2012: Year in Food Review | The Deviled Eggs I (Happily) Paid For
Tater tots, Brussels sprouts, hot wings, and most of all, deviled eggs — If I see it on a menu, I order it.
I owe it to the wonderful Claire for helping me find love in deviled eggs all those years ago. I am grateful to Farmshop for always sending me a half-deviled, trout-laced amuse for countless solo brunching at the little bar counter (see above). And this year, I thank restaurants all over for serving the deviled little suckers in some off-kilter, delicious way.
(Save for The Spotted Pig’s deviled eggs, which Ted and I both agreed is our most favorite classic preparation, like, ever.)
(with tomato business.)
The Parish, 840 S. Spring St., Downtown LA
(L to R: bacon, jalapeño, pickled.)
Holeman & Finch, 2277 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA
(with smoked salmon.)
The Sycamore Kitchen, 143 S. La Brea Ave., Miracle Mile
2012: Year in Food Review | Oatmeal Fit To Sate A Pregnant Woman’s Cravings (Not Me)
Oatmeal is not what I want. Like, ever.
But … I started eating it, sparingly, like instant stuff from Trader Joe’s. I remember Fundamental LA’s fleeting affair with brunch, and Woogene (owner, all-around human of Awesome) encouraged me to order the oatmeal. No one was ordering it because there were things like pork grits to get — yet this was the one offering Woogene was secretly most proud of.
So, there it is above. (With a side of fried chicken.) It’s the best oatmeal in the world.
Another time, I had Liz order the oatmeal, and more than six months later — now pregnant and craving things — Liz, suddenly ravenous for this specific oatmeal, asked me to ask Woogene for the recipe. Pretty cute.
Woogene’s Coconut Oatmeal: The Recipe
1. Bring one part coconut milk and two parts water up to a boil, then whisk in the oatmeal. Don’t add too much oatmeal, because it’ll absorb the liquid and thicken up. Continue to whisk.
2. When it’s the desired consistency, season with brown sugar and a pinch of salt to taste … delicious.
3. Finish it, perhaps, with whipped honey (honey and Versawhip) + grapefruit segments.
And the incredible Liz — she’s going to have a beautiful baby in 2013. A baby with a taste for special oatmeal.
2012: Year in Food Review | The Perfect Slouch Of A Bacon Double-Cheeseburger
Good for smushing. With ten fingerprints.
For feeding me this burger, Simon Majumdar gets 100 percent of this burger lover’s gratitude.
Marty’s, 10558 W. Pico Blvd., West LA
2012: Year in Food Review | Fishing For Awesome: My First-Ever Lunch In Koreatown
This was the year that Cathy needed to give birth to a book, a food book — and she recruited her hungriest friends to eat all over the city with her to compile her caloric notes. For lunch one day, she invited two Vietnamese chicks to join her for Korean food — total head count: three Vietnamese chicks.
I find LA’s Koreatown intimidating. I’ve gone for BBQ three, maybe four, times. Once, I went for chicken wings. But never for lunch. And never to eat a bunch of whole fish (before reporting to the office).
Consider Jun Won the Providence of Koreatown — it’s seafood or bust. Growing up (again, as a Vietnamese chick), I ate a lot of fish off the bone, and it was confusing for me to first see a filet of, say, salmon in an American chain restaurant (I grew up in suburban Atlanta, Georgia).
I found our two fish at Jun Won — the first, steamed in a lot of heat-filled chili-garlic sauce, and the other, a delicate prep of pan-fried trout — to be incredibly nostalgic. The awkward pick-up of fish meat with chopsticks, the slithering of little fish bones from between my lips, all to be discarded onto a separate plate just for fish bones — this is what I did as a kid. Cathy and Natasha, too.
I didn’t know that the little snacks that clutter Korean-fooded tables had a name — banchan, the girls informed me with a what-the look of astonishment. It’s supposed to be the best at Jun Won. But most memorably my favorite accessory to the two fish was this slightly sweet rice, sticky red and brown, sparsely filled with barley and kidney beans. Awesome.
Jun Won, 3100 W. 8th St. #101, Koreatown
2012: Year in Food Review | 10 Things I Don’t Hate About Sotto
1. pizza guanciale — ricotta, scallions, fennel pollen
2. housemade bread — burrata, testina
3. tomato-braised octopus — chickpeas, chard, bottarga
4. cauliflower + almond zuppa — chilies, capers, sultanas
5. marinated sardine crostini — English pea macco
6. grilled mackerel — cauliflower, cured lemons, pesto pantesca
7. chopped octopus — puréed goodness
8. adult mac/ham ‘n’ cheese — staff meal
9. Merrin’s spicy Scotch egg — staff meal
10. grilled pork meatballs — hard boiled egg, snap peas, bitter greens
While I was working upstairs, consider Sotto my foster family. Dina, my older sister, Nastassia, my younger sister, and chefs Steve and Zach, older brothers that always, so kindly, would ask me regularly, “Lien, you want something to eat?”
You can’t refuse meatballs. Not Sotto’s. But if I wasn’t eating what Steve and Zach were generously cooking for me, I would eat chef Merrin’s thoughtful family suppers, which she prepared most nights after Sotto’s dinner service. The thing I love bragging the most about Merrin is: The woman, who carries her knives in a tool box, has never repeated a staff meal. Second, she bakes. I ate a lot of her perfect cookies, but I will not soon forget that ever-moist coffeecake crumble thing.
On my last day in the building, Zach made me a pizza — the Diavolina (pictured below), and it was spicy, meaty, and pretty. 49 likes on Instagram so far.
pizza diavolina — tomato, Calabrian chilies, ‘nduja, pecorino, kale, onion
Sotto, 9575 W. Pico Blvd., S. Beverly Hills
2012: Year in Food Review | The Most Stunning Salad
late-summer salad of squash, its blossoms, plum and almond milk.
In September, I chose Alma for dinner, preamble to Beach House, both birthday gifts from ShelBelle. To celebrate, we picked up personal bottles of suspicious sparkling rosé wine, to which the new restaurant chilled for us in a charming four-quart container (pictured below).
We ate 85 percent of the menu, sitting directly in front of the chefs, and I believe I described the stunning salad as being “ingredient-driven in the mouth.” That’s right.
Alma, 952 S. Broadway, Downtown LA
2012: Year in Food Review | I Got Kinki (Twice)
crispy kinki, or idiot fish — at Night + Market.
seared kinki — at Kiriko.
(more of the Kiriko diet here.)
I first heard of kinki at Kiriko, spotting chef Tomo-san cleaning it in between shifts for staff meal. He promised it to me for next omakase, only to discover it days later, listed as a special at Night + Market — with the aka of “idiot fish.” I eventually got the idiot in sushi form, too, of course.
2012: Year in Food Review | Omakase Remix
seared halibut fin.
uni ice cream in gazpacho.
uni d(u)o me.
deep-fried shrimp heads.
mango-hugging smoked salmon + monkfish liver.
bonito + halibut/black truffle.
Not much else in life beats a seat in front of chef Tomo-san, clad in his black “got wine?” cap. To more solo omakase in the new year.
Kiriko, 11301 Olympic Blvd. #102, West LA
"but without a story, a taco is a taco."