Showing posts with label Food Drink. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food Drink. Show all posts

Saturday, August 24, 2019

A summer squash soup with a pedigree

Summer squash makes a sweet counterpoint to this creamy end-of-summer chowder. Prop styling by Nidia Cueva. Summer squash makes a sweet counterpoint to this creamy end-of-summer chowder. Prop styling by Nidia Cueva.(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

When the heat of late summer arrives, I crave chowder. Hot, creamy soup when it’s already blazing outside may sound ludicrous, but childhood summers spent down South reinforced in me a love of bubbling soups and broths that were at their best when flavored with peak season produce. Corn chowder is the obvious favorite, but 12 years spent living in the Northeast also brought me to the altar of clam chowder and potato chowder. All soups where bacon, milk and aromatics ground various sweet things with their characteristic creaminess and warmth.

This summer though, with a bumper crop of yellow summer squash on my counter due to an overzealous farmers market buy, I gazed at the yellow tubes like similarly-shaped corn cobs and thought “squash chowder!” This time of year, the tender squash is often shaved and eaten raw or grilled. Its flavor is somewhat unappealingly bland, requiring lots of oil or salt to make it taste distinct. Growing up, we ate it just because it was everywhere and cheap. I don’t think anyone actually craved it. Summer squash deserves better.

In comes this soup. Whereas you’d think cooking a sensitive vegetable like summer squash in milk and bacon fat would overwhelm it and cancel out its flavor, as we know from our friends corn and clams, it doesn’t. Rather, it brings out the surprising sweetness in the gourd, requiring a splash of vinegar at the end to keep it from veering into dessert sweetness. I keep the aromatics traditional because they already work well — onions, celery and, if you have them, fresh bay leaves. A final garnish of shaved patty pan squash (of course, you can just use more summer squash if you prefer) reminds you what you’re eating and brings a bit of freshness to this soup. It’s the ideal of summer in a bowl, heat and all.

Summer squash chowder makes an ideal soup to serve at outdoor picnics or barbecues. Prop styling by Nidia Cueva. Summer squash chowder makes an ideal soup to serve at outdoor picnics or barbecues. Prop styling by Nidia Cueva.(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Summer Squash Chowder
1 hour. Serves 6 to 8.

When summer squash isn’t in season, use zucchini or even butternut squash, which will become tender in the same time if cut into ¼-inch-thick pieces. If you want to make this soup vegan, simply omit the bacon, use 6 tablespoons of olive oil instead of the amount of butter called for below, and use almond or soy milk instead of whole milk.

  • 8 strips bacon, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, preferably fresh
  • 8 yellow summer squash (4 ¼ pounds), quartered lengthwise and cut crosswise into ½-inch-thick pieces
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 patty pan squash (or ¼ summer squash)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 Heat the bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 12 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve for garnish, leaving the bacon fat in the pot.

2 Melt the butter in the bacon fat, then add the thyme, garlic, celery, onion and bay leaf and cook, stirring occasionally, until the aromatics soften, about 6 minutes. Stir in the squash, then cover the pot partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is softened and reduced in volume by one-third, about 15 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to medium-high, and continue cooking, stirring as needed, until the liquid in the pot is concentrated and mostly evaporated, about 10 more minutes.


3 Pour in the milk, and bring the chowder to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, to marry flavors and reduce the milk slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and then use an immersion or standing blender to puree the soup. Stir in the vinegar and season the soup with lots of salt and pepper.

4 Just before serving, thinly shave the patty pan squash crosswise. Pour the soup into bowls and garnish each with a few slices of shaved patty pan, some of the reserved bacon and a sprinkling of parsley to serve.

Original Article © Copyrights

Summer is the best time to visit Santa Monica's modernist Dialogue

Dialogue Fresh nasturtiums dance over a dish at Dialogue in Santa Monica.(Mariah Tauger / For The Times)

The end of August is my favorite time to eat at California’s fanciest restaurants. Never is it easier to score last-minute reservations than during this lull-in-dining-out moment as Angelenos wind up summer vacations, local tourism dips briefly and families begin reestablishing school-year routines.

From a critical standpoint, I favor high-flying dining during summer’s finale because the produce is almost hallucinogenic in its greatness. It’s telling which chefs take the most advantage of the markets’ riches, to see who lets a ripe peach or beefy tomato stand in its own glory while also putting their personal stamps on complex dishes.

Which brings me to a recent meal at Dialogue, Dave Beran’s 18-seat, tasting-menu restaurant on the second floor of a food court on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. It remains among the most surreal locations in America for a modernist dinner. Or maybe, given the immersive narrative that keeps the focus almost solely on the plate, the most appropriate. Beran opened his tiny theater of a space two years ago, after a decade of cooking for Grant Achatz in Chicago: first at Alinea, and then helping to dream up elaborate themes — “The Hunt,” “kaiseki,” “Paris: 1906” — as opening executive chef of Next.

Jonathan Gold and I both wrote admiring reviews of Dialogue in late 2017. It was heady stuff. The restaurant’s menu changes with winter, spring, summer and fall, but in the progression of 20 or so courses the meal also references the previous and forthcoming seasons. It was a fall menu that I first experienced; summery colors in the first few dishes drained away to muted tones and then concluded with a bleak, wintry landscape of chocolate, coconut and menthol.


There were flashes of easy-going deliciousness; a one-bite sphere filled with French onion soup lightened the mood after dishes such as choy sum stuffed with Thai chile paste flavored with scorched strawberry puree.

You know whether you are in or out with this kind of dining experience. It’s inarguably a splurge: $235 per person, not including wine pairings (which, as wine pairings go, are exceptionally thoughtful and fun).

If you’re in, Dialogue’s current summer menu is wonderful — cerebral as always, but also the sunniness of the ingredients brings a grounding warmth to the cooking. For me, recalling my first experiences, I can taste the evolution in Beran’s perspective. He moved here in 2016. It’s the great cliché that the Golden State transforms you, mellows you, maybe makes you more aware of the land. As a fellow new transplant, there are truths in there.

Which is to say: When Beran first opened the restaurant, he was cooking the California of the mind. Now he’s also more persuasively expressing the California of the soil.

la-fo-newsletter-20190822-001.JPG Dave Beran talks with customers at his 18-seat Dialogue. (Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times )

The kickoff course almost makes the case literally: It’s called “the first sprout” and resembles dirt. Composing this seedtime still life — the menu starts with motifs of spring, revels in summer and concludes with a fall preview — involves a puree of burnt bread, preserved cherry, braised celery root and Bing cherries pickled in sour beer. If that sounds wild and weird and like a science project, well, yes — but the flavors make so much sense on the palate, and it’s a plain joy to eat.

Jump ahead to one of my favorite courses, right in the meal’s midpoint: “Three years of peaches.” When Beran arrived from the Midwest, his first restaurant space for Dialogue, in downtown L.A., fell through; as he searched for a new space, he spent his time acclimating to the bounty of California, canning and preserving as he went along. Beran builds the current dish around pork belly: He glazes it with a sweet-and-sour sauce using peach pulp that was a byproduct of peach and rose vinegar. There’s peach jam, a fiery peach and ginger “ferment” made in a kimchi pot, peach sambal, a pork broth that includes charred peaches, and, finally, a fresh peach puree. It is the pinball machine of savory peach dishes: Its flavors bleep and bounce and flash in limitless, capricious directions.

There are simpler dishes: a gorgeous hunk of New York strip served with a lettuce and tomato salad (I didn’t think too hard about how many elements its dressing contained) cleared the mind.

Desserts waded into autumnal flavors; a carrot cake evoked holiday spices. During a sweltering week, it made me long for cooler fall temperatures. Not that this transplant is complaining about the weather in Southern California.

Dialogue’s summer 2019 menu runs through the first week of October.


Had that burger at Ototo yet?

— @yappod, Instagram


Funny that you should ask. I’m a fan of Charles Namba’s “Ode to Mos” chili burger — a lanky brute stacked with a thick slice of tomato, lettuce trailing like ivy and a domed sesame bun. I detail the burger in this week’s review of Ototo, which is a spectacular sake bar in Echo Park. If sake seems intimidating or you’re at all curious about learning more, or if you want to experience how “quality hot sake” is in fact not an oxymoron, head over and let co-owner Courtney Kaplan pour you some mind-opening tastes. This is one of those cool, small, individualistic places that make Los Angeles so dynamic.

Also, check out Jenn Harris’s all-angles-covered primer on sake, featuring Ototo’s Kaplan.


462497-la-fo-cheesecake-factory-review-RRD-331.JPG A customer checks out the dessert display at the Cheesecake Factory in Marina del Rey.(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

And finally, Andrea Nguyen names her favorite Vietnamese fish sauce available stateside.

Original Article © Copyrights

L.A. Farmers Market Guide: Big fun in little tomato town

Heirloom cherry tomatoes Heirloom cherry tomatoes from Sunrise Organic Farm at Studio City’s Sunday farmers market.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)

Even in high tomato season, cherry tomatoes are less of a crapshoot than the big ones — too fleshy, too seedy, unevenly ripe? — as you can pop one like a bonbon to find out, either in your kitchen or at the market.

At the Studio City market, Sunrise Organic Farm — a relatively new entrant into the game of fruit and vegetable musical chairs that is the Southern California farmers market system — has had tables loaded with cherry toms like a bijouterie counter.

Established four years ago in the Lompoc foothills by farmers Chuy Salas and Andrew Gibson, Sunrise grows 217 organic vegetables, including eight types of specialty melon, 14 types of peppers and heirloom tomatoes with happily silly names like Pork Chop.

Food L.A. Farmers Market Guide: O’Henry peaches are coming Food L.A. Farmers Market Guide: O’Henry peaches are coming Tenerelli Orchards in Littlerock brings outstanding peaches to the best L.A. farmers markets. The secret to getting mulberries and their other highly seasonal prized fruit? Email the farmers first.

Sunrise uses its own seeds and sources others. When I asked about the practices that helped them grow such perfect specimens, Gibson texted me from his tractor: “We are reactive farmers, so we’re low intervention. We let the plants tell us what they need.”


Cherry tomatoes are enormously fun to play with. You can lob them whole into a salad bowl or — if you hate chopping tomatoes as much as I do — you can make a damn fine sauce (or confit, technically) by cooking down a few baskets of the little ones, unchopped, with some smashed garlic cloves, a pinch of salt and a few cups of olive oil in a Dutch oven (Cover, cook until jam, ladle over spaghetti with a surfeit of herbed ricotta.) Or just eat them like popcorn.

Cherry tomatoes from the farmers market Heirloom cherry tomatoes from Sunrise Organic Farms at the Studio City farmers market.(Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times)

What: Red, yellow, orange and black cherry tomatoes; yellow and red grape tomatoes; blush tomatoes, Sungolds and artisan stripe tomatoes of all different colors.

Where: Sunrise Organic is at the Saturday farmers market in La Cañada Flintridge and the Sunday markets in Studio City, Larchmont, Westlake Village and Mar Vista. It also distributes to Whole Foods, Gelson’s and Erewhon.

When: Sunrise will have its tiny toms for the next two months, weather-contingent. “It’s been a really late season,” Gibson said, with unseasonably low temperatures at night. “Cold nights are bad for all summer crops,” he said. “The basis of growing is soil temperatures, and the longer the soil temperature has to rise after a cold night, the less growth you get during the day.”


Tip: Pick up some flowering thyme and black basil to add to your dinner. Adventurous? Check out Sunrise’s mini watermelon gherkins, odd and gorgeous things that are also called mouse melons.

Original Article © Copyrights

Friday, August 23, 2019

The ‘King of Gummies’ built his empire with chamoy and candy

Mike’s Sweet & Spicy Mike’s Sweet & Spicy candies include chamoy-coated Gushers, gummy bears, Nerd Ropes and other sweets.(Mike’s Sweet & Spicy)

These days you can get gummy candies flavored like pizza and bacon. There are even gross-out gummies designed to taste like dirt and even less savory natural phenomena.

To find the sweet stuff that Mike Zeytounian covets, he had to make his own.

Specifically, chamoy-coated gummies similar to the homemade ones his fellow students would bring to Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet in Boyle Heights, where he attended high school.

Today the 24-year-old candyman is selling his own “chili gummies” under the name Mike’s Sweet & Spicy. Zeytounian’s arsenal includes chamoy-coated Gushers, gummy bears, Nerd Ropes, Starburst and sour watermelon gummies. Each comes packed in plastic bags bearing a molten red bear melting beneath a golden crown.


Chamoy is the catchall term for the bright red condiments one finds rimming micheladas, dripping from paletas, coating fruit slices and drizzled over tostilocos. The sauce is a symphony of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavors.

Traditionally made with salt-pickled fruit such as sour plums, mangos or apricots, today chamoy is more likely found in industrialized commercial versions, with gums and artificial powders replicating its flavor medley.

Food Make these mangonada bars for the best chill treat during the hot summer Food Make these mangonada bars for the best chill treat during the hot summer Spicy, sweet and sour mangonada bars are the summertime treat you never knew you needed.

Zeytounian says he buys bottled chamoy at El Super before mixing it with candy from Costco, blending in Tajín, sea salt, citric acid and various chiles he toasts and grinds into powder.

Still, he puts considerable thought into his chamoy of choice. They’re available in varying levels of heat, and Zeytounian prefers those on the more sour end of the spectrum.


“It’s not only spice you’ll taste,” he says. “I like a more sour and spicy mix, which highlights the sweetness better.”

Once you manage to pry a few loose and pop them in your mouth, the sour and spicy seasonings hit first, fading into sweetness and leaving behind a tolerable heat.

Food The official candy bar power rankings Food The official candy bar power rankings It’s June, which means that we have the longest day of the year to look forward to this month.

Zeytounian is far from the only Angeleno selling his own chile-laced gummies. Local brands include Tamarindo Lindo in La Puente; Lily’s Chilies, which serves La Crescenta and Burbank; and the festival-frequenting Gomitas el Pansitas, to name a few.

But Mike’s may be the most visible at the moment.

They’re currently sold at Chips ’n’ Chicks, a nocturnal hot chicken truck that pops up at the Tujunga Car Wash, and at Pizza Man in Van Nuys.

Dubbing himself “King of Gummies” on Instagram, Zeytounian’s plans for the near future include an online store. He also wants to create new, non-chamoy chile blends to tap into different flavors and forms of edible heat.

Original Article © Copyrights

Hatch chiles are here! They’re tastiest in our top 5 Hatch chile recipes

Hatch Chile Pork Tacos with Kohlrabi Mango Slaw Hatch Chile Pork Tacos with Kohlrabi Mango Slaw(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Hatch chiles have arrived in Southern California. This year, there’s a shortage because of heavy rainfall, but the mild, fruity-tasting peppers are still available in farmers markets and grocery stores around the region. For an up-to-date list on where to find them, check out this online guide from specialty produce company Melissa’s.

To enjoy Hatch chiles in all their glory, try these braised pork tacos that blend dried and fresh ones. An Instant Pot transforms this into a quick meal, but if you don’t have one, try the stove top or slow cooker variations.

Another perfect chile-pork pairing comes in the form of a thick green stew, bright with tomatillos and cilantro.

The chiles are ideal for meatless meals too. They elevate regular mac and cheese into an ultra-rich casserole with pops of freshness.


Paired with corn and zucchini, the chiles turn a frittata into a meal that’s as satisfying at dinner as at brunch. The trio also makes for a good side dish that goes with just about anything.

Original Article © Copyrights

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Review: Ototo in Echo Park is the outstanding sake bar that Los Angeles deserves

Sake at Ototo Ototo in Echo Park has insantly become the most enticing place in L.A. to learn about and consume sake.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The hot sake served at Ototo in Echo Park does not taste like the inexpensive, abrasive-with-notes-of-rubbing-alcohol hot sake many of us have sipped alongside sushi or hibachi chicken. Tamagawa Tokubetsu Junmai — produced by Kinoshita, a brewery in Japan’s Kyoto prefecture that’s been in operation since 1842 — is a beverage at its most expressive state when heated. Ototo co-owner Courtney Kaplan doesn’t use a thermometer to gauge the sake’s temperature; she warms it, per the brewer’s instructions, until bubbles begin to simmer around its edges.

Its flavors land rich and spicy and autumnal. For a moment, the brain might register mulled cider, but there’s a grainy umami running underneath the brightness that has nothing to do with apple juice. All sakes are the result of multiple parallel fermentations: steamed rice, water and the inoculation fungus called koji reaching clear conclusions together. The fullness of this warmed exemplar stands right up to a burger — piled with chili and slicked with yuzu Thousand Island dressing — that half the room seems to be powering through.

Food A complete guide to sake from the sake guru at Ototo Food A complete guide to sake from the sake guru at Ototo Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about sake, plus what to buy and where to find it.

Resetting notions around hot sake is only one of Ototo’s many small coups; the place has instantly become the most enticing place in Los Angeles to learn about and consume sake. Kaplan’s drink list is part primer, part manifesto, part impassioned scribbled notes. The 22-page document, full of her chatty descriptions, beckons imbibers into a sometimes-intimidating subject. She divides sakes into flavor groups: fruits and flowers, earth and umami, rice and minerals, “delicious weirdos.” Denser language around gradations of rice polish and unpasteurized styles and alcohol levels only appears toward the booklet’s end; Kaplan and her crew are quick to pour tastes when you ask for any sort of guidance.

The bar food menu, designed by co-owner (and Kaplan’s life partner) Charles Namba, has a dozen succinct choices. Whether you’re ordering to snack or fill up on a complete meal, the cooking gratifies but also takes a deliberate back seat to the focus on drinking.

la-photos-1staff-462413-la-fo-ototo-review-addison1-mam-170327653 Nicole LaChance and Aaron Kohn toast with sake at Ototo in Echo Park. The interior is snug with six tables and an 11-seat bar.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Ototo opened in May, though its blueprint has been years in the making. Namba and Kaplan started their first restaurant, Tsubaki, in February 2017. Its izakaya model merges their personal and professional backgrounds. Namba grew up in Los Angeles; the steamed, fried and grilled dishes he prepares hearken to his Japanese heritage. Kaplan worked at Manhattan’s long-running Decibel, an izakaya known for its geeked-out sake program.

I live in Echo Park. I don’t know of a better dining option in the area than dinner at Tsubaki — perhaps Namba’s Dungeness crab chawanmushi, a skewer or two of chicken oyster yakitori and a finale of grilled abalone paired with Fukucho “Forgotten Fortune,” a sake whose description by Kaplan reads, “Made using a previously extinct variety of heirloom rice revived by the brewer herself.”

Food The little-known California sake you didn’t know you needed Food The little-known California sake you didn’t know you needed When I ask Yoshihiro Sako of Den Sake Brewery whether his first love was wine or sake, he answers slowly, as if it were a trick question.

Soon after they launched Tsubaki, the landlord informed Namba and Kaplan that the 1,000-square-foot hair salon next door was moving out. Did the couple want the space?

Sure, they said, not even yet imagining what they’d do with it. A luncheonette featuring rice bowls, maybe? But as Tsubaki settled in, Kaplan was energized by customers’ response to her depthless enthusiasm for sake. Ototo (Japanese for “little brother”) found its theme organically.

Courtney Kaplan and Charles Namba, co-owners of Ototo Courtney Kaplan and life partner Charles Namba opened Ototo in May. Their first, Tsubaki, is next door.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The place is snug: six tables and an 11-seat bar; blond woods, concrete, one exposed brick wall. Unlike often-booked Tsubaki, tiny itself with only 35 seats, Ototo doesn’t take reservations. A wait for two spots these first few months has rarely exceeded 20 minutes.

Behind the bar hang two rows of placards with names and descriptions of sakes written in marker. Kaplan likens them to shelf talkers in indie bookstores: They are staff favorites, inducements for wading in. Ask for something refreshing to kick off an evening, and Kaplan might pour you an extra-dry sake called Daina, crisp with summery flashes of blueberries and melon. Or maybe she’ll reach for a bottle of Taka Tokubetsu Junmai and mention how the brewer, Takashiro Nagayama, spent time in Chablis and coaxes unusual minerality out of his sake.
Speaking of Chablis: Kaplan, who worked as a sommelier at Bestia when she first came to town, also has a pitch-perfect palate for wine. At Tsubaki, she zeros in on left-of-center French varietals; at Ototo, she has a handful of small-production, natural-leaning beauties including an herbaceous Vinca Minor rosé.

Alongside a glass of something invigorating, start with a freeform mound of hirame crudo joggled with yuzu, or a variation on goma-ae of haricots verts in a subtle sesame dressing. If you’re careening into sakes with mushroomy or nutty characteristics, or if you’re plainly hungry, munch on kara-age; the hunks of fried chicken loll in a shallow pool of sweet and sour sauce.

Namba’s miraculously tidy chili burger sits tall with its thick slice of tomato, shredded lettuce falling like ringlets and domed sesame bun. It’s an ode to the Japanese fast food chain Mos Burger, which, in turn, was originally inspired by founder Atsushi Sakurada’s trips to the Original Tommy’s in L.A. in the 1960s. If people aren’t two-handing the burger, they’re faceplanting into the immaculate chicken katsu sando.

Ode to Mos burger at Ototo The "Ode to Mos," a Japanese chili burger, at Ototo.(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The menu has two ongoing specials: oden, a stew of meats braised in dashi that’s a typical winter dish in Japan (and which I’ll be more compelled to revisit when the nights grow chillier), and okonomiyaki, the savory pancake often built on cabbage squiggled with saucy condiments. Ototo’s version has been a work in progress; an early take with pork belly was too much of a fatty, gloppy muddle. The latest rendition, with squid and shrimp, finds the right proportions of composure and chaos, with enough heft to carry you through another glass or two.

Or to sustain you before a game. Being in Echo Park, Kaplan dreams of customers swinging by in their blue jerseys before a night at Dodger Stadium, treating Ototo as one might a neighborhood wine bar, staying for 20 minutes or an hour, one stop during a relaxed evening out. This is the place where sake can be known in its accessible, manifold glories. This is Los Angeles at the cusp of the 2020s. I see Kaplan’s dream coming true.

  • Recommended: hirame crudo, goma-ae, chicken katsu sando, burger. And, of course, sake.

    Prices: Small plates $8-$14, most sakes $4-$15 by the glass.

    Details: Credit cards accepted. Sake, wine and beer. Valet and street parking. Reaching the dining room requires traversing two steps. The restroom is wheelchair accessible.

    1360 Allison Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 784-7930

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Good coffee, a roastery and Michelin-star food, all in a Hollywood warehouse

A Sightglass Coffee location in San Francisco Sightglass Coffee is opening a cafe and roastery in Los Angeles. Pictured is one of the brand’s San Francisco locations. (Sightglass Coffee)

Sightglass Coffee, the San Francisco company, plans to open a roastery and cafe in the Sycamore Media District in October. The 11,000-square-foot space, located down the street from the new Tartine Sycamore, will be the company’s first location outside the Bay Area.

The coffee brand, started by brothers Jerad and Justin Morrison, has five locations in San Francisco and supplies retailers and restaurants including Chez Panisse and Whole Foods.

The Los Angeles cafe will feature a large coffee bar and counter where you can order V60 pour-over coffee, cold coffee on tap and espresso drinks. The Morrison brothers source their single-origin coffees from all over the world, including Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Mexico and Honduras.

The brothers will be roasting coffee at the facility using two 1960s, German-engineered roasters they had refurbished for the shop. They also will be making their cold coffee using a proprietary method that involves brewing the coffee hot and then rapidly cooling it, rather than cold brewing.


While the other Sightglass locations serve snacks and pastries made off-site, the Los Angeles cafe will have a full kitchen with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Brett Cooper, who was previously the chef at Aster and Outerlands in San Francisco, will be baking bread and pastries and making salads, Roman-inspired pizzas and other seasonal dishes. The cafe also will serve beer and wine; there is seating inside and an outdoor patio.

A portion of the space will be devoted to the Lab, an area for classes for wholesale retailers and the public.

7051 Willoughby Ave., Los Angeles,

Original Article © Copyrights

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

It's a chicken sandwich smackdown! Popeyes vs. Chick-fil-A: Who will reign supreme?

Beloved fast-food fried-chicken chain Popeyes,
founded in a New Orleans suburb, is known for its Cajun-seasoned chicken, sides like red beans and rice and mashed potatoes and gravy, and catchy jingle from musician Dr. John. And now, it’s got
a new chicken sandwich.

Launched at all of Popeyes’ 3,000-plus restaurants nationwide last week,
the $3.99 sandwich, which the Miami company claims is its “biggest product launch in the last 30 years,” has changed the chicken landscape.

In fact, it’s created
an all-out war.

The Popeyes
sandwich closely resembles, in structure anyway, the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich — a bun, patty, pickle composition. No wonder it has
taken on Chick-fil-A on Twitter, and been absolutely merciless:


... y’all good?

— Popeyes Chicken (@PopeyesChicken) August 19, 2019

Other chains have been trying to weasel in on the sandwich beef (sandwich ... chicken?) including Wendy’s, Shake Shack, Church’s and Bojangles.

Y’all out here fighting about which of these fools has the second best chicken sandwich.

— WENDY'S SPICY NUGGETS ARE BACK!!! (@Wendys) August 19, 2019

But of Popeyes
and Chick-fil-A, which
has the better sandwich? Our intrepid food reporters Lucas Kwan Peterson and Jenn Harris put their stomachs on the line in a head-to-head taste test to determine, once and for all, which sandwich reigns supreme.

Original Article © Copyrights

Stay chill once you grill with these 3 summer soups

Chilled soups
A trio of cold soups (from left: gazpacho, borscht and ajo blanco) that get smoky flavor from grilled sourdough bread, cabbage and fennel. Prop styling by Nidia Cueva.(Leslie Grow / For The Times)

The stickier the days get, the more I only want to eat cold things, like raw veggies or bits of shrimp or chicken, dipped into a flavorful sauce. But lately my move has been chilled soups: They keep well in the fridge and feel like a meal, not like I’m just snacking.

This summer I’ve decided to grill and chill: I’ll grill all the stuff for a few different soups — meaning 15 or 20 minutes of hot work — and then I have flavorful meals on tap for a few days. Grilling adds smoky, caramelized warm flavors to cold soups that make them all the more satisfying. And each soup is accidentally vegan (if you leave out the feta from the borscht garnish).

To enliven gazpacho, I char sourdough bread to blend with tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion, then stir in chilled seltzer just before serving (it’s 2019 so I know you have some in your fridge). For my smoky take on ajo blanco, the creamy Spanish almond soup, I grill fennel wedges and bunches of green grapes. The fennel goes into the soup, its charred anise quality invigorating the almond and garlic. And for a final touch of blackened flavor, caramelized orbs of grapes garnish each bowl.

Finally, grilled leeks and napa cabbage add body and a pleasant bitterness to chilled beet borscht, a vegetarian version of the ruddy Russian stalwart. It gets even more toastiness and some texture in the form of fresh, crispy sourdough-lemon zest-feta cheese breadcrumb garnish. I can keep it in my fridge, along with those soups, ready to cool down at a moment’s notice when I feel the heat and hunger pangs coming on at the same time.


Burned Gazpacho
Traditional gazpacho gets body and warm flavor from toasted sourdough bread, blended into the soup. Prop styling by Nidia Cueva.(Leslie Grow / For the Times)

Burned Gazpacho

15 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling. Serves 4 to 6.

The flavor of charred bread is the key to this bright, bubbly gazpacho, so use the best you can find. I like using sweet cherry tomatoes here because you can chuck them into the blender with no prep, but if you have super ripe beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, use those instead.


  • 2 slices (1-inch-thick) sourdough bread
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds ripe cherry tomatoes, plus 6 for garnish
  • 2 small Persian cucumbers (5 ounces), halved lengthwise, seeded, and roughly chopped, plus 1 small Persian cucumber, finely diced, for garnish
  • ½ medium red onion (half roughly chopped, half minced for garnish)
  • ¼ cup sherry or red wine vinegar, plus more
  • 1 almond-size garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 cup chilled plain seltzer (or filtered water)
  • Flaky sea salt


  1. Prepare your charcoal or gas grill for direct, high-heat grilling. (Or heat your broiler to high and line a baking sheet with foil.) Brush the bread all over with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill or broil the bread, flipping once halfway through, until deep golden brown all over with some charred bits at the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bread from the grill or broiler and let cool. Tear into bite-size chunks.
  2. Place the grilled bread in a blender along with the ½ cup olive oil, cherry tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, roughly chopped red onion, sherry vinegar and garlic. Blend until smooth, then pour into a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
  3. Cut the remaining 6 cherry tomatoes into three slices each. Place the remaining minced red onion in a sieve, rinse under cold water for about 10 seconds, then drain.
  4. Remove the soup from the fridge, stir in the seltzer, then season with more salt and sherry vinegar to taste. Pour the soup into serving bowls and garnish each with three slices of cherry tomato in the center and then scatter the rinsed red onions and finely diced cucumber over the top. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of flaky sea salt to serve.
Roast Fennel Ajo Blanco
Grilled fennel invigorates the Spanish almond and garlic soup called ajo blanco; grilled green grapes add extra flavor to the garnish. Prop styling by Nidia Cueva.(Leslie Grow / For the Times)


Roast Fennel Ajo Blanco

15 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling. Serves 4 to 6.

The anise flavor of fennel here works to balance the creamy, garlicky soup and play up the sweetness of the grape garnish. Keep the grapes attached to their stems and in their clusters for the easiest handling on the grill.


  • 2 small fennel bulbs, with stalks and fronds attached (1 ¼ pounds), trimmed and cut into 8 wedges each
  • 1 small bunch green grapes, attached to their stems
  • ½ cup everyday olive oil, plus more
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chilled filtered water
  • 1 cup whole roasted unsalted almonds
  • ¼ cup sherry or red wine vinegar, plus more
  • 6 almond-size garlic cloves, peeled
  • Flaky sea salt


  1. Prepare your charcoal or gas grill for direct, high-heat grilling. (Or heat your broiler to high and line a baking sheet with foil.) Brush the fennel wedges and grape bunches all over with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill or broil the wedges and grapes, flipping once halfway through, until deep golden brown all over with some charred bits at the edges, 5 to 6 minutes for the fennel, 2 to 3 minutes for the grapes. Remove the fennel and grapes from the grill or broiler and let cool.
  2. Place the grilled fennel in a blender along with the ½ cup olive oil, water, almonds, vinegar and garlic. Blend until very smooth, at least 1 minute, then pour into a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Refrigerate the grapes alongside the soup.
  3. Remove the soup from the fridge, and season with more salt and sherry vinegar. Pour the soup into serving bowls and garnish each with whole or halved charred grapes then scatter the reserved small fennel fronds over the top. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of flaky sea salt to serve.
Blackened Borscht with Spicy Feta<br/>Breadcrumbs
This cold, vegetarian spin on borscht gets added oomph from grilled Napa cabbage and leeks, then garnished with a crunchy-cool feta and bread crumb topping. Prop styling by Nidia Cueva.(Leslie Grow / For The Times)

Blackened Borscht with Spicy Feta Bread Crumbs

20 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling. Serves 4 to 6.

Buying pre-cooked beets — which I see at more and more grocery stores these days — makes this soup incredibly quick and easy to throw together, but you can use your own home-cooked beets if you like by baking or steaming beets until tender then peeling off the skins. If making the bread crumbs ahead of time, store the cooled crumbs in an airtight container for up to 3 days, then reheat in a skillet before stirring in the lemon zest and feta to serve.


  • 1 leek, trimmed of all dark green parts, halved lengthwise and rinsed
  • ¼ small Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup everyday olive oil, plus more
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds pre-cooked peeled beets, dried and halved
  • 2 cups chilled filtered water
  • 1 almond-size garlic clove, peeled
  • Juice of 1 lemon (¼ cup), zest reserved for garnish
  • 3 ounces sourdough bread
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, well-drained and finely crumbled


  1. Prepare your charcoal or gas grill for direct, high-heat grilling. (Or heat your broiler to high and line a baking sheet with foil.) Brush the leek halves and cabbage wedge all over with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill or broil the leeks and cabbage, flipping once halfway through, until deep golden brown all over with some charred bits at the edges, about 8 minutes. Remove the leeks and cabbage from the grill or broiler, let cool then roughly chop.
  2. Place the leeks and cabbage in a blender along with ½ cup olive oil, the beets, water, garlic and lemon juice. Blend until smooth, at least 30 seconds, then pour into a large bowl and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
  3. While the soup chills, make the spicy feta bread crumbs: Place the bread in a food processor and pulse until it forms rough crumbs, some fine and some the size of peas. You should get about 1 ½ cups. Place a quadruple-thick layer of paper towels on a plate and keep nearby. Heat the remaining ½ cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Add the crumbs (they will look sodden in the oil; it’s OK) and cook, stirring, until golden brown and crisp, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the chile flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Immediately scrape the crumbs onto the paper-towel-lined plate and spread out in an even layer to cool. Once cooled, transfer the crumbs to a bowl and stir in the reserved lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. (See note above if making ahead of time.)
  4. Remove the soup from the fridge and season with more salt and lemon juice. Stir the feta into the bread crumbs right before you’re ready to serve them. Pour the soup into bowls and scatter the spicy feta bread crumbs over the top.
Original Article © Copyrights

Garlicky Shrimp and Egg Stir-Fry

Scrambled eggs coat shrimp in this simple stir fry
Scrambled eggs coat shrimp in this simple stir fry.(Andrea Nguyen)

This stir-fry was created by Albee Tran and Andrea Nguyen to be served on top of Bún Cá Kiên Giang: Fish and Shrimp Rice Noodle Soup. It’s so delicious, it’s worth making even if you’re not preparing the soup. It’s great on top of steamed rice or rice noodles.

Garlicky Shrimp and Egg Stir-Fry

15 minutes. Serves 4.


  • 24 large shell-on shrimp (14 ounces), peeled and deveined
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ¼ cup canola or other neutral-flavored oil
  • ¾ teaspoon ground annatto or paprika
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped


  1. Use a meat mallet, rolling pin or heavy skillet to gently tap each shrimp 3 or 4 times to crush lightly. Season the shrimp with salt. Beat the eggs and yolks with the fish sauce.
  2. Combine the oil and annatto in a small nonstick skillet. Set over medium-low heat and stir
    until the oil turns deep orange, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sizzle, stirring, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until just opaque throughout and curled, about 2 minutes. Pour in the egg mixture and cook, stirring, until just set, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
Original Article © Copyrights

Pickled Leek and Chile Sauce

Pickled Leek and Chile Sauce
Chinese canned pickled leeks add an instant sweet-sour punch to this chile sauce.(Andrea Nguyen)

This condiment for Bún Cá Kiên Giang: Fish and Shrimp Rice Noodle Soup adds big flavors to any noodle soup and would be tasty spooned over stir-fried vegetables or grilled fish or meat. Asian leeks, which are more like shallots or ramps, are pickled and sold in small cans in Chinese or Southeast Asian markets. The Fortuna brand is readily available and can be purchased online as well.

Pickled Leek and Chile Sauce

5 minutes. Makes about ¾ cup.


  • 1 can (6½ ounces) Vietnamese pickled leeks
  • 4 fresh Thai or serrano chiles, finely chopped with seeds, plus more
  • ¼ cup fish sauce, plus more


  1. Pull the leeks out of their pickling liquid, reserving the liquid. Finely chop the leeks.
  2. Place the chopped leeks in a medium bowl, along with the chiles, fish sauce and 2 tablespoons of the
    pickling liquid. Stir well. Taste and add more chiles, fish sauce or pickling liquid if desired.

Make ahead
The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Original Article © Copyrights

Bún Cá Kiên Giang: Vietnamese Fish and Shrimp Rice Noodle Soup

Serve extra sauce, sprouts, cucumbers and herbs on the side to add freshness to your soup
Serve extra sauce, sprouts, cucumbers and herbs on the side to add freshness to your soup.(Andrea Nguyen)

This version of a classic dish from southern Vietnam’s Kiên Giang province comes from Son fish sauce boss Albee Tran and was perfected by Andrea Nguyen. An aromatic pork and shrimp broth holds slick rice noodles and crisp bean sprouts, and it
gets topped with silky poached fish, a garlicky shrimp and egg stir-fry and refreshing cucumbers and herbs. You should be able to find all the ingredients in a well-stocked Southeast Asian grocery; if you can’t find Chinese yellow rock sugar, you can substitute 2 peeled, cored and chopped small Fuji apples.

Bún Cá Kiên Giang Fish and Shrimp Rice Noodle Soup

3 ½ hours. Serves 8.



  1. To ensure clear broth, parboil the bones first by putting them in an 12-quart stockpot with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until all the scum is released, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse until the scum comes off the bones. Scrub the pot, then add the rinsed bones and 6 quarts water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then add the rock sugar, onions and 5 teaspoons salt. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and simmer uncovered for 1½ hours, skimming any foam that rises to the surface.
  2. While the broth simmers, prepare the leek-chile sauce and shrimp stir-fry.
  3. When the broth is done, remove from the heat and let rest uncovered for 15 minutes to further concentrate its flavor and settle any remaining impurities.
  4. While the broth rests, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the noodles and boil until just tender. The timing varies, so test for doneness by picking out a noodle, rinsing it under cold water and biting into it. It should be cooked through, but remain slightly firm. Drain in a fine colander, rinse under cold water until cool, and drain again. Divide the bean sprouts among 8 serving bowls, then top with the drained noodles.
  5. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve set over a 6-quart pot. Season with 3 tablespoons fish sauce. Taste and add more if desired. Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Season the fish with salt, then add to the simmering broth and poach until the fish is just opaque throughout, 2 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or spider, scoop out the fish and divide among the serving bowls.
  6. Divide the shrimp among the bowls as well, along with the cucumbers and rau ram. Add a spoonful of the leek-chile sauce to each bowl and place the remaining in a serving bowl for passing at the table. Sprinkle the scallion greens on top. Return the broth to a boil and divide it among the bowls. Crown with the fried shallots. Serve immediately with the leek-chile sauce, more fish sauce, lime wedges and mint sprigs.

Make ahead
The strained broth can be stored in airtight containers and refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. The poached fish can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Bring the broth to a simmer before serving and rewarm the fish in it.

Original Article © Copyrights

Cross-cultural umami in the form of Son Fish Sauce, a fresh take on the Vietnamese staple

Son Fish Sauce
The story of Son Fish Sauce and its owners Danny and Albee Tran is neither a refugee nor a diaspora narrative.(Adrian Mangel / For The Times)

When my family escaped the communist takeover of Vietnam and settled in Southern California in 1975, we gained freedom but lost good fish sauce.

There wasn’t a trade agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam after the war ended, so,
along with our compatriots, we were forced to depend on producers in Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines for our most important pantry staple. Their renditions of the umami-laden condiment were serviceable, but we pined for bona fide Viet nuoc mam (say “nook mahm?”).

Thankfully, a sea change during the last 10 years, led by premium brands such as Red Boat, has brought more nuoc mam from the motherland to our shores. Nowadays, Little Saigon markets carry brands that go far beyond the usual suspects.

Within my collection (there are about a dozen at any given time), Son Fish Sauce is a favorite. Compared with other fish sauces, Son has a pure flavor that’s intensely savory, so much so that I use about 30% less than usual.


It’s great for defining Viet dipping sauces, as well as for injecting cross-cultural umami into bloody marys, Caesar salad dressing and guacamole. Son, produced on tiny Hon Son Island in the Gulf of Thailand, is a friendly MVP in my kitchen.

Unable to find the bottles at my regular Little Saigon grocery haunts for months, I asked owner Danny Tran for the lowdown. We’d emailed over the years and I assumed that he was the scion of Khon Van Pham (1921-2004), the legendary fish sauce maker mentioned on the company website, who pioneered the industry on Hon Son.

But when we met, Danny, 35, immediately introduced me to his 27-year-old wife, Albee, the person with true nuoc mam DNA. She is Pham’s great-granddaughter, the fourth generation to work in the fish sauce trade, and her willowy grace belies a steely determination.

Albee and Danny’s story is neither a refugee nor a diaspora narrative. They are young, hyper-entrepreneurial Vietnamese transnationals who move fluidly back and forth across the Pacific.


Off the shelf: The powerfully funky umami of Vietnamese fish paste


Off the shelf: The powerfully funky umami of Vietnamese fish paste

Fish sauce has crossed over from Vietnamese cuisine to use in all kinds of home and restaurant cooking, but it’s hardly the only fermented sea beast potion that Viet cooks love.


The couple met when Danny was visiting Vietnam (he was born there but grew up in Orange County), then married and settled in Saigon (a.k.a
Ho Chi Minh City). In 2012, Danny sold Albee and a friend on the idea of opening the Cajun Cua (cua is crab in Vietnamese), a riff on Viet-Cajun restaurants like the Boiling Crab.

Launching and expanding their business was relatively easy, they said, but running it was harder. “After the second one, I wanted to kill him,” Albee joked.

Nevertheless, their success proved that importing ideas from America to the motherland was worthwhile. Why not go in the reverse direction? With quality fish sauce gaining traction among Western chefs, it seemed like the perfect time to export nuoc mam.

“My family did a lot of wholesale business to supply fish sauce to nearby Phu Quoc Island, so they never thought much about building their own brand,” Albee said. Danny saw the opportunity in a different light.

“Vietnamese people, we’ve been here [in America] for like 30, 40 years,” he said. “I would like us to have a product on the shelf that everybody can be proud of.”

He wanted Viet-American pride to extend beyond pho noodle soup and ao dai traditional tunic outfits.

With little experience in food product marketing and sales, they sold their stake in the restaurant and relocated to California in 2014 to launch Son Fish Sauce.

Independent and undaunted (they received no handouts from their families, Danny emphasized), the couple passed on using distributors. Danny regularly loaded his car with a pallet’s worth of fish sauce and delivered cases to Asian supermarkets. “It got scary if the boxes shifted too much on the road,” he recalled.



What to look for when buying fish sauce


What to look for when buying fish sauce

Fish sauce smells strong and the workhorse condiment is commonly combined with other ingredients to work its umami magic.

They hustled and did in-store events, driving as far as New Mexico and, if needed, staying at the market owner’s home. Many of the grocers were located in relatively low-income areas and served an international clientele. To Mexican customers, Danny suggested using fish sauce for boosting flavor in salsas and menudo; he sold Filipinos on using Son for Jollibee-style spaghetti. When he spotted Caribbean shoppers carrying fried whole fish, he pitched making a dipping sauce of jalapeños and fish sauce.

Albee, meanwhile, focused on converting Vietnamese customers. “Em la deh-mo lay-dee,” Albee said in charming Viet-glish , talking about her demos of fish sauce and cucumber slices. Initial response was mixed; customers had gotten used to the flavor of non-Viet fish sauce,
and Son’s artisanal condiment seemed off.

Some said Albee’s nuoc mam wasn’t salty enough. Others noted the lack of bot ngot (monosodium glutamate) as a sign that Son wasn’t the real deal.

Detailing their old-fashioned method of using delicate-tasting anchovies, sea salt and 12 months of aging in wooden barrels didn’t always convince people of the purity of their first-press (think extra virgin olive oil) product. And some Viet people questioned if FDA inspection and approval really meant a clean, legit product.

Recounting the feedback, Albee revealed her geeky fish-sauce-maker self.

“The fish vary by season, so the fish sauce intensity differs,” she explained. Viet producers gauge a batch’s potency by the “N,” or grams of nitrogen per liter of fish sauce. The nitrogen level indicates a condiment’s umami oomph, which is based on amino acids (mostly glutamates) naturally released during the aging process. I liken the N numbers to octane levels in gasoline.

“We blend nuoc mam nhi (first-press fish sauce) from the best barrels to arrive at 40 or 41N. That’s perfect,” Albee said resolutely. “There’s no addition of any extra water.”



Banh cuon 101: Everything you need to know about Vietnamese rice sheets


Banh cuon 101: Everything you need to know about Vietnamese rice sheets

I grew up scarfing platefuls of banh cuon — rice noodle rolls — which my parents fashioned from freshly made rice sheets that they’d line with a pork, shrimp and mushroom mixture and then fold into tender cylinders (imagine savory rice-based blintzes).

For the second pressing, they add salted water, ferment again, and blend for a 25N result. Though the same fish may be used up to seven times to make different grades of fish sauce, Son bottles only the first (40N) and second (25N) pressings.

Because her family has been on the isolated island for decades, they’ve had no desire or need to change their production process, Albee explained. The family owns barrel houses and fishing boats, plus they have generations of fish-sauce makers and even someone who does the lab work to test results.

Despite having a solid fish-sauce legacy, there have been ups and downs. Being young and inexperienced, they hesitated, made mistakes, and also got distracted, spending nine months in Mississippi to explore the dried-shrimp business, according to Danny. All this likely explains why Little Saigon’s Son supply was slack for a spell.

Where to buy Son Fish Sauce

  • Southern California locations

    A Dong Supermarket: 9221 Bolsa Ave., Westminster, CA 92683
    Dalat Supermarket: 13075 S Euclid St., Garden Grove, CA 92843
    Saigon Supermarket: 10131 Westminster Blvd., Garden Grove, CA 92843
    Mom’s Supermarket: 5111 W. Edinger Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92704
    Green Farm Market: 2948, 2301 W. Rosecrans Ave., Gardena, CA 90249
    Garden Grove: 16042 Magnolia St., Fountain Valley, CA 92708
    Gardena: ?
    El Monte: 4802 Peck Road, El Monte, CA 91732
    Specialty Produce: 1929 Hancock St., #150, San Diego, CA 92110 (wholesaler with a retail space)
    Catalina Offshore Products: 5202 Lovelock St., San Diego, CA 92110

  • Northern California locations

    Food Bowl 99: 1625 McKee Road, San Jose, CA 95116
    San Francisco Fish Company: 1 Ferry Building, Suite 31, San Francisco, CA 94111

Suddenly, a sparkle appeared in Danny’s eyes as he ticked off recent developments and plans. After five years of talk, he finally sent his first shipment to Charles Phan and the Slanted Door Group in San Francisco, and he hopes to expand to more restaurants. Markets in Little Saigon, Los Angeles, San Diego and the Bay Area have stock again. The couple is pushing hard for online sales to reach nontraditional fish sauce users. Albee reported that about 90 percent of their online
sales are to non-Asians.

To refill my personal supply of Son, I went to Green Farm Market in Garden Grove. A clerk led me to the display near the store entrance and proclaimed in Vietnamese, “This is the finest.” An older woman nearby asked, “Is it good? I don’t want nuoc mam with MSG. Is it in there?”

Nope, but it’s thom ngon (fragrant and delicious) and dam da (has savory depth, umami), like quality old-fashioned nuoc mam, although it’s pricier than others. Was she ready for it? “Yes, I want good nuoc mam from Vietnam,” she said.

Original Article © Copyrights

What to look for when buying fish sauce

Red Boat fish sauce
A sea change during the last 10 years, led by premium brands such as Red Boat, has brought more Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam) to the United States.(Morgan Ommer)

“Straight from the barrel, it tasted rich and savory, not fishy,” my dad once recalled. “Drink a shot of the good stuff and you get a burst of energy.”

Whether or not you want to shoot it is up to you: Fish sauce smells strong (ideally, a strength like that of dried porcini) and the workhorse condiment is commonly combined with other ingredients to work its umami magic.


Cross-cultural umami in the form of Son Fish Sauce, a fresh take on the Vietnamese staple


Cross-cultural umami in the form of Son Fish Sauce, a fresh take on the Vietnamese staple

When my family escaped the communist takeover of Vietnam and settled in Southern California in 1975, we gained freedom but lost good fish sauce.

When shopping for nuoc mam, check the ingredients list if you’re gluten-sensitive. Some fish sauces contain sugar for a savory-sweet edge, while others may rely on monosodium glutamate as a flavor boost.

Pure fish sauce contains only fish and salt; no water or anchovy extract is listed among ingredients. Artisanal nuoc mam often names wild anchovies (ca com in Vietnamese) as the type of fish used. The high-grade liquid from the first extraction is called nuoc mam nhi (or nuoc mam cot) in Vietnamese. If shopping by N (nitrogen levels), 40N fish sauce is traditionally saved for dipping sauces and table use, but nowadays people use it for cooking too. To save money, use lower-N products for cooking.



Off the shelf: The powerfully funky umami of Vietnamese fish paste


Off the shelf: The powerfully funky umami of Vietnamese fish paste

Fish sauce has crossed over from Vietnamese cuisine to use in all kinds of home and restaurant cooking, but it’s hardly the only fermented sea beast potion that Viet cooks love.

Refrigerate fish sauce, especially those without preservatives, to maintain peak flavor; should it darken and intensify in flavor, use a little less than the amount suggested in a recipe. As with any condiment, try different brands to find one you like.

Original Article © Copyrights

What's in your basket: CBD lemonade and keto cookies at Erewhon

Erewhon, a flamboyantly health-conscious grocery store, was founded in Boston but is now entirely based in Los Angeles.(Gabriel Alcala / For The Times)

Erewhon is a supermarket for the wellness set, a flamboyantly health-conscious grocery store where you can stock up on locally grown biodynamic vegetables, keto-approved cookies and a kaleidoscope of tonics that promise to stimulate everything from psychic energy to chakra, mood, even brain cognition.

Founded on Boston’s Newbury Street in 1968 by early disciples of the macrobiotic movement, Erewhon made its mark selling organic brown rice to longhairs and distributing soy milk, Dr. Bronner’s soap and carob bars to the health food stores and co-ops that fueled America’s counterculture.


Super King is L.A.’s most beloved international supermarket — and the customers are fiercely loyal


Super King is L.A.’s most beloved international supermarket — and the customers are fiercely loyal

The Persian cucumbers are always a mob scene.

Flash forward to 2019 and Erewhon is entirely L.A.-based, with five stores west of La Brea Avenue
and a sixth due to open in Silver Lake in 2020. You will not find sugar or flour, synthetic pesticides, growth hormones or artificial flavors and colors on the shelves. What you will find are legions of beautiful people sipping reishi lattes and chagachinos. Maybe in another 50 years, healing mushrooms and CBD lemonade will be as ubiquitous as soy milk and brown rice.


Zan Charisse (Tony-nominated actress and creative director of Happy Noise; “We’re not 20 anymore,” says companion.)

Erewhon CBD lemonade
Erewhon shopper Zan Charisse likes to pair CBD lemonade with gin.(Gabriel Alcala / For The Times)

Buying: Erewhon CBD lemonade, lavender lemonade, pink lemonade

The juices are to pair with gin. You know, gin is made with herbs and botanicals. It’s a digestive and it’s great for your skin. I used to drink wine non-stop and I didn’t feel well; it was too much sugar so I decided to go with gin. Sometimes we add E3Live or pitaya powder too.

Allie Leggett (model; 25) and Hamish Khayat (founder of Burst; 28)

Erewhon puffs and hummus
Lesser Evil or Hippeas? Who makes the best paleo puff?(Gabriel Alcala / For The Times)


Buying: Lesser Evil Paleo Puffs, Hippeas and California Snax Raw Hummus

Allie: We’re always arguing about who makes the best paleo puff.

Hamish: I’m a hummus connoisseur and this is the best hummus. Ever.

Crockett Anthony (artist; 33)

Erewhon shopper Crockett Anthony likes what's in his superfood bar and what's not in his tortilla chips.(Gabriel Alcala / For The Times)

Buying: Dazzle Raw Superfood Bar, Way Better blue corn tortilla chips

I like this bar because of the vitamins. It has a lot of selenium and copper. I can’t claim to know all the benefits, but I was told briefly that it’s one of the things we don’t honor enough in our diets. Copper in conjunction with another mineral, I can’t remember which one, creates our electricity.

And for the tortilla chips, I like the whole sprouted vibe and then there’s no salt. That way I won’t feel guilty if I kill the whole bag.

Laura Falls (owner of a music PR firm; 32)

Gluten-free pasta
Gluten-free pasta gives this household a reason to smile.(Gabriel Alcala / For The Times)


Buying: Gluten-free pasta, kale, zucchini, avocado

We’re trying to reduce the number of grains we’re eating because my husband has an autoimmune disease that we just discovered recently. They have a whole section of gluten-free pastas that are made out of things other than rice, like chickpeas and lentils.

Tonight we’re doing a pasta night, so I’ll add some roasted squash and a spicy pesto with tons of chiles and a lot of fresh basil, but unfortunately no Parmesan cheese because dairy is out now too.

Adriana Raffoul (Student, Victoria University, Australia; 27)

Irish moss
She hasn't even read the instructions, but Erewhon shopper Adriana Raffoul is ready to introduce Irish moss into her life for blood reasons.(Gabriel Alcala / For The Times)

Buying: Divine Organics Irish Moss

Irish moss is a blood purifier kind of thing. I’ve been doing some research because I’m really into nutrition and apparently it helps. I don’t even know how to use it yet. I haven’t read the instructions.

Sarah Gaboury (acting coach; 40)

Vegan Mario’s gluten-free quinoa and brown rice sourdough
For Sarah Gaboury, Erewhon is the only place she can find Vegan Mario's bread — a family staple.(Gabriel Alcala / For The Times)

Buying: Vegan Mario’s gluten-free quinoa and brown rice sourdough, Siete Family Foods almond flour tortillas, Patagonia Provisions wild sockeye salmon


It’s funny, we have a love-hate relationship with Erewhon. I come here because I can get everything I need for all my weird food things in one place, meaning dairy-free things, gluten-free things, pasture-raised meats and the same produce that I see at the farmers market. As far as I know this is the only place I can buy Vegan Mario’s bread — and we use it for everything. I make my kid’s French toast with it.

Original Article © Copyrights

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

New L.A. dining options include seafood on the coast

Spanish octopus with pasta e fagioli from Fia
Spanish octopus with pasta e fagioli from Fia, now open in Santa Monica.(Michael Grecco)


Mexican seafood on PCH

The Cliffdiver will open Aug. 24 in Malibu from restaurateur Adolfo Garcia of Pearl Tavern, Son of a Butcher Tavern and Broken English in Chicago. The menu includes wild mushroom crudo, marlin tacos, Pacific snapper ceviche and smoked mezcal negronis.

21337 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, (424) 235-2595

Dough arts
Bianca Bakery is open at Platform in Culver City. In addition to freshly baked breads and morning pastries, you’ll find mortadella and manchego sandwiches on focaccia, octopus empanadas and minestrone with pistou.


8850 Washington Blvd., Culver City,

Mediterranean in the Marina

Ora salmon crudo with Meyer lemon, creme fraiche, basil flowers and smoke trout roe at Terzo MdR
Ora salmon crudo with Meyer lemon, creme fraiche, basil flowers and smoked trout roe at Terzo MdR.(Melissa Valladares)

Terzo MDR will open Aug. 27 in Marina del Rey with chef Brian Lavin, formerly of Gnocco in Baltimore, Md. Beef tartare with crispy baby artichokes, fresh squid ink gnocchi, and wood-fired clam-and-mussel pizza are on the Mediterranean menu.

13455 Maxella Ave., Marina del Rey, (310) 306-8204


Greek and you shall find
ELA Greek Eats is open in Venice from Carlos Tomazos, owner of the recently closed Inotheke in Santa Monica. The fast-casual restaurant serves steak gyros, lamb shank youvetsi, chicken souvlaki and moussaka.

307 Lincoln Blvd., Venice, (424) 330-0003,

Pleasure bomb
Bomb Burgers is open Friday through Sunday evenings in Northridge. The stand sells Jucy Lucy-style burgers made with ⅓-pound fresh halal beef patties filled with cheese.

8360 Reseda Blvd., Northridge,

Luz de Fia
Fia is open in Santa Monica at the former address of Wilshire restaurant. Chef Brendan Collins, previously of Birch and Waterloo &
City, is in the kitchen. His seafood-centric menu includes capellini with lobster Bolognese, salmon belly with smoked dashi and date tortellini with braised rabbit. The restaurant also features an outdoor bocce court.

2454 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 586-1707,


Review: The surprise at Santa Monica’s hot spot Élephante? The carb situation is on point


Review: The surprise at Santa Monica’s hot spot Élephante? The carb situation is on point

The food at Élephante, a year into its existence, is surprisingly good for a restaurant that, like so many beachside restaurants, could rely solely on its setting to fill the seats.

More ramen in Arcadia
Wa Ramen is open in Arcadia, dishing up shoyu, tonkotsu, miso and vegan ramen, along with butadon pork bowls, Spam
musubi and Japanese curry.


328 E. Huntington Blvd., Arcadia, (626) 538-4185,

Monkey business
Tacos El Changuito Estilo TJ is open Fridays through Sundays in Boyle Heights. Charcoal-grilled asada is the stand’s specialty, available in tacos, mulitas, quesadillas and vampiros.

3686 E. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles,

A new one from Chef Kang
Tipsi is open in Koreatown from the owner of Chef Kang’s Food Rehab. The menu includes seven styles of chicken wings, deep-fried pork cutlet croissant sandwiches, kimchi pork belly pasta and smoked beef ribs, along with draft beer and big-screen TVs.

528 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 568-3770,

Alice’s restaurant
Alice’s Kitchen in Monterey Park is serving 17 types of congee plus giant pineapple buns stuffed with pastrami, lo mein with satay beef and Hong Kong-style noodle soup.

580 E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park, (626) 898-1828,

Rice bun burgers and Korean waffle fries
KoJa Kitchen, which has numerous locations in Northern California, opened its first L.A. restaurant in downtown last week. The Korean-Japanese menu includes burgers on fried garlic rice buns, short rib bowls, miso-coconut braised pork tacos and waffle fries topped with Korean-style meats.


611 W. 7th St., Los Angeles, (213) 265-7579,


Make the best grilled cheese with Korean corn cheese


Make the best grilled cheese with Korean corn cheese

Korean corn cheese meets a grilled cheese sandwich and the angels sing.

Shakes the Crowne
Angus Crowne Milkshake Emporium is open in downtown. The shop has foosball, darts and a cache of ukuleles to play with while you’re sucking down your shake.

650 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, (323) 599-7616,


L.A. Food & Wine returns Aug. 22. The three-day festival includes a Sunday brunch with chef Jeremiah Tower, a magic show and dinner at Magic Castle, and a Filipino kamayan dinner featuring Alvin Cailan of Eggslut fame.


And for the Magic Castle’s next trick: Food that’s worth talking about


And for the Magic Castle’s next trick: Food that’s worth talking about

With a new chef, the legendary club hopes to conjure culinary cred.

Hong Kong’s Little Bao will pop up at Sari Sari Store in Grand Central Market on Aug. 23 and 24. Expect fried mushrooms, lamb tartare, Sichuan fried chicken bao and an ice cream bao made in collaboration with owner Margarita Manzke.

317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, (323) 320-4020,

Pork belly bao
Pork belly bao from Little Bao.(Little Bao)

Backyard at Chez Jay opened last week at 60-year-old Chez Jay in Santa Monica. The expansive outdoor drinking spot includes its own menu with kimchi guacamole, baked clams, patty melts and Allagash beer-battered fish and chips.

1657 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 395-1741,

Patty melt from Mike’s Melt
Mike's Melt, patty melt with pressed ½-lb. beef patty, melted cheddar and caramelized onions on rye from Chez Jay.(Acuna-Hansen)

Local streetwear sensation the Hundreds is organizing a food festival on Sept. 15. The event will bring together
artists and designers, including Mr. Cartoon and Kenny Scharf, with musicians and restaurants such as Kato, Badmaash, Tacos 1986 and a new concept from Michael Voltaggio called Recreational Use.

130 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles,

Dandi will pop up at Hotel Normandie in Koreatown for two weekends every month through 2019. Beginning Aug. 23, chefs Jihee Kim and Joshua Pressman will offer four- and eight-course tasting menus influenced by Korean and Californian cuisine, with dishes such as hamachi aguachile, beef tongue jjim tostadas and “Korean fried” quail.

605 Normandie Ave., Los Angeles,

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