What we’re into: <i>Banh xeo</i>, Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve, Republique’s roast chicken
Banh xeo: You’ve seen one, right? It’s that odd yellow thing that shows up at Vietnamese restaurants, looking like an oversize lacy-edged taco spilling bean sprouts from its guts. The crepe is made with coconut milk, rice flour and enough turmeric to fool you into thinking it may actually be an omelet. If you get your banh xeo from the wrong place — almost everywhere is the wrong place –— it can be floppy, pallid and bland. But at Banh Xeo Quan, a specialist out in Rosemead, a banh xeo is splendid. The perfect crispness at the edges shades into a denser chewiness at the middle. The crepe is studded with tiny shrimp. To eat a banh xeo, you break off a smallish piece, tuck it into lettuce with leaves of mint, purple basil and perhaps rau ram, and dip the package into a dish of sweetened fish sauce: glorious. If the flimsiness of the lettuce parcels is too much for you, you can get a stack of sturdier rice paper for an extra buck. And if you don’t want banh xeo, there is always a bowl of duck soup. — Jonathan Gold
Glenfiddich Bourbon Barrel Reserve 14 Year Old: Serious single malt Scotch drinkers have a favorite go-to bottle. Ask Glenfiddich fans what their favorite bottle is and they will explain the reasoning behind a preference for the 18- or the 21-year-olds. But Glenfiddich’s new 14-year-old Bourbon Barrel Reserve has a little something for everyone, including the bourbon-obsessed millennials, the Scotch snobs and those just starting to get into the stuff. Instead of aging the Scotch in European ex-Oloroso sherry oak and American ex-bourbon barrels, like the company does for its 12-, 15-, 18- and 21-year-olds, the 14-year-old doesn’t see any European oak. Instead, it’s aged for 14 years in ex-bourbon barrels. It is then finished in deep charred new American oak barrels from Louisville, Ky. The result is a Scotch with a fruity, candied citrus flavor, lots of vanilla and all of the woody characteristics typical of bourbon, but with a smooth finish. — Jenn Harris
Republique’s roast chicken: Walk into Republique, Walter and Margarita Manzke’s Hancock Park restaurant, and you feel like you’ve found a secret French farmhouse, albeit the most crowded and noisiest one imaginable. There’s the hanging charcuterie, the wooden communal tables, the wine cabinet — and the open fire in the kitchen. It’s that fire that’s responsible for the glorious rotisserie chicken, a dish that has reached near-legendary status in this town. An abacus of Mary’s organic chickens is roasted over oak for 45 minutes, then the birds are set to rest on a warm kitchen shelf, then loaded with butter, garlic and herbs and finished in the oven. Served in a cast-iron pan along with fingerling potatoes, black kale and an intense pan sauce (mustard, chiles), it’s an insane combination of crisp and luscious. Sometimes Walter switches out Mary’s chicken for a poulard or two from Sylvia Pryzant’s Four Story Hill Farm in Pennsylvania, in which case: way pricier, off-menu and potentially life-changing. — Amy Scattergood
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