Sprinkles cupcakes; sweet potato chips from 25 Degrees, Roosevelt Hotel; Kyochon fried chicken; Umami burger

Los Angeles, the City of Angels. More appropriately (for me anyway), it was the City of Food, or rather, of amazing burgers, cupcakes and fried chicken. Love. Over the course of four days, we ate at a dozen supertacular places, but in light of keeping this post to a read-able length, I’m going to do some culling (wow this is hard, you realise this is like me culling my children) and touch on the best of LA eating.

[Note: I woke up this morning thinking about KyoChon fried chicken, hence I finally got my butt into gear to do this post]

So here goes, and in no particular order…

Itacho RestaurantAmerican tw-eat-up, Japanese style

One of the things that got me giddy excited about arriving in LA (after a 5 hour drive from Vegas, which really, was nothing after we’d survived the 10 hour from San Fran to Vegas just days earlier) was not so much the food (ok I lie, the food) but also dinner with my three favourite ladies from Twitterverse – Sarah, Esther and Noelle. Sarah I’ve been in love with forever (I mean, god she manages Tastespotting, need I say more?), Esther is clued up on all things LA, and Noelle, she’s hilarious and very tall :)

So the west coast tw-eat-up was at Itacho, a Japanese restaurant in West Hollywood which has recently received Michelin recommendation.  We ordered a bunch of sharing plates, which if you can’t make it out below, were Agedashi Tofu, Asari Butter (steamed clams in butter sauce), Kani Su (crab meat served with seaweed), Wagyu Beef Tataki, Shiba Ebi (Japanese style fried whole shrimp including head), Nasu Miso (sauteed egg plant with sweet miso), and Halibut Carpaccio.

I of course had Green Tea Mochi for dessert, but this needs no explanation.

Itacho Restaurant

Somewhere amongst these dishes we also had Salmon Skin Salad, Tatsuta Age (Japanese style crispy deep fried chicken) and a 720mL bottle of Kiku-sui sake, a smooth and mild concoction which at some point during the night I ended up lapping directly from the cup. Don’t ask.

The food was fresh and tasty, and judging from the responses from the local ladies, it was good by LA standards. I was more gobsmacked that Adam Goldberg was eating at the table next to us, and for those not in the know, he’s Nick Rubenstein from Entourage, the guy who financed Medellín. Very cool.

Itacho Restaurant
7311 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90032
(323) 938 9009
website

Itacho on Urbanspoon

25 Degrees @ The Roosevelt Hotelamazing sweet ‘tater chips!

25 Degrees gets rave reviews in LA as well as overseas. I’d heard about these mindblogglingly good burgers for months and months leading up to our trip, and as a result I was all for staying at the Roosevelt Hotel, I mean, wouldn’t you want to be as close to these fantastical burgers as possible?

I would.

But anyway, we didn’t stay at the Roosevelt (we stayed at the Andaz West Hollywood instead which is the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at, right up there next to The Royalton in NYC) which turned out to be a good thing because people, the Roosevelt is haunted. No joke.

25 Degrees @ Roosevelt Hotel

Ghosties aside, we still did manage to make our way to 25 Degrees for lunch. Located along Hollywood Blvd, amongst the star studded sidewalk and just a stone’s throw from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (think uberstar hand prints in the cement), 25 Degrees is a great place to chillax with a burger and orange ice cream soda.

The burgers are great (our “number one” burger had caramelised onions, gorgonzola, crescenza, bacon, arugula and thousand island – I don’t know what half of those things are – crescenza? arugula?) and whilst we waxed lyrical about its fresh, juicy patties, what stole the show were the sweet potato chips which, I don’t even know how, were just phenomenal. Crispy on the outside, soft and mushy on the inside. Perfect.

But really, we were impressed with the burgers, however little did we know our whole concept of a “great burger” was about to change a mere day later. If you want a seriously earth-shattering burger in LA, head to Umami Burger.

Let me take you there right now.

25 Degrees
7000 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90028
(323) 785 7244
website

25 Degrees on Urbanspoon

Umami Burger - “the best burger I’ve ever had”

So I didn’t say it was the best burger I’ve ever had. I thought it was pretty darn good, but it was Panu who said hands down, the best burger he’s ever had – beating 25 Degrees and absolutely caning any burger we’ve had in London (and believe me when I say he loves his BBQ beef burger from The Ultimate Burger).

Umami Burger

Ok, umami. I tackled this idea when I did that overweight Fat Duck post. It’s meant to be the “fifth taste”, more commonly known as the taste of meat. I mean, doesn’t meat already taste like meat? Forgive me, but until I consume a lettuce leaf that tastes decidely like a mouthful of porterhouse steak, I’m not really understanding the concept of umami. I never did say I was clever.

That aside, Umami Burger‘s burgers are scrumptious. We ordered the Turkey Miso Burger and the Umami Burger to start, both tenderly cooked and so oozing with juices that yes it gets a little messy, but it’s all worth it. The flavours are actually very simple – the meat (umami?), a touch of sauce and some greens. Perfectly round, perfectly cooked and perfectly tasty. So perfect indeed that we ordered a third burger, the Triple Pork Burger, which again did not disappoint.

As if the burgerliciousness couldn’t get any better, dessert was a little ice cream burger – sandwiched between a macaroon! Heaven! And to top off the night, we managed to spot another star – Sophia Bush (Brooke from One Tree Hill and yes, I have spent many a sleepless night, agonising over the Brooke/Lucas/Peyton love triangle).

A definite must-go in LA.

Umami Burger
850 S La Brea
Los Angeles, CA, 90036
(323) 931 3000
website

Umami Burger on Urbanspoon

Sprinkles CupcakesI mean, just go.

There is no doubt that society has an unhealthy obsession with cupcakes, and I don’t really know why. I mean, god, I am totally obsessed with them as well, but really, aren’t they just tiny little cakes which cost a whole lot more? Maybe it’s cos they’re cute, cos hey cuteness gets you everywhere.

Sprinkles cupcakes

An LA institution, Sprinkles Cupcakes is more like a tourist attraction than a  cupcake shop. Its luxurious location just off Rodeo Drive clearly helps because the queue is seriously out the door and down the street. I know there are Sprinkles-haters out there who declare that it is just too costly (and hey, they’re right, I mean $2.50 for a doggie cupcake?) and something about the unfresh frosting, but being the sucker that I am, I queued with the other minions and got me a Sprinkles red velvet and carrot cupcake.

And the verdict? Yum! The cupcakes are moist and fresh and ok you can probably get moist, fresh cupcakes elsewhere, what I’m trying to say is that Sprinkles Cupcakes is good, it’s not just based on overblown hype and trust me, you do need to take a break while shopping on Rodeo Drive ;)

Sprinkles Cupcakes
9635 Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA, 90210
(310) 274 8765
website

Sprinkles Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

KyoChon Fried Chickenhello Korea-town!

On our last day in LA, I still hadn’t had KyoChon Chicken and honestly, we were not leaving the country until I did. After some minor confusion (hate you Google) regarding the location of KyoChon Chicken, we managed to find our way to K-town and into the welcoming warmth of Korean Fast Food Fried Chicken. Wow, doesn’t that make you salivate??

Kyochon Chicken

First impressions of KyoChon were kinda blah because they didn’t have anything that we wanted (fried chicken strips, coleslaw, bottled water) but somehow we managed to settle on something that looks much like a bento box, with the centrepiece being two pieces of oily greasy delicious fried chicken. I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

Ok so I love KFC, and I am not ashamed to say it. I love all kinds of fried chicken, be it fast food, Japanese karaage, or my mum’s fried chicken. But KyoChon.. wow, do they inject drugs into these mini drummettes? Because after two, I wanted more. I wanted two more, no make that four. Make that the whole shop. Panu had to drag me out and appease my distraught state.

Why, why did we only come here on the last day? If it were any earlier, I promise, I would have been here every day. Possibly my most favourite food in LA.

KyoChon Chicken
3833 W 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90020
(213) 739 9292

KyoChon Chicken on Urbanspoon

OK so my “culled” list actually ended there, but somehow I feel the urge to squeeze in a couple more mentionable eats. Sorry, I realise this is long and I take no offence if you fall asleep. Promise.

Scoops Ice Cream, located down the dodgier end of Melrose Avenue, is known for its peculiar ice cream flavours, which peaked my curiosity. I had spiced green tea (think chai) and strawberry taragon (think spicy strawberry) and Panu tried the mocha peanut butter oreo (which tastes like mocha peanut butter with mashed oreo – not a bad thing) and brown bread. The brown bread was the winner for the day with its sugary brown bread goodness.

Scoops ice cream

Another worthy mention is The Saddle Ranch, conveniently located right next to our hotel, which serves the biggest breakfasts ever. We somehow survived breakfast there one day, and made it back the next night for its weekly Electric Bull competition. So very American, so very very awesome.

Saddle Ranch

Lastly but not leastly, we also had some great meals at The Stinking Rose (if you like garlic you’ll love this place, and oh yes, I had garlic ice cream), Sushi Dan (which served dishes like Kobe Jones’ volcano roll, so y’know, I loved that straight away and  oh yeh hi, we had more mochi ice cream), the Venice Beach Sidewalk Cafe (which does a mean babyback ribs) and Urth Caffe for their organic teas & coffees.

*Exhausted*

The City of Angels is seriously a glutton’s dream. There’s just so much to consume, and never enough time because unlike Vegas, people do go to sleep here. I didn’t even touch on the touristy things we got up to, but let’s just say four days was no where near enough, and I will be back fo sho, in the very near future.

15 Thoughts on “city of angels, city of food: the best of LA eating

  1. Lisa Grimes on October 25, 2009 at 11:55 pm said:

    You are awesome! Love this and am reading for tips:-) Thank you!!!

  2. Oh. my. gosh. Everything looks SO amazing!! I want to try the umami burger too!! Next time, next time… (thank goodness I got 8 tins of Sprinkles cupcake mix to hold me over til that next time…)

  3. Only two pieces of Kyochon fried chicken?!?

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodbymark/3875929096/

    Wish I’d had more time and that the mate who I went to California with in August was into eating.

  4. Lisa: Thanks lovely – enjoy Vegas and San Francisco! :)

    mel c: You bought eight tins of Sprinkles cupcake mix? what flavour?? And yes, you’ve got to try Umami Burger next time, it really is amazing.

    FoodByMark: hence my distraughtness at having this only on my last day! I wanted to ‘try’ a bit, right, I didn’t realise it would be so all-consuming delicious and I wish I could have gone back for the 20 wing pack!

  5. The umami burger looks awesome.

  6. Wow, how did you manage to eat so much and still fit into your skinny jeans?! I can’t wait to go soon…

  7. Mr Noodles: a definite must go, Umami Burger, even if I don’t really know what umami is!

    Helen: LOL i bought those jeans at the start of the trip and trust me, they were more than a little cosy at the end! Can’t wait to fill you in on the traveleating :)

  8. I’ve visited my sisters, who all live in LA, at least once a year and not once have they taken me to any places like these! My own flesh and blood have been holding out on me – they even taunt me with stories about dropping by Sprinkles. I am utterly stunned by the Umami burger! Forget the guides to stars’ home – this post is like a treasure map. I’m taking it with me the next time we’re in LA.

  9. Tangled Noodle: LOL yeh, I didn’t even think to print out maps of where the stars lived.. it didn’t occur to me until we were driving around Beverly Hills and Bel Air that a map would have helped. But when it came to food, well, I had a whole folder of printed out google maps ready to go :)

  10. Ooooh those burgers look proper, with brioche buns and everything!

    Umami is more about a deep, intense savouryness; natural occuring umami is in Parmesan and anchovies.

  11. OMG. The LA is my favourite place. I just love this city and the local cuisine of LA.

  12. Lizzie: Yes the Umami Burger is perfect – the buns are just as delicious as the patty!.

    r4dsi: me too. me too.

  13. Hope you try some of our other good eats in our city!

  14. Only just clocked that you went to Sprinkles too! I had the carrot cake cupcake last time I was there.

  15. Kung Food Panda: I’ve now been back again *and met you!* and I still need to come back!!

    Mark: I think everyone goes to Sprinkles :) It’s a Californian institution!

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