This week’s review is of Tumanyan Khinkhali Factory, a slick, well-watered delivery system for the massive Georgian-style soup dumplings called khinkali, which are undoubtedly among the best things you’ve never tasted. You get khinkali, and some stuff to eat before the khinkali, and possibly some vodka to drink with the khinkali, but there is no plausible deniability here. You should plan to visit as soon as you can.
Because you can never have quite enough soup dumplings in your life, we also stopped by a few places that serve non-Georgian examples and visited the most established actual Georgian restaurant in Glendale while we were at it. Ricotta or no ricotta, it was a pretty focused week.
Elsewhere in the small, happy town of food, Amy Scattergood catches up with ex-Spice Table chef Bryant Ng, who is finally getting ready to open his long-awaited Cassia in Santa Monica; Jenn Harris finds salvation in the Cointreau crème brûlée doughnuts at Blue Star Donuts, a new Venice branch of the famous Portland, Ore., store; and Russ Parsons reports on Sambar, chef Akasha Richmond’s new Culver City Indian-influenced restaurant, which presumably will be as sustainable and delicious as her Akasha.
And 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.
Armenia. Paris. Glendale.
Jonathan visits Glendale and the third outlet of the dumpling specialist Tumanyan Khinkali Factory. Khinkali are soup dumplings, not in the style of xiao long bao but in that of Georgia — enormous, pale, pleated and filled with mild ingredients. There are other things to eat as well, but you're here for the dumplings. A few things to consider: the khinkali arrive on a kind of pie stand, and you use the doughy ends as handles, so you can put them back instead of eating them.
More soup dumplings
And if Georgian dumplings aren't your thing (really??), then Jonathan discusses three other iterations of soup dumplings that you may like. Xiao long bao at Wang Xing Ji, where you can get sweet dumplings or enormous ones that you also slurp from a boba straw; the sheng jian bao from Shanghai No. 1 Seafood; and, for a regional change of pace, Zach Pollack's glorious tortellini in brodo at Alimento.
The return of Bryant Ng
It's been a year and a half since chef Ng closed Spice Table, his Vietnamese-Singaporean restaurant in downtown L.A. Fans of his food can rejoice: Amy reports that he's opening his long-awaited new restaurant, Cassia, in June. Partnering with his wife, Kim, and Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan (Huckleberry, Rustic Canyon, Milo & Olive), the restaurant will share space in a Santa Monica 1937 Art Deco building with Esters, a wine shop, where you can buy wine and snack on bites from Rustic Canyon chef Jeremy Fox.
Bourbon doughnuts in Venice
Blue Star Donuts, the Portland shop known for its brioche-style doughnuts, is opening a location on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice this summer. As Jenn tells us, we can look for blueberry bourbon basil doughnuts, Cointreau creme brulee doughnuts, apple fritters and its original glazed doughnut. Because you can never have too many doughnuts, can you?
Akasha Richmond's new restaurant
Chef Akasha Richmond opens her second restaurant — right next to her first one, Akasha, in Culver City. As Russ reports, this one is Indian, or rather influenced by Indian cuisine, which has long been a favorite of the chef's. Sambar opened in the former home of Ford's Filling Station and serves dishes from the northern and southern cuisines of India.
Notes from the food and drink underworld
What more does Grand Central Market, the downtown food court in the midst of a sustained renaissance, need? Many would say craft beer. Beer writer John Verive says that Golden Road Brewing, the Atwater Village brewery, will soon be opening along the Hill Street side of the market. Expect 20 taps of Golden Road’s brews — and some pierogies to go along with all that brew.
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