Hi all! I know it’s been a while, and I’ve missed you guys tremendously while on the road, in the air, on overnight trains, boats and auto rickshaws in the 10+ cities around India and Hong Kong I was visiting this past summer.
I encountered some obstacles in the health department on the trip, but I’m all good now and back in action here in LA! Stay tuned for a ton of travel food, sights, sounds and protips to come in the form of videos, photos and stories. They’re coming very soon!
But for now, I’d like to dish some local food news, starting with a preview of Ramen Champ’s upcoming re-opening. Because who doesn’t love a warm, hearty bowl of comforting ramen?
Here’s a sneak peek at the new Ramen Champ menu in action:
A few food blogger friends and I got to taste a variety of bowls, and genuinely enjoyed every strand of noodle and every sip of broth.
The soy-based vegan “meat” was a bit sweet for my taste, but I suppose its purpose is to balance the traditional saltiness of the broth. Other than that, the spinach noodles, crispy garlic and complex broth of the vegan ramen made it a true winner for herbivores and omnivores alike.
You can find more on visiting Ramen Champ at their 2nd floor location inside LA’s Chinatown Far East Plaza here.
The conclusion? Whether you get the Original Tonkotsu ramen, the Tonkotsu Tan Tan noodles, the Hot and Sour ramen or the Vegan ramen, you can’t go wrong. They re-open October 2 under new ownership, so I definitely suggest you go check it out if you’re a ramen fan. Cheers!
Where do you go to interview top-tier LA chefs of celebrity status, all in the same room? How about the likes of Curtis Stone, Roy Choi, Michael Voltaggio and Sang Yoon?
Well, this past weekend, LA Weekly hosted The Essentials, an annual food event produced in honor of the recently unveiled 99 Essential LA Restaurants list. This is where I got to chat with all of the aforementioned immensely talented chefs!
Check it out here, along with some of the amazing bites offered by 50 of the 99 restaurants honored on the list:
Here are some of the highlights from what we tried at the event:
Roy Choi’s Kogi served its classic short rib tacos, while Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio of Ink served a bagels & lox-inspired dish featuring rye pasta with smoked trout roe, bagel crumbs and dashi brown butter.
Michael Voltaggio of Ink served up a pasta play on bagels & lox
Plan Check served their famous (and heavenly!) cruller donut holes with caramelized goat cheese, coconut sugar, almond sauce, white chocolate and candied rosemary.
Plan Check’s all-star cruller donut with candied rosemary, caramelized goat cheese
This little ball of rich complexity was definitely one of my ultimate favorite bites, as the donuts were crispy on the outside and light, airy and slightly custardy on the inside. The caramelized goat cheese was the perfect balance of sweet and savory, and the candied rosemary added the right amount of aromatic essence.
A savory favorite of mine had to be Little Sister’s banh hoi with chili braised beef shank and tendon, herbs, sprouts and fried peanuts. Great balance of hot and cold, sweet and salty, and the perfect amount of heat and acid.
Little Sister’s banh hoi getting some finishing touches
Alimento’s escolar crudo was also excellent, plated with eggplant, wild fennel and mollica. The succulent yet firm white fish absolutely melted in the mouth along with its Mediterranean-inspired components. It was a very cohesive plate indeed, with deep flavors.
One last donut that stood out was Hinoki & The Bird’s miso donut with honey caramel. It was a perfect umami and sweet combination in one fluffy bite!
Spago served an interesting “Vietnamese style banh mi” with pork belly, but somehow it didn’t taste as good as it looked for me. Still, it was pretty to look at, with all its brightly colored veggies.
Spago’s take on the banh mi
Tar & Roses’ steak tartare was delectable, as was its popcorn with bacon, brown sugar and aleppo pepper. Petit Trois also served a steak tartare, while Park’s BBQ served the flavors of Korean BBQ in one bite. There was also some great Ethiopian food, and a lot of deep-flavored moles served at the event.
Korean BBQ in one bite, by Park’s BBQ
I only heard that chef Curtis Stone of Maude’s white asparagus pain perdu with foie gras mousse, pickled pearl onions & mustard seed was amazing, since we didn’t get to try before they ran out. Still, he talks to us about it in the video above… which kind of makes up for it!
Here’s Roy Choi cracking jokes and plugging Kogi, by the way:
Instagram video: Joking around with Roy Choi
Szechuan Impression’s spicy noodles were hot and flavorful, and had just the right bite. The variety of food, from authentic international street fare to refined European-inspired dishes was a pretty accurate reflection of so much that LA has to offer.
Spicy noodles by Szechuan Impression
Although they didn’t exhibit at the event, I was pretty proud to learn that Surati Farsan Mart was recognized as one of the 99 Essential Restaurants!
Wine, cocktails and spirits also flowed at the event, and there was even vodka made from sweet potatoes. Oh, and how could I forget shouting out Philippe The Original and their OG French dip sandwich? There was so much food and drink to try, such little time!
The original French dip by Philippe The Original
I do wish some of the fine dining restaurants hadn’t run out by the time we got to them, but overall we definitely left stuffed and satiated with some of the most essential bites LA has to offer.
It was a good time talking food with some very well-respected chefs, as well.
Cheers from Roy Choi & Tanaya’s Table… peace out!
Check out the full list of stellar vendors here. Until next time, cheers!
Check out the 1-minute video for a taste of the good eats you can find at downtown Santa Ana’s new food hall!
There’s a hip new food hall in town, and it’s the best one I’ve seen yet! Located in downtown Santa Ana, this new hub of cutting-edge eateries and small food businesses just opened and is ready to please palates.
My wonderful foodie friend Kelli and I ventured over to the new space over the weekend, and we were impressed at how it exceeded our expectations for design, variety, and innovation in their food offerings.
I started off with a Radical Botanicals rawktail, which is a raw (non-alcoholic) cocktail made with citrus and coconut milk. It was so delicious, and really settled my stomach to prepare my body for all the awesome food we were about to consume.
Although there are 15 highly select food and drink vendors (there’s even a bar called Recess, by the Playground folks!), we finally settled on the Thai “khao soi” noodles from Jason Quinn’s Noodle Tramp, and the tater tot pork poutine from Stockyard Sandwich Company.
The noodles had a perfect bite and chew to them, and the sauce was rich in flavor and complexity. The tater tot poutine had juicy pork, plus a fried egg on it… so in other words, it was also amazing! The video above has more on these dishes.
After enjoying our food in the outdoor patio decorated with bold, colorful graffiti art and planters, we went back inside for some dessert.
Chunk-N-Chip really stood out to us, and what caught my eye the most was their champagne cookies and their French toast with bacon ice cream! I had to get it in sandwich form, I tell you. Who doesn’t want a little libation AND breakfast in their dessert, right? Ha.
The storefront is the ice cream sandwich maker’s first brick-and-mortar, as it started as a food truck. Claudia, the lovely owner, told us they are expanding their flavors and cone options. For now, they have brownie and red velvet waffle cones, but they will soon be rolling out at gluten-free, vegan cone.
I also went behind the scenes to create this video for the making of their brownie batter cones. Trust me, you need to try it for yourself!
There is so much more to try at the newly opened 4th Street Market, and I can’t wait to be back soon for the rest.
Check out the video above for the food in action, as well as some shots of the awesome decor. LOVED the quotes from famous foodies on the ceiling!
To find out more on the 4th Street Market, and for hours and directions, go here. Until next time, cheers!