When L.A. chefs meet New York chefs ...

A chef smiles in the foreground of a crowded room.
Thai chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn at the L.A. Times’ 2023 Coast to Coast event in New York on May 9.
(Laurie Ochoa / Los Angeles Times)

Back from Peru (more on that in coming weeks) and New York. ... I’m Laurie Ochoa, general manager of L.A. Times Food, with this week’s Tasting Notes.

East meets West

A chef gestures at plates spread before him.
Chef Stefano Secchi of New York’s Rezdôra at the L.A. Times’ 2023 Coast to Coast event.
(Laurie Ochoa / Los Angeles Times)

One of the most intriguing things I ate last week is also one of the most improbable-sounding. Tender prawns with just the right give were topped with Thai herbs, a bit of seaweed and then an audacious splash of deep-fuschia beet ice amped up with fish sauce, clam juice, chile and more spices that Thailand’s Thitid Tassanakajohn, known familiarily as “chef Ton,” mixed into what he called “fish sauce sorbet.” I’m still thinking about the delicious punch the sorbet added to the prawn and its gorgeous balance of sweet, salt and heat. No wonder chef Ton’s Le Du restaurant in Bangkok was named No. 1 this year in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Chef Ton made the trip from Bangkok to New York for our third L.A. Times Food event Coast to Coast. Held on Tuesday at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, the City National Bank-sponsored event was a chance for Los Angeles chefs to collaborate with New York chefs, and one guest chef from Thailand, who teamed up with the crew from Fish Cheeks, the NoHo Thai restaurant run by brother-chefs Ohm and Chat Suansilphong, plus Jenn Saesue and Pranwalai Kittirattanawiwat.

A plate holds a prawn, greens and a red sorbet.
Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn’s prawn with fish sauce sorbet, made with, among other things, beets, chile and clam juice.
(Laurie Ochoa / Los Angeles Times)

The result was a lot of great eating. A few highlights included a bigeye tuna hand roll topped with crisp potato threads from Mari, which does a spectacular hand roll tasting menu if you have a chance to eat at chef Sungchul Shim‘s counter in Hell’s Kitchen. Justin Pichetrungsi of Anajak Thai, the L.A. Times Restaurant of the Year in 2022, teamed up with the crew at Josh Ku and Trigg Brown‘s Brooklyn Taiwanese American spot Win Son, topping rou bao with green papaya salad that was painstakingly hand-smashed with a wooden pestle.

A chef hands a plate to a person facing her.
Mozza chef and restaurateur Nancy Silverton at the Coast to Coast party.
(Molly Tavoletti / For The Times)

Armen Martirosyan’s team at Glendale’s Mini Kabob went full luxury, topping a mini pan-seared chicken cutlet (juicy and crisp on its own) with shavings of freshly grated black truffle and a dollop of caviar.

A man bends over a prep table.
The Mini Kabob crew shaved black truffle on pan-seared chicken cutlets.
(Laurie Ochoa / Los Angeles Times)

Chef Stefano Secchi’s Rezdôra, which celebrates the food of Italy’s Emilia Romagna in New York’s Flatiron district, served beautiful globes of mozzarella di bufala with “tastes of springtime” in Emilia Romagna, showing the joys of letting great ingredients speak for themselves.

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Also going seasonal was chef Markus Glocker of Koloman at the Ace in New York; he served tartlets of white asparagus. And Andrew Carmellini’s NoHo bakery Lafayette brought the ganache-topped circular-croissant sensation “The Suprême.”

Then there was great meat from San Juan Capistrano’s Heritage Barbecue, a mole-draped potato tamal from Enrique Olvera’s Damian and Cosme, tacos with lovely browned cauliflower from Wes Avila’s Angry Egrete Dinette and Ka’Teen, roasted Japanese sweet potatoes topped with crème fraîche and crisp bits of prosciutto (think the world’s most delicious bacon bits) from Nancy Silverton’s Pizzeria Mozza, Hainanese chicken rice from Singapura, springy ramen with hamachi from Rule of Thirds, jjajangmyeon from Mokbar, a pandan-custard enriched seri muka dessert from New York’s Lady Wong Pastry & Cakes and much more.

Drama in a wine glass

Two people face each other across a table.
Tomohisa Yamashita and Fleur Geffrier in “Drops of God,” now streaming on Apple TV+.
(Fabien Malot / Apple TV+)

There’s another cliffhanger family business drama streaming at the moment besides “Succession” — and it’s all about wine. Apple TV+’s “Drops of God,” loosely adapted from the super-popular manga series by sister-brother writers Yuko and Shin Kibayashi (pen name Tadashi Agi), is a coming-of-age story that spans generations and abounds with wine geekery. True wine experts may roll their eyes — and fans of the manga may be frustrated at the changes the TV series makes — but there’s still a lot to love as the episodes roll out and our loyalties shift from one character to another. (Just when you think poor Issei has the worst mom in the world, second only to Camille’s, we see a different and surprising side of her.) Stephanie Breijo talked with series creator Quoc Dang Tran (“Call My Agent”) and consulting sommelier Sébastien Pradal (who also owns the Paris bistronomy spot La Petite Régalade) about the show.

“There are three categories of people who are going to watch the show,” Dang Tran told Breijo. “The people who don’t know much about wine but are intrigued by it; the people who love the manga; and the connoisseurs, the oenophiles — and the two last categories are the guardians of the temple.”

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Also ...

This week the Supreme Court upheld California’s animal welfare law that, as The Times’ David Savage writes, disallows “the practice of holding breeding pigs in tight metal cages where they cannot turn around or lie down, and sometimes in frustration try to chew the metal bars.”

In his majority opinion, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote, “While the Constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list.”

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May 18, 2020