Night + Market

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A food writer friend is coming to L.A. this week and asked for my tips on where to eat (specifically, Mexican and Thai restaurants). For Mexican, I expressed my love for Loteria and my admiration for La Casita Mexicana; for Thai, I brought up Jitlada and Saap and Pa-Ord but finished my sentence by recommending Night + Market, where I ate this past Saturday, as “my favorite Thai meal I’ve had so far in L.A.”

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The Warm Tofu at Robata Jinya

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If we were playing a game called “Would That Be Delicious?” and you just started to name things–“chocolate dipped beets” (no), “lemon Parmesan chicken wings” (yes)–I have a feeling, for many, the response to “warm tofu” might be a resounding “blech.”

Warm tofu; may as well say “warm pudding” or “warm Jell-O.” All of those things sound terrible because all of those things are gelatinous; and we don’t like eating warm, gelatinous things, do we? And yet, last week, I returned to Robata Jinya (where I had my first L.A. ramen and loved it) and found myself eating the most alluring, most decadent dish I’ve had in a while–a dish of warm tofu.

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Michael Voltaggio’s ink.

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There was a moment at Michael Voltaggio’s ink.–where Craig and I went to celebrate our six year anniversary this weekend–when I washed down a bite of my egg yolk gnocchi (the first course on the tasting menu) with a cocktail made of mezcal and smoked salt and thought to myself: “I’ve never tasted anything like what I’m tasting right now. How is this happening?”

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Musso & Frank

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Some restaurants are like living museums. Musso and Frank is one of those restaurants: it’s a memorial to and a celebration of Hollywood’s rich cultural history. The Musso & Frank website explains it best: “In the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, the golden years in Hollywood, almost everyone in the entertainment business dined or drank at Musso and Frank. Through the years, waiters served Mary Pickford, Greta Garbo, Edward G. Robinson, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Cesar Romero and many more. But the restaurant was also known for it’s clientele of famous writers. The famous back room was home to William Saroyan, John Fante, Scott Fitzgerald, Nathaniel West, William Falkner, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway and many more.”

With Craig’s parents in town (along with more family), we knew Musso and Frank might be just the spot to take them for a taste of Old Hollywood.

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The Eggslut

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Confession: Before Saturday, I’d never been to a food truck.

Predicted reaction: WHAT?! OH MY GOD!? YOU’RE A FOOD WRITER AND YOU’VE NEVER BEEN TO A FOOD TRUCK OH MY GOD I’M TOTALLY NOT GOING TO READ YOU ANYMORE AND I’M BURNING MY COMPUTER RIGHT NOW TO RID IT OF YOUR EMBARRASSING HUMILIATING ATTEMPT AT BEING A DECENT HUMAN BEING.

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Banh Mi at Ink.Sack, Chile Rellenos at Loteria

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Let me tell you about this sandwich that I ate at Ink.Sack, Michael Voltaggio’s sandwich shop on Melrose. It’s a Banh Mi, which if you haven’t had one (and I had my first one on Calvin Trillin’s walking tour of Chinatown many moons ago) it’s a sandwich, served on a baguette, usually made with pork pâté , pork sausage, pickled vegetables (carrots, daikon), mayonnaise, chili sauce and lots of cilantro.

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Boat Noodles at Pa-Ord

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At a certain point, if you want to earn your stripes in the food world, you can’t act squeamish or repulsed at the prospect of eating a bowl of pig organs floating in a broth thickened with pig blood. Truthfully, I’m at a point now where such thoughts don’t repulse me; in fact, I think I have a mature attitude about such things. For example, I once attended a dinner cooked by Chris Cosentino of Incanto and the first course was a raw venison liver served on a spoon. I ate it. It popped in my mouth and did I cry? Did I enter psychoanalysis afterwards? Well, yes, but still. I got over it. And so it was that after interviewing Zach Brooks last week, I joined him for lunch at Pa-Ord, a deeply authentic hole-in-the-wall in Thai Town.

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One Night in Bangkok (Dinner & Dessert in Hollywood’s Thai Town)

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The end-of-the-day meal is a funny thing. For people who spend their days away from home, working in offices or out in the field, nothing’s more appealing, after a hard day’s work, than returning to the place where you live, lured in by the smell of a chicken roasting in the oven or the prospect of a crisp glass of white wine waiting for you on the kitchen counter.

Then there are those of us who work from home. If, like me, you spend your days at your computer, occasionally popping into the kitchen to cut yourself a slice of cake, when the end of the day comes, you’ve got a hankering to leave and to experience the world. And that’s a healthy thing except when your partner fits Category A, and there you are in Category B, that can spell trouble.

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