Ernesto Uchimura is executive chef of Plan Check in West Los Angeles, a burger-and-cocktail sanctuary on Sawtelle Boulevard. You know the drill: cured meats, pickles, specialty drinks, fried chicken, burgers. But Uchimura's aren't ordinary burgers. They're distinguished by components such as ketchup leather (think ketchup in fruit roll-up form), pig candy and dashi cheese. And the fries are fried in beef tallow.
What's coming up next on your menu? For the fall and winter, I'm working on brined fish, goat meatballs and more burgers ... special burgers like the truffle-mushroom-Swiss burger, cheeseburger machismo and Dynamite! shrimp bun are being considered for the menu.
Latest ingredient obsession? Shiso furikake and homemade maple syrup vinegar. The shiso furikake has a nice floral and tea-like flavor. I was using it as a seasoning for a burrata-tomato salad and as a garnish for squash risotto. It's also great with raw fish. The maple syrup vinegar has a great sweet-and-sour flavor and some nice depth from the aging process, great with apples and cheese. I am using it on our cheese plates at the restaurant and for glazing brined salmon after cooking it on a cedar plank, and with a braised bacon salad as the base for a vinaigrette.
What restaurant do you find yourself going to again and again? Tsujita for the ajitama [soft-boiled egg] tsukemen with extra ajitama or char siu ramen.
The one piece of kitchen equipment you can't live without, other than your knives? Cast iron cookware.
The last cookbook you read — and what inspired you to pick it up? I reread "Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way" [by Francis Mallmann and Peter Kaminsky]. I was looking for rescoldo [cooking with hot ashes] tips.
Plan Check, 1800 Sawtelle Blvd., (310) 288-6500, http://www.plancheckbar.com.