92 restaurants down, 9 to go. Wow. This week gave me a lot of variety. I ate Japanese, Thai, Singaporean, Mediterranean, Oaxacan, and seafood. Here’s week nine from favorite to least-favorite:
Starry Kitchen (#55) — YES! That Singaporean Chili Crab was incredible! Totally messy and totally delicious. Only 8 places in North America serve this dish because the preparation is such a long process. I will be back for more.
Mantee (#81) — I love Armenian food! The “King’s Delight” (cubed, tender filet mignon stewed with tomatoes, garlic, and parsley) was awesome and their non-traditional dolma (rice- & vegetable-stuffed eggplant) was great with yogurt sauce.
Shunji (#10) — Fantastic sushi! My favorite was the Japanese barracuda and a dish of squid in its own ink with uni, truffle, and quail egg.
Night + Market (#17) — This Northern Thai spot specializes in all things pork, but the candied pork in my shrimp paste rice was awful. The rest of the dish was fine and the Thai-style “ice cream sandwich” (coconut ice cream w/ condensed milk over sweet rice and a sweet roll) was great.
Son of a Gun (#38) — I’ve never had octopus so tender. But the “shrimp toast” - a sandwich of overly-buttered brioche and shrimp all deep fried and stuffed with tons of mayo and sriracha - tasted a little too “County Fair” for my liking.
Rocio’s Mole de Los Dioses (#87) — One of the three moles I tried was good, but the other two were not impressive. My cochinita pibil was dry and underseasoned. Mega bummer.
Sapp Coffee Shop (#91) — The boat noodle soup just didn’t taste fresh and crisp, if that makes sense. But that’s what I get for coming right before closing time.
Get my full reviews at http://www.yelp.com/list/jonathan-golds-101-best-restaurants-los-angeles-3
Maybe I’m getting jaded, but there were a lot of “misses” and few real “hits” in my dishes this week. It may also have to do with the fact that many of the things I got are more classic American street food and meat dishes. From top to bottom, here we go:
Golden Deli (#73) — Straight-up the best pho I’ve ever had. Al dente noodles, impossibly-thin beef, and rich but thin broth. And the egg rolls are beyond compare.
Vincenti (#32) — Awesome risotto scampi with perfectly-cooked shrimp and veggies. I majorly burned my tongue shoveling this dish down. Their focaccia also pleasantly reminds me of my mother’s homemade pizza. Best Italian I’ve had in L.A. (and the last on my list!)
Cut (#9) — I splurged on the American Wagyu filet mignon. Best steak of my life, but I’m still not a hard-core steak lover.
Bazaar (#46) — Jose Andres is famous for his “molecular gastronomy” and he pulls out all the stops here. The “Philly cheesesteak” — air bread filled with liquid white cheddar and topped with thin strips of wagyu — is as good as everybody says. But a lack of seasonal produce is evident and the quality and taste of some dishes suffer for it.
Lucques (#6) — Had an enjoyable lunch of grilled asparagus and artichokes on ricotta toast. Very oily, but still tasty and brought together well with lemon pulp and a little anchovy.
Plan Check (#64) — Their off-the-menu truffle burger ain’t bad. One of the better burgers I’ve had (but then again, mushrooms are a culinary obsession of mine).
Fab Hot Dogs (#98) — Yeah, they’re pretty good hot dogs, but not worth seeking out.
Tasting Kitchen (#15) — A disappointing brunch. The grilled fig-and-cheddar I’d been excited about was relatively fig-less and over-buttered.
Ciro’s (#96) — Darn. I usually love flautas but the chicken was dry and unseasoned, and the guacamole was flat. I drove 3 hours for this?
Superba Snack Bar (#56) — The bucatini carbonara was the richest, heaviest pasta I’ve ever had and left me with a gigantic stomachache. Cream should enhance flavors and textures, not overwhelm them.
“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children.”
I’m 3/4 of the way through my Los Angeles dining extravaganza! This week was a tour of Chinese seafood and Latin spots. From best to worst, here’s week 7:
Picca (#51) — An amazing Peruvian anticucheria. My favorites included a quinoa-pumpkin stew (with choclo, fried tomato, parmesan, potato, and a fried egg!), the diver scallops with aji aioli, and a fantastic yuzu-laden tres leches cake. That’s right, the lengua (a dish I always love) didn’t even make the top three—that’s how good this place is.
El Parian (#97) — Goat stew? Did somebody say goat stew? Although it was gamey and oily, the “birria de chivo caldo” was a delicious, primal Mexican experience.
Angelini Osteria (#37) — Giada De Laurentiis lauded the Lasagna Verde on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” It was the perfect combination of ragu, ricotta, and pasta, but still didn’t totally blow me away.
Manhattan Beach Post (#50) — Their french toast may have beaten out Kneaders’ for the #1 spot in my book. I could eat it everyday. Their cheddar-bacon biscuits, though, aren’t worth the hype.
Post & Beam (#47) — I love me some fried catfish, and it was done well in a wrap with avocado, pickled tomato, black bean hummus, and chimayo mayo. I only wish there was more substance and less tortilla.
Le Comptoir (#49) — Chef Gary is a vegetable ninja, but the dishes became disjointed the meal, like a bunch of non-complementary flavors heaped on a plate. Fabulous corn veloute, though.
Sea Harbour (#16) — I always enjoy choosing my fish and seeing it come out to me steamed and whole. My rock cod was nicely dressed in the traditional Cantonese fashion: ponzu, scallions, and chili sauce.
Shanghai No 1 Seafood Village (#31) — Hit-and-miss food. Loved the pan-fried pork buns (sheng jian bao), but the seafood rice soup was totally bland.
Church & State (#30) — The steak tartare was underseasoned and the loup de mer was overdone, but I absolutely loved the cheddar puff pastry amuse-bouche!
Cacao (#92) — They recently downsized their menu and got rid of the best tacos. The vegetarian rellenos (stuffed with mushrooms and corn) were fine but too cheesy. Camarones were great.
Soban (#52) — Ganjang gaejang: Soy-sauce marinated raw crab! There was far too much sesame oil and the banchan, although plentiful, was bland.
Salt’s Cure (#24) — This greasy meat-and-potatoes brunch spot never stood a chance with me. I’m just not a fan of fatty pork in any of its varieties.
This week saw trends in both the Korean and seafood departments. I’ve never had Korean before I moved to Los Angeles, and now I absolutely love it. But my life has forever been changed by the Mexican food in East LA. Here’s the week’s recap from best to worst:
La Casita Mexicana (#39) — Why oh why does this place have to be so far away from me? I am in love with their moles, had an unbelievable chile en nogada, and ate the best rice I’ve ever experienced. I can never EVER enjoy TexMex again.
Ink (#13) — How do you take broiled halibut and give it Mediterranean flair? Plate it with greek yogurt, black garlic, raw cucumber, and liquid falafel, of course! How do you turn semifreddo into an apple pie? Dip it in liquid nitrogen and plate it with a caramel patty, shortbread, and tiny balls of apple reduction, of course! Chef Michael Voltaggio is the Steve Jobs of the restaurant world. Amazing.
Park’s BBQ (#27) — Grilled shrimp, lots of mushrooms, and endless banchan. This is my kind of Korean BBQ.
Dae Bok (#100) — Of course I had to try the poison blowfish! Tasted like a cross between albacore and halibut. The stew was totally healthy and I loved the porridge they made of the dregs.
The Hungry Cat (#59) — I probably should have ordered a daily special because the seafood in my always-on-the-menu cobb salad was jut not terribly fresh. The famous bread pudding didn’t do it for me, either.
Cooks County (#62) — Average scramble and a cheddar biscuit that didn’t live up to the hype. And a $9 cup of strawberries. I’ve had better brunches.
Lukshon (#34) — The most oily/buttery fish dish I hope I ever eat. That is all.
Ración (#83) — Besides the heavenly beef tongue toast, the tapas here were very disappointing.
Little Dom’s (#71) — Being a mushroom fanatic, I was really surprised to find the eggs funghi plate boring. The blueberry ricotta pancakes were amazing every other bite… somebody should have mixed the batter better.
Fig (#43) — Don’t throw money at already-wasted money. Sometimes the food at a restaurant is just not good and another dish isn’t going to change that.
See full reviews of all my experiences thus far at Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants at http://www.yelp.com/list/jonathan-golds-101-best-restaurants-los-angeles-3
My heart is so full of joy right now. This past week I’ve begun studying the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and as I’ve learned of Him, the Plan of Salvation, and God’s infinite love for us, my desire to embrace the effects of the Atonement has increased and my heart and life have begun to change. President Howard W. Hunter said:
As we come to understand His mission and the atonement which He wrought, we will desire to live more like Him.
I can testify that this is true because I’m experiencing it. As we nourish the seed of faith and experiment with coming unto Christ, we will taste of His goodness and grace and mercy and we will want to do all that is necessary to return unto Him and become as God is.
I know that Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father, left the majesty and power and glory of His heavenly throne to descend to earth were He would suffer pains and afflictions and mocking and scourging so that He could perform an infinite and eternal sacrifice for all of God’s creations. It was a divine mission that only He could perform, and He did it specifically for you. He descended below all things and suffered immeasurably for all of your pains, sicknesses, sorrow, and sins. He came to live with us as man so that we can someday return to live with Him as gods.
I want to shout it from the rooftops: Christ is our Savior! He gives meaning and salvation to this otherwise pointless and damned world! There is a purpose to our lives because of Him who has saved us! What a wonderful blessing that we can receive exaltation—we, who ourselves are less than the dust of the earth! Christ is THE way, the ONLY way. Any other way is foolishness and a waste of our mortal opportunity.
I am so grateful for the Atonement of my Savior. I know that only through Him can I grow and have my many, many weak places made strong. I love Him and our Father. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is their gospel, restored in its fulness, on the earth today. I know this to be true in my heart of hearts because I’ve tested the seed of faith and have seen it grow and bless me. I invite any and all to come and experience it for themself. This is my testimony, as feeble as my words are, and I seal it in the blessed name of Jesus Christ, Amen.