Your first bite of a chocolate chip cookie at Na Young Ma's 3-year-old Proof Bakery in Atwater Village is a 5-second demonstration of the Hegelian dialectic. Your mind will first register the chocolate. Then you'll taste the Maldon salt, throwing you off just a bit. Almost immediately thereafter, the flavors will come together — one component informing the other. There's the chocolate, sweet with a hum of smokiness like that found in freshly ground dark roast coffee, and an underlying note of vanilla in the cookie, all the more crisp in distinction. 3156 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village. (323) 664-8633, proofbakeryla.com. —Christine Chiao
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