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Newsletter: On Majordomo and mezcal

Happy Saturday. If you’re at Coachella, we hope you brought a bandanna to protect against the wind — and an appetite, as the desert music festival has some pretty great things to eat and drink. Check out our survival guide, plus a list of all the chefs, pop-ups, bars and taco stands. If you’re not in the desert, it’s cooled off some here in L.A. and promises to be a normal balmy weekend — a good time to hit the farmers markets, do some cooking and maybe check out some restaurants.

Jonathan Gold has been dining in Chinatown, as this week’s review is of Majordomo, chef David Chang’s first L.A. restaurant. (If you go early, there are seats for walk-ins.) If not Korean-inspired dishes, then might we suggest Oaxacan food — and maybe a few shots of mezcal, as we take a tour of some of the best places in and around L.A. with great bottles of the agave-based liquor. If you’re more of a reader than a drinker, we have an interview with the Israeli chef Alon Shaya, whose new cookbook recently came out. And we have recipes for crab cakes and grilled cheese and fava beans, which are currently loading market stands. Have a lovely weekend.

Amy Scattergood

CHANGTOWN

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Benton's smoked ham, spicy lamb, white sturgeon caviar, bounty bowl and chick peas at Majordomo.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times )

Majordomo, chef David Chang’s new Chinatown restaurant, has been one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings of the year — and now, one of the hardest reservations to get. This week, Jonathan pulls up a chair. What he finds: a pretty awesome $190 plate of beef, lots of Korean-inspired dishes, more vegetables than at the other restaurants in Chang’s Momofuku empire (thank you, SoCal farmers), and lots of bing, Chang’s version of flatbread.

A MEZCAL CRAWL

Ulises Torrentera holds up a glass of mezcal at Guelaguetza.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times )
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If you find yourself in need of a drink, consider mezcal. The Mexican spirit has been having a quiet renaissance in this city and elsewhere, and Oaxacan mezcal master Ulises Torrentera was recently in L.A. on a drinking crawl. Writer Gillian Ferguson chronicles his five-stop tour, starting at Guelaguetza, the K-town Oaxacan restaurant.

ISRAELI COOKING

Alon Shaya’s recipe for shakshouka with zhough.
(Rush Jagoe )

Writer Margy Rochlin talks to chef and restaurateur Alon Shaya, whose new cookbook dives into the food the chef grew up with in Israel. His book “Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel” is a love letter to that regional cuisine, and the chef discusses his culinary trajectory, as well as cooking in New Orleans — where he is based and where he has restaurants — in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Did we get Shaya’s recipe for shakshouka? Yes, we did.

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OUR SECOND GOLD AWARD

Chefs Mary Sue Milliken, left, and Susan Feniger at their downtown Los Angeles restaurant Border Grill.
(Anne Fishbein )

As part of Food Bowl, our monthlong food festival, Jonathan Gold presents two awards: Restaurant of the Year (which will be announced at our launch party) and the Gold Award, which this year has been given to chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill. Bravo.

THE JOY OF CRAB CAKES

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Crab cake from the Watercolour Grillhouse at the Clearwater Beach Marriott Suites on Sand Key.
( Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times )

In her latest Culinary SOS column, Test Kitchen director Noelle Carter gets the recipe for the crab cakes from the Watercolour Grillhouse in Florida. Thanks to reader Andrea Bardack for asking. (And if there’s a dish you’re obsessing about, write to Noelle and she’ll see if she can get the recipe.)

L.A. Times Food Bowl returns for a second year in May, with 31 days of events celebrating L.A.'s great food and drink scene and helping raise awareness and funds to fight food waste, hunger and food insecurity. The lineup of dining events, panel discussions, chef collaborations, volunteer projects and other food and drink-inspired happenings is up online now. So who’s coming this year? Celebrated Spanish chef José Andrés, chefs Ben Shewry (Australia), Yoshihiro Narisawa (Japan), Virgilio Martinez (Peru) and Yu Bo (China), along with legendary cookbook writer Diana Kennedy (Mexico) and more. Our launch party is at Rossoblu on April 30, and on May 1, the opening night party will be an event called Changing the World Through the Power of Food, with Andrés, Gold and friends. Help us celebrate this year’s Restaurant of the Year and Gold Award-winning chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. And yes, our Night Market will be back for five nights at Grand Park, with 50 food vendors and fun events. For all the details go to lafoodbowl.com.

Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants, the authoritative annual guide to local dining, is online for subscribers featuring his 2017 Best Restaurants. If you don’t have a copy of the booklet, you can order one online here.

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Goldbot: You can talk to Jonathan Gold any time you want — or at least the robot version of him that now lives on Facebook Messenger. You can ask Goldbot for a personal restaurant recommendation based on location, type of food or price. The bot will also deliver Jonathan Gold’s latest reviews straight to your device.

Check us out on Instagram at @latimesfood.

And don’t forget the thousands of recipes in our California Cookbook recipe database.

Feedback? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at food@latimes.com.

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