b.o.s. (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

b.o.s.
424 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 9/13/14

bos

A couple of weeks ago, b.o.s. announced it would close its doors on Sept. 27th. I was very disappointed to hear the news, but knew it wasn’t exactly packing the tables despite mostly positive reviews. Its nose-to-tail concept seemed like it could be a good fit in the area, but I’m not sure it ever caught on with the local crowd. Its closure just seems way too soon. I visited almost a year ago, soon after the restaurant opened, and enjoyed my meal there. I wanted to stop in at least one more time to see what’s changed.

chef

During my first visit, we dined at the omakase-only bar. On this subsequent one, we sat in the dining room and had the full a la carte menu to choose from. To me, the menu is just as interesting as before with a mix of “exotic” like tongue, heart, brain, and intestines but also some more typical beefy items like oxtails, short ribs, and a handful of steak options.

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The Spice Table (Los Angeles, CA)

The Spice Table
114 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 7/27/11

The Spice Table opened a few months ago, one of the latest additions to the ever-growing Little Tokyo/Downtown LA restaurant scene. Although chef Bryant Ng’s background includes being opening chef at Pizzeria Mozza (as well as working with Daniel Boulud and Roland Passot), the cuisine here is half a world away. Inspired by the streets of Southeast Asia, the menu consists of small to medium-sized plates meant for sharing. The restaurant’s name is no misnomer – spice is king here.

Pate & baguette

I enjoyed the pate – smooth, porky with a deep savory spice blend. The baguette was fine as a vehicle for the spread.

Bone marrow, prawn sambal

Like butter. Rich and creamy, I thought the prawn flavor of the sambal brought a nice flavor profile creating a sort of surf & turf interplay.

Lamb belly satay

I tend to associate the belly with a fattier, more tender cut. However, this was a little chewy with some cartilage-like bits in it too. Hm. The flavors were there though; the building spice foreshadowed what was to come.

Beef tripe satay

One of the specials of the day. Really tender, squishy almost, with a nice sweet-spicy sauce. I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Grilled eggplant, chile sauce

The eggplant’s texture was rather mushy and sort of creamy. On my first bite, I could taste the chile flavor, really the main flavor component. On the second bite, the heat had me rushing to my beer.

Black pepper crab toast

Loved the large chunks of flavorful crab on top of the crusty toast. A little bit of lime was a perfect complement. The heat of the pepper was slightly uncomfortable for me at times.

Pig tails

You know, I’m not sure I’ve ever had pig tail like this. Kind of like a miniature version of oxtail. Tender and flavorful meat with a lot of gelatinous bits, the richness was countered by the cool basil and lettuce accompaniment.

Laksa (spicy noodle soup)

Luckily for me, this wasn’t as a spicy as I had feared. There was a creamy richness to the soup, featuring chunks of pork and shrimp. Homey and comfortable. I enjoyed the noodles, but wished they were longer…and perhaps with a little more chew.

Marinated ribeye

Another of the daily specials. I could get the garlic, sugar and soy marinade flavors in the steak, which was tender and cooked well. Probably not one of the more unique items on offer, though.

Milk tea softserve

The restaurant features a ‘daily flavor’ of soft serve each day, though it’s been the same flavor on both of my visits. But seriously..milk tea?! Being a huge fan, this was a must-order. I thought this was a pretty good softserve, with a strong milk tea flavor really showing though.

Kaffir lime custard, lychee

While the first dessert was very sweet, this was quite tart. The strong lime flavor was actually sort of refreshing (I could have used some during some of the spicy entrees), light and creamy.

I didn’t dislike anything, but I didn’t love anything either. The Spice Table’s food was solid and full of flavor, but I’m not sure I fully appreciated it due to the fact that I can be kind of lame when it comes to spicy food. I will say that the meal was a little more expensive than I thought it was worth. North of $70 per person with just one beer each, it wasn’t cheap. Still, I don’t come across this type of cuisine too often (especially in a more upscale atmosphere), so I’m glad I was able to try it.

Wazuzu (Las Vegas, NV)

Wazuzu
Encore Las Vegas
3121 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Dining date: 3/27/11

One of the restaurants my parents always go to in Las Vegas is the pan-Asian restaurant Wazuzu at Encore. The chef is Jet Tila, an LA native, whose name I’ve seen in various places around LA (and occasionally on TV). The food is not restricted to one country; rather, Chef Jet uses flavors across Asia to create some traditional and some not-so-traditional dishes. The food isn’t the most imaginative, but it’s comfortable food executed well.

Cha Gio Imperial Crispy Rolls pork, shrimp, Vietnamese herbs, rice vermicelli, sweet chili sauce

These came out of the kitchen nice and hot. They were pretty meaty (which I like), while the lettuce, cucumbers and cilantro added some fresh, crisp flavors.

Wazuzu Hot Wings spicy sweet crispy hot wings

The wings were very large and meaty here and the honey-chili sauce was just oozing off of these guys. The batter was a little bit thicker than I usually like, but the chicken was cooked perfectly, and the spicy-sweet sauce had some good flavor.

Drunken Noodles with Shrimp fresh rice noodles with Thai basil, sweet soy sauce, chilies and onions

This is probably the restaurant’s most notable dish, and was even raved about on The Best Thing I Ever Ate by Giada De Laurentiis. This dish is kind of like a Chinese chow fun with its thin, wide stir-fried rice noodles. However, there are a number of flavors at work here: sweetness from onions, a little heat from chilies, and even small bursts of flavor from some grape tomatoes. Excellent.

Nasi Goreng spicy Malaysian fried rice with shrimp, barbecue pork, Chinese sausage, sambal oelek, fried shallots and topped with a fried egg

I enjoyed this fried rice – the rice had the perfect al dente texture. It wasn’t mushy at all and had just the right chew. Lots of things going on here with the Chinese sausage and dried shrimp being two of the most prominent flavors. The plump shrimp were cooked well.

Miso Marinated Black Cod marinated with miso, ginger, sake

A rather typical preparation, but executed well. The fish was cooked perfectly, leaving it buttery and moist.

Sashimi Plate hiramasa, bigeye tuna, mirugai, toro

Chef Jet said he has the best fish on the Strip, and I could see it. Each of these were very good examples – my favorite, as usual, was the toro for its rich, fatty flavor and tender texture.

Chef Jet also brought out some of his vegan dumplings (Steve Wynn is vegan and requires all of his restaurants to have options) to try.

White Lotus

Mushrooms and pea tendrils are two of the primary ingredients, and I thought this was pretty good. It had a hearty, earthy flavor from the mushrooms and a perfect gelatinous skin.

Palm Pocket

I wasn’t as much of a fan of this one, featuring hearts of palm. Fun name, though.

Jade Dumpling

A beautiful vibrant green color (from spinach in the dumpling skin) separates these apart. These were solid as well.

Siu Mai

I’m rarely a fan of vegetables mimicking meat – I’d prefer the vegetables stay true to themselves (as in the first three dumplings). However, for a chicken substitute, this wasn’t bad at all – the texture was right between a white and dark meat.

Thai Crêpe Thai roti crêpe, condensed milk, sugar, topped with coconut crunch ice cream

Next, we had something sweet. An excellent dessert here – the crepe was really crispy and sweet, and I thought the coconut ice cream was really good.

Espresso Ice Cream

A very strong espresso ice cream was last. I could see how this would be too strong for people that only like their coffee with cream and sugar, but I really liked it.

The food at Wazuzu met my expectations (which were a little higher considering my dad raves about it). The food was done well – flavorful and on point, and demonstrated skill of flavors all across Asia from Japan to China to Thailand and everywhere in between.