If there is one dish that best exemplifies Australia’s native ingredients movement’s most current evolution, it just might be a piping hot bowl of kangaroo pho. “I encourage people to try the different plants before adding them to the broth,” Rebecca Sullivan explains as she places an array of indigenous plants and herbs upon our table. She points to succulent sprigs of coorong seablite, leaves of lemon and anise myrtle, shimmering bunches of iceplant and pods of finger limes spilling out tart green pearls. “I like to squeeze them just straight into the broth,” she says, pointing to the chubby citrus bombs.
This is Warndu, a pop-up restaurant and well-being brand from Adelaide, Australia brought to life by Sullivan and her partner, Damien Coulthard. Named for the word “good” in the Adnyamathanha language—the language of Coulthard’s Aboriginal heritage—Warndu is aiming to bring native Australian ingredients to consumers through dinners that educate and inspire, as well as selling a line of packaged foods (like kangaroo broth and native teas) to cook at home, with the goal of helping to build up sustainable farming and foraging systems within Aboriginal communities for economic growth.
“Indigenous food is food that’s grown in Australia, comes from Australia and that Aboriginal people ate and utilised during their time on the land,” renowned Aboriginal chef Mark Olive told the Daily Telegraph this year. “When people start using these foods with these flavours they’re blown away. Chefs around the world are embracing it and are so curious about it.”
With over 24,000 different documented species of plants, Australia is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, but while this flora situation may seem like a chef’s foraging paradise, much of Australian mainstream cooking has yet to embrace some of the delicious, healing, uniquely Australian native ingredients of the land. But thanks to a new generation of chefs, these native Australian ingredients, ranging from the caramel-y akudjura bush tomato to the wonderfully nutty wattleseed, are finally getting the mainstream attention they deserve—and, in the process, completely revolutionizing Australia’s food scene.
When Jordan Kahn’s Red Medicine closed in late 2014, the culinary world waited with bated breath to see what the Alinea and French Laundry alum would do next. Two years later, Kahn has emerged on the scene again, with a new concept called Destroyer — named, says Kahn, after the meteor that hit earth, ending the Cretaceous Period.
Ah fall, that magical time of year when college students flock back to campus for yet another year of hungover, pajama-clad lectures in pursuit of that super-useful liberal arts degree. But it’s not all fun and games. The start of another school year means it’s also time to fall back into broke-college-kid mode and save your money for the important things in life… like student loans.
Luckily for those that bleed blue and gold, the area surrounding UCLA is a veritable cornucopia of delicious cheap eats, making that whole responsible adult thing all the easier when it comes to your wallet. Here are the best places for Bruins (or anyone else hanging around Westwood) to save money and still eat well.
In the world of viral food trends, the fine balance between can and should is usually skewed towards the “oh, what the hell is that?” side of things. From Bloody Marys lost under their cheeseburger, fried chicken, and onion ring “garnishes,” to waffles covered in sauce, slathered in cheese, and sprinkled with bulgogi, we (and by we I mean the Internet) love seeing what delicious, far-fetched, hybridized food creations we can make. But like Jeff Goldblum would likely ask, while we have the technology to make such incredible beasts: Should we?
Enter L.A.’s latest offering to the canon of #foodporn: The Cannibal’s Double Down. An homage to the KFC creation of the same name that uses fried chicken as the “bread” for a cheese-and-bacon-filled pseudo-sandwich (yeah, we’re talking sandwich metaphysics here), The Cannibal’s somehow seems even more depraved. Maybe that’s just because you’re eating it on a sunny Culver City patio instead of in the privacy of your own car with the window shade up. It’s an indulgent work of breakfast architecture combining whiskey-infused breakfast sausage, crispy bacon, a thick slab of ham, two fried eggs, avocado pesto, basil, and lettuce (??) all smashed between two perfectly golden hashbrown patties.
The duo behind Manhattan’s lauded restaurants NoMad and Eleven Madison Park, on their newest project, launching at the Desert Trip music festival. But the project is not a fine dining establishment, and the space definitely isn’t conducive to a tasting menu. After all, it’s a food truck.
There are certain desserts that some pastry chefs fall back on at a typical modern Asian restaurant. We all know them: the lychee sorbets, tropical fruit tarts, and matcha cheesecakes of the world. If I never see another chocolate spring roll it will still be far too soon.
There are usually two pitfalls for such dessert menus. If you’re lucky, you might find a few watered-down versions of more traditional desserts, the chef likely hoping to temper some of the flavor profiles some diners may be unfamiliar with, like mung bean, anko (red bean paste), ube (purple yams), and the like. Otherwise you’re likely to see desserts that incorporate Asian flavors pushed through the sieve of French technique, a formula that seems to be used as an excuse to not innovate further.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Enter Zen Ong, the head pastry chef of LA’s modern Asian hotspotE.P. & L.P., who is turning out finessed desserts that are as carefully thought-out, unique, and delicious as their savory counterparts by chef Louis Tikaram.
Westsiders, rejoice: You now can get Silver Lake’s popular Knuckle & Claw lobster rolls without having to cross the 405.
The second outpost of the Martha’s Vineyard–inspired seafood shack from owners Nikki Booth and Chloe Dahl is the latest spot to grace Santa Monica’s bustling Main Street. It’s offering its simply dressed seafood sandwiches plus a few new menu items exclusive to the new location.
Tempura in America and tempura in Japan are two very different creatures. In America, you’ll find tempura garnishing bowls of udon, as an appetizer of vegetables or shrimp, and bastardized into popcorn shrimp bites served with a creamy, Sriracha-esque dipping sauce. For the most part, tempura in the US is little more than a soggy afterthought—a fried snack in the middle of an otherwise sushi heavy menu.
In Japan, tempura is the meal. Whole restaurants are dedicated to the beautifully crisp, golden bites, traditionally served omakase style alongside a counter bar so you can watch the master work and eat your tempura the moment it comes out of the sizzling oil.
When you look at a given country’s cuisine, its regional variations on ingredients, styles, cooking methods, and flavor profiles are as vast and varied as the people who make up its population. Cuisine is fluid and informed by the micro-cultures and experiences from which these people come. This is especially true when a cuisine is brought to a new place with a culture of its own. This new culture and its flavors and ingredients play a role in how that cuisine grows and changes, and also influences what gets left behind.
In the case of Mexican-American cuisine, this cultural exchange resulted in things like yellow cheese-topped enchilada platters—dishes that have become synonymous with Mexican cuisine in America but that are a far cry from what you would actually find south of the border.
Today, the newest evolution of Mexican cooking is vastly different from the combo platter or the inventively stylish plated renditions of traditional dishes. Noted early on by LA’s resident Mexican food expert Bill Esparza to describe the innovative cuisine of chefs such as Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos, Eduardo Ruiz of Corazón y Miel, Ray Garcia of Broken Spanish, and Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria, this style of cooking was created by the collision of personal experience, traditional Mexican food, American comfort food, and the flavors and produce of California.
L.A. is a hotbed for many international cuisines, but we’re not exactly flooded with authentic Polish restaurants. Thus the debate about the best Polish cooking in L.A. is usually a short one; over the past three decades, the answer usually has been Warszawa.
But the restaurant isn’t resting on its laurels. The previous owner’s daughter recently took over and relaunched the Santa Monica Polish institution as Solidarity, a name that pays homage to the 1980s Polish labor movement.