The recent rains have meant tangled traffic, snow alerts in the mountains, outright disaster north of Los Angeles — and they've pushed many of us indoors, to seek comfort of a culinary nature. For many of us that means bowls of ramen, and so this week Jonathan Gold considers a new Sawtelle Boulevard ramen shop that specializes in spicy versions of the dish. These are bowls that come with their own heat rankings, so maybe bring a friend or relative who appreciates Scoville scale conversations. (I took my daughter, who apparently grows her own ghost chiles in a college dorm window box.)
There is also the considerable comfort of Puebla-style cooking, and so we have a story about the section of Whittier Boulevard with restaurants and food trucks that specialize in dishes from the region. We have recipes for muffins, which are pretty fun to make on cold, rainy mornings, as well as gluten-free pasta dishes and vegan desserts — it being the beginning of the year and thus still a time when many of us are thinking about slightly more responsible eating habits. Speaking of responsibility, we have news of a restaurant turning food waste into part of an excellent cocktail program. And on the news front, we have a report of a new restaurant coming from chef Roy Choi (Vegas!) and the expansion of a Mexican seafood specialist. Happy cooking and dining, and please keep warm and dry and stay safe, whether you're on the road or in the kitchen.
RAMEN TO DIE FOR
If you love ramen, you've likely long beaten a path to Tsujita, the ramen-ya in the Sawtelle neighborhood of L.A. that specializes in Hakata-style tonkotsu ramen and bowls of tsukemen, the dip noodle variation. Tsujita also has an Annex (more ramen!), a sushi shop — and most recently another outlet called Killer Noodle, where Jonathan considers the levels of heat in its numbered bowls of tantanmen-style ramen. There are apothecary jars of chiles on the wall above the bar, servers who will hover with glasses of water and, says our critic, a serious endorphin high.
EAST L.A. STREET FOOD
Street food is often a somewhat broad term, but in food writer Javier Cabral's latest piece, the street is Whittier Boulevard and the food is the cemitas, tacos Árabes, picaditas and other dishes in the style of Puebla, Mexico. Among the wealth of restaurants along the street, which runs through Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, Cabral spotlights five restaurants and food trucks that do noteworthy versions of particular regional dishes. So if you need a food road trip anytime soon, maybe try this road in particular.
Food waste and what to do about it have long been an issue in woke kitchens — if you missed our interview with Italian chef Massimo Bottura during last year's Food Bowl, in which he cleaned out our Test Kitchen fridge, it's a fun and useful read. Deputy Food editor Jenn Harris gets a cocktail recipe from the folks at Providence, where conscientious cooking has long been a priority: Michael Cimarusti's seafood restaurant recently instituted a zero-waste cocktail program.
ROY CHOI IN VEGAS
In her weekly food news column, Jenn checks in on Roy Choi, the chef who brought the world Kogi BBQ, as well as Locol and a few other L.A. restaurants, who's opening a new place in Las Vegas. The as-yet-unnamed place is scheduled to open in the fall at the new Park MGM, near Las Vegas' upcoming Eataly. In other opening news, Coni'Seafood, the snook specialist that has been on Jonathan's 101, has a new outpost on the Westside, in the old Mariscos Chente space — a location familiar to snook lovers, as it was run by Coni'Seafood owner Connie Cossio's mother. (The food world is often a happily small place.)
IN PRAISE OF QUINCE
Test Kitchen manager Noelle Carter considers quince, an unlikely and often unwieldy fruit that's in season in local farmers markets. A member of the pome family — related to apples and pears — quince are tough and astringent until you cook them into submission, at which point they're transformed. Noelle has some recipe ideas, naturally, as well as cooking tips. (Up next in markets? Especially given our recent rainy cold spell, look for more dandelion and other greens.)
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