LudoBites 7.0 (Los Angeles, CA) (2)

LudoBites 007
Gram & Papa’s

227 E 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 8/10/11

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An invitation for another trip of LudoBites was one I couldn’t resist. While the menu was largely the same since opening night, I couldn’t say no to the opportunity to revisit some of the favorite dishes from my first experience. Also, since Ludo is continually changing up the menu, there were a couple of completely new items: Jamaican chicken and the smoked vanilla bean bacon creme brulee.

Onion Tart, Bottarga

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I liked this tart a little better this time, perhaps because it came out of the kitchen a little warmer, a little crispier.

Dorade Ceviche, Cucumber Water, Purslane, Cucumber Flower

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I’m still not really a fan of this dish, even with the second time around. I thought it was a little less acidic and tart than last time, but I still wanted the fish to stand out a little more.

Fried Jamaican Chicken Wings

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Mmm these were tasty wings. I thought they could’ve been a little bit crispier, but the chicken had a wonderful depth of flavor…without being overwhelmingly spicy.

Salt Cod Panna Cotta, Whipped Fingerling Potato, Smoked Tapioca

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I liked that the flavors here were clean and distinct – the salt cod, the potato and the smokiness of the tapioca. Yet the play on textures was a welcome one too – the panna cotta combined with tapioca made for some creamy, chewy bites.

Pig’s Head Compressed with Cheddar, Barbeque Gelée

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Hah. Inspired by the term “head cheese.” I get it. Though it could’ve also been inspired by a s’more. Rich, smooth meat from the head is combined with cheddar, layered with crispy crackers. A really interesting dish, and delicious.

Egg, Sea Urchin, Caviar, Champagne Beurre Blanc

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This dish sounds really luxurious…and it is. Last time I had a hard time placing the sea urchin, but I was searching for it this time and totally got the flavor. Love it. Really comforting, with the creaminess of the egg and beurre blanc standing up to the saltiness of the caviar.

Tomato Soup, Carrots, Squid, Chorizo Oil

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The tomato soup was creamy with a subtle sweetness. The carrots provided the texture, while the squid and chorizo brought a little more of a meaty flavor.

Plancha Tandoori Octopus, Yogurt, Cauliflower, Grapefruit

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Just as good as last time, the octopus is just so tender. Loved the pairing of the smokiness from the grill with the citrus of the grapefruit.

Foie Gras “French Dim Sum,” Crispy Kimchi, Sake-Black Truffle Cream

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I think this was the same dish as opening night, with the buzz words “French Dim Sum” instead of “ravioli.” Whatever you call it, it was delicious. I found the pasta to be perfectly cooked and filled with rich, luscious foie gras. I didn’t get too much of the kimchi, but I wasn’t complaining; I just wanted more.

Duck, Cherry, Spicy Saucisse, Beets, Radish

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The duck was tender and moist, complemented by the tart cherries. Beets and radish added some crunchy texture.

Roasted Beef, Horseradish Cream, Green Beans, Dried Mole

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This was Ludo’s take on a classic roast beef dinner. All of the flavors were here – the roast beef, horseradish and a side of green beans. However, the dried mole made things a little bit more interesting, adding another (unexpected) flavor profile. Loved the presentation too!

Epoisse Cheese Risotto, Hazelnut, Egg Yolk, Herb Salad

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This was one of my favorite dishes from last time, and it still is. So good. It was rich, it was creamy, it was cheesy – I really appreciated the fresh herbs, adding bright flavors that stood up to the richness of the rice.

Peach Melba Vacherin, Lavender

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The peach was tasty, smothered in a light cream. I liked the overarching lavender flavor, setting this dish apart.

Smoked Vanilla Bacon Creme Brulee, Red Berry Salad

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This was a new dessert on the menu and definitely an interesting one. The creme brulee tasted, well, like smoky, porky bacon..yet in a rich custard. It was pretty weird for the first couple bites. Okay, it was really weird to me the whole time.  Accompanying  the custard was a refreshing, fruity (I think it was melon..maybe cantaloupe?) soup, instrumental in toning down the rich bacon flavor of the creme brulee.

I liked this meal slightly better than my first. While the menu was largely the same, I found many of the dishes to be a little more refined this time around. I’m not sure if I’ll get a chance to, but I’d love to return later in the pop-up’s run to see what else Ludo comes up with.

Previous LudoBites posts:
LudoBites 4.0 (2) | LudoBites 5.0 (2) | LudoBites 6.0 (2) (3) | LudoBites 7.0 | LudoBites America

LudoBites 7.0 (Los Angeles, CA)

LudoBites 007
Gram & Papa’s

227 E 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 8/3/11

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With a new show on the Sundance Channel, LudoBites continues to get more and more popular (along with its share of haters too, it seems). This is the seventh LudoBites (not including the one-night Ludo Bites America dinner), and a return to Gram & Papas, where I had some of my favorite meals of 2010 (home of LudoBites 4.0 and 5.0). Because of the continual buzz surrounding LudoBites and the limited nature of a pop-up, expectations run sky high and reservations tend to be scarce. As in, reservation-system-always-crashes type of scarce.

OpenTable promised a smooth reservation process this time around, though I’m not sure how many people believed it. While I can’t say it went without a hitch (pages still took minutes to load/did not load), the system worked much better than expected and reservations were all filled within a minute. One minute to fully book 16 tables a night for 22 nights. Crazy.

With a little bit of luck (maybe because it was my birthday), I was able to secure a reservation.

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Love the open kitchen at Gram & Papa’s.

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Onion Tart, Bottarga

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This was a pretty large portion to start the meal with. It was a crispy tart, covered with sweet onions and an interesting salinity from the bottarga.

Dorade Ceviche, Cucumber Water, Cornichons, Borrage Flower

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I thought the acidity was slightly overpowering here as the fish flavor was pretty mild. I liked the crunch of the cornichons though, as well as the mild complementary heat of the jalapeno.

Salt Cod Panna Cotta, Whipped Fingerling Potato, Smoked Tapioca, Black Olive Bread

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I really enjoyed this dish. There was a mild fish flavor in the smooth panna cotta and potato, and I loved the chewy texture of the tapioca. Loved. An overarching smoky flavor really complemented each bite as well. I thought this was a great example of some unusual, complex flavors mixed really well here.

Pig’s Head Compressed with Cheddar, Barbeque Gelée

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Mmm pig’s head. This really looked like a s’more coming out, with the meat and cheddar teaming up to look like melted chocolate and marshmallow. I thought the meat was tender and tasty, while a little bit of crunchy texture came from the cracker. The barbecue gelee (inspired by recent travels to Raleigh?) really kicked it up a notch, adding some extra depth of flavor, as well as some heat.

Egg, Sea Urchin, Caviar, Champagne Beurre Blanc, Bagel Chips

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The slow-cooked egg was really delicious here, heightened by some caviar. Those were the main flavors I got, as I felt the sea urchin was somewhat overshadowed here. Still, combining perfectly cooked egg with caviar made a combination sure to please.

Tomato Soup, Carrots, Squid

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I liked the richness and body of this soup, though somehow its flavor reminded everyone of Chef Boyardee (i.e. flavors of childhood?). I wouldn’t necessarily say this was a bad thing, but it was pretty interesting nonetheless. I enjoyed the tender squid and crisp carrots as well.

Plancha Tandoori Octopus, Yogurt, Cauliflower, Grapefruit

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Excellent dish. I’ve had some excellent octopus preparations at LudoBites in the past, and this was no exception. Tender and really smoky, I found the tart acidity of the yogurt and grapefruit to work really well with it.

Foie Gras Ravioli, Crispy Kimchi, Sake-Black Truffle Cream

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Ah, a foie gras dish – possibly the most anticipated ingredient in Ludo’s repertoire. I really liked the melt-in-mouth texture of the tasty foie gras, though found the pasta to be just a touch mealy. However, all of the flavors were spot on, especially with the earthiness of the cream sauce and crispy kimchi.

Duck, Cherry, Spicy Saucisse, Beets, Radish

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I thought the duck was cooked well and was nicely complemented by a slightly tart and acidic cherry sauce. Fresh, crispy beets and radish added some texture as well.

Roasted Beef, Horseradish Cream, Green Beans, Dried Mole

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The beef was cooked perfectly here, leaving it really tender and juicy. A classic condiment, horseradish, was present in a creamy form – loved the flavor combination. The flavors of a typical roast beef dinner were definitely present, though a little bit more refined here.

Epoisse Cheese Risotto, Hazelnut, Egg Yolk, Herb Salad

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Wow. Excellent. The risotto was a nice al dente, while the cheese and egg yolk aided in putting together a really rich creaminess. I thought the depth of flavor was exceptional too (with a hint of hazelnut coming through) – delicious.

Peach Melba Vacherin, Lavender

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Our first dessert course featured this sweet piece of peach. It had a fresh vibrant flavor, accompanied by a sort of light whipped cream. I thought the lavender essence really elevated the dish as well – loved that part!

Crustless Lemon Tart

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This dessert was just as advertised…it had the flavors of a lemon tart, without any crust at all. I thought there was a good lemon flavor here and I really liked the herbal flavor of the thyme with it. I preferred a little more texture, though (I was craving the crust, or some sort of crumble).

I found LudoBites 007 to be a success. In fact, I liked it quite a bit better than 6.0. As LudoBites gets more and more popular (i.e. reservations get harder and harder to get), I tend to wonder if increasing expectations will be met (especially by first-time diners). I think they will. Ludo’s creativity is always present in his dishes, and I thought the flavor combinations really worked well for the most part. It will only get better as Ludo refines his dishes from opening night. Instantly, I can think of a number of “slam dunk” dishes I’m sure to remember months (if not years) from now, including the risotto, octopus, and panna cotta.

Previous LudoBites posts:
LudoBites 4.0 (2) | LudoBites 5.0 (2) | LudoBites 6.0 (2) (3) | LudoBites America

LudoBites 7.0 Reservation Giveaway

The opening of the LudoBites reservation line has become an increasingly stressful time. How long will it take? Will I even get one?

I set up a calendar invite on July 14th at 4pm with a number of my co-workers. No distractions…one goal in mind: make a LudoBites reservation. Luckily, I got one and so did one of my co-workers. He can’t go anymore and has graciously donated the reservation to be given away.

The reservation is for the first seating of the first night of this LudoBites (ie. you’ll be one of the first people to try Ludo’s food this time around). This has been pre-approved by Krissy, so the reservation should be seamlessly transferred.

The details:
Date: Wednesday, August 3rd (opening night)
Time: 6:00
Party Size: 4

The contest:
I’m trying to keep it really simple. Please leave a comment with what dish (hypothetical or real) you’d like to see at the next LudoBites. Bring back the caramel souffle with fleur de sel ice cream? Or maybe some of the barbecue he learned in Raleigh? How about a foie gras ice cream?

Leave your name and e-mail address so I know how to contact you. Deadline to enter is Sunday at noon. I’ll have my co-worker pick the best entry (it is his reservation after all) and the winner will be announced Sunday afternoon. That’s it!

Any questions – I’ll address in the comments. Good luck!

exterior3 LudoBites 7.0 Reservation Giveaway

UPDATE (7/31):
Thank you to everyone for their comments. There were a lot of great ideas; clearly, foie gras is the most popular (and controversial?) ingredient in Ludo’s repertoire. We especially loved Wes P’s suggestion of the foie gras steamed bao, Dan Cox’s Elvis-inspired peanut & uni pop with freeze-dried banana, and even chubbymeat’s brazen challenge to cook a particular type of offal.

It was a very difficult decision (I wish we could’ve given away a dozen more reservations!), but Aly Rizzo’s suggestion of bringing breakfast to LudoBites was a unique one, and the idea of a “Ludo-fied” eggs benedict utilizing a honey-lavender biscuit was enough to get our appetites going!

So, congratulations to Aly Rizzo on winning the reservation!

LudoBites 6.0 – 10/21/10

LudoBites 6.0 at Max
13355 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

menu2 500x335 LudoBites 6.0   10/21/10

I don’t think Los Angeles’ dining scene has ever seen anything quite like this.  Now in its sixth incarnation, LudoBites continues to grow in interest not just in LA, but nationwide. No restaurant in LA has garnered quite as much acclaim or hate in 2010. Acclaim – because LudoBites has consistently received rave reviews for its delicious, innovative, and constantly-changing cuisine. Hate – because the restaurant “pops-up” for a limited time, and demand far outstrips supply, leaving many frustrated without a chance to try it.

This was never more evident than when reservations opened up for this iteration, and OpenTable’s custom-made system (designed to handle the massive crowd) still crashed. Thousands of users, including myself, were faced with the words “restaurant currently unavailable” time after time after time. Somehow..I got lucky, and obtained a reservation after 40 minutes of constant clicking (thank goodness!). After days of anticipation, I found myself at opening night of LudoBites 6.0 at Max in Sherman Oaks.

Dining with me this night were friends Kristen and Heather, as well as Kevin of kevinEats. For the first time, LudoBites has an alcohol license, so a wine list (created by Domaine547) and a cocktail were featured. On this night, a Mexican Mojito was offered:

Ludo’s recommended cocktail: Mexican Mojito

mexican mojito 500x335 LudoBites 6.0   10/21/10

This was a tequila-based cocktail, and it seemed to have a margarita-ish flavor to it. This mojito had the perfect amount of sugar; I find a lot of mojitos to be made too sweet.

Warm Baguette, Baratte Smoked Butter, Sardine-Laughing Cow Cheese

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Ludo makes an excellent baguette, and it’s always served hot out of the oven. To compliment this, two spreads were served. One butter had a predominant smoky flavor, and one was fishy…I actually enjoyed combining these two as I found it to have a really delicious sort of smoked fish flavor.

Hamachi, Vietnamese Style

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Next was one of the strongest dishes of the night. Beautifully plated, I loved the colors. Nice slivers of fish were complemented by textures of fried shallots and fried lotus root, with just a slight acidity to the dish. Wonderful.

Kumamoto Oysters, Kimchi Consomme Gelee, Camembert Mousse, Apple

oysters 500x335 LudoBites 6.0   10/21/10

This was a pretty interesting dish. The oysters were below the lettuce, in a gelee made of a kimchi consomee. Without being overpowering, this kimchi added a little bit of heat and acidity to the dish. I loved Ludo’s use of flowers in the presentation.

Marinated Mackerel, Leche Del Tiger, Baby Leeks, Verdolagas Leaves

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This mackerel, marinated in ponzu, had a nice firm flesh and a crispy skin. Sugar was added to the skin and torched to get that nice crusty effect. The vegetables added the necessary balance to this meaty fish. Nice presentation too!

Black Trumpet Mushroom Cappuccino, Creamy Butternut Squash

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This soup primarily had the sweet, rich flavors of the butternut squash, with a nice mushroom flavor on the back end. Warm and comforting.

Barely Cooked Squid Noodles, Pad Thai, Prawn, Tofu

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This was another of the favorites dishes of the night. The squid was so tender, it was kind of incredible. The flavors of a pad thai were present as well, with a little heat and a bit of a coconut milk flavor. The bean sprouts were a great textural element as well to round out this excellent dish.

Mussels Veloute, Green Peppercorns, Pineapple, Fennel, Potato Paille

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We were told that this was Ludo’s deconstructed version of moules frites. Interesting. The mussels were made into a rich and hearty soup with chunks of mussel meat and pineapple. I found the pineapple a bit odd if this was a moules frites inspiration; however I appreciated the sweetness it lended to the soup. The very thin shoestring fries were good with the soup (and for dipping!) and were extra crispy.

Poached Foie Gras, Green Lentils, Miso Broth, Turnips & Radish

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Hmm…poached foie gras. Not something you see very often. Loved it! The smooth and creamy liver really stood out in this preparation, melting in your mouth. The turnips and radish were the primary textural elements, while the lentils added some nice body to the dish.

Scallop, Celery Root Remoulade, Red Port, Walnuts, Passion Fruit

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Nicely seared, these scallops were cooked perfectly. The walnuts added some nice crispiness, though I was missing some of the passion fruit, which I think would’ve added some nice citrus to the dish.

John Dory, Potato, Herbs, Broccolini Flowers, Green Jalapenos Nage

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Loved the colors here again. The fish was firm and, I thought, a bit overcooked. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was due to all of us taking pictures and letting the fish sit in the broth a while. The broth was delicious, with an herbaceous flavor and touch of heat from the jalapenos. The potato crisps were good as well.

Half Chicken, Chorizo, Poached Egg, Chanterelles, Saffron Onions Soubise

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Ludo clearly knows his way around a chicken. His fried chicken is now served around the city in a truck, and here we have a “roasted” half chicken, which was actually prepared sous-vide. I imagined this was finished in the oven though, as it had a really crisp skin. The sous-vide preparation of the meat gave it a very moist, tender and succulent consistency. The flavor was spot on as well. I always love a poached egg, and the chanterelles were a nice accompaniment. Really, really good dish.

Nebraska Ribeye, Japanese Whiskey, Smoked Shisito Peppers, Amaranth

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This was a pretty simple dish for Ludo’s standards…and it was excellent. The steak was of an American wagyu breed, probably my favorite breed if I’m eating a whole steak (pure Japanese wagyu is too fatty).  The sear on the steak was perfect, and it was cooked to a tender and juicy medium rare. The shisito pepper (or my one bite of one) kicked my ass. Everyone else at the table seemed to have no problem with them though.

Next up were the two desserts on the menu this night.

Warm Carrot Cake, Coconut, Thai Curry, Mango Sorbet, Kaffir Lime Oil

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The carrot cake was served hot out of the oven, with a very moist and soft interior. It had a nice carrot flavor to it, and when eaten with all of the components, really resembled a Thai curry dish. In a good, sweet dessert way.

Pear, Hot Chocolate, Matcha Green Tea Broth, Mint

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This pear was poached until it had a fork-tender consistency. The “hot chocolate,” with a light mousse-like consistency, as well as the matcha green tea, made for a really interesting mix of flavors. I love green tea, and I thought the chocolate and the green tea melded well with the pear. This was a pretty light dessert, which my stomach appreciated after all of the previous courses.

This was another really good showing from Ludo and the team. As LudoBites receives more and more attention, dining expectations continue to rise. Ludo mentioned that he was conscious of this fact, and had to raise his own standards up. The food continues to be innovative and interesting; you’ll definitely come across ingredients and preparations you’ve never seen before. And, most importantly, it tastes good too. Cheers to another LudoBites!

LudoBites Truck – 8/14/10

LudoBites Truck aka LudoTruck
Locations around the city

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I don’t typically review the food trucks I visit, but the LudoBites truck is a little different from the typical food truck. Based on the now-famous fried chicken served at previous LudoBites engagements, the truck serves a few varieties of fried chicken, as well as a number of sides that compliment the chicken. Not yet ready for regular day-to-day service, it “pops-up” at various locations and events around the city with relatively minimal advertising – a way to limit the masses from overwhelming the truck (see: first LA Street Food Fest). Given the buzz currently surrounding everything LudoBites-related, it’s understandable that they are easing its way into normal service.

I was taking a gardening class at Cube LA’s downtown offshoot (Yes – I do have a small home garden), knowing that the truck would be paying a visit at noon – coincidentally, the class’ end time. I’ve had the chicken twice before, at the aforementioned LA Street Food Fest, as well as at LudoBites 4.0, and I was eagerly anticipating a third taste. Given that I was already on the scene as the truck arrived, our party was first in line to order!

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The truck’s menu features chicken prepared three ways, with a number of sauces, sides and desserts.

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Provencal Pepite “Chicken Ball” with Herbs de Provence, Crunch Buttermilk Strips, Honey-Garlic Glazed Wings and Coleslaw

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The chicken strip and wing are relatively new, with the ‘chicken ball’ being the staple. These were all quite good – the chicken strip was moist and tender, though the breading was a little thick. The wing was also moist with just the right sweetness, and the ‘chicken ball’ was as tasty as ever, though smaller than in previous incarnations. Served piping hot, the juices literally run all over once you bite into it.

Of the four sauces, I was able to try the honey whole grain mustard, piquillo, and Ludo’s hickory smoked BBQ (from left to right).

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I’m familiar with the piquillo sauce from prior visits; while good, my favorite was probably the hickory smoked BBQ sauce. Smoky, tangy and sweet – it really complemented the chicken, especially the fried variations.

“Perfect” Three-Day Fries

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I’m not sure why these are three-day fries, but they were relatively simple for Ludo’s standards. And that’s definitely not a bad thing; the fries exhibited a very nice crispiness while keeping a fluffy and moist interior…and hey, who doesn’t love fries with their fried chicken?

Honey Lavender Biscuit

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Ludo’s honey lavender butter served at LudoBites 4.0 was one of the best butters I’ve ever had. Using this butter to create a moist, yet flaky biscuit – voila! A really great biscuit, and it was great to see Ludo’s take on this southern classic.

To wash this all down, the truck offers soda, water and two agua frescas. Pictured below is the strawberry-watermelon.

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I really liked this. More watermelon than strawberry, it provided a very refreshing cleanser on this summer day.

The only other truck present was the Coolhaus truck, which offers some really good (and unique) ice cream sandwiches.

coolhaus 500x335 LudoBites Truck   8/14/10

I really enjoy their ice cream sandwiches, and is there a better way to cap off a meal on a warm summer day in LA? Well, yes. I opted for another helping of the “chicken balls.” I couldn’t help it.

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I was really happy to be able to enjoy this chicken once again; in fact, I had been looking forward to it for most of the week. It did not disappoint one bit, and I can’t wait for the LudoTruck to begin regular service!

LudoBites – 7/21/10

LudoBites 5.0 at Gram & Papa’s
227 E 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

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I was lucky enough to score a reservation to the opening night of this fifth incarnation of LudoBites. The husband-and-wife team of Ludo and Krissy Lefebvre continues to dramatically grow in popularity, clearly indicated by the reservation system crashing once reservations were available this time around. 3000 people tried to log on to the reservation system when it opened up at 5pm on July 7, more than it could handle.

Ludo is one of the most unique chefs around, with his pop-up restaurants giving the public just a brief taste of his ever-changing modern take on French cuisine – before it goes away again. The venue for this iteration is the same as LudoBites 4.0; perfect for me considering I live and work in downtown.

Given that this was LudoBites opening night, I expected to recognize some people, whether it be other chefs, celebrities or bloggers. My expectations were warranted, as Kevin of kevinEats and Ryan of Epicuryan sat down at a neighboring table, and Ludo superfan food writer Jonathan Gold was present as well.

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We tried most of the dishes offered, starting with the naan.

Vadouvan Naan Bread, Salted Coconut Butter

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The bread was a bit on the salty side, but a decent rendition of naan. The salted coconut had a good coconut flavor; but overall, this ‘bread course’ didn’t stand up to the baguette with honey lavender butter of LudoBites 4.0 – which I really enjoyed.

Grilled Squid, Heirloom Tomato Salad, Black Rice, Yuzu Red Onions, Umami Broth & Seaweed Tartar

squid 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

I really liked this dish. It screamed “summer” with its fresh, perfectly cooked seafood, and light vibrant flavors primarily from the tomatoes and yuzu red onions.

Raw Wagyu Beef, Dried Miso, Somen Noodle, Peanut Vinaigrette, Candied Watermelon, Mint

beef noodles 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10


Our server, as well as Krissy Lefebvre herself, raved about this dish…and it did not disappoint. Raw slices of wagyu beef topped cold somen noodles. I love beef with noodles, so this was right down my alley. The beef was not too chewy, and provided some great flavor, complemented by some mint and watermelon. The peanut vinaigrette provided just the right amount of acidity to cut through the rich meat. However, I’m not sure I could tell that this was wagyu beef if someone hadn’t told me.

Poached Egg, Potato Mousseline, Santa Barbara Spot Prawn, Chorizo Condiment

poached egg 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

This was probably my favorite dish of the night. A silky smooth potato mousseline sat atop a nicely poached egg, on top of some chopped pieces of spot prawn. Great combination here. The potato flavor was subtle, but the combination of the richness of the egg and the sweetness of the prawns was just perfect.

Grilled Octopus, Oregano, Grilled Hazelnut Polenta, Pineapple Aioli, Piment D’Espelette Gelee

octopus 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

I don’t think I’ve ever had octopus in this sort of presentation, with a large grilled tentacle on the plate. The octopus was cooked very well – moist and tender with a great, charred grill flavor. The gelee, a combination of a number of spices, was strong and really brought out some of the flavors of the octopus.

Next on to the entrees – four were offered on this night.

Hot Foie Gras, Chinese Barbecue Sauce, Miso Eggplant Terrine

foie gras 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

A very generous chunk of foie gras was presented, perfectly seared. Chinese hoisin sauce was a prominent flavor – I never imagined foie gras with hoisin sauce – but I thought these flavors went well together. In addition, it came with an eggplant terrine, a really unique preparation. Often when I have eggplant, it’s fairly mushy, but that was not the case here – it was more of an al dente texture.

Day Boat Cod, Torched Uni, Ratatouille, Red Bell Pepper Pickles, Black Curry

cod 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

I enjoyed this dish. The cod was cooked well and was really moist. The ratatouille was fantastic as well. I didn’t think the uni was really necessary though – tasty, but not adding much extra to the dish. I found the black curry to be very overpowering in this dish though, and stayed away from it.

Confit Pork Belly, Raw Choucroute Thai Style, Guiness, Emulsion

pork belly1 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

pork belly2 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

What restaurant doesn’t offer pork belly nowadays? This was an excellent rendition, with moist, succulent pieces of pork. The choucroute’s acidity provided a nice balance to the fattiness of the pork.

Steamed Duck, Lemon Verbena, Crispy Skin Puree, White Peach, Radish, Balsamic

duck 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

This dish was a little underwhelming for me. The duck, while cooked well, was steamed, and I was missing some of the complex, deep flavors that come with searing the meat. The crispy skin provided some nice textural crunch, but it wasn’t quite enough for me.

Next we were on to the desserts.

Campfire Smoked S’mores, Guacamole Sorbet

smore 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

The smore was a nice treat, and beautifully presented. However the guacamole (primarily just avocado) sorbet combination just didn’t work for any of us at the table.

Caramel Souffle, Blanco Grapefruit, Fleur De Sel Ice Cream

souffle 500x335 LudoBites   7/21/10

The last iteration of LudoBites featured a very popular dark chocolate souffle. This time around it was caramel – and I think it’s even better. The amount of caramel flavor was just right, and I really enjoyed the Fleur De Sel ice cream, effectively making this a ‘salted caramel’ souffle. Yum.

In all, we were all very satisfied with the meal. It was very solid from start to finish. Do I think it was better than LudoBites 4.0? Hard for me to say; they were both very, very good. I’ll probably have to make a return trip soon in order to make a judgment like that. Service was pretty good this time around..and as usual, Krissy and Ludo are very gracious hosts.