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 Restaurant – American 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.
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.
7311 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90032
(323) 938 9009
25 Degrees @ The Roosevelt Hotel – amazing 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?
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.
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.
7000 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90028
(323) 785 7244
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).
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.
850 S La Brea
Los Angeles, CA, 90036
(323) 931 3000
Sprinkles Cupcakes – I 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.
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 😉
9635 Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA, 90210
(310) 274 8765
KyoChon Fried Chicken – hello 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??
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.
3833 W 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90020
(213) 739 9292
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.
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.
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.
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.