Restaurant dishes

Jonathan Gold’s 10 Best Restaurant Dishes of 2014

2014 – I remember 2014. In Los Angeles, it was the peak year for steakhouses. It was a year of homemade soda pop, $ 16 cheeseburgers, and chef’s barbecue. Tacos have entered their Mannerist period. Cocktails have largely supplanted wine, even in fine dining restaurants. Kale, sea urchins, giblets and poached eggs were still everywhere. We all found ourselves eating more vegetables. Critics complained about the foodie’s death as the $ 500 sushi dinners started to look almost normal.

Can the year in all its complexity be summed up in a list of 10 dishes? I’ll try.


In a new bistro, you can probably find out everything you want to know about a chef through his snails. The large snails are juicy, a bit tender, distinctly from the land. There might not be a better snail in town than the ones in the new Petit Trois: shells full of garlic, chopped parsley and good melted butter. A separate feeder contains snail tongs, which look a bit like something you might see at the dentist, and forks with teeth a little larger than toothpicks. The chef, Ludovic Lefebvre, is from Burgundy and the recipe is that of his grandmother. You would be well advised to scrape every last drop of garlic butter with a piece of your baguette. 718 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 468-8916,

Chicken liver crostone

Gentrification sometimes has its advantages. Among them, Alimento, a new Italian restaurant from Zach Pollock. Diners flock here for the bagna cauda and the reverse embroidered tortellini, but Pollock’s best dish might be his crostone: Smooth and creamy chicken liver pate spread into a large, shallow half-moon on a heavy Heath plate, flanked by chunks of toast and a tangy, mustard touch of plum jam. 1710 Silver Lake Boulevard, Silver Lake, (323) 928-2888,

Chicken Neck Tacos

Chicken neck tacos? For the pescuezos, the fried chicken necks, to the Santa Rita Jalisco truck, the skin is pushed up to the shank of the neck before frying, which gives the effect of a tanned and fleshy cylinder topped with an Elizabethan collar of pure crunch : hidden chunks of chewy meat and a crown of pure, fatty pleasure. Tear up some meat, wrap it in a hot tortilla with a splash of pepper tomato salsa, and drizzle with a sip of the sweet pineapple drink from the truck – at $ 2.25 for an order of four golden fried necks, it is the cheapest happiness in town. 3900 E. 1st St., East Los Angeles

Mackerel Sushi

It’s never been easier to blow up half a month’s rent on raw fish in Los Angeles, and the resurgence of serious sushi may have been Los Angeles’ biggest restaurant story of 2014. But even so. among the waves of Hokkaido United and dried sea cucumber ovaries, nothing stands out like the austere Hiroyuki Naruke edema-sushi style at Q Sushi: simple in appearance, accentuating the flavor of fish rather than rice or condiments, a virtuoso performance of marinating, curing and aging. A set omakase meal is the only option at dinner and lunch, but if you are lucky you will meet Naruke’s saba – a little less vinegar than other mackerel sushi in town but with a hint of underwater minerality. 521 W. 7th St., Los Angeles, (213) 225-6285,

Lamb barbacoa

When you get in your car and drive to the bizarre industrial park district that you find Aqui es Texcoco in, you’re not there for Mexican craft beers, the promise of handcrafted craftsmanship. pulque or the robust quesadillas. You’re here for large portions of barbacoa lamb, core roasted with agave leaves, chewy and gelatinous and topped with crunchy pieces of char. You eat the lamb with stacks of hot tortillas, puddles of beans, freshly made guacamole, and mousse cups of lamb jus-based consomme, served so hot your flimsy plastic spoon might curl up in it. its depths. 5850 S. Eastern Ave., Commerce, (323) 725-1429,


Like most proper paellas, Perfecto Rocher’s Sunday night creations at Smoke.Oil.Salt can take a bit of getting used to. The serving size is no more than three or four grains in thickness, and the ingredients, maybe a handful of pieces of rabbit and a few favas, or artichokes and half a cup of lima beans, can feel rather austere. Like all decent paellero, Rocher favors mellowness with dreamlike sweetness, mountain herbs with the raw scent of saffron, the collective experience over the desires of an individual dinner and almost everything in soup. For the unknowable, the crispy bottom layer, the soccarat, deeply caramelized where it touches the pan, may signal neglect instead of a craft, but for true believers – excuse us while we scrape the soccarat out of the pan with a large metal spoon – Sundays never come often enough. 7274 W. Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 930-7900,


For registration

Jan 3 1:49 p.m .: An earlier version of this message listed the incorrect mailing address for Smoke.Oil.Salt. The restaurant is at 7274 W. Melrose Ave.


Pork blood soup

To be honest, the luu suk, pork blood soup with MSG sauce, is not the best dish in Night + Market Song. Almost everyone will be happier with Kris Yenbamroong’s catfish larb, crispy rice salad or Burmese vegan curry. But the hot, red puddle, sprinkled with crispy pork rinds and feathery Southeast Asian herbs, is both delicious and excellent as a statement of intent, with the waterbug sauce served with the chicken. fried and the bitter shake of beef bile in the hand. chopped larb. To eat the luu suk, you mix the herbs in the soup, scatter the pork rinds on top and collect the mixture with sticky rice balls. It’s actually quite smooth, much less intimidating in flavor than in appearance. It is perhaps the safest way in town to experience the flavor of culinary transgression. 3322 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 665-5899,

Koi jelly

When you order koi jello at a Chinese restaurant, you can expect to see a lot of things on your plate. None of them are likely to resemble the Henan specialty that bears that name at Awu Delicious Food, the first North American outlet of a luxury restaurant chain based in the central city of Zhenzhou in China. . The chilled concoction is made from jelly pork skin molded in the shape of a hardbait, presented with sliced ​​pepper rings coming out of its mouth where a designer drew air bubbles and moistened with a salty and spicy sauce. You carry the slippery bits to your mouth with chopsticks – you’ll lose a few along the way – and sip. Koi Jello is oddly refreshing on a hot afternoon. 558 Las Tunas Drive, Arcadia, (626) 445-5588,

Beep beep

Roy Choi is the current archetypal chef from LA, which is pretty good for a guy whose most famous dish is always Korean taco served in a truck. But where you might expect his Pot to be a hipster joint, it comes close enough to being a regular Korean place, all the soups and stews and kimchi fried rice, reimagined from the point of view of ‘an American Korean rebelling against his Koreatown roots. The Beep Beep comes closest to a must order here, more or less the classic mayonnaise sushi bar dynamite, spiced with chili and amplified with lots of fresh sea urchins, topped with hot rice. It will give you the stamina you need to tackle a giant bowl of Redondo Beach or Boot Knocker. 3515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 368-3030,

Mushroom chorizo

You probably should know that Taco María is not a taco stand, although it started life as a truck. OC-born Carlos Salgado, a veteran of top kitchens in the Bay Area, practices what he calls “Chicano cuisine,” which involves flower petals, under vacuum and tweezers, but also the strong flavors and dependence on seasonal products of fine Mexican cuisine. The menu changes daily, but you’ll almost always find crumbs of his veggie chorizo, made with spicy shiitake mushrooms instead of meat, topped with a crispy new potato, poached egg and a drizzle of tangy tomatillo sauce. Spectacular. 3313 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, (714) 538-8444,

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