Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 4), we'll be counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.
90: Furikake Kettle Corn at A-Frame.
Roy Choi is rightly credited with many things: launching a fleet of trucks considered the modern street-food equivalent of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria; tricking skeptical Westsiders into unkowingly enjoying kimchi; and otherwise combining the recombinent DNA of Los Angeles into handheld items that dribble grease down your chin.
One of Choi's most underrated creations, and he does have some, is probably A-Frame's kettle corn, a sweet-salty appetizer found at nearly every table, which might be the greatest snack food in existence. The kettle corn reminds you of a day spent at the county fair -- crunchy kernels glazed in salt and sugar, moistened with the perfect amount of butter. But then there is that funky hum of furikake, a Japanese condiment that looks a lot like party confetti: a mixture of dried seaweed, dried fish, sesame seeds and crushed bits of rice cracker, meant to be sprinkled over white rice for a life-giving umami crunch. Like a big brick of spam musubi, furikake kettle corn exists in the cultural gray area between American and Asian -- a great triumph in cultural hybridization.
The waitress will pour out a bowlful onto a sheet of butcher paper spread in the middle of the table. You will scarf it down while tapping your foot to a thumping Beastie Boys track. Your fingers will be sticky and greasy, and licking them clean will provide another boost of the harmonious flavors. If Trader Joe's ever finds a way to re-create and package this stuff, you imagine, it's game over.