Counter Intelligence: BBQ in the SFV, red velvet cake downtown, karaoke in Koreatown

Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Dear readers:

This week we take you to the San Fernando Valley, where two former white-tablecloth chefs have opened a barbecue joint on Ventura Boulevard (because not everybody can eat BBQ for a week in Texas while at SXSW). You'll also be reading about a new '80s-themed karaoke bar in Koreatown, a food crawl in Costa Mesa and some great red velvet cupcakes coming to DTLA.

Jonathan Gold

Barbecue in the San Fernando Valley

This week, Jonathan Gold heads to Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, where two fine-dining chefs have opened, you guessed it, a barbecue joint called Barrel & Ashes (because wouldn't you if you could?). Timothy Hollingsworth and Rory Hermann — who previously cooked at the French Laundry and Bouchon, respectively — opened a rib joint. Long-smoked brisket, spareribs, pulled pork, pork rinds, hoe cake — and Frito pie served right in the bag. Who knows, maybe that's what they served Thomas Keller for a family meal. 

Hughes Hoang

A food crawl in Costa Mesa

Yes, there are reasons to go to Costa Mesa other than to shop at South Coast Plaza and places to eat other than the Din Tai Fung at the mall (even though that is very good). Jenn Harris takes a food-and-drink tour through the city and finds a dozen excellent places to go. If you know where to look, there are craft cocktails, Japanese barbecue, Australian pies, doughnuts, buffalo jerky, oysters and lots more. 

Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times

More red velvet cake for us all

Terri Wahl, who opened Auntie Em's Kitchen in Eagle Rock in 2002 after a previous career as a punk rock musician is expanding to downtown L.A. Auntie Em's Kitchenette will open on April 9 in a former convenience store, serving the same breakfast hashes and scrambles, sandwiches and salads and red velvet cakes and cupcakes that have made her cozy Eagle Rock restaurant such a neighborhood favorite. 

Amy Scattergood / Los Angeles Times

Karaoke and tiki drinks in KTown

There are reasons to head to the Line Hotel in Koreatown other than to eat Roy Choi's hot pots and Hello Kitty cakes. Well, one reason at least. Up on the second floor (turn the other way outside the elevators from Commissary), the Houston brothers have just opened a new bar, Break Room 86. And it's not a normal martinis-and-wood-counter type of place but an '80s-themed karaoke bar with lockers and secret doors and telephone booths, disco balls, Pac-Man and Top Ramen to go with your tiki cocktails. Really. 

Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Notes from the food and drink underworld

A bottle of red wine that doesn't give you a hangover if you drink the whole thing? Possibly, according to scientists who are developing a modified yeast. 

At Necco, a newish Japanese restaurant in Westwood (yes, Westwood), we check out small plates of healthful food. 

Heading to Coachella this year? Lucky you. This year, not only will there be lots of great music in the desert but also actual prix-fixe dinners and food from Pot, Terrine and Eggslut. Again, lucky you. 

And, perfect for your next flight somewhere, we give you a list of 10 great restaurants near LAX — and not in the terminal either, although, yes, that's gotten a lot better recently too. 

P.S. be on the lookout for Wednesday's In the Kitchen newsletter, with cooking tips and news, including new recipes from the L.A. Times Test Kitchen.


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