Snacking At Gjelina Los Angeles

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 03, 2011

gjelina logo

Since its unveiling in 2008, seemingly every major food writer in LA has hit Gjelina; thus, it became a spot to explore during my recent West Coast adventure.  A wonderfully popular restaurant in the Los Angeles suburb of Venice, Gjelina runs under the direction of executive chef (and co-owner) Travis Letts.

Ultimately, Gjelina’s popularity is derived from the food, which is widely reported to be something of a godsend to the tongue.  Meanwhile, it’s supposed that you’ll often find persons on top of persons no matter what the time of day.  Consequently, I’d like to emphasize that if you’re not careful, you’ll miss the aesthetic pleasures that Gjelina has to offer.  In a restaurant that’s sure to be bustling during your meal, where something transcendent is supposed to show up on your table, it would be easy to miss the comforts that the space offers your eye (although not your ears).

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Ink.Sack: LA’s Trending Sandwich Shop Doesn’t Stack Up To Atlanta’s Best 1

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 02, 2011

ink.sack

This is a tale of two sandwich shops.  One is Ink.Sack, a small take-out sandwich shop from Top Chef alum Michael Voltaggio.  It’s flashy, it’s forward thinking, and it’s got a reputation to uphold.  Thanks to its celeb chef and its location in little strip of shops on Melrose Ave in Los Angeles, the bar is high for Ink Sack.

Meanwhile, all the way across the country in one of Atlanta’s underbelly neighborhoods sits Victory Sandwich Bar, a punk rock meets hipster sandwich bar whose concept isn’t wholly different than Ink.Sack’s.  Though Victory’s origins don’t carry the same pressure as does Ink.Sack’s, the two restaurants are close enough conceptually that a comparison is fair, even though they sit roughly 2,200 miles apart.

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Son of A Gun: Man Overboard In LA

Posted by Foodie Buddha on December 01, 2011

son of a gun

At face value, Son of A Gun in Los Angeles serves as the antithesis to its sister restaurant, the highly regarded though disappointing to me Animal.  Animal is simply dressed, whereas Son of A Gun is festooned with knickknacks.  Animal focuses on things of land, whereas Son of A Gun is a showcase for seafood.

But once you scratch the surface, you see that chef/owners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo have built something deeply connected to their flagship restaurant.  Both restaurants focus on rich dishes where calories seem to take a backseat to flavors; and while the menus at both rotate on a daily basis, each restaurant has its staples.  Still, a single sitting at Animal didn’t frustrate, it instead tempered against the oodles of praise.  Meanwhile, in about 45-minutes of mealtime, Son of A Gun crashed and burned worse than the McCourt’s marriage.

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Animal Restaurant: LA’s Meatiest Endeavor

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 30, 2011

IMG_2907

Nearly everything chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo touch these days turns into critical gold.  In the case of Animal, their first restaurant, Shook and Dotolo have ingratiated themselves to Los Angeles’s food scene as fast as anyone that I’m familiar with, and that’s no small feat.  That being what it is, lest we forget that these two are mortals, I was privy to some faux pas during a rather mundane experience while on my West Coast visit.

With my darling Flipper at the wheel (all my friends get nicknames – I didn’t kidnap a dolphin), the two of us set out from Long Beach for a little early-week treat at this lauded restaurant on N. Fairfax.  Greeted by a kindly valet and a warm smile from the hostess, we were seated promptly in accordance with our reservation time.  The rest of the evening was a mixed bag ultimately enjoyed thanks to good company (and a little vino).

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LA’s Hot Dog Hot Spots: Oki-Dog, Papaya King, Pink’s

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 30, 2011

pink's hot dog stand at LAX

While New York may be considered the hot dog capital of the world and while Chicago may have a hot dog that bears its name, West Coast megaplex Los Angeles is the true champ.  Sure enough, there’s some council that keeps track of this stuff and LA supposedly consumes more weenies than either Chi-town or Nu Yok Citay.   In fact, the city of Angels has several hot dog institutions.  So it should not be all that surprising that I made a point to visit a trio of those institutions during my West Coast soiree.

Between Oki-Dog, Papaya King, and Pink’s, there’s about as much name recognition as there is with most any hot dog dispensary in the country.  So with a good bit of anticipation, I squeezed in a visit to each establishment during my six-days in sunny LA.

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MB Post: A Very Naughty Restaurant

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 29, 2011

mb post signage

MB Post, the short form of Manhattan Beach Post, has been a buzzing Los Angeles area restaurant for several months.  A Modern American gastro pub, this David LeFevre helmed establishment reportedly packs them in on a nightly basis; so during the LA stop of my West Coast tour, I made it a point to take Flipper for a ride to see what the chatter was all about.

MB Post sits about 10-minutes south of LAX, just a few blocks off the Pacific Ocean.  The menu is frequently rotated selection of cheeses, meats, veggies, seafood, and everything in between.  But it’s not simply just a list of items that categorically fit those descriptions.  Instead, the menu, and by extension the atmosphere, is a playful experience that comfortably settles in amongst America’s ragging food trends.

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Pizzeria Mozza: In Want of A Wow Pizza

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 29, 2011

mozza's pizza logo

As I stepped into Pizzeria Mozza I was knee deep in the Los Angeles portion of my West Coast escapade.  By then, my stomach was well-coated with some of LA’s greatest culinary offerings; but, that didn’t diminish my anticipation for this pie.  Stationed just off Melrose Ave, one of Hollywood’s many famed thoroughfares, Mozza is widely cited pizza mecca as this Mario Batali/Nancy Silverton/Joseph Bastianich pizza joint comes backed by reputations steeped in greatness.

Greatness might be an understatement.  Pizzeria Mozza has received lustful and unequivocally reverent praise from the famed Michelin Guide, the LA Times, the gang at SLICE, and just about every other foodie known to you or me.  The bustling atmosphere and oodles of pizza porn further galvanized my about to be realized dreams.

Even on a random mid-afternoon Sunday, the pizzeria teemed with energy.  Tables were full and bar patrons happily munched and drank the afternoon away.  Meanwhile, servers whisked about and Mozza’s crack commando team of pizzaiolos slung dough with the symphonic-like moves of a master Kapellmeister.  I was expecting to be face first in pizza glory just as soon as I could wrangle myself a seat.

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Sapp Coffee Shop & Sanamluang Cafe: Must Visits

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 28, 2011

thai boat noodles at sapp coffee shop

It took me five-years, but I finally did it.  After a painstaking 43,800 hours – I finally got my opportunity to take down the seemingly perfect, ethereally delicious sample of Thai boat noodles that have been pumped out en masse by the oddly named Sapp Coffee Shop, a tiny little dive of a restaurant in Los Angeles’s East Hollywood Thai town.  And thanks to a little guiding light from the Big Burrito at Roaming Hunger, a mere 10-minutes after we devoured our boat noodles, we were face deep in a plate of the most luscious, dripping with flavor Pad See Ew, courtesy of Sanamluang Cafe.

Of all of my everyman meals from trip – the single samplings at Sapp Coffee Shop and Sanamluang in were some of the most remarkable.  Each dish was simply outstanding, stupefyingly affordable, and crave worthy to the Nth degree. Continue reading…

SAAM at The Bazaar: A Seminal Meal 2

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 28, 2011

the sls hotel For me, SAAM at The Bazaar, the intimately tranquil private chef’s tasting room hidden within The SLS Hotel Beverly Hills, has long been an “I want to go to there” restaurant.  It’s one of several unique dining experiences offered inside the upscale Los Angeles hotel, which essentially serves as the West Coast fortress of chef José Andrés.

Andrés, who is the most well known proponent of molecular cooking in the US, has continually taunted me with his culinary experiments for long enough.  And so it came to be that during my West Coast food philandering, I was willing and able to explore this science meets food eating mashup.  It was an experience for the ages.

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Cheesesteaks, Hot Dogs, and The LA Food Truck Paradigm

Posted by Foodie Buddha on November 28, 2011

the dogtown dogs truck

In my brief flirtation with Los Angeles food trucks, I manage to sample, or at least attempt to sample, four diverse offerings that each presented some insight into the current state of street food in LA.  I already waxed foodetic about Kogi, whose food may not be worth the 45 to 60 minute wait that can sometimes come with some of their Korean tacos; but, who provides a real value with pretty good grub from an insanely well run truck (or trucks as the case may be).

So against that standard, I was able to frame two other food truck meals and one “are you freaking serious?” failure of epic proportions.  We’ll start with the solid, get to the just okay, and wrap it with a serious cry for one truck to get their shit together.  Hopefully, in 1500 words or less! #ICanBeVerbose

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