Riddles usually are reserved for jokers and under-bridge trolls, but through May 9 at LACMA’s Ray’s and Stark Bar, a riddle is the manner by which you can order some of executive chef Viet Pham’s favorite rare animal bits and nose-to-tail specialties.
After 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, a short riddle appears as a nightly special. Your only clue is that Pham is currently in the mood to cook the less-often-consumed parts of animals.
The riddle’s answer tells you the secret dish, which rotates biweekly. It’s sort of like ordering the dealer’s choice at the bar — you never know what you’re going to get.
“I love cooking for adventurous eaters,” says Pham, who started as a sous chef at Ray’s under Kris Morningstar. “It gives me a chance to change people's lives and palates when they are open-minded. They may get to try a dish that they have never experienced.”
Granted, the riddles aren’t exactly stumpers (for the first two weekends of April, the clue was: “‘The cheekiest’ part of the pig,” which led diners to a plate of pork jowls), and you don’t even have to guess the item correctly to order it. But it’s still pretty cool that the futuristic-looking restaurant in the center of the largest art museum in the western United States is serving up L.A.’s own version of mystery meat.
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“I also have a guilty pleasure of changing how people perceive certain food items,” Pham says. “If you do not like Brussels sprouts, I will find a way to make you like it.”
Ray’s and Stark Bar, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile, (323) 857-6180, raysandstarkbar.com