their restaurants and out-of-town chefs provide an opportunity to try their food without having to travel. Past chefs have included Walter Manzke, Michael Cimarusti and Josiah Citrin locally, as well as Jonathan Waxman and Jose Garces from the out-of-town category.
On this evening, Douglas Keane (of now-closed 2-Michelin star Cyrus in Healdsburg, CA) came to The Strand House. I’ve dined at Cyrus once before a long time ago (I think it was 2006) but don’t remember all that much from it. I was very excited to get a chance to sample more of Keane’s food. 5 courses were $100; wine pairings (Opus One, La Sirena, Seghesio, Byron) were an extra $50.
One cool aspect of this dinner was the fact that the winemakers (from each winery) showed up to discuss their wines and stories. Below, Michael Silacci of Opus One Vineyards.
Le Grand Fooding Crush Paris – Los Angeles
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
152 N Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 4/26/13 and 4/27/13
This past weekend, Le Grand Fooding made its first foray into Los Angeles. The traveling event, hosted in San Francisco and New York in past instances, seeks to promote chefs of both nations cooking a sort of bistronomics concept – fine dining concept in a more affordable atmosphere. The event was a two-day affair at downtown’s Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (in addition to an exclusive pre-event dinner cooked by Craig Thornton (Wolvesmouth) and Miles Thompson (Allumette) - full pictures here).
The chef lineup was pretty impressive, with 11 big-name chefs from both LA and Paris. Some of the chefs cooked on only one day and a handful cooked on both days. General admission tickets were $50 and included one dish from each chef and a glass of champagne. Ticket prices went up in three tiers, all the way up to a $125 VIP ticket that included early entrance, a secluded dining area, and an extra dish from a VIP-only chef. Tickets sold out in a hurry, but I managed to purchase a base level ticket for each day.
For the two evenings, MOCA’s outdoor venue was set up with a DJ tower, multiple chef booths and an impressive Veuve Clicquot tower.
8400 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Dining date: 3/30/13
Red Medicine is easily one of the city’s most controversial restaurants and it doesn’t really have anything to do with the food. Indeed, I think the outing of LA Times food critic S. Irene Virbila and the public admonishing of no-show diners has brought the restaurant nationwide attention, but it has likely overshadowed the food. More quietly, I’ve heard that the food coming out of Red Medicine’s kitchens are some of the more interesting, beautiful and delicious in the city, finding an ideal balance between Vietnamese influences and more modern American cuisine.
I first sampled Red Medicine at the debut of revolving pop-up Test Kitchen in 2010, just before its opening in November of that year. Soon after the opening I stopped in for lunch, but it took me just over two years after that last visit to stop in for a proper dinner meal. I’ve been many times for dessert, but a full dinner was long overdue.
429 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining date: 3/22/13
Colori Kitchen has been a popular spot downtown for as long as I’ve been living in the area. It’s popular with the Yelp crowd and been one of the lone noteworthy Italian restaurants in the area up until recently (Drago Centro, Bestia, Maccheroni Republic have now entered the fray). I dined here once a long time ago for a private event and remember almost nothing from it; a friend convinced me to return after a meal at Maccheroni Republic.
The success of this original location spawned a second one (Colori at Figueroa) just a few blocks away, meant to satisfy the downtown lunch crowd in particular. The original has a much more extensive menu covering just about anything Italian one would want. Portions are generous and they have a no-corkage BYOB policy (I have heard it’s one bottle per two diners, though I’m not sure how strictly this is enforced). Food-wise, we stuck to a few of the house favorites.
13488 Maxella Ave
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Dining date: 4/10/13
Paiche opened this past Friday, the newest venture from the Mo-Chica/Picca team of Ricardo Zarate and Stephane Bombet. I’d been to Paiche the week before for the collaborative dinner with Naomi Pomeroy (of Beast in Portland), but this would be my first look at the restaurant in its true form. The restaurant opened up for a Friends & Family night to celebrate the grand opening and get a full night’s service under its belt.
Overall I would say the style of the food is very similar to Picca and Mo-Chica, but the izakaya approach presents a few differences. Portions are tapas-sized, sized to be able to share a lot of different flavors. The menu is, by far, the most vast I’ve seen from the team with over 50 items on the menu. The drink side of the menu is equally as large, with almost 20 cocktail options on the menu and dozens more in terms of wine/beer/spirits.