A Kitchen with a Mission

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Photo by Emily Hart Roth

Yellow Fever: The phrase has some pretty negative connotations attached to it. But Chef Kelly Kim has plans to change that, one Asian bowl at a time.

After years of working in corporate sales and marketing research, Kim decided to turn her after-hours passion of cooking and catering into a career. After all, she had watched her Korean dad open and run three Texas BBQ restaurants in Houston.

“I was the oldest daughter of my family,” explains Kim. “My dad worked all of time, and I was in charge of feeding my two stepsisters. My dad would bring home leftover brisket and homemade sausage links.”

Kim is not a classically trained cook. But she’s very sure of what she likes to eat — and how to make it — and started her venture from an innovative idea: an Asian version of Chipotle.
Her Asian bowls top a base of rice, noodles or greens with recipes inspired by Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Hawaiian and Californian cuisine, each with its own artisanal sauce and various customizable toppings. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Dumplings of Desire

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Photo by Erica Allen

“Alot of people ask, ‘Are you going to get a sign?’” says James Kim, owner of ROC, a new Chinese restaurant in Runway at Playa Vista.

It’s unusual for a restaurant to forgo signage. But, according to Kim, this wasn’t a deliberate decision. His first location, which opened in 2012 on Sawtelle Boulevard, doesn’t have a sign either.

While the name ROC (pronounced R-O-C) doesn’t stand for anything in particular, Kim’s culinary concept is clear: He wants to serve all types of his favorite Chinese food under one roof.

“With Chinese food, you typically have to go to different restaurants to get certain dishes, like soup dumplings or scallion pancakes,” he says. “I wanted to bring everything I liked into one restaurant.”

Which means you can order soup dumplings, a scallion pancake, crab fried rice and a beef roll — all in one place. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

Give It Up for Eggslut

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Photo by Emily Hart Roth

One quick look at its Instagram account and you’ll know why Eggslut is the app’s fourth-most photographed restaurant in the nation: appetizing image after scrumptious picture of melted cheese, juicy sausage and chewy bacon. It’s enough to make anybody’s mouth water.

Now Eggslut has arrived in Venice, a once humble food truck occupying prime brick-and-mortar real estate a stone’s throw from Windward Circle.

When Chef Alvin Cailan saw a biker slam into a car door because he was trying to snap a photo of the truck, he thought to himself, “Yeah, this is going to work.” This was back in 2011, and Cailan and his cousin Jeff Vales, who were roommates at the time, had decided to revolutionize breakfast-on-the-go with a mobile sandwich food truck. They painted the name Eggslut on the side.

“I came up with the name on Friday, Jeff had the logo ready on Friday night, and we got the truck on Monday,” says Cailan, who’s now the co-owner of three Eggslut locations, with a fourth scheduled to open in Glendale later this year.

The original Eggslut was an old white truck with a griddle and grill, and they called it Old Bessie. They opened for business in front of the Intelligentsia in Silver Lake and then moved to Fairfax in Mid-City.

Then, according to food legend, in January 2012, Ruth Reichl of Gourmet magazine ordered the Slut …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Life is Just a Bowl of Poke

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Photo by Erica Allen

Top Chef” alum Brooke Williamson likes to keep things moving.

Whether it’s opening a new restaurant — Runway at Playa Vista newcomer Da Kikokiko is her and husband Nick Roberts’ fourth — or changing her hair color from her natural honey brown to purple and now to blonde, Williamson likes to find outlets for her creativity.

“We could continue to do the same kind of cuisine,” says Williamson, sitting beside Roberts on an outdoor bench of Da Kikokiko (which means “the spot” in Hawaiian), “but we wouldn’t fulfill everything we want to do. Having so many different concepts allows us to think of a dish and have a place to put it.”

Williamson is referring to the couple’s growing restaurant empire, called Company for Dinner, which also includes Hudson House in Redondo Beach and Playa Provisions, The Tripel and the culinary boutique Tripli-Kit in Playa del Rey.

Sandwiched between Hopdoddy Burger Bar and the local branch of Chase bank, Da Kikokiko opened in October and offers all three of the couple’s favorite Hawaiian foods: poke, shaved ice and musubi (grilled spam on top of rice, wrapped together with a piece of seaweed).

“We’ve always liked Hawaiian food,” says Roberts. “We have a favorite place on Washington Boulevard, Rutt’s Cafe. I’m a Spam fanatic. I love Spam. This is an awesome collaboration between all of those foods.”

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

5 New Reasons to Eat in Santa Barbara

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Photo Credit: Kris Zacharias

Sure, you might not think about driving to Santa Barbara for a meal every day, but these five new restaurants make a compelling case for it. Whether you’re headed to SB or further north, put these eateries on your road trip culinary radar.

 Convivo

“Convivo” means to come together. And the restaurant has the big plates — created by a local potter — to justify the name. Shareable portions of spit-roasted chicken and strip steak arrive at the table still smoldering from the wood-burning ovens, dressed in North African chili pepper paste (harissa) and marinade (chermoula). “We burn food properly,” says chef Peter McNee, who, after 16 years of San Francisco living, decided to join forces with Larry Mindel (Il Fornaio group) to reinvent this restaurant at the Santa Barbara Inn. It’s a decision he doesn’t regret as he looks out Convivo’s windows at the sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean. The menu focuses on fresh; the menu is printed daily five minutes before the restaurant opens. Bread is not served before the meal, but the house-made focaccia – with basil oil, onion and caciocavallo – can, and should, be ordered for $2. For brunch, sample specks of heaven: maple bourbon bombolini (doughnut holes) with espresso, pistachios and pancetta.
901 E. Cabrillo Blvd., Santa Barbara. (805) 845-6789, convivorestaurant.com.

Read the full article at LA Weekly.

Stories to Warm the Soul

matzoh-ball-diariesMost Jews have fond memories about food. Throw some funny stories in the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for a great show: the latest Salon Theatre Series from Jewish Women’s Theatre, “The Matzo Ball Diaries.”

Sitting in the back office of The Braid, JWT’s home base in Santa Monica for the past 2½ years, artistic director Ronda Spinak spills some of her own Jewish humor: “I was home from college for my family Seder at our friends’ house. The daughter of my mother’s friend whose house it was brought home, for the first time, her Orange County, Southern-born WASP boyfriend. He never probably met Jews before. He definitely had never been to a Seder. The Gefilte fish got put down. He took a big bite and said, ‘Probably taste really good if it were barbecued.’ We just all laughed.”

Spinak explains that the aim of JWT’s show is to explore on stage stories that connect us to food. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Heavenly Temptations

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Photo by Emily Hart Roth

When Red Bread closed its doors in 2014, regulars wondered what would replace the farm-to-fork breakfast, lunch and brunch spot on Washington Boulevard just west of Redwood Avenue. Few imagined life could get any sweeter.

But then Crave Dessert Company set up shop, offering brownies, bars, cakes, rice pudding and one of owner Heather Roseborough’s signature desserts: the Brown Butter Pumpkin Teacake.

Roseborough spoke to The Argonaut about the origins of these mouthwatering teacakes and some of her other popular baked goodies.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Teacake

Roseborough started playing around with the idea for this heavenly dessert when she was the pastry chef at Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City. She needed a gluten-free dessert and, as it turns out, the Brown Butter Pumpkin Teacake is better gluten free. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Born Again on Main Street

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Photo by Emily Hart Roth

“When you see the Fork in the Road, Take it.”

Those are the words that greet you when you land on the website of Fork in the Road, a popular Santa Monica eatery that reopened in December after a small kitchen fire caused it to close in 2015.

Owners and restaurateurs Spoon Singh and Tom Elliott are very excited to be back in business on Main Street, which Singh declares “is cooler than Abbot Kinney and Rose Avenue.”

These days, Main Street does seem more down-to-earth. It has a bar crawl scene and several high-end eateries.

“Main Street has a great vibe,” says Singh, sitting at the central communal table down the middle of the space. “It’s a real community street, very walkable. I’m excited that there are more restaurants than there used to be, and much better restaurants. This is a restaurant street, a stroll around street.”

Singh and Elliott are no strangers to success. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Sicily in the City

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Photo by Ryan Tanaka

Pistachio pizza? That addictive little green nut is not an ingredient you’d think should top a pizza but, in fact, it’s very popular in Sicily. And chef/owner Georgi Yaneff aims to bring a taste of Sicily to Santa Monica with O+O Sicilian Kitchen & Bar.

There are a few reasons for the name O+O. The first is the location, which is at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Olympic Drive. The second is that many of the menu items end in O: puppetto (meatballs), crudo (raw fish) and forno (pizzas), to name a few. And the third is that many of these dishes are round.

Catchy name aside, the real draw of O+O is the food. Yaneff is serious about Sicily — so serious that he handpicked a chef, Gianluca Maita, from the southern tip of Sicily. Maita moved to Los Angeles, with his mother and grandmother’s recipes in tow, for O+O. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Neapolitan in 90 Seconds

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Photo by Maria Martin

800 Degrees Pizza is on fire. In the last five years, two have popped up in Las Vegas, seven in Dubai, one in Tokyo and six in Los Angeles, including their newest restaurant last month in Runway at Playa Vista.

The concept is simple: fast, fresh, authentic Neapolitan-style pizza. And people are eating it up. Steve Overholt, CEO of 800 Degrees Pizza, shares a few secrets of their success.

What’s the philosophy behind 800 Degrees Pizza?

Our chef/founder Anthony Carron developed the concept during a dream almost six years ago. The fast-casual, build-your-own segment was gaining popularity with consumers all across the country. Nobody was doing it with pizza. He set out to develop a concept where he could serve authentic Neapolitan-style pizza using premium ingredients and cook it in 90 seconds. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.