3 L.A. restaurants to dine in after the holidays

An unusual mushroom farm, a chef who hates garbage cans, mantas for all, Thanksgiving classics and waiting for frills. I’m Laurie Ochoa, General Manager of LA Times Food, with this week’s tasting notes.

Taste of home

Thai spaghetti with green curry and leek cakes at Siam Sunset in Hollywood.

(Laurie Ochoa/Los Angeles Times)

When you return from a long trip, what is the first thing you want to eat? What food makes you happy to be home? Here in Los Angeles, there is not one cuisine that defines us, but many dishes from many different places.

When I recently returned from France and Italy, a trip filled with many amazing meals, I woke up way too early and left with another jet lagged traveler to Siam Sunsetwhich opens for early risers who crave congee at 6 a.m. knowing I might reach across the table for a spoonful or three of my pal fish porridge — plus a piece of the all-important Chinese donut, as Jean Trinh talked about last month — I ordered two comfort foods that I love at Siam Sunset. Thai spaghetti with green curry is soothing in its creaminess with just enough warmth to awaken the senses after a long flight. And leek pancakes have that great crispy, soft contrast with a fried outer layer that gives way to the stretchy rice cake inner layer and satisfying topping of chopped leeks.

Leek cakes at Siam Sunset in Hollywood.

Leek cakes at Siam Sunset in Hollywood.

(Laurie Ochoa/Los Angeles Times)

Sitting in the no-frills dining room tucked into the motel space that might otherwise house a regular cafe, I took in the early morning light casting shadows on our table, sipped my iced Thai coffee and I felt happy to be home.

The katsu curry plate at Katsu Sando in Chinatown.

The katsu curry plate at Katsu Sando in Chinatown.

(Laurie Ochoa/Los Angeles Times)

A few hours later, I caught up with my daughter, who wanted a sando egg salad. She had sandos delivered to her throughout the pandemic. Katso Sandobut this time we went to the house of the Chinatown restaurant and were rewarded not only with the sando but also with a fantastic katsu curry plate. Of course, the beautifully fried pork was even better than the delivered version, eaten moments after coming out of the kitchen. I loved eating katsu curry at the now closed restaurant Homemade curry in Little Tokyo with Isabel — she still has a Gudetama knit cap from a promotion they did with Gudetama’s face carved into the special meal’s soup and custard. Katso Sando’s version brought back fond memories of those meals.

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Then we had a showstopper of a shaved ice dessert when the chef came out Daniel Son with a black and white kakigori topped with fried mochi sprinkled with toasted black and white sesame seeds and drizzled with black and white sesame syrup. It was a play on a black and white deli cookie and it’s just one more example of how LA cuisine draws on many traditions.

Galbi jjim with cheese is flambéed at Sun Nong Dan in Koreatown.

Galbi jjim with cheese is flambéed at Sun Nong Dan in Koreatown.

(Laurie Ochoa/Los Angeles Times)

The next night, still not settling into anything close to a regular sleep pattern, I found myself eating late into the night. Koreatown dinner galbi jjim at Sun Nong Dan, one of the few 24-hour restaurants in Los Angeles. You don’t really need to add cheese to braised ribs with thick rice noodles, but the night is so much more festive when your dinner is flambéed at the table and the cheese melts so well. Like my late husband, Jonathan Gold, once wrote in this article, “Galbi jjim to Sun Nong Dan is Hendrix shred a Bob Dylan song or David Choe slamming paint on a wall, all the feel of the dish goes through a distortion pedal and goes up to 10.”

If doesn’t get more LA than that.

Where do mushrooms grow

I have very specific memories of the city of Vernon, where my mother worked in a trucking company when I was growing up. I remember the time she had to take my sister and me to a picket line when the Teamsters on strike, the murals of idyllic farm life that belied the slaughterhouse activities of the Farmer John the processing plant which will close next year, plus the smell of fertilizer that surrounded Mount Bandini, the manure pile that became famous for the 1980s TV commercial showing a poor guy skiing on the now-deleted brown mound. But recently, deputy food editor Betty Hallock found something wonderful and unexpected in a warehouse in Vernon: an urban mushroom farm.

Yellow oyster mushrooms

Yellow oyster mushrooms, one of many varieties grown at Smallhold Mushrooms, a warehouse farm in Vernon.

(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

“In a 34,000 square foot building, on the same street as a ready-mixed concrete producer and Dr Pepper distributor,” she wrote in her post about the company aiming to dominate the mushroom scene in the world. Southern California,”small property grows mushrooms of fantastic display and scale – several thousand pounds of mushrooms a week, or tens of thousands of pounds in the near future, if all goes as planned. It’s all part of what Hallock calls “a mushroom revolution happening on Southern California grocery store shelves.”

Despite everything, I think I will continue to buy my mushrooms from by Lily Balthazar stand at farmers markets in Pasadena and Hollywood, where she not only sells fantastic herbs from her ABC Rhubarb Farm, but varieties from another world Bih Shah Farm mushrooms.

The restaurant without trash

A man in front of a brick wall

Chef Douglas McMaster, of the zero-waste restaurant Silo in London.

(Christina House/Los Angeles Times)

Can you run a restaurant without a trash can? London chef Douglas McMaster did and he told the Food staff writer Stephanie Breijo how and why he operates his restaurant Silo without trash cans. “It’s very difficult. It’s stressful, but it’s the right thing to do.

McMaster was in town recently for the Los Angeles premiere CRAZY Mondayas part of a series of conferences organized for catering professionals in Copenhagen by name chief Rene Redzepi MAD Foundation. McMaster’s talk about trying to run a zero-waste restaurant got us wondering what Californian chefs are doing in their kitchens to reduce waste. His interview with McMaster is the first of our don’t waste series, which will examine food and sustainability in restaurants and beyond.

Tip for the end of the year celebrations

Francine Yegiazaryan pours tomato sauce on a platter of manta.

Francine Yegiazaryan pours tomato sauce on a platter of manta.

(Cody Long/Los Angeles Times)

In the latest episode of “The Bucket List: Dumplings”, Jenn Harris tell us everything manta, the “open-style meatballs filled with meat that look like tiny boats, with a thin layer of dough wrapped around a small meatball in the center”. Sarkes Yegiazarianwho runs the manta factory in Glendale, tells Harris that he “wants to make manta a household name”.

“I want people to remember the manta,” he says. “The name has not yet stuck. My mission is to make it stick.

I can testify to the greatness of the manta. I am fortunate to live close to Yegiazaryan’s Pasadena location of Su-Beoreg & Monta Factory and have often picked up platters of monta as an easy and delicious contribution to potluck. Something to keep in mind as the holiday season begins.

Meanwhile, in her weekly column on what she ate all week, Harris claims that venezuelan pancakes are better than american pancakes. Read his argument for The cachapas of the Amara cafe around hot rolls here.

Back to turkey basics

A Thanksgiving spread includes turkey and carved sides.

A classic Thanksgiving feast.

(Katrina Frederick / For Time)

And speaking of holidays, food columnist Ben Mims gathered a guide to turkey in sauce by making a classic thanksgiving party. It includes how-to videos and will answer readers’ questions about Thanksgiving next week on our LA Times Food Instagram account.

Ludo’s new offer and more restaurant news

As well as his column on the week’s restaurant openings — a new UK pub from the group behind mother wolf and Ka’teena new bar “Vanderpump Rules” cast members – Times staff writer Stephanie Breijo reports that Ludo and Krissy Lefebvre terminate their eight-year partnership with Jon shook and At Vinny Dotolo’s J&V Group. “It feels good to buy something you believe in,” Ludo told Breijo of the down payment to fully own his Little Three in Hollywood and Little Three Valley in Sherman Oaks. “I’m very, very excited for the future, and I want to make Petit Trois even better and push the limits a bit.”

Of course, what many of us want to know is if the Lefebvres will reopen its tasting menu corner Three guys.

“It’s not now,” he told Breijo, “but you never know. I miss that; I miss the French froufrou.

We also miss the frills.

illo for the 101 launch party
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