Do you eat your restaurant leftovers?

Mix-and-match day-after Jitlada lunch: rice salad sauteed with soft-shell crab, sator beans and peppercorns.
(Laurie Ochoa / Los Angeles Times)

Dole Whip dreams, Michelin meals at Coachella and a Kryptonian-worthy Caesar salad. ... I’m Laurie Ochoa, general manager of L.A. Times Food, with this week’s Tasting Notes.

Mix-and-match leftovers game

Omelet with asparagus and fiddlehead ferns.
Omelet with asparagus and fiddlehead ferns.
(Laurie Ochoa / Los Angeles Times)

It was lunchtime between Zoom meetings earlier this week when I remembered the cardboard box in my refrigerator. Inside were a few asparagus spears and curls of fiddlehead ferns from my dinner the previous night at Chad Colby‘s Antico Nuovo. At first, I didn’t think there was enough left on the plate to justify the takeout box, but our server wisely pointed out that the asparagus would make a lovely next-day omelet. It was a good call. I put together a quick omelet filled with the asparagus and fiddleheads and grated some Parmesan on top. Then I added toasted sourdough and a thin slice of prosciutto from Rosario “Ross” Mazzeo‘s Roma Deli plus a couple of small potatoes and a bit of green sauce and cucumbers with yogurt left from a lamb dinner my daughter and I had made a couple of days before. It was a mix-and-match leftovers meal that we ate outside, an ideal spring lunch break.


If you eat out a lot, chances are your refrigerator is crammed with takeout boxes that don’t always get used. It’s always a sad moment when you realize that the piece of forgotten branzino that was so great in the restaurant has devolved into inedible ooze. Lately, I’ve tried to make an extra effort to use my restaurant leftovers; some terrific meals have resulted.

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After a recent happy meal with several friends at Jitlada in Hollywood, I came home with a crispy morning glory salad, rice salad and some soft-shelled crab that had been fried and tossed with sator beans and strands of peppercorns. I worried that the fried food wouldn’t be as good on the second day, but when we sauteed the rice salad with the crab and bits of pork from another Jitlada dish over high heat we were rewarded with a wonderful fried rice dish made all the more intriguing with the shots of stinky sator beans.

But my favorite thing to do with leftovers is to, as the saying goes, “put an egg on it.” When my daughter came home with leftover pork-and-preserved-egg congee from the Alhambra branch of Delicious Food Corner, it wasn’t enough to feed the both of us. But I had eaten at Minh Phan‘s recently reopened Porridge + Puffs (which Stephanie Breijo wrote about earlier this month) and bought a jar of the mirepoix porridge from the restaurant’s takeout case. We mixed a bit of the Porridge + Puff porridge into the pot with the pork congee and added a bit of lamb from the earlier dinner. Then I put an egg on the porridge heating on the stove and let it set. Another mix-and-match comfort meal. If you don’t have leftover porridge, you can always stop by Porridge + Puffs and buy a jar of porridge from Phan and her executive chef, Eleanor Hurtt, to keep in your refrigerator. If only you could pick up Phan’s porridge at Trader Joe’s.

Chicken porridge at Porridge + Puffs, which now sells its porridge in jars to take home.
(Laurie Ochoa / Los Angeles Times)

The happiest place to eat?

For some Southern Californians, including this paper’s Game Critic Todd Martens, Disneyland is a magical though costly place to go often. (He says he visits at least twice a month.) For most, however, the trip to Anaheim’s Disneyland and California Adventure is a special-occasion outing that can overwhelm inexperienced visitors. That’s why L.A. Times Food teamed up with our Features editors and writers to produce what we call “The great big highly specific guide to Disneyland.” In addition to Martens’ expert ranking of every ride at Disneyland Resort and 41 Disneyland tips, tricks and food secrets from park fanatics, assistant food editor Danielle Dorsey put together a comprehensive guide to everywhere you absolutely have to eat at Disneyland and California Adventure, with a huge assist from restaurant critic Bill Addison, columnists Jenn Harris and Lucas Kwan Peterson, reporters Stephanie Breijo and Cindy Carcamo, deputy food editor Betty Hallock and audience engagement editor Amy Wong. They made many visits and consumed countless churros, Mickey waffles and cups of Dole Whip to determine their recommendations.

— Addison also ate multiple meals at Napa Rose in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. It’s one of the Disneyland Resort’s most in-demand reservations and was largely praised when it opened in 2001 and noted for its wine cellar, which in its early years had more than 17,000 bottles. In his review, Addison considers not only how the restaurant has aged over the years but the state of California cuisine itself.

— In addition, the food team compiled a guide to the Disneyland Resort’s best cocktails, wine and beer. The writers also put together a food and bar crawl guide in Downtown Disney, recommendations for the best fast and affordable food at Disneyland and California Adventure and 16 of the best vegetarian things to eat at the parks. We even persuaded columnist Gustavo Arellano — who grew up near Disneyland and has, well, a complicated relationship with the place — to put together a guide to the best nearby eating outside the park.


Food at Coachella 2023
So much to eat at this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Food editor Daniel Hernandez was saying the other day that it’s always sunny in L.A. during the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Sure enough, we’re looking at temperatures in the 70s and 80s this weekend when more than 500 writers and artists will participate in the April 22-23 gathering of book lovers at USC. L.A. Times Food will be there with Ken Concepcion and Michelle Mungcal, owners of the city’s essential cookbook shop Now Serving. They’ve invited cookbook authors Noah Galuten, Iliza Shlesinger, Homa Dashtaki, Ixta Belfrage, Ellen Bennett and Keith Corbin to sign books at our booth. And most of Food’s writers and editors are taking turns at the booth answering any cooking or restaurant questions for those who stop by. Food’s senior art director Brandon Ly will appear with limited giveaways from our new L.A. Times Food Collection of tea towels, stickers, hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts.

On Saturday at 1 p.m. I’ll be at the festival’s Ask a Reporter stage talking cookbooks with cooking columnist Ben Mims and deputy food editor Betty Hallock. And at noon on Sunday I’ll interview Guelaguetza restaurateur Bricia Lopez and L.A. Taco editor in chief Javier Cabral about their new book, “Asada: The Art of Mexican-Style Grilling,” at USC’s Albert and Dana Broccoli Theatre. Get tickets here for both events or on site.

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Of course, an even bigger gathering is taking place in the desert with the second weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Last weekend, assistant food editor Danielle Dorsey says she “clocked almost 70,000 steps” as she sampled as many of Coachella’s food offerings as one person could consume. There were burgers, oysters, plant-based fried “chicken” and tasting menus from downtown L.A.’s Michelin-starred Camphor and chef Tolu “Eros” Erogbogbo‘s Ilé Bistro. If you are headed to Coachella’s final weekend, check her report on what you should eat — and the meal so good she missed Rosalía’s performance.

If you missed your chance to buy VIP tickets for our Coast to Coast bicoastal food and drink party taking place May 9 in New York at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, there are still general-admission tickets to the City National Bank-sponsored event. It’s worth going just to try food from Thailand’s Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn, whose Le Du was named No. 1 on the 2023 Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef Ton will be collaborating with New York’s Fish Cheeks. Also cooking will be chefs from L.A.’s Anajak Thai, Angry Egret Dinette, Damian, Heritage Barbecue, Mini Kabob and Pizzeria Mozza as well as New York’s Cosme, Koloman, Lady Wong, Lafayette, Mari, Mokbar, Rezdora NYC, Rule of Thirds, Singapura and Win Son.

Salad days

The Caesar salad from Poltergeist at Button Mash in Echo Park.
The Caesar salad from Poltergeist at Button Mash in Echo Park.
(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Does it take a Caesar salad hater to make a better Caesar salad? Columnist Jenn Harris tried the Caesar variation created by Diego Argoti at Poltergeist inside the Echo Park arcade Button Mash. “It’s my favorite salad not to like,” he told Harris. So he came up with his own take on the Caesar.

“What arrives,” she writes in her column, “is a miniature replica of Krypton. Tall, green jagged shards tower over the bowl, concealing thorny tentacles of frisée and a mountain of shaved Parmesan curls underneath. The pieces of kryptonite are actually fried rice paper flecked with a green powder made from basil, parsley and lime leaf. You break the pieces and mix them into the salad to create de facto croutons.”

Harris’ week of salad eating also included a visit to Isla in Santa Monica for Brian Bornemann’s citrus salad and the chicory salad, which, Harris writes, is “presented in four acts.”

More from L.A. Times Food

— Several on-strike workers picketing outside the theme restaurant Medieval Times in Buena Park were “struck by a patron in a moving vehicle or were shoved by a second patron” who was a passenger in the car, reports Stephanie Breijo and Suhauna Hussain.

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May 18, 2020