6 spectacular local menu items you really must run out and taste
By Jessica Koslow and Angela Matano
Honey butter, melt-in-your-mouth strip steak, Hachiya persimmon ice cream: Now that you’re hungry, we present six standout dishes that fall into the exclusive category of one-of-a-kind/too-good-to-miss. Start checking these items off your foodie bucket list tonight!
Forbidden Rice at Flower Child
Calling a dish “forbidden,” as in the Forbidden Rice at Flower Child, makes it immediately desirable, no? This healthful and hearty bowl combines black pearl and red japonica grains of rice for a chewy and irresistible toothiness. Sugar snap peas and bok choy make you feel extremely virtuous, while the toasted sesames, red chili sauce and hoisin with just the right sweet/spicy ratio keep you taking “just one more bite.” Add shaved beef or chicken, tofu or salmon for an absolutely complete meal. This plate of food should be the new model for the old-school food pyramid. (AM)
Flower Child | 1332 2nd St., Santa Monica | (310) 382-2901 | iamaflowerchild.com
Potted Red Curry Biscuit at The Tripel
Sinfully delicious and shockingly cheap at just seven bucks, the potted red curry biscuit with sesame honey butter will, not quite literally, knock your socks off. The biscuit is one of those appetizers that you vow to share with friends but soon find yourself in a Mexican standoff over. Order your own! Warm and tender with all the comfort of a feather pillow, it’s just savory enough and interesting enough (with the unusual additions of curry and sesame) to keep you coming back for more. Best ordered with beer on a soupy, foggy night. Oh, and hold onto your socks. (AM)
The Tripel | 333 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey | (310) 821-0333 | thetripel.com
Shrimp & Grits at Ms Chi Cafe
When someone mentions shrimp and grits, you probably think Southern soul food. Turns out, it’s also a Chinese brunch staple. Chef Shirley Chung remembers her grandma’s dish: “Some people used tofu. My grandma added shrimp. She was fancy.” The “Top Chef” runner-up has updated her brunch menu with requests from regulars, substituting eggplant for pork in her hand-cut noodles and adding her shrimp and grits: a potpourri of fried scallions, crunchy preserved vegetables, sesame granola and shrimp bathed in chili sauce floating around in a nutty batch of brown rice grits. Another pure delight is Chung’s matcha glaze mochi donut, like an old-fashioned buttermilk made with mochi flour, so it’s gluten-free. (JK)
Ms Chi Café | 3829 Main St., Culver City | (424) 361-5225 | mschicafe.com
New York Strip at Meat on Ocean
The New York strip steak at Meat on Ocean is so good, I started dreaming up reasons to return the moment I left, and I’m really not a steak person. Wet-aged for 30 to 45 days — be sure to check out the glass-walled, refrigerated locker with its pink Himalayan sea salt brick wall — and hailing from the Double R ranch in Okanagan, Wash., the beef is so absolutely tender that it nearly melted in my mouth. For added texture, the exacting aging process causes a crust to form around the edges of the steak. Absolute perfection. Mother’s Day, anyone? (AM)
Meat on Ocean | 1501 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica | (310) 773-3366 | meatonocean.com
Persimmon Upside-Down Cake Sundae at The Curious Palate
I’ve followed The Curious Palate from when it first opened in the 2008 in Mar Vista to its current location on the third floor of Santa Monica Place. The food is fresh, local, delicious and beautifully plated — like their elegant roasted Brussels sprouts with burrata cheese and golden beet puree. The Persimmon Upside-Down Cake Sundae is a custom dessert that co-owners Elliot Rubin and Mark Cannon whipped up for Santa Monica Restaurant Week in January, and because of its popularity — and because on the last day of the season, they bought 20 cases of Hachiya persimmons at the Santa Monica Farmers Market — they decided to extend its run. The cake is warm and soft, the ice cream smooth and cold (both are persimmon-flavored), with bittersweet chocolate sauce and house-made pecan crumble. Lucky for us, this seasonal dish is sticking around. (JK)
The Curious Palate | 395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica | (310) 395-2901 | thecurious-palate.com
Sweet Corn Tamales at Tocaya Organica
You may have never seen the sweet corn tamale on the menu at Tocaya Organica because it’s only listed as a side dish. For me, it’s a dessert. After eating my Tocaya Salad with achiote chicken and queso manchego, I like to stay in the healthy lane. That’s why a sweet corn tamale is my perfect postre. It’s just the right size and just the right amount of sweet, and it’s incredibly satisfying when the tiny corn niblets inside the tamale pop inside my mouth. (JK)
Tocaya Organica has locations in Venice, Playa Vista, Santa Monica and El Segundo | tocayaorganica.com
What are your favorite new menu items at Westside restaurants?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org today to suggest dishes, cocktails and desserts we should feature in our upcoming Westside Dining Guide.