What’s ‘super authentic food’ in L.A.? Chef David Kuo’s mega-bodega Fatty Mart looks for the answer

An interior view of David Kuo's new Mar Vista Fatty Mart, with a wooden ceiling and rows of specialty foods on red shelves.
David Kuo’s newest Mar Vista project is part corner store, part specialty grocer, part community space and multiple parts restaurant.
(Wonho Frank Lee / Fatty Mart)

Fatty Mart

Chef David Kuo’s sprawling neighborhood mega-mart spotlighting L.A. cuisines, brands and small businesses is open in Mar Vista with food stalls, hundreds of grocery items and more to come — including community events, cookbook clubs, demos and a social media-based grocery game show.

“I think this is the future,” Kuo said of Fatty Mart. “And I get to cook a lot of cuisines, which is what I like doing — learning about culture, learning about food. This is my exploration of: What is considered authentic and not authentic, but also tastes good and affordable? And what’s the next step of that?”

Kuo, the chef behind nearby Taiwanese restaurant Little Fatty and cocktail bar Accomplice, has an ambitious vision for Fatty Mart. Some of the Mar Vista food stalls are now open, others have yet to debut, and nearly all will be adding menu items in the future. K Fatty serves up Korean fare such as galbi, bibimbap and bulgogi, while Juntos offers tacos and burritos filled with carnitas, mushroom asada and lamb barbacoa. At Fatty Slice, multiple ovens turn out freshly baked “neo-New York ” hybrid-style pizza in classic flavors such as Margherita as well as L.A.-inspired varieties such as mapo tofu and mole, with a program devised by Slow Rise Pizza’s Noel Brohner. At the Fatty Drip stand there are coffee, pastries, beer and wine, and in a nearby fridge is more premade, to-go food such as Mr. Kuo’s Curry for Southeast Asian bites. Kento’s Bento — named for Kuo’s son — is a line of kids’ food.

A bowl of bulgogi surrounded by smaller bowls of sides at David Kuo's Fatty Mart in Mar Vista.
Fatty Mart’s food stalls prepare made-to-order dishes — such as bibimbap, bulgogi and other Korean specialties — as well as to-go foods in refrigerated cases.
(Robert Campbell / Fatty Mart)

The 5,000-square-foot market’s retail shelves are filled with hundreds of items that at Kuo eats at home and brands he loves: specialty instant noodles, international potato chips, Bianco di Napoli canned tomatoes, frozen tamales and burritos from Burritos La Palma, tinned fish, oyster sauce, gourmet chocolate bars, curry pastes, ice creams both imported and local. He’s also developing lines of house brands for Fatty Mart-made vinegars, oils, barrel-aged fish sauce, spice blends, marinades and other pantry staples.

The project has been in the works for years; Kuo signed the lease in July 2020 and had been working since before then to bring it to life. Originally, he had conceptualized “a modern-day bodega,” but with pandemic-spurred opening delays, he began to expand his vision: “It’s all the great ethnic food of L.A. — hopefully — under one roof, eventually,” he said. “The whole idea is to bring super authentic food to your fingertips.” He’s hoping to offer a number of L.A.’s cuisines at his market, and for those who hope to explore beyond it, Kuo is planning a social-media video series featuring his favorite restaurants and street vendors outside of Mar Vista.

On a busy day Little Fatty, located around the corner from the new market, cooks roughly 1,300 items; Kuo feels ready for the business his newest concept could generate, especially as the offerings expand.

A bowl of saucy meat with a plate of rice and beans on an orange table at David Kuo's Fatty Mart in Mar Vista.
(Robert Campbell / Fatty Mart)

In Fatty Mart the rows of retail goods constitute the majority of the space, with the specialty food stalls forming an L shape against two walls; there’s seating for 30 to 40 guests in the front room. In a corner of the market’s ready-made food area, one stall will serve as the chef’s demo counter, where guests might catch how-to’s and cooking classes or see chefs preparing to-go items such as kimbap or fresh pasta.

But Kuo’s vision for Fatty Mart didn’t begin and end with food: He’s envisioning how a market fits and serves a community. A forthcoming loyalty card program will give guests access to classes and heavily discounted or free items, while a planned cookbook club will include bites and author meet-and-greets. He’s hoping to cater to regulars with a coffee-cup subscription, wherein buying a Fatty Mart mug gets recurring guests discounts on coffee, as well as a social-media-broadcast “game show” for free groceries and gift cards. Kuo also hopes to establish neighborhood cleanups and other community service that in turn gives volunteers free lunch. His partner urban farms in Mar Vista and Mid-Wilshire, he says, also will play a large part in Fatty Mart, as will giving back to his employees; for a future offshoot of his brand Juntos, Kuo plans to offer workers partial ownership.

“This is something different,” Kuo said, “and I’m always gonna be pushing the envelope to do something different.”


Fatty Mart is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

12210 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles,

A cocktail on a table at a brown restaurant booth
New cocktail hub Bar Next Door pays homage to the Sunset Strip and other L.A. landmarks with inventive drinks named for iconic hotels, streets and music venues.
(Stan Lee / Bar Next Door)

Bar Next Door

A new cocktail bar is open that riffs on the iconography of the Sunset Strip, paying homage to joints like the Whisky a Go Go, Chateau Marmont and the Viper Room with cocktails, music playing through an analog sound system and more. Bar Next Door is a project more than two years in the making and the latest from Lawrence Longo, the restaurateur and entrepreneur who purchased and reopened Irv’s Burgers last year. For his first bar, Longo tapped bar director Brynn Smith (formerly of Rossoblu, Sotto and AllBright) to create a two-part cocktail menu: one page that offers classics such as mules, martinis, mojitos and old-fashioneds, and another full of unique concoctions that take their inspiration from bygone decades of the Sunset Strip and nearby icons such as the Beverly Hills Hotel.

“I wanted to give love to the spots that have been next to us over the years,” Smith said.

That love translates to cocktails such as the Villa Nova, named for the long-gone celebrity favorite restaurant, made with mezcal bitters, Cocchi Americano, amaro, grapefruit essence and basil, or the La Cienega, informed by the street name’s translation — ”the swamp” — and using white rum, corn liqueur, cold brew, matcha, mushroom-powder chocolate, oat milk, basil and mint to call to mind a swamp’s hue. She’s also playing with the possibility of adding boozy milkshakes to the menu, just in time for summer.

In a nod to the building’s past as the Cukor-Lipton Agency — former representative of Marilyn Monroe — a vintage “Some Like It Hot” poster hangs near the front window while black-and-white photos of the neighborhood, including the space’s tenure as a talent agency, line the hallway to the bathrooms. That hallway will soon be how guests enter the speakeasy, which Longo expects to open later in summer. He also expects to introduce food pop-ups or residencies for a range of local food concepts. Bar Next Door also offers beer, wine, 12 seats at a wood bar and 20 more across small booths, and complimentary thick-cut potato chips; guests looking for something more substantial are free to bring in pizza from the adjacent Prince Street Pizza, which Longo also owns. Bar Next Door is open daily from 4 p.m. to “late.”

9159 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood,


Red White Ramen

A Boston-founded vegan ramen shop is open in Studio City, serving plant-based bowls of noodles and sides such as mac ’n’ cheese and torched miso-topped avocado. Red White Ramen, the first L.A. restaurant from founder Tokuma Kobayashi and chef Kei Ueki, specializes in a nori-and-mushroom-based broth that simmers for roughly eight hours and incorporates a secret blend of other vegetables. The restaurant customizes its ramen with flavors such as yuzu or miso before topping the noodles and broth with fried onions, corn, arugula and plant-based soboro (ground chicken), and serves each bowl under a smoke-filled cloche. Red White Ramen is open noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. weekdays and noon to 10 p.m. on weekends.

11044 Ventura Blvd., Los Angeles, (818) 579-4190,

A bowl of vegan ramen from Studio City's Red White Ramen restaurant.
With long-simmered vegetable broth and vegan soboro, Studio City’s Red White Ramen serves exclusively plant-based ramen and sides.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Champion’s Curry Pasadena

One of the world’s Japanese-curry titans just expanded to Pasadena. After touching down in Little Tokyo in 2020, Champion’s Curry, founded in 1961 by chef Yoshikazu Tanaka, expanded to Irvine and then to Berkeley. In May the chain opened a fast-casual outpost in Old Town Pasadena serving the brand’s signature, comforting Kanagawa-style cuisine — rich, long-simmered curry served over rice, katsu, roasted vegetables and beyond. Salads, lemon-topped karaage, curry cheese fries and other items are also on offer. Chef Yoya Takahashi, formerly of Hamasaku, is overseeing the California locations and adding his own flair to the menus with items such as a Japanese curry dip sandwich. Both L.A. locations also stock fluffy, stuffed cookies from local fundraising outfit Brady’s Bakery. Champion’s Curry is open daily in Pasadena from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

2 E. Union St., Suite 120, Pasadena, (626)-345-5147,

Hart House Hollywood

When actor Kevin Hart’s plant-based fast-food restaurant, Hart House, debuted in Westchester in August, hundreds of hungry fans lined up for a taste. Last week the stand-up comedian and “Jumanji” star opened the chain’s flagship location, a 2,130-square-foot space at the corner of Sunset and Highland complete with a drive-thru. CEO Andrew Hooper and Hart, who is himself “flexitarian,” initially worked with chef Mike Salem (notably of Burger King’s Impossible Whopper) to devise a menu that includes single and double vegan burgers; meatless chicken in a range of sandwiches; nuggets with house-made sauces such as ranch, barbecue and honey mustard; entrée-size salads; tater tots; and vegan milkshakes. A third Hart House is open in Monrovia, while the chain’s fourth is slated to open near USC this summer; more locations are in the works. Hart House is open daily in Hollywood with indoor dining available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; the drive-thru is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.


6800 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles,