It's hard to pinpoint what makes pies from Cake Monkey so singularly special, but allow us to ruminate. For one thing, no matter what the spectacular filling is, it's encased in a shatteringly crisp butter crust. It's burnished and bronzed and topped with sanding sugar, which during the course of sampling pies around town we've determined is pretty much the key to nirvana. The fillings are seasonal, ranging from blueberry frangipane in the late summer to cider roasted apple pie in a double cheddar crust in the fall and honey-braised pumpkin tart with homemade toasted marshmallow topping around the holidays. No matter what's in it, this is pie in all its glory. Ask for it with ice cream if you must, but believe us when we say it stands on its own. Available at Umami Burger or by special order from Cake Monkey ( 850 S. La Brea Ave., Hlywd. (and other Umami locations). (323) 931-3000,
—Rachael Narins

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