Photo credit: b.o.s. Facebook Page

424 E 2nd St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 700-7834

Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, right?

Planned by The Offalo, five of us had an amazing dinner at the soon-to-be-closed restaurant in Little Tokyo. I’m sure I’m not alone in trying to squeeze one meal in before the end of the month (they close on 9/27), and I’m sure that most of us are kicking ourselves for realizing just now what we’ve been missing out on for the past year. Yes, one year can be considered too soon for owner Jun to be throwing in the towel, but he’s a realistic person, and he and Chef David weren’t going to compromise their vision of how the restaurant should be in order to keep things barely afloat.

But seriously – what’s there to be scared about when it comes to eat offal? I mean, beef cheek, tongue and oxtail are considered offal. Those taste EXACTLY like regular beef! People eat hot dogs all the time. Do you people really want to know what goes inside most casings? With foods like bone marrow, uni (sea urchin roe), and foie gras (duck liver) still so hot right now (the latter outside of CA), there is definitely room for offal to be accepted by mass society. If there was only a place you can find such ingredients executed in an approachable manner from a classically-trained chef…

Instead of dwelling on what happened or what could’ve been, I just want to encourage everyone (all ten of you readers) to check out b.o.s. before their closure. While the restaurant has been labeled as a “nose-to-tail” restaurant this whole time (perpetuated by reviews and blog posts), it really isn’t trying to cater to the offal whores, but rather treat offal as you would a normal protein to integrate it into a more chef-driven form, with the hopes of making it more accessible to the common diner.

You can definitely see the passion Jun and David put into this effort, and while it was a losing one, they are going down swinging. There’s something very… romantic about that, and it shows up in everything the restaurant does. I’ll definitely try to squeeze in another visit during the b.o.s. swan song, and again I encourage everyone to do the same. Let’s send these guys out with a bang! I will keep tabs on both guys re: future projects.


Carpaccio of Tongue – pea sprouts, avocado, pickled shallots, Isaan dressing

Sizzling Thai Tongue – Thai aromatics, lime chili sauce

Crispy Curried Calf Brain – butternut squash puree, arugula gremolata, grape compote


Grilled Miso Heart – king oyster mushrooms, yuzu miso vinaigrette

Sweetbread Tacos – salsa verde, pico de gallo, sriracha sour cream, pickled radish

Housemade Turkish Sausage (off-menu) – ground beef, small intestines, rice

Fried Tripe “Calamari” & Small Intestine Chicharron – cilantro garlic yogurt dip, Isaan dressing

Roasted Bone Marrow – housemade furikake, 61-degree egg, sesame gochujang paste

Braised Veal Cheek Pasta – shiitake mushrooms, braised sauce, olive oil poached tomatoes, homemade pappardelle

Whole Roasted Oxtail – ras el hanout, farmer’s market vegetables (130-degree poached tomatoes, roasted heirloom carrots & peewee potatoes, pickled cauliflower w/ North African spices)

Beef Tendon Risotto – English peas, pea sprouts, radish, lardons

Grade: A-
Cuisine: Asian Fusion
Neighborhood: Little Tokyo
Price: $$$

B.O.S. on Urbanspoon


Red Medicine [3]

1st Course: Wild Brook Trout Roe

Red Medicine
8400 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(323) 651-5500

Red Medicine is a very polarizing restaurant. It has its fans (like myself) who defend the progressive, Vietnamese-inspired cooking as forward-thinking cuisine that cannot be found anywhere else. On the other hand, there are plenty of diners in LA who see the restaurant as arrogant and gimmicky, and rather “fusion-y” with no real sense of direction. The restaurant has done itself no favors in the past, whether it be the “unmasking” of LA Times critic S. Irene Virbila, or the more recent Twitter incident where they publicly shamed no-shows. In fact, they are probably more appreciated by chefs and out-of-town diners than the masses here in the city who pride themselves on dining at what’s the next hot thing, or the next critical darling. And that’s too bad, because I do believe Red Medicine is sophisticated dining at its finest and most creative, one that can exist in a much more formal setting, but is what it is because it’s in LA. And that’s not a bad thing, although the level of appreciation might come with such territory. But put this restaurant in NYC or SF, and it probably has a Michelin star.

The controversial restaurant is also one that has consistently gotten better over time. I liked my first visit, and I really liked my next visit, and I loved my most recent visit from a couple of weeks ago. With each visit, the flavors get more bold, the profiles get more complex, and the combinations get more cohesive. But these characteristics are some of the aspects that make the restaurant so polarizing. It’s not a matter of complaining that diners aren’t sophisticated enough to understand and appreciate the dishes here, but rather more of a “there’s too fucking much going on here and I just want to enjoy my food” sentiment. And that’s just fine – this restaurant isn’t for everyone, and the restaurant knows it. It’s true to its own vision, however weird and complicated that may be. You just have to go in with an open mind. Also, those of you who’ve had service issues in the past – I can truly say that I’ve never encounter such problems. Water was always refilled, servers were informative and checked in often without being intrusive, and dishes were cleared after every course.

On this visit, Lawrence and I got the tasting menu (now of public knowledge and on the menu), and we added 4 supplemental dishes to make a custom 10-course meal. The standard 6-course tasting, at $65, isn’t really much of a steal, but it does have dishes that aren’t on the regular menu, and I’d say that you would want to order at least 5 of the 6 dishes if you were going the a la carte route anyways. I don’t want to go into a course-by-course breakdown since I’ve already done it in the past, but if you have a group of 2 or 4 this is definitely the route to go (do note that each course is essentially just the dish served in the same manner as they would be a la carte, hence me suggesting an even number of diners). You can always add other dishes that sound intriguing, and there are plenty of those, or if you have a larger group, you can order one of the large format dishes (I’ve heard amazing things about the brisket in particular, which I haven’t gotten around to trying). And don’t forget the cocktails – just as good and creative as the dishes.

I’ve praised the birch ice dessert to many people in the past, and it’s again a highlight of my meal. There’s so much going on in the dessert – different flavor profiles, different textures, even different temperatures. You have to get a little of everything in one bite to truly appreciate and enjoy it though. And the trout roe appetizer was essentially the dessert in savory form. From the different things working with and against each other, to the dish composition, right down to the fish bowl presentation and the ice cover on top, the trout roe was executed just as well as the birch ice. Future protip at Red Medicine: order anything that comes in a fish bowl. The other dishes were great as well – the restaurant has an uncanny ability for making me like the vegetarian dishes more than the protein-based ones. But therein lies a problem, if there is any – the “weakest” link of the menu (and this is more of the case at more places than people think) is the meat-based main courses. Last time, the akaushi beef dish was by far the weakest, a dry piece of meat without any flavor (and unfortunately, a variation of such dish suffered the same fate during Darin Dines’ most recent visit). The lamb shoulder dish was cooked well and tasted fine, but in comparison to the other dishes, was rather…boring.

But one decent dish does not deter my dining experience at Red Medicine, and I’m sure many people enjoyed or will enjoy dishes like the lamb shoulder. But I don’t think it’s the strength of the restaurant to execute straightforward protein courses. I really do love the restaurant though, and highly recommend it to everyone I know. Those who have dismissed it after facing initial disappointment, or were turned off by their rather immature attitudes on social media, should really give it another shot. On a Saturday night, there were plenty of seats available, going back to my earlier point of the LA diners’ apathy towards the restaurant. If the bar served the full menu, I’d probably go much more often, as the restaurant is open until 2am EVERY NIGHT (a true late-night gem, but one that’s not really priced in the hangover/munchies range). But for now, an occasional visit rekindles my love and appreciation for such sophistication, and more importantly, pleasure to the taste buds.

1st Course: Wild Brook Trout Roe

1st Course: Wild Brook Trout Roe

Biodynamic Leeks

Biodynamic Leeks – yuzu, buttermilk ($15)

2nd Course: Custard of Fresh Cream

2nd Course: Custard of Fresh Cream

Santa Barbara Uni

Santa Barbara Uni – almond milk, kei apple ($18)

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts – shallots, fish sauce ($9)

3rd Course: Dungeness Crab from the Oregon Coast

3rd Course: Dungeness Crab from the Oregon Coast

4th Course: Young Potatoes

4th Course: Young Potatoes

5th Course: Lamb's Shoulder

5th Course: Lamb’s Shoulder

Coconut Baravois

Coconut Baravois – coffee, condensed milk, thai basil, peanut croquant ($9)

6th Course: Shaved Ice of Redwood Stems
6th Course: Shaved Ice of Redwood Stems

Cuisine City/Neighborhood Price Grade
Asian Beverly Hills $$$ A-

Previous Visits: (1) (2)

China Poblano


China Poblano
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
3708 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 698-7900

So China Poblano is the final product of what was supposed to be a Chinese restaurant The Cosmopolitan commissioned Chef Jose Andres to conceive? Sounds a little… preposterous. My theory: the hotel wanted to give Chef Andres two restaurants to appease him as the top dog in the building, but Chef didn’t know what type of restaurant to open (especially if planning for é was already in the works within Jaleo – since Spanish and “modernist” are what Chef’s known for). In the end, he probably conceived the idea of a Sino-Mexican fusion while drunk. But hey, Asian-Latin fusion? It’s been proven as a successful combination (see: Roy Choi restaurants).


The menu concept of the restaurant is actually a little different than I expected (but the $0.88 pricing to some of the Chinese dishes is pretty hilarious) . For the most part, the two cuisines are kept separate in their own categories and individual dishes. But there are dishes where the fusion magic happens, and those are the most interesting-sounding dishes. I had already ate dinner at Holsteins next door that night last summer while I was in Vegas, but seeing that those takeout windows were actually working (I thought they were just for-show decor-wise at first), I decided to order a couple of the tacos for the walk back to our hotel room.


I ordered the Silencio, which has duck tongue and lychee, and the Viva China, which has beef tendon, Kumamoto oysters, scallions, and a Sichuan peppercorn sauce. For $5.50 per taco, they were actually pretty fairly priced, factoring in the ingredients and location (although the other dishes are on the high side). The freshly-pressed tortillas (not sure if they were flour or corn, but could’ve been a combination) had a nice griddle to it, but were a little too soft and thin as vessels. The combination of ingredients were quite interesting, but didn’t necessarily work as a composed taco. Still, the menu as a whole looks fun and promising, and I’m hoping to try the restaurant as a whole in the future.

Cuisine City/Neighborhood Price Grade
Chinese/Mexican Las Vegas/The Cosmopolitan $$$ B-

China Poblano (Cosmopolitan) on Urbanspoon



22 Hawthorne St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 685-4860

I wasn’t planning on going too crazy dining-wise during my recent trip to NorCal, as it was around Christmas time, and I didn’t want to splurge after dining out so much during the month and buying gifts for the family. But I wanted to go to one nice place in the city, and I wanted it to be Benu (reservation which Lawrence was able to get on fairly short notice). Besides all the accolades the restaurant has received (i.e. 2 Michelin stars, 4 stars from SF Chronicle) and Chef Corey Lee’s resume (long stint as Chef de Cuisine of The French Laundry), Benu was doing something I haven’t seen any other restaurant do successfully: legitimizing formal Asian cuisine.

Chef Lee, in my amateur opinion, has succeeded in his approach of creating this “Asian Laundry” with a two-pronged attack: 1) he has effectively recreated traditional Asian (predominately Chinese) cuisine/dishes via traditional/modernist Western methods; 2) he has successfully incorporated more obscure/unknown (albeit traditional/household for most Asians) Asian ingredients into cohesive, formal dishes. That’s why Benu has been more than a welcoming sight for the culinary world, as the food that is being served at the restaurant has been able to break down multiple barriers/perceptions that the general public has regarding whether Asian cuisine can find success in the big boys’ world of formal dining, and whether “fusion” cuisine can be taken serious (if it can be called such).

I’m not sure if a la carte is still an option, but on our night there, the restaurant only had the tasting menu available (which we were going to do anyways) at $180/person. I’m not a wine pairings type of person (too much of a noob to truly appreciate it), so we just split a small bottle of Riesling, which went well with most of the courses. A couple of things before I get into the details of each dish. One, the service was on point – expected at a two-star Michelin obviously, but still nice to have each server actually knowledgeable about the details of each dish, and be around just enough without being overbearing. Two, the decor is VERY minimalist. I could care less about decor at a restaurant, but I’ve seen my share of over-the-top restaurants, and the clean look (that more restaurants are adapting) gave the dining rooms more of an airy atmosphere. Now to the food…


thousand-year-old quail egg, potage, ginger

We started with a mainstay of the restaurant, an amuse I’ve seen on plenty of blogs and expected to have. The potage (French for soup/stew) was like a comforting chowder, with a nice hint of ginger.


oyster, pork belly, kimchi

We were told that this amuse was time-sensitive, as the kimchi “shell” softens. This proved to be true when I began to eat the dish, as the shell dissolved into a soft gelatin rather quickly. Not sure if this was the intention, but the combination reminded me of bo ssam with oysters.


potato salad with anchovy

Dried anchovies used in formal dining? Get out of town! Something you’d find in the snacks aisle at an Asian market, the dried fish really made this dish work, as a briny potato salad.


eel, feuille de brick, creme fraiche, lime

I definitely tasted the eel within the filo pastry here, but the filling didn’t really have that eel flavor I was expecting (though I can’t really put into words what I was exactly expecting). The creme fraiche with lime helped cut down the slight greasiness.


monkfish liver, persimmon, turnip, mustard, broiche

What would be the Asian approach to foie gras torchon? A torchon made from ankimo, duh! This was truly an awesome dish – the torchon was creamy and liver-y, and paired well with the persimmon. The accompanying cute broiche was great, too. Really made me miss foie, but if more places can pull off something like this, then I can live easier.


sake lees, chestnut, satsuma

Effective intermezzo. Enough said.


abalone quiche, caviar, rousong

This tasted like a quiche, but the appearance gave me the impression of a tart. Again, an Asian market aisle dweller (rousong, which I used to eat straight out of the container at work) makes an unexpected appearance. Its saltiness and flavor didn’t really add much here, however, with the presence of the caviar. I wished there was more abalone, too.


salt and pepper squid

This was like a shrimp cracker with salt and pepper flavors and tiny cubes of squid. It was good, but thought that it would’ve been better as a complement to something else.


lobster coral xiao long bao

At first, I told myself (and Lawrence): “oh this tastes just like a xiao long bao. Okay.” Not the most exciting of comments, right? But I thought about it some more, and the brininess of the lobster coral (roe) hit me, and I realized that not only was this a good xiao long bao, but it was a GREAT SEAFOOD xiao long bao. That is a daunting task to succeed at. OKAYYYYY.


crepinette of sea bass and shrimp, lettuce, fermented pepper

The crepinette was good, but I actually wanted more fat content from the casing. The star here was the sauce, which reminded me of X.O. sauce.


duck, cucumber, lily bulb, cherry-black olive, steamed bun

The duck was cooked to a good medium-rare, and it was good, but didn’t necessarily wow me (I can’t remember what the sauce was exactly). The accompanying mantou was nice.


beef braised in pear juice and charcoal-grilled with winter treasures

This was probably my favorite of the three “mains.” Like the duck course preceding it, there was more sweet than savory in this course, but I found it to be better executed and more balanced here. I have to say, however, that if there was a “weak” link to the entire meal, it was the mains – not as creative/fun in my opinion, but still well-executed and flavors on point for the most part.


“shark’s fin” soup, dungeness crab, Jinhua ham, black truffle custard

Here was the other mainstay of the menu I expected to see. The black truffle custard sitting at the bottom was rich, but never overpowered the delicious broth made from Jinhua ham (a traditional Chinese execution). The faux shark’s fin was actually the same broth, solidified into a gelatin form – creative.


shiso, white chocolate, almond, pomegranate

The first dessert proved to be more of a palate cleanser for me. Nice and refreshing, especially the shiso sorbet.


spiced pumpkin, cider sorbet, fruits and nuts

This loosely reminded me of the “eight treasure rice” dessert you’d usually find at the end of Chinese banquet meals. Again, the sorbet here (an apple cider variation) was the star.

I have to say, when we walked away from this meal, I was extremely impressed. But for some reason, it didn’t necessarily directly hit me in the face as one of the best meals I’ve had in 2012. My appreciation for the execution of such refinement and perfection of techniques and combination of flavors (not to mention appreciating the restaurant’s successful role as a culinary pioneer, as previously mentioned) didn’t settle in until I was about going to bed that night. This type of cooking isn’t meant to punch you in the face as if you were in a macho fistfight – rather, it is like a gentle, but deadly, female assassin, killing you slowly and softly via poison. By then, I was lying there on the couch, thinking to myself: “how did Chef Lee pulled off this complete mindfuck!?!” Obviously, I couldn’t go to sleep…

Cuisine City/Neighborhood Price Grade
American, Asian SF/Financial District $$$$ A

Benu on Urbanspoon

Red Medicine (2)

Paul and I came here on the Saturday after Larry and Michelle’s wedding a few weeks ago. We originally planned on going to Animal, but the earliest reservation was after 10pm (as usual), so Paul suggested Red Medicine, since he’s read good things about it, and wanted to see how Vietnamese flavors and ingredients can be interpreted in fine(r) dining. I was more than happy with this suggestion, as I felt my first visit to the restaurant was rather safe, my doing of course. But I was a bit worried, because I could totally envisioning him rushing to the kitchen and cursing out Chef Kahn for embarrassing Vietnamese cuisine, being the proud Viet that he is.

I had read about being able to request a tasting menu on Chowhound, so I inquired about it upon being seated. There were two options: $60 and $85. We chose the latter one, which was ten courses (seven savory, three desserts). Basically, the kitchen sends out ten dishes off the night’s menu, the portions being the same as their a la carte counterparts. So no tasting portions, just the actual dish placed in the middle for the two of us to share.


AMBERJACK / red seaweed, buttermilk, lotus root, tapioca, succulents  ($16)

This reminds me a lot of a similar dish I had at Providence, which had kanpachi with red tapioca pearls. This version had a nice combination of different flavor profiles playing off one another. And of course, coming from Chef Kahn, a very beautiful-looking plate.


SPRING PEAS / yuzu, soymilk-yogurt, trout roe, purple cabbage, coconut ($16)

One of my most hated foods is pea. I usually can’t stand the flavor – gives me somewhat of a gag reflex. However, these chilled peas, which weren’t mushy at all, were excellent. Again, very playful with the different flavors. The yuzu added some needed acidity, and the trout roe provided the savory taste.


BRUSSELS SPROUTS / caramelized shallots, fish sauce, vermouth  ($9)

I had this on my last visit, and absolutely loved it. Not shy with the fish sauce, that’s for sure. Just as good as I remembered. If you like brussels sprouts, you’ll love this. If not, you’ll still love it.


DUTCH WHITE ASPARAGUS / salsify, almond milk, burdock root, pomelo  ($20)

White asparagus is starting to pop up on more and more menus, and it’s no exception at Red Medicine. The almond milk gave the plump stalks of asparagus a nice, creamy flavor, although they weren’t exactly easy to cut with a knife (got a bit stringy). Didn’t think the pomelo pulp did much in the way of acidity as other ingredients provided in previous dishes.


ALASKAN HALIBUT / charred mustard leaf,  boiled peanuts, wild garlic, burnt onion syrup  ($32)

A heavier dish than it appeared. The halibut, wrapped in a leaf, was cooked perfectly. Trying to get the perfect one-bite was less essential than the previous dishes though, as the flavors were more one-note here. Still, a great dish, and my preferred protein of the two that night.


HEIRLOOM RICE PORRIDGE / egg yolk, hazelnuts, ginseng, echire butter  ($17)

Ah yes, the essential order at Red Medicine. This is really more of a buttery risotto in terms of texture, but man, is it a great dish. I read on CH that it was actually better NOT to mix in the egg yolk, but I digress. Gotta mix it up! If there’s only one dish you can order at the restaurant, this is it.


AKAUSHI BEEF / pistachio, lettuce stems, celery, fermented tea  ($34)

Sadly, the savory courses ended on a minor disappointment. The meat was cooked rare, but ended up being tough and chewy, and the crust was hard (and not in a good way). It was a little better once you got a bit of everything on the plate, but I was let down by what is supposed to be similar to Japanese wagyu.


COCONUT BAVAROIS / coffee, condensed milk,  thai basil, peanut croquant  ($9)

Moving on to dessert. It’s fitting that we’re getting three dessert courses, as Chef Kahn started his culinary career in dessert and has worked pastry in some of the finest restaurants in the country. This is the most popular dessert on the menu, present since Day 1. And it doesn’t disappoint.


BIRCH ICE / almond praline, red currant,  green almond, jasmine  ($10)

One of our servers called Chef Kahn “The Mad Scientist” with regards to this dessert. I was thinking “why the fuck would I eat a fishbowl of bubbles with a piece of felt on top?” But wow, this was arguably the most impressive thing I had that night. The “felt” was soft almond praline (I think), the bubbles were jasmine tea foam, and under the bubbles were red currant, green almond, and crushed ice. Everything just worked in this. So creative.


BITTER CHOCOLATE / kecap manis, oats, parsnip, brown butter, soy milk sorbet  ($11)

Like the coconut baravois, I had this one my first visit. Very good, but by far the most straight-forward dessert. And it was unable to deliver after we’ve had the previous two desserts.

The ten dishes that we had were all on the a la carte menu that night. Then what is the point of ordering the tasting menu, you ask? Well first of all, the tasting menu allows the kitchen to script a composed meal. For the most part, there was a nice progression from one dish to another. We started with two cold dishes, then an appetizer, then a veggie course, then three heavier courses, capped off with the desserts. Sounds like a plan to me. Also, the tasting menu allows the kitchen to send out what they think is best that night. While I consider myself pretty deft at ordering, I tend to order protein-heavy. So I would’ve most likely avoided Chef Kahn’s amazing vegetarian compositions, despite reading great things about them. Lastly, I did the math, and I believed Paul and I saved around $15-20 combined, if we compared what we had to the prices of those dishes on the menu (8/3/12 EDIT: fellow CH’er yangster caught a math error – we would’ve saved a combined $4. I could’ve swore we saved more. Maybe one too many drinks? Or maybe a free drink? Anyways, my bad guys).

So yeah, protip: order the tasting menu.

Chris Hei grade: A-

Red Medicine
8400 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(323) 651-5500



This is me attempting to throw an eephus pitch past my readers…

Came here a few times when I was at UCLA. Mongolian BBQ was quite the hit those days for a starving student. “All-you-can-eat” (in quotes because you can’t technically go back and reload) meats/veggies/noodles for < $10? Sounds like a plan, no? But young Chris Hei has grown up so much since then. Now all I see are frozen sub-all-you-can-eat-hot-pot-quality meats and veggies with plenty of noodle filler for $9 or so. Very filling actually, but not so impressed anymore.

Chris Hei grade: C

1064 Gayley Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 824-3377

Mongols on Urbanspoon

Red Medicine


Finally made it out to Red Medicine after months of deliberation! The reason why I hadn’t made it out to the restaurant before my visit early last month was because I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. And when Ben and I tried to go the week before on a whim, there was a 45-minute wait (it was Friday night though, so no surprises there). I made reservations for 9:45 the next Friday, with Ben and Danno willing to join me, but Ben ended up being 20+ minutes late. So we probably waited another 20+ minutes on top of that, as they probably gave our table away. I don’t think they were too pleased (at least that was the impression I got from them – but it was our fault).

Anyways, once we sat down, everyone was happy again. We were definitely the most underdressed and ugly table in the restaurant. While still fairly casual, the ambiance at Red Medicine attracted an interesting combination of bougie hipsters and people who look like they were going clubbing after. Guess this is the casual Beverly Hills crowd nowadays. I didn’t want to order too much, since it was late and I feel bad over-ordering every time I drag the guys out with me to try new places. So we just stuck with four of the small plates, the beef tartare, the famous porridge, and a couple of desserts.


Pork Rillette

PORK RILLETTE / crispy chicken skin, lychee, clove, pistachio, spicy herbs  11

Pretty good, but I actually felt the flavors were a bit mild here. I guess I like my rillette with more of a fatty taste. Came with baguette toasts to spread the rillette on.

Chicken Dumplings

CHICKEN DUMPLINGS / caramelized sugar, pork fat, lemongrass, confitures  9

This was delicious! The chicken meatballs were full of juicy flavors (I’m sure the pork fat that held the meat together helped), and tasted great with the accompanying condiments and small bibb lettuce to wrap everything with.

Crispy Spring Roll

CRISPY SPRING ROLLS / dungeness crab, lime,  pea pods, fines herbes, chili  15

Solid, but didn’t seem that much better than a typical spring roll. At least the use of dungeness crab meat was fairly liberal. The preparation was also in a way more Chinese, since Vietnamese spring rolls are fried with rice paper (don’t think this one was).

Brussels Sprouts

BRUSSELS SPROUTS / caramelized shallots, fish sauce, vermouth  9

Another delicious small plate here. The brussels sprouts were full of flavor, soaking up the fish sauce beautifully. The caramelized shallots were a nice complement as well. I could’ve ate bowls of this.

Beef Tartare

BEEF TARTARE / water lettuce, water chestnut, nuoc leo, chlorophyll, peanut   15

I almost felt bad eating this, since the plating was so nice (like most of the dishes here). Underneath the lettuce was a pretty good version of the tartare, with a bit of a kick. Came with shrimp chips to spread on.

Heirloom Rice Porridge

HEIRLOOM RICE PORRIDGE / egg yolk, hazelnuts, ginseng, echire butter  17

And here it is: the famous rice porridge I’ve heard so much about. It certainly didn’t disappoint, and was my favorite dish of the night. Mixing the egg yolk in with everything else (the fancy echire butter in particular), and the result is more like a rich risotto.

Coconut Baravois

COCONUT BAVAROIS / coffee, condensed milk,  thai basil, peanut croquant  9

Chef Jordan Kahn began as a pastry chef at such restaurants as The French Laundry, Per Se, and Alinea (fairly decent restaurants :P), so I had high expectations for the desserts. Quite simply, this was the best dessert I’ve had in a long time.

Bitter Chocolate

BITTER CHOCOLATE / kecap manis, oats, parsnip, brown butter, soy milk sorbet  11

The bitter chocolate wasn’t too far behind the baravois, but once you go coconut baravois, there is no going back. Like the tartare, I thought that these were well-plated as well.

Again, I didn’t really get to try most of their dishes, due to the size of our party. We were very conservative with our ordering, but I was still impressed by most of what we had. The chicken dumplings, brussels sprouts, porridge, and baravois are all definitely repeat-worthy. I really want to try some of their more adventurous dishes (like the various veggies that look like floral arrangements) as well as some of their proteins like the beef brisket for larger groups. They are open until 2am every night, so maybe I’ll sneak out of the apartment to do some more experimenting in the near future.

Chris Hei grade: B+

Red Medicine

8400 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(323) 651-5500

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I probably use this word way too much and way out-of-context, but man is Lukshon a sexy place. It is arguably the most beautiful restaurant I’ve visited in 2011, but didn’t really give off that pretentious vibe that usually comes with the territory. Anyways, who the hell cares about the design? It’s all about the food, and at Lukshon that means mainly Southeast Asian food. I came here in early December with Ben, Danno and Paul, for a mini-birthday celebration of sorts for Danno.

I’ve seen the words “Asian fusion” being thrown around carelessly on the web with regards to the restaurant, and honestly I think that these actions are unwarranted. Maybe “pan-Asian” is a better way to describe the food, although that just paints a picture of RockSugar in my mind. The flavors of each dish at Lukshon are all authentic, and in some cases the dish itself is as well. The only “fusion” aspect about any of this is the environment you’re eating this food in. Oh, and the price too. The dishes are fairly cheap, but portions are small (think tapas-sizes). So in the end, not a cheap meal, especially if you’re used to eating similar food at traditional Asian restaurants. But the execution is great, flavors are authentic, and ingredients are fresh. Can’t complain about any of that, especially in a quality-Asian-food-deprived side of town.


In addition to some cocktails (the Singapore Sling is quite awesome FYI), the four of us decided on eleven dishes. The oysters were a nice start, with a refreshing mignonette. The shrimp toast, which were more like shrimp ball, were arguably the best shrimp toast I’ve had in recent memory. Wished I could’ve had more than one bite. The mussels came with a green curry that tasted very authentic, but didn’t necessarily wow me (they charge $3 for rice BTW – meh). So far, quite decent. Then came the middle of the lineup…

The baby squid stuffed with sausage was absolutely delicious (it made Jonathan Gold’s 10 best dishes list of 2011). The duck in the popiah was cooked perfectly, although I wished there was some skin in it. The roti canai was a pleasant surprise. For some reason I didn’t expect to love it, but I did. The chicken pops is arguably the most popular dish on the menu. I personally like some of the other dishes more, but it is a very good dish. Pork belly was…pork belly. I can never say anything bad about pork belly, and this version gave me no reasons to. The X.O. rice was good, but not great. Caught some flak for ordering it. Added an order of the ribs near the end of dinner, and it ended up being one of my favorites.


We closed out the dinner with the dandan noodles. The restaurant deliberately serves this dish last, because it is apparently very spicy. I’ve had some authentic dandan noodles at Szechuan restaurants in SGV, so I was a little intimidated. And it didn’t help that the three idiots who tried it thought it was spicy. But it was my turn, and I was surprised that I wasn’t reaching for my glass of water. There is a strong Szechuan peppercorn flavor, but the heat level wasn’t that high in my opinion. Pretty good, but not the best version by far. After we destroyed the food, free desserts were served (a standard at Lukshon). Unfortunately I forgot what we had, but the dessert which had two servings was the best (all three were good though).

I really enjoyed all the dishes that night. Some were just pretty good variations of traditional Asian dishes, albeit served in a smaller package and marked up in price, but some were just downright delicious (the squid in particular). In the end, I just want to reiterate that the execution is great, flavors are authentic, and ingredients are fresh. This is probably the best Asian food you can get on the west side of town, and that ain’t too shabby. And again, don’t come here with the preconception of Asian fusion in your mind, or else you would be doing a disservice to both yourself and the restaurant.

Singapore Sling

Singapore Sling ($12)

Fujian Cure

Fujian Cure ($11)

Hot and Sour Gimlet

Hot and Sour Gimlet ($11)

Lukshon Sour

Lukshon Sour ($11)

Malpeque Oysters

Malpeque Oysters ($30)

Shrimp Toast

Shrimp Toast ($8)

Prince Edward Island Black Mussels

Prince Edward Island Black Mussels ($12)

Steamed Organic Jasmine Rice

Steamed Organic Jasmine Rice ($3)

Baby Monterey Squid

Baby Monterey Squid ($11)

Duck Popiah

Duck Popiah ($7)

Lamb Belly Roti Canai

Lamb Belly Roti Canai ($10)

Spicy Chicken Pops

Spicy Chicken Pops ($10)

Garlic Pork Belly

Garlic Pork Belly ($12)

X.O. Rice

X.O. Rice ($10)

Kurobuta Pork Ribs

Kurobuta Pork Ribs ($9)

Dandan Noodles

Dandan Noodles ($13)


Dessert (free!)


Chris Hei grade: B+

3239 Helms Ave
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 202-6808

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A-Frame (3)

A group of us came here on Friday, right before an engagement party for my friends Larry and Michelle (congrats!). Nice and easy, quick in-and-out, crowd-pleasing. On this visit, I was able to try a few more new dishes. The wagyu beef tataki was pretty standard, but was well-executed. Same with the crab cakes, which tasted better when wrapped in shiso leaves. The roasted lamb was really good – will probably be one of the repeat dishes in the future. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try the burger (it was gone by the time it got to me), but everyone at the table thought it was very good. Overall, another great meal at A-Frame.

Wagyu Beef Tataki

Wagyu Beef Tataki ($14) – with sliced pearl onions, ginger, pickled jalapeño and shoyu vinaigrette

Furikake Kettle Corn

Furikake Kettle Corn ($6) – buttered Blazin’ J’s Hawaiian style

Double Cheeseburger

Double Cheeseburger ($11) – with tomato confit, pickled red onions, butter lettuce, hot sauce sharp cheddar, and sesame mayo on a buttered brioche bun

Baby Back Ribs

Baby Back Ribs ($12) – air-dried and hoisin-chili glazed

Cracklin Beer Can Chicken

Cracklin Beer Can Chicken (half $12) – with kimchi, century egg, salsa roja and verde

Kitchen Fries

Kitchen Fries ($6) – wedges of purple Okinawan potato, yam, and Korean sweet potato with kimchi sour cream and sea salt

Blue Crab Cakes

Blue Crab Cakes ($15) – with lemongrass creme fraiche, bibb lettuce, and perilla leaf

Roasted Lamb

Roasted Lamb ($17) – with toasted sesame oil, shoyu and garlic served with fresh herb salad and salsa verde

Chris Hei grade: B+

12565 Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 398-7700

A-Frame (2)

O Hei there Will!

Paul and Will were in LA during the Thanksgiving long weekend, and the three of us decided to go to A-Frame on the day after Thanksgiving, along with Danno, Eugenia and Linh-Nam. It’s nice to go with a bigger group of diners, because I went with just Ben last time, and I wasn’t able to try too many things. But the dishes that we ordered were very good, and I looked forward to see what else the restaurant could do.

Heirloom Pickles ($8) – with creamy dip and extra virgin olive oil

A pleasant surprise. The apples worked very well in particular.

Kitchen Fries ($8) – wedges of purple Okinawan potato, yam, and Korean sweet potato with kimchi sour cream and sea salt

Repeat from first visit. Looks like shit, but tasted great. The kimchi sour cream was a great complement.

Sesame Leaf Wrapped Shrimp Tempura ($11) – with fresh cucumber, herbs and shoyu dipping sauce

Another pleasant surprise. What A-Frame does really well is elevate these seemingly plain dishes and take it to another dimension.

Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop ($21) – with fresh citrus, pickled scallion, and polenta cakes

Looked rather unspectacular, but the pork chop was perfectly cooked.

Knuckle Sandwich ($12) – braised bowl of oxtail, tendons, knuckles and other forgotten pieces served with soy chili dipping sauce, and toasted bread

I really wanted to try this during the first visit, and I’m glad we got it this time around. The “forgotten pieces” were well-cooked, and went great with the soy chili sauce.

Charred Baby Octopus ($14) – with carrot kochujang puree, bok choy, pickled vegetables and nori seaweed

This is basically nakji bokum, a traditional Korean dish. Tasted pretty authentic, but I wasn’t thrilled by this.

Cracklin Beer Can Chicken (half $11) – with kimchi, century egg, salsa roja and verde

Another repeat from the first visit. Reaffirmed my opinions of this being one of the best chicken dishes I’ve had in recent years.

Banana Bacon Cream Pie ($7) – vanilla cream, caramel bananas, and bacon brittle

With Eugenia present, we decided to order all of the desserts. This cream pie was pretty damn good.

Thick Ass Ice Cream Sandwich ($6) – black pepper szechuan ice cream and salted chocolate cookie

They had two kinds of ice cream sandwiches. I preferred this one, where the hint of pepper worked well with the salted cookie.

Thick Ass Ice Cream Sandwich ($6) – smoked porter ice cream and chocolate chip cherry cookie

This was was decent, but I thought that the smoky flavor was a little too overpowering.

Pear Shortcake ($8) – with Riesling roasted pears, pecan oat crumble whipped cream and warm gingerbread biscuit

I didn’t really care for this one. Pretty straightforward.

Chu-Don’t-Know-Mang ($7) – pound cake cinnamon churros, with malted chocolate milk and vanilla ice cream

We had this one last time, and for some reason I thought that the churros were much better the second time around. I really wish I could eat a big cup of the milk and ice cream.

This dinner was actually a little better than my first one here. After a great experience this time, A-Frame has become my go-to place to take friends when they don’t want to spend too much money on a well-executed meal that isn’t too pretentious. None of the dishes really blows my mind, but for what the dishes are – simple, Asian-inspired American food – I think that they are very well-executed. Simple and comforting.

Chris Hei grade: B+

12565 Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066
(310) 398-7700

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