POT (Los Angeles, CA)

The Line Hotel
3515 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Dining date: 4/30/14

So far, Roy Choi’s restaurants have represented a number of cuisines/concepts from Korean-Mexican fusion to Caribbean to Asian rice bowl-centric Chego, but POT is his first deep dive into Korean cuisine. POT is one of a few concepts Choi is in charge of at the new Line Hotel in Koreatown, which also includes the bar (in collaboration with Matthew Biancaniello), cafe and room service.


The name of the restaurant is sure to get a rise out of many, but it’s a play on words for the restaurant’s focal dish – Korean hot pots. Approximately eight are offered at any point in time – some vegetarian, some with seafood, some with offals. Something for everyone, really, as long as the hot & spicy pots are your thing. Dozens of other Korean items complete the menu with a lot of variety.


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Lamb Showdown @ Guelaguetza (Los Angeles, CA)

Lamb Showdown: Manzke vs. Samson/Pollack
3014 W. Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Dining date: 2/20/12


I had no idea it was “Lamb Lovers Month,” but apparently February is. I suppose you can name a month for anything, especially if there’s money behind it. In celebration of the month, the American Lamb Board helped sponsor a lamb feast, presented by FoodGPS called the “Lamb Showdown.” It was a competition between a few highly regarded LA chefs: Walter Manzke (Republique) and Steve Samson & Zach Pollack (Sotto).

The showdown setup was thus: each chef team prepared 3 courses (2 savory and 1 sweet) for a total of 6. At the end of the meal, each diner received a scorecard to choose their winner of the night, and the chef with the highest score received a $500 prize. The cost of admission was $75pp, all-inclusive, including three glasses of Eagle Rock Brewery beers. It was an interesting concept; I like lamb, I like all three chefs, and I like Eagle Rock Brewery – the choice to go was easy for me.


The first beer, paired with the two appetizers, was Eagle Rock Solidarity. Coffee, chocolate, cola flavors. A richer beer to start with, but the first courses were bold and hearty, particularly Steve & Zach’s.


MANZKE: LAMB TARTARE tomato dashi, yuzu kosho, smoked sesame


The meat was chewy and quite flavorful, with a bunch of Asian influences from the dashi, yuzu kosho and sesame. Quite nice, very refined – it kind of reminded me of Totoraku’s beef tartare in a way. Little slivers of a root vegetable (daikon?) added some fine texture and freshness in each bite.

SOTTO: LAMB TONGUE chickpea fritter, pickled turnips, sheep’s milk yogurt


The tongue was expectantly tender, paired with a dense, fried chickpea fritter. A yogurt and pickled turnip brought the components together, while providing a tart acidity to counter the richness.

The second beer, paired with the entrees, was Eagle Rock Revolution. The pale ale was light and refreshing with clear citrus notes.


MANZKE: LAMB SHOULDER ‘TORTA’ backyard-smokyed lamb with avocado & chili



A remarkable dish. The shoulder was extremely tender, with lamb flavor still coming through the smokiness. A buttery brioche was so soft to chew through, complemented by an avocado spread, slaw and a spicy chili sauce. This was pretty delicious; an ideal food to consume with beer.

SOTTO: LAMB NECK fregola sarda, artichooke ragu, pecorino fonduta


The gamey lamb flavor was very evident in this course, a rich and fatty seared lamb neck. Good flavor. The fregola sarda (an Italian pasta that is a  cous cous look-a-like) added a nuttiness, lightened by some crisp greens.

The last beer, with the dessert courses, was the Eagle Rock Libertine, a witbier that was malty with some spice notes. I thought this paired pretty well with the sweet desserts.



SOTTO: SHEEP’S MILK RICOTTA FRITELLA pistachio, citrus, bitter honey


The execution of the fritella was a little inconsistent here, with some being much airier and fluffier, and some being rather flat. Still, they were decent pieces of fried dough with a lingering sweetness; some fresh citrus added a sweetness while pistachios added some saltiness and texture.

MANZKE: SHEEP’S MILK RICOTTA CHURROS candied kumquats, sheep’s milk yogurt sorbet & hazelnut goat’s milk hot chocolate

hot chocolate and sorbet

Unfortunately, something malfunctioned and there were no churros. Boo. While the centerpiece was absent, the rest of the components still conveyed the lamb theme. The sorbet had a sort of gamey funkiness from the sheep’s milk, slightly tart. The hot chocolate was quite nice, very rich with good chocolate flavor. Would’ve been good to dip something in here…

This was a fun event – good food, good beer, good company (and good music!). So who won? The Sotto team of Steve & Zach. How did I vote? Similarly, I had to give the edge to the Sotto team. I liked Manzke’s flavors and plating better, but I thought Sotto’s dishes had an added layer of complexity and good use of more unusual cuts of meat; plus, the churro mishap spelled Manzke’s doom.

Wolvesmouth @ Beer Belly (Los Angeles, CA)

Beer Belly
532 S. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Dining date: 6/28/11


I first went to a Wolvesmouth dinner in January and have been itching to return. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to – it continues to get more and more popular and, thus, seats are even harder to come by.

As a way to reach more people, Wolvesmouth (Craig Thornton) and team did a one-night dinner at new Koreatown bar Beer Belly. It’s an ideal match – the bar is closed Tuesdays (i.e. an available kitchen), and there’s plenty of brews to pair with the food. The set-up: two seatings of 28 people each sold first-come, first-served online; 6 courses for $50.


In addition to the beers offered at the bar, a unique set-up wherein wines purchased from Domaine LA were discounted and delivered straight to the bar, waiting upon arrival. Pretty sweet.


Bread from Bread Lounge started off the meal, as well as a barley malt butter.


Corn Soup crab, corn fritter, jalapeno, cilantro, buttermilk, lime

corn soup

I do not hesitate in saying this was the best corn soup I’ve had. Probably the best corn-centric dish I’ve had. Seriously. The corn lent a mild sweetness, as did the crab. The lime, paired with the crab, really elevated the dish for me by adding some light acidity – a perfect complement to the creamy corn soup. Really well-balanced, for sure.

Black Truffle Risotto chive, parmesan

truffle risotto

I had heard rumors of this dish and was really looking forward to it. For a six-course meal at $50, I wasn’t sure this could really be pulled in.

The rice was al dente, while the onions gave a slightly acidic taste to it. The risotto itself was executed well. The truffle flavor was fairly subtle; if anything, I would have preferred to pay a little more for some additional truffle flavor to bring it to the forefront.

Blue Lake Beans yellow wax beans, summer squash, peach, cider, salted yogurt, granola


Craig made it a point to note these were not French haricot verts; rather lesser-known blue lake beans. These had a buttery flavor; all of the vegetables were warm, contrasting the cool fruit. Speaking of fruit, the peach was notably juicy and delicious. I thought the tart yogurt did a good job of counteracting the sweetness inherent in the fruit, while the granola added a sweet, earthy flavor.

Lamb potato puree, dill, horseradish, lingonberry



Maybe the most anticipated dish of the evening – this did not disappoint. The lamb was very tender (cooked rare/medium-rare) and not at all gamey, while the horseradish and lingonberry added a spicy and sweet accompaniment, respectively. The potato puree was excellent as well, with a little bit of a tart note (creme fraiche or sour cream added?).

Cornbread Ice Cream fig, brown butter short bread


This tasted exactly as advertised, with just a little sweetness. I thought this was pretty tasty with the crunch of the brown butter shortbread, while the fig added a slightly sweet, fresh flavor.

Creme Fraiche Vanilla Panna Cotta strawberry, vanilla pound cake


I was disappointed for this dish to come since I didn’t want the meal to end. The pound cake soaked up much of the sweet strawberry juice, working well with the mildly sweet panna cotta. A little bit of pop rocks added an extra fun texture to the dish.

This dinner exceeded expectations. I try not to rave about a meal unless absolutely warranted, but I really liked this one. I was afraid that maybe it would be a “diluted” version of Wolvesmouth for the masses, but it wasn’t. It was true to the Wolvesmouth style, just abbreviated to six courses. Perhaps not quite as creative as my last meal, but I didn’t mind (the restraint was welcome). It was unique enough, executed well and quite delicious – again, I’m already craving a return visit. Given the success, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is just the first of many Wolvesmouth meals at Beer Belly.