These bites inspired me more than any others over the past year.
Learn about the Top 10 Los Angeles dishes I ate in 2007, regardless of cuisine or cost. Three dishes didn’t previously appear on Food GPS, since I wrote about certain restaurants on assignment. My Top 10 appears in alphabetical order.
1. Al-Watan – Mix Tandoori
Al-Watan’s decor barely registers, with mirrored walls and tile floors. Thankfully, chef-owner Mohammed Mumtaz’s Indo-Pak cooking left a stronger impression, particularly the Mix Tandoori ($11.99). A sizzling platter of oily, caramelized onions supported a mountain of tandoor beef and chicken. The spice-crusted bird and cow meat included big hunks of smoky Chicken Tikka, orange from the tandoor, plus the succulent, casing-free minced beef sausages known as Seekh Kabab, and beyond-tender marinated hacks of beef known as Beef Boti Kabob. The meats that touched the platter developed a phenomenal spice crust, and the meats on top of the pile were nearly as good. With each bite, the flavor kept building until I was in gastro-ecstasy. I thought I had eaten good Pakistani food before. Guess not.
2. Attari Sandwich Shop – Ash
In the early days of Attari, Parvin Sadaghiani sold a hodge-podge that included sandwiches and live birds. In early 2006, daughter in law Ayla Heravi joined the family business. Attari is now open later and serves kebabs, but one dish that hasn’t changed is Parvin’s Ash ($4.50). The barley based stew was staggeringly delicious, especially considering it’s vegetarian. Ayla said, “It’s not thin, so we don’t call it soup.” Ash contains fresh herbs, white and pinto beans. A tangy derivative of yogurt called kashk is drizzled on top, joining twin pools of grilled mint oil and a pile of caramelized grilled onions.
3. Bashan – Seared Barramundi [CLOSED]
Chef Nadav Bashan and wife Romy opened their eponymous Mediterranean restaurant in the unlikely Northern L.A. hamlet of Montrose in September 2007. Since Nadav Bashan last cooked at Providence, I was not surprised that he knew how to prepare and source seafood. Seared Barramundi ($28) was accompanied by roasted quarter-sized cuts of Jerusalem artichoke, an underappreciated and underused root vegetable that’s nothing like a regular artichoke. The plate was also strewn with cipollini onions, roasted whole until sweet and browned, along with cubes of chorizo and quartered shrimp. The generously portioned fillet of Australian fish featured crispy skin and flaky white flesh. The plate was dotted with a green herb-infused oil. This was one of the more thoughtful and delicious dishes I ate in 2007, seafood or otherwise.
4. Dai Ho Kitchen – Beef Stew Soup Noodles
Taiwan natives Jim and May Ku have owned a “Chinese fast food” restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley since 1987. Beef Stew Soup Noodles ($8) are the top selling noodles during cooler months, for good reason. The beef chunks were cooked until tender in an addictive brew of sesame oil, ginger, hot sauce, soy, sugar and homemade chile sauce, for heat. May buys freshly made egg noodles, then adds raw spinach leaves before pouring the soup over the top.
5. Hamjipark – Pan Broiled Squid With Noodle
Hwa Shin Kim and daughter Eunji opened this fashionable offshoot of their bare bones Pico original in 2003. The high-energy Korean restaurant’s signature dish is barbecued pork spare ribs, which arrive spice-slathered and sticky on a sizzling platter. As good as they were, I preferred the Pan Broiled Squid With Noodle ($17.99), springy vermicelli noodles set atop a bowl of chile-soaked cephalopod. Tender tentacles, abdomen and tail meat were stir-fried with sweet onions, mushrooms, zucchini and red pepper strips. To extinguish the heat, invest in a bottle of sweet plum wine, kept cool in a nearby glass-fronted fridge.
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