L.A.'s love for new casual dining experiences has lured one more East Coast chef to the West: Daniel Humm (along with co-owner Will Guidara), from the three-Michelin-star New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park, announced this week that in 2017 they will be opening a branch of their lower-key restaurant, the NoMad, downtown. New York's NoMad is housed inside the NoMad Hotel (which is north of Madison Square Park, get it?) and serves simpler (and à la carte) versions of meats and vegetable dishes found at Eleven Madison Park. Humm and Guidara told Jonathan Gold that the new NoMad will have the classics diners love at the original NoMad — the seafood plateau, the foie gras–stuffed chicken and the suckling pig — but also will have dishes that reflect Humm's excitement about the West Coast bounty only Southern California's farmers can provide. The L.A. NoMad will open in a high-ceilinged hall inside the historic Giannini Place complex at Seventh and Olive streets.
Should restaurant critics also be taking into account the ethics surrounding the food they're reviewing? That was the question posed by Wyatt Williams, the critic at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who called up critics (including our own) around the country and asked what they thought about incorporating into their critiques topics such as animal welfare and whether the restaurant pays a living wage. The issue is a difficult one to parse: What if the local chicken is the same one being used by fast food chains? What if the least ethnical ingredient is the best one for the dish? Ruth Reichl has been championing the inclusion of this information for decades, first as an activist in Berkeley, then as a critic at The New York Times and later as the editor at Gourmet. “People who are eating in restaurants are the ones who should be facing these kinds of moral choices,” she said.
L.A.'s Mexican food isn't as good as we think it is, according to a new Munchies essay by Javier Cabral that says our store-bought tortillas are the culprit. Never mind that Mexican food is so much more than its tortillas; the piece is a good excuse to talk about the sad, machine-made masa disks so prevalent at restaurants and taco stands around the city. Cabral notes a few of the chefs who are trying to steer the scene toward an artisanal-tortilla revival (Carlos Salgado at Tacos Maria, Ray Garcia at Broken Spanish) but doesn't give much credit to the dozens of tire-shop taquerias (yes, there's more than one) and carretas that every night have ladies pinching off a bit of masa and making tortillas before your eyes. One major reason so many places use store-bought tortillas is cost. Maybe when L.A. gets over the idea that all tacos cost $1, better tortillas will follow.
As if adding calorie counts to menus wasn't enough for diners to make informed decisions on their food, New York City has become the first city to require chain restaurants with more than 15 locations to include a warning of high sodium content where applicable. Starting this week, restaurants must display an ominous black-triangle salt shaker icon next to menu items or combo meals that contain more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (that's the recommended daily limit), which completely throws a wrench in our plans to chow down on Applebee's Fiesta Lime Chicken in the Big Apple.
For a peek inside what moneyed Chinese youth are eating in the San Gabriel Valley, check out this week's restaurant review, in which Besha Rodell delves into Chang'an, a Chinese gastropub of sorts in San Gabriel. Our critic found greater significance in the restaurant's existence than in the food itself. "Chang’an is interesting less for its food, which is mainly fine and only rarely fantastic, than for what it symbolizes culturally for the San Gabriel Valley and its significant Chinese population," she says. You can read the rest of the review here and ogle Anne Fishbein's always fantastic food photography here.
In L.A. restaurant news: Roy Choi is no longer running the kitchen at Sunny Spot; Scratch Bar (the real one) is now open in Encino; Lemon Moon has abruptly closed in Venice; and Alma is returning as a three-month residency at the Standard in Hollywood, starting Dec. 8.
Tweets o' the Week:
RT if you think Edible Arrangements is a mob front.— Gabriella Paiella (@GMPaiella) November 30, 2015
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Controversial opinion: I think American cheese on a Reuben is FANTASTIC— Helen Rosner (@hels) December 3, 2015
Saturday, Dec. 5, and Sunday, Dec. 6: International Tea Festival
Sip, discuss and learn about the world’s most popular drink when nearly two dozen exhibitors converge on the Japanese American National Museum, while speakers lead talks and classes — mostly free — on topics ranging from “How to Make the Perfect Pot of Tea” to “Tea and Meditation.”
Tuesday, Dec. 8: Frederick Wildman Burgundy Wine Dinner
East meets West, as it usually does at E.P. & L.P., when executive chef Louis Tikaram crafts a nine-course Southeast Asian dinner of new, seafood-forward dishes and signature curries, paired with iconic Frederick Wildman wines of the Burgundy region.
Tuesday, Dec. 8: Hanukkah Dinner at Sambar
Chef Akasha Richmond welcomes modern Jewish chef Amelia Saltsman to her contemporary Indian restaurant Sambar for a Hanukkah dinner that includes recipes from Saltsman's new book, The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen, A Fresh Take on Tradition.