Skype is an adventure when you’re on a 4-mile island, have dial-up, and don’t have a microphone. But seeing Tavita Popo is the best Christmas gift ever!
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.”