Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Los Angeles Ludobites 007!!!

One of the hardest reservation to score in Los Angeles is the reservation of dinner service for Ludobites, a unique pop up concept by Chef Ludo Lefebrve. But what makes it so unique and so popular? Well, Ludobites is essentially a 2-month long event where Chef Ludo takes over a kitchen somewhere in Los Angeles, with a designated time to make reservations.

Who is Ludo Lefebrve? He's a French chef that has headed in two of LA's most prestigious restaurant and was even named as one of the world's 50 greatest chef by Relais & Chateaux, as well as being nominated for a Rising Star Chef Award by the James Beard Foundation. Ludobites is a restaurant by the chef that has no address and no permanent location, and more like a "touring" restaurant, only limited by the chef's imagination, not just French cuisine!

I actually tried to make a reservation for the 7th edition of Ludobites, but within one minute all the slots were full! My finger was definitely not clicking fast enough :[ But somehow, Connie was able to make a reservation for 6, so sometime last week after a month long wait, we arrived at Gram & Papa's, a sandwich shop that Chef Ludo took over. Needless to say I was super excited about finally getting to try Ludobites!

Ludobites 007 @ Gram & Papa's
227 E 9th St
Los Angeles, CA 90015

ludobites logo
Ludobites 8/11/11!! Whoooo!

The menu that night. Rather than looking through the menu, we just told our waiter to bring one of each! Haha the best way to order! Since we had 6, figured we can try everything out and order seconds on the ones we liked.

ludobites chicken ceiling tile
Ludobites logo on the ceiling tile. The chicken is a play on his Ludotruck, a food truck created by Ludo Lefebvre specializing in fried chicken. The truck is bomb also. Definitely check it out if you can!

ludobites artwork
They were selling apparel also! Collabo with UNDFTD. I was soooo tempted but decided not to get a tee. That hoodie looked bomb though hahaha. Also LOVE THAT ARTWORK. I need it!

ludobites logo on table
Cool burned-in logo on the tables.

open kitchen
We sat next to the open kitchen. Crazy how they transformed a sandwich shop into this kitchen. Chef Ludo is the tallest dude there. Super friendly guy!

lavender ginger lemonade
First, up, Lavender Ginger Lemonade. The ginger gave it a little bitterness and the lavender added some floral hints to the lemonade. It actually tasted like I'm drinking lemon peel thanks to the bitterness, which I actually liked! Not overly sweet as well, and a perfect drink for the summer!

jamaican chicken wings
Jamaican Chicken Wings. I'm not gonna even try and guess what spices are in here but they give us gloves to eat the wings with haha. Lots of flavor and the skin is slightly crisped. I can eat at least 50 of these wings...

bouillabaise milk shake
Bouillabaise Milkshake. Ok not gonna lie... this was the weirdest thing that night. Bouillabaise is essentially a rich seafood stock. The "milkshake" tasted like a seafood chowder... except frozen. I think it weirded us out because we just couldn't shake the cold frozen chowder feel.

onion tart, bottarga
Onion Tart with Bottarga. Totally regretted not getting a second order. Super sweet caramelized onion on crispy flat bread then sprinkled with bottarga, which is salt-cured dried roe. Great appetizer.

prawn & scallop ceviche, aji amarillo, red berries
Prawn & Scallop Ceviche with Aji Amarillo, and Red Berries. Not a huge fan of ceviche but this I liked. The red berries added a good deal of tartness.

squid, ash, chorizo
Squid with Bread Ash & Chorizo Aioli. Super tender squid with caramelized onion bulb goes well with the two sauces. One is a black ink sauce and the other is an aioli infused with chorizo oil! Reminds me of a great tapas dish I had awhile back.

squid, ash, chorizo
Fresh squid makes a world of difference.

raw beef, rainbow carrots, shallots, red wine mayo
Raw Beef with Rainbow Carrots, Shallots, and Red Wine Mayo. Essentially a beef sashimi dish! Beef are cut into chunks and laid on top of a bed of red wine mayo. Surprisingly light! Carrots reminded me of the marinated carrots from Mexican restaurants haha.

raw beef, rainbow carrots, shallots, red wine mayo
Red wine mayo with the hidden mustard seeds on the bottom makes this dish pop.

pig's head compressed & cheddar, bbq gelee
Pig's Head Compressed & Cheddar with BBQ Gelee. Playful take on a BBQ sandwich. Couldn't really tell it was pork that we're eating since it was so deconstructed but nonetheless tasty. The BBQ gelee just straight up punched you in the face. Really strong vinegar taste.

salt cod panna cotta, whipped fingerling potato, smoked tapoica
Salt Cod Panna Cotta with Whipped Fingerling Potato, and Smoked Tapioca.

salt cod panna cotta, whipped fingerling potato, smoked tapoica
Tapioca balls are your Asian boba balls. Slight hint of smoke flavor. Potato is creamy and goes well with the fish. We sat for awhile trying to figure out what the yellow oil is :P

egg sea urchin, caviar, champagne beurre blanc
Uni, Caviar, and Champagne Beurre Blanc. Sort of like a luxurious scramble egg dish.

egg sea urchin, caviar, champagne beurre blanc
Usually not a big fan of uni, but man this was good! Love the caviar too.

plancha tandoori octopus, yogurt, cauliflower, grapefruit
Plancha Tandoori Octopus with yogurt, cauliflower, and grapefruit. My favorite dish of the night. Tender octopus with Indian tandoori spices is great. Thin-sliced cauliflower paired with the grapefruit works well with octopus.

That's not char. That's flavor!

foie gras french dim sum, crispy kimchi, sake black truffle cream
Foie Gras French "Dim Sum" stuffed with kimchi, with a layer of sake black truffle cream. Definitely the most decadent dish of the night. Ridiculously good. The little black spots are actual truffle shavings.

french dim sum
French "dim sum" haha! It's more like a ravioli but man the foie gras was gooood.

kimchi & foie
Inside is the foie gras with kimchi. The red oil is from the kimchi. When you take in a whole ravioli, the flavors just explode in your mouth: creaminess from foie gras and the earthy aroma from the sauce is cut through by the sharp kimchi.

wings round 2 octopus round 2
After the foie gras ravioli came, we ordered some more Jamaican Wings and octopus!

salt crusted pork shoulder, beer sabayon, imaginary choucroute, juniper berries
First of our main entree: Salt Crusted Pork Shoulder with Beer Sabayon, Imaginary Choucroute, and Juniper Berries. The beer sabayon (foam sauce) is great with the tender pork shoulder. Cabbages add a nice crunch and texture!

salt crusted pork shoulder, beer sabayon, imaginary choucroute, juniper berries
The star of the dish is probably the imaginary choucroute! Choucroute is another name for sauerkraut. It is called imginary choucroute because there's actually no real sauerkraut. Instead, the block is actually a block of sauerkraut jelly! I can only describe the jelly as all the flavors of sauerkraut condensed. I love getting a piece of the pork with the cabbage and smear a little of the jelly with it.

epoisse cheese risotto, hazelnut, egg yolk, herb salad
Epoisse Cheese Risotto with hazelnut, egg yolk, and herb salad. I love risotto done well since it takes a lot of effort. Lots of different textures here and it's even better when you mix the egg yolk in with the rest of the risotto. Epoisse is a French cow cheese that was actually favored by Napoleon, so I guess it's a sort of... royalty of the cheeses?

duck, cherry, spicy saucisse, beets, radish
Duck with cherry, spicy saucisse, beets, and radishes. Duck cooked to a medium, which scared a lot of people at our table haha. We're all used to duck being cooked through and through like roast duck, but I actually prefer duck cooked with a little red inside, as long as it's good duck. Skin is crisped and the cherry spicy sauce is slight sweet & tart.

All sorts of sliced root vegetables on the plate!

lavender tropezienne tart, aloe vera, lychee
Afterwards, we decided to get all the desserts as well and first to arrive was the Lavender Tropezienne Tart with aloe vera and lychee. Tropezienne tart is a type of French dessert that looks like a sandwich. It seems like Chef Ludo was particularly fond of using ingredients that are quite Asian in the tart. Nice touch with the lavender as well to bring a bit of aroma to the dessert!

Crunchy puff and creamy filling!

smoked vanilla bacon creme brulee, strawberry soup
Smoked Vanilla Bacon Creme Brulee with Strawberry Soup. This one was straight up craziness. SMOKED BACON in a creme brulee?? I loveeee creme brulee and I was really scared of the bacon ruining it, but... it works for me, surprisingly. A lot of people didn't like the saltiness & smokiness from the bacon, but I think that is what the strawberry soup is for. The sweet strawberry soup sort of evens out the saltiness of the bacon. It's like a strawberry syrup for your creme brulee.

smoked vanilla bacon creme brulee, strawberry soup
The caramelized sugar crust is still my favorite part of the creme brulee!

creme brulee & strawberry
A little bit of everything in one bite :]

chocolate cake, chipotle ice cream, orange
The last dessert is Chocolate Cake & Chipotle Ice Cream with orange sauce and coco nibs.

chocolate cake
The chocolate cake is more like a fudge rather than cake.

chipotle ice cream
Chipotle ice cream also had a little of kick to it that you wouldn't expect, even though it is chipotle ice cream. The coco nibs is a touch to add some texture! The two are the best when eaten together.

Lots of people still waiting to be called. The only do two rounds of dinner service each night!

One thing amazing I've noticed about this particular edition of Ludobites is that he does a play on many different cuisines' flavors. From the French "dim sum" infused with a little of Korean kimchi or coming up with his own version of a popular German dish, they were all done with attention to detail.

Whether or not my friends and I react positive to the dish is a whole different story but each dishes definitely invoked an emotion out of all of us. Joy from a flavorful dish, disappointment from expecting more, or amazement from experiencing something new, it was definitely an experience.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Rosemead: 7 Course Beef!

Hello! Didn't mean to neglect oolongmilktea lately but really, I just didn't have anything! Haven't had the chance to try new things, until this past weekend, Connie graciously treated Diana, Michael, and I to a feast, specifically, the infamous Seven Course Beef!

Now... I'll be trying my hardest with the names and the description since I actually don't know much about Vietnamese food. Heck, my first time having pho was in college! In fact, my exposure to Vietnamese food is just... pho, broken rice, egg & spring rolls, and fried rice. Sad, I know.

Seven course beef, aka Bo 7 Mon, is essentially a planned meal with 7 different dishes, all involving beef! Beef is served in a variety of ways and quite hands on, since for some dishes you cook right at the table. Connie took us to Thien An in Rosmead, which is a restaurant that specializes for Bo 7 Mon, as well as being known for their BBQ catfish.

Thien An Bo 7 Mon
8837 Valley Blvd
Rosemead, CA 91770

thien an
Located in a pretty old plaza right off Valley Blvd. Doesn't look like much but the place is HUGE.

You are given lots of rice paper to make your own springrolls. All sorts of veggie provided so you can customize! Lettuce, basil, and mint are a few of the more familiar ones.

pickled carrots & daikon and cucumber
Cucumber, raw plantains, beansprouts, and pickled daikon & carrots. More things to customize your springrolls with!

5 types of sauces that you can add.

2 types of fish sauce & lemon grass
Lemongrass, fish sauce, and a super fish sauce. Sorry, I don't know the name of the super potent fish sauce haha. Just know that... it is super strong and actually smells like the fermented tofu that Chinese people eat.

small catfish
First up, BBQ Catfish! Fried SMALL catfish then topped with scallions and peanuts.

Sup buddy.

crispy skin
Really pretty and colorful dish. The skin of the catfish is fried to perfection. Nice contrasting textures with the flesh of the fish.

catfish springroll with lemongrass
My creation for the first springroll of this meal: catfish with a little of skin, cucumber, pickled veggies, mint, basil, lemongrass, and some fish sauce. Tasty :]

goi bo
Onto the 7 courses! First up, Goi Bo, a beef salad. The dressing might have been something close to Italian dressing, but there's a lot of ingredients: beef (of course), shrimp, mint, celery, red onions, and fried shallots are just a few.

goi bo
Love all the colors! Very flavorful dish and a nice way to start.

beef slices for bo nhung dam
Next up, bo nhung, which is like a beef shabu shabu. Raw slices of beef quickly boiled at the table in broth.

bo nhung dam
Don't know what the broth is... but there's a piece of ginger in it!

make your own springrolls
Again, wrap your own springroll! Can't really see it but there's actually a rice paper on the place! Simple & delicious.

bo la lot & bo nuong mo chai

bo la lot
Bo La Lot is the long meatball wrapped with betel leaf, which gives it a herbaceous and peppery aroma, grilled over a charcoal grill. At first, the betel leaf tasted like the shiso leaf Japanese use a lot but milder.

bo nuong mo chai
Bo Nuong Mo Chai, beef meatball, is my absolute favorite. It is juicy, fatty, and flavorful. The grilled flavor makes it even tastier. Wrap it with some veggies, drizzle with a little fish sauce, and add a dab of hot sauce. Yakitori? Psh.

bo cha dum
Bo Cha Dum. The best way I can describe this is a Asian meatloaf made with ground beef, glass noodles, peas, and peanuts

shrimp cracker
You use the shrimp cracker to scoop up with Bo Cham Dum!

bo nuong sa
Bo Nuong Sa, which is beef marinated with lemongrass. At Thien An, you cook it on the table top using the cast iron skillet!

hot cast iron plate
Cast iron skillet all oiled up ;)

lemongrass marinade
AHHHH that marinade/sauce/heavenly goodness was delicious.

I was so sad when the marinade got stuck to the skillet hahah.

lemon grass marinade
Sizzling away! Again, you wrap it with rice paper or just dip it in sauce.

chao bo
The last course, Chao Bo, is a type of beef congee soup. Here, they add alphabet soup! Usually not a big fan of congee, but congee with beef stock? Okay!

beef congee with alphabet soup
What alphabets do you see?

What a great experience for my first Bo 7 Mon! I love how you can improvise on how to eat and what to eat. Less or more veggies? More sauce? Spicy? There's so many combinations! I can say perhaps one of the best finger food experience I've had.

Again, thanks to Connie for taking us to Thien An, which is a fairly well-known for their Seven Course Beef. Thanks for teaching us n00bs about the side of Vietnamese cuisine we have not seen yet!