This list, for those who crave organ meat as much as Hannibal Lecter did, is filled with dishes so good it’s a shame to call them offal . . .
Asanebo. For a while, Asanebo was famous as the No-Sushi Bar, an establishment that served only sashimi and tiny portions of proto-Japanese cooked foods — grilled salmon with mashed potatoes and salmon eggs, fried squid with asparagus, steamed catfish with miso and ginger — and all of Hollywood seemed to flock to the place, eager to visit a restaurant that had come up with an entirely new way to deny satisfaction to its customers. Still, it is a pleasure to pull up a stool to the bar, to utter the magic word omakase — “Feed me until I burst!” — and to sit back and wait for the food to arrive. The ankimo (seasonal), cylinders of molded monkfish liver in a sharp ponzu sauce, is fine. 11941 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 760-3348. Lunch and dinner Tues.–Fri.; dinner Sat.–Sun. Call for times. Beer and wine. Lot parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $25–$90. Japanese. JG $$$
Carousel Restaurant. There are two Carousels, and the Glendale branch may well be the best, most interesting Lebanese-Armenian restaurant in Los Angeles. The food sparkles with freshness — and lemon. Go for the meze (cheese borek, muhammara and houmous sojouk) and kebabs (try the yogurt lula kebab), and also for hard-to-find delicacies such as frogs’ legs, roasted quail and lamb’s tongue. Check ahead to see if there’s live music. 304 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, (818) 246-7775. Tues.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. 5112 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 660-8060. Tues.–Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Full bar, Glendale; no alcohol, Hollywood. Lot parking. DC, MC, V. Entrées $7.50–$20. Middle Eastern/Lebanese-Armenian. MH $
Kokekokko. The ritual at Little Tokyo’s Kokekokko is to order one of the set menus, either five or 10 courses of grilled chicken flesh and innards: loosely packed chicken meatballs, faintly scented with herbs; grilled skin, threaded onto the skewer in accordion pleats; marinated slivers of thigh, separated from each other by slices of onion. Grilled hearts, served with a smear of hot Chinese mustard, are a little tough, but intensely chicken-flavored. Wisps of breast stretched around okra and Japanese chile provide just a smidgen of residual sliminess that works to intensify the texture of the meat. 203 S. Central Ave., downtown, (213) 687-0690. Dinner Mon.–Sat. 6–10:30 p.m. Beer, wine and sake. Takeout. Street parking. D, DC, MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $30–$50. Japanese. JG $$
Mimosa. The “Mimosa Maintenant” menu, is a rotating series of such earthy seasonal dishes as skate with brown butter, veal sweetbreads, quail stuffed with chestnuts and foie gras, pork cheek and ear “en cocotte,” veal onglet, grilled whole pork trotter, and chicken-liver gâteau. These full flavors and textures distract the brain from its ditherings and make eating a pleasurable, in-the-moment, physical act. Can the Los Angeles dining public handle such brash gastronomic sensuality? Hmmmm. 8009 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 655-8895. Dinner Tues.–Sat. 6–10:30 p.m. Beer and wine. Valet parking. AE, D, MC, V. Reservations recommended on weekends. Entrées $11–$26. French Bistro. MH $$$
Musso & Frank Grill. Before Musso & Frank Grill became a martini-fueled Hollywood clubhouse, the place where Faulkner blew out his liver and generations of character actors learned to show up on Wednesday for the chicken potpie, the restaurant was practically a showcase for what was then considered California cuisine, a genteel marriage of the local produce, abundant local fisheries and masculinized lunchroom cooking: avocado cocktails smeared with sweet, pink dressing and frigid bowls of chilled consommé; great, naked planks of boiled finnan haddie and dainty plates of crab Louie; creamy Welsh rabbit served over crustless triangles of toast and kidneys Turbigo. This is what the cosmopolitan life was like, before cosmopolitans. 6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 467-7788. Open Tues.–Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Full bar. Validated parking in rear. AE, DC, MC, V. Entrées $15–$40. American. JG $
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Soot Bull Jeep. Soot Bull Jeep may be the best of L.A.’s 100-odd Korean barbecues, noisy, smoky, with all the bustle you’d expect in the heart of a great city, a place to cook your own marinated short ribs and baby octopus, pork loin and tripe, above a tabletop heap of glowing hardwood coals. If you are new to this sort of thing, a waitress will return periodically to make sure that your ignorance of cooking times injures the meat no more than absolutely necessary. 3136 W. Eighth St., Los Angeles, (213) 387-3865. Open daily 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Beer and wine. Street parking. MC, V. Entrées $15–$30. Korean. JG ¢
Taquería Sanchez. Here are the small, simple tacos of rich stewed tongue, and dryish pork loin, and gooey tripitas that you may have been yearning for, the slippery organ-meat crunch of hog stomach, the sauce-saturated sheets of fried pork skin. Here too are definitive tacos of carne asada, and baked cow’s head, and even spicy chicken. Sanchez is helping to close the taco gap on this side of the border, one taco at a time. 4541 Centinela Ave., Culver City, (310) 822-8880. Mon.–Thurs. 8 a.m.–7 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.–5 p.m. No alcohol. Takeout. Street parking. Cash only. Mexican. JG ¢
La Terza. There is an entire school of cooking sometimes called Cal-Italian, but this isn’t that — although dishes like cool, sliced veal tongue slicked with puréed herbs, thick, smoky grilled rib steaks served with Umbrian rice and beans, and farro salad with pecorino cheese may well qualify as such. What chef Gino Angelini is attempting at La Terza may be no less than re-imagining California food through the prism of his advanced Italian technique, re-imagining California as an Italian province that happens to have a few agricultural virtues of its own. 8384 W. Third St., Los Angeles, (323) 782-8384. Open daily for breakfast 7–11 a.m., lunch 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m., dinner 5:30–11 p.m. Full bar. Takeout. Valet parking. AE, D, MC, V. $18–$29. Italian. JG $$
Tre Venezie. Tre Venezie, a tiny Italian restaurant in Pasadena’s Old Town, could easily pass for one of the better trattorias in Udine — the cooking, mostly in the Slavic-influenced style of Friuli, northeast of Venice, is superb. True, the careful authenticity of the food must be balanced against the fact that dinner with a nice wine can cost not much less than a roundtrip ticket to Venice itself, and the wine list is egregiously overpriced. But I love the orzotto, a soothing Friulian stew of tripe and grain that emphasizes the gentle muskiness, the slippery contours of the meat, without an offending chile in sight. 119 W. Green St., Pasadena, (626) 795-4455. Tues. 5:30–10:30 p.m., Wed.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5:30–10:30 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 5:30–10:30 p.m. Full bar. Valet and street parking. AE, DC, MC, V. $25–$32. Italian. JG $$