2008 Top 15 Dishes in Los Angeles

Kebabs Los Angeles

Here are the 15 most devastating dishes I ate in L.A. County in 2008, regardless of cuisine or price level. The Top 15 is listed by restaurant, in alphabetical order.

1. All’ Angelo – HollywoodBudino di Polenta al Limone con Spuma di Limone [CLOSED]

With the first annual dineLA Restaurant Week winding down, I opted for one final lunch at All’ Angelo, Stefano Ongaro’s lauded Italian restaurant. While Chef Mirko Paderno’s first two dishes were solid, the highlight of the meal was undoubtedly the Budino di Polenta al Limone con Spuma di Limone. The hot slabs of caramelized Meyer lemon and polenta “pudding” were like a moist, super-charged poundcake, made even better by the cascading pour of lemon sabayon. Mirko Paderno has since departed All’ Angelo, but the budino is still available.

2. Bar Pintxo – Santa MonicaJamon Iberico de Bellota [CLOSED]

Writers and honored guests (including the Consul General of Spain) were invited to Joe Miller’s tapas bar to celebrate the cuisine and wines of Castilla y Leon, a region of Spain. Nico Jimenez, the five-time world champion ham carver, was flown in from Extremadura for the occasion. There were other dishes, but the night will undoubtedly be remembered for my first taste of jamon iberico de bellota, the remarkable ham made from acorn-fed, black-hoofed hogs. I enjoyed about 20 slices of the nutty meat, with melt-in-your-mouth ribbons of fat, chewy red musculature and crunchy white spots of caramelized amino acids. Apparently the meat contains nothing but “good cholesterol.” Considering the leg cost $1500, at about $90 per pound, that has to make jamon Iberico de bellota one of the most expensive health foods in the world.

3. Brent’s Deli – NorthridgeBlack Pastrami Reuben
Sandwich Los Angeles
Ron Peskin and wife Patricia purchased Brent’s in 1969, two years into the deli’s existence. The Peskins’ sprawling menu is dotted with highlights, none more remarkable than the Black Pastrami Reuben. A heaping portion of thin-sliced beef arrived on grilled rye with melted Swiss, hot sauerkraut and Russian dressing. The meat was lean and a little spicy. The accoutrements helped create an incredible balance, especially when sandwiched with grilled bread. Adding to the experience: definitive containers of cole slaw and potato salad.

4. Chopan Kebab House – NorthridgeAshak [CLOSED]
Afghan Food Los Angeles
It was a little disconcerting to arrive at an Afghan restaurant and find a Morigi’s Pizza sign out front. Upon entering, proprietor Jawed Qayeum explained that Morigi’s was open for 52 years and built a loyal following, so in addition to offering the cuisine of their homeland, he and his wife decided to continue cooking Joe Morigi’s dishes, using his recipes. Qayeum and his wife, chef Naseema, named their restaurant in honor of a “chopan,” an Afghan shepherd. The best dish of my meal: Ashak, ethereal steamed dumplings filled with leeks and coriander, blanketed with yogurt sauce, ground beef, dried mint and paprika. It was a colorful and delicious dish, similar to an exemplary ravioli.

5. Crudobar @ Breadbar – Century CityBlack Cod Slider
Sandwich Los Angeles
In a continued effort to give inventive chefs a forum during transition periods, Breadbar co-owner Ali Chalabi invited Noriyuki Sugie, late of Asiate in Manhattan and Tetsuya in Sydney, to craft Spanish-Japanese small plates at Breadbar Century City. Chef Sugie’s menu featured 18 selections. We ordered them all, including Sugie’s incredible black cod slider, a soft bun cradling a delicately fried slab of luscious cod, mizuna and wasabi tartar sauce. The supreme filet ‘o fish came with cornichons and an addictive tomato-based red chimichurri, which had a nice kick.

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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so I think he knows good pastrami.

Lefty,

Thanks for the support. I agree with you that Langer’s pastrami is the best in L.A., but Brent’s black pastrami reuben is still pretty special. Here’s a link to my Langer’s review:

http://www.foodgps.com/review/langers-deli-los-angeles-ca-friday-december-14-2007

Having lived in the Bay Area for over 15 years, the idea that food in the Bay is superior to food in Los Angeles is laughable. The Bay has great food, don’t get me wrong, but in terms of size and scope, you can’t remotely try to put it on the same level as Los Angeles.

Don’t sweat Danny – dude’s an obvious douchebag. Not to mention completely uninformed if he thinks Otafuku is copying Momofuku. Note: just b/c both have the suffix “fuku” in them doesn’t make them related, moron.

This all said, Langer’s pastrami >>> Brent’s pastrami. By a long shot.

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Great roundup Josh.

Who the hell is that guy?

New York is New York, the Bay Area is the Bay Area, and Los Angeles is Los Angeles.

Eat first, talk/bash later…

And it’s going to be my 5th McDonald’s free year myself (along with almost every other franchise food thing 🙂

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Danny,

You don’t have to agree with my post. After all, any restaurant criticism is based on opinion. Still, your accusation that I’m paid to post is off-base. I paid for every dish on the list except for the jamon iberico (which was presented by invitation, as I noted) and the focaccia (which was served to anybody who showed up, to help market Little Dom’s deli on its opening day). So you know, I’ve never been invited to a media event with the expectation that I write about it on Food GPS.

As for credentials, it’s not like you need a license to write about food. That holds true for any critic in the nation, including Michael Bauer and Frank Bruni. If you don’t agree with my opinions, you don’t have to read Food GPS.

Also, I’ve eaten at every revered deli in Manhattan, including 2nd Avenue, Carnegie and Katz’s. Brent’s Deli and Langer’s Deli in L.A. are both better than any Manhattan deli at this stage. If you find that so hard to believe, you should try them to form a more informed opinion.

As you can see from the following links, I have plenty of recent Bay Area and New York restaurant experience:
http://www.foodgps.com/review/category/locations/northamerica/usa/california/northcalifornia/
http://www.foodgps.com/review/category/locations/northamerica/usa/new-york-city/

Finally, I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s since the mid ’90s.

Danny, have you been to any of the restaurants mentioned above? Answer that, and go ahead and read the hundreds of other reviews on this site, and then start talking about credentials. You obviously don’t have any.

Mistakes in your comment: Momofuku copied (well more like revised) Asian food from Los Angeles. It’s Thomas Keller, not Tom. Josh grew up eating at delis in Jersey and NYC, so I think he knows good pastrami. Oh, and Danny Meyer’s not a chef, he’s a restaurateur. Learn to spell Chicago (as well as pastrami and ethnic). And go stick your one inch cornichon in some other blog.

Are you kidding me? I am so tired or you hacks writing this crap. Just the photos alone look like slop! This is proof in point why LA is not now, has never been, and never will be a culinary haven. I cannot even imagine a chef of worth… Gary Danko, Tom Keller, Traci D., or “fill in the name of any decent NYC chef” putting their name on this crap. The greasy pistrami pictured would hit the trash bucket at the Carnegie or Roxy in NY – not be served to paying guests (maybe the homeless that come around the back door)… Otafuku – a rip-off of the famous NY Momofuku? This food just isn’t appetizing. It’s 5 years behind the culinary times… and here you are promoting it! How much did it cost these restaurants to get you to plug them?

Just out of curiosity – what exactly are your credentials for reviewing cuisine aside from tastebuds that must have died long ago and a desire to get free meals! I’m appalled at your choices. Here’s a suggestion… instead of sitting wracking your brain to come up with nonsense, take a trip up to the Bay Area and eat at a couple of good restaurants in SF.. up in Bodega Bay… visit some of the artisans… visit a couple of markets… then head to NY and drop by any one of the 5,000 decent eateries in the city (if you can’t decide, just pick 5 of Danny Meyer’s places)… then head to Chiacgo and do nothing but head to the ethic neighborhoods and eat in local joints – nothing fancy… just family-owned restaurants… then come back and I promise you will never again write about the “devastating dishes” that you ate at some celebrity-chef-wannabe-I-just-opened-my-place-that-will-be-closed-in-3-months “hotspot” of the moment in LA.

Pathetic. Find a new schtick. I understand McD’s will give you $10 to plug them in your next newsletter!

And for your readers – wise up… this is not good food.

good post! i will definitely have to try out some of these. Personally had bad experience on the pork belly @ palate (too salty and dry), but it can be a good day/bad day type of thing. I enjoy ur blog very much =) happy new year

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