Ludobites at Royal-T Fooddigger Preview Dinner: He’s Back

better ludo shot
The Berzerk French Chef

Ludo Lefebvre is back at it yet again, this time going with the Japanese feel of his new venue Royal-T, an Akihabara fangled art space and–gorgeous maid served–cafe located in the center of the continuously restaurant booming epicenter of Culver City.

royal t

cathys picture maid

Thanks to the food enthusiast folk over at Fooddigger, a set preview dinner for a few fortunate bloggers was set to take place a day before the highly anticipated opening night of Dec. 2. An esteemed position indeed, given how he will be slinging his skills for only Fourteen day’s hereafter this event, I heard some rezziez were even being sold on ebay or something?

I myself just couldn’t wait to taste how his rendition of my families Mole would turn out and what the hell he was going to with it, after the day-long Cabral Mole Boot Camp Session, I knew he had the technique down, but knowing Ludo’s unruly approach? I had no idea…

Keeping with the Fooddigger passion for good food, good drinks and good times, the early birds were greeted with a couple of splendid liquid ice breakers, boy they smelled good!

san tomas
San Tomas: Slovenian and Smooth

brut
Chartogne Taillet: Dry and Crispy

In a matter of minutes, I was socializing around and got to see which other foodblogger homiez were around:
Caroline on Crack
Gourmet Pigs
Food She Thought
Kevin Eats
LA-OC Foodventures
Active Foodie
Kung Food Panda>
Gastronomy Blog
LAist
FoodGPS
Elina Shatkin from The Los Angeles Times
Rachel Hirschfeld

Not wasting too much time, we were showed to our designated eating quarters and the French-Japanese Fusion was to shortly begin.

Before anything started, I was personally lured away by Chef Ludo into the small kitchen, actually smaller than what he had to work with over at his Breadbar series before.

kitchen confrontation
Kitchen Confrontation

And then…there it was! In all it’s sweet, rustic and frenchified glory: A black olive enhanced rendition of my Mom’s Mole. Keeping ENTIRELY old school, keeping the rustic texture, its sweet and spicy balanced dominance over only the subtlest of subtle notes of fruity olive. My mom would be proud.

ludos transalation of moms mole
Mexican-French Mole

Back at the table, Ludo’s significant other, Krissy, made every foodblogger realize what they really wanted for Christmas and actually got a professional food photography artificial light box. No more complaints about incandescent lighting in restaurants anymore! She said the box will be available everyday for the patrons food immortalizing pleasures.

food paparazzi
All The Better to Look At You My Pretty…

But enough of this required ambiance stuff already, on to the food finally!

1st
scallop
Creamy and Buttery

Scallop, Brown Butter, Pineapple & Black [Squid Ink] Powder
Just when I thought the natural creaminess of a good, raw scallop couldn’t get any better, its highlighted even more with the aid of the nutty, smooth brown butter and the naturally protein-tenderizing bromelaine of the pineapple. Squid ink powder was only my palates suspicion for its dull, and characterless flavor, and turned out to be true after inquiring, did not do much more other than adding a stunning visual appeal though, nonetheless, genius.

Was totallly harmonious with the accompanying white, a light and oaky ’08 Spanish Nava.

basa

2nd
bread soup
This Can’t be Carbs..or Could it?

Bread Soup [and Rare, Coddled Egg] with Gruyere Marshmallow
Like shaving all the deep, dark crust off an artisan winter bread and eating it–buttered of course–in liquefied form. For the crust oriented, this will be great. The Gruyere marshmallow turned out to be fluffy and super light, not what you would expect. Best part was the hidden egg within the soup, yolk caught right before the stage of soft-boiled, a congealed, lipid induced swoon!

foie gras beignet
2 oz. of Foie a Pop! : Almost knocked Out The Glutster Even

Foie Gras Beignet [w/ a Port Glaze], Celery Root Remoulade
Just when you think the Ludo-meister couldn’t get any more animated with his Foie Gras antics, he busts out with this, probably the premiere epicurean indulgence of L.A at the moment, elegantly brimming with two unctuous ounces of the high quality stuff. This is only my third time having the stuff, so it’s still an acquired decadence I have yet to master, yes I couldn’t finish it. Like eating duck flavored butter..
.straight up!

The next flight of wine was a dominating, tannic and beefy 2003 Chateau Charmail: Haut-Medog Bordeaux that tamed that rich duck and rekindled my appetite for fat yet again.
red red wine

3rd
squid with kimchee puree
Lean Squid to The Rescue!

Squid, Chorizo Oil, Kimchee Puree & Red Onions
Lean squid was like a godsend after the richness assault of the previous course, Chorizo oil was everyone’s favorite, Red Onions and the Kimchee puree cleaned up our palates with their spicy zing.

4th
udon soup
Veal Stock meet Udon

Veal, Udon, Kombu Dashi, Mushrooms & Sesame Miso
This dish best captured what Ludo was going for in this edition of Ludobites, melding his incorruptible French upbringing with this venues theme. The Broth was beautiful with those caramelized onions, the Udon noodles were kept in tact, with that signature snap and slurp. Veal itself was a bit tough and stringy but that wasn’t the point here.

5th
striped bass
Wide Flaked but Still Tender

Wild Striped Bass, Garden Vegetables, Aioli
At this point, I’m realizing Ludo is pretty much always solid when it comes to Seafood. The Aioli picked up in richness where the fish leaves off. Vegetables were also something to go home and write about with such an elegant texture on their own.

6th
mole
What You Guys Have All Been Waiting For

Marinated Hanger Steak, Crunchy Escargot, [Grilled] Baby Corn, Bok Choy & Black Olive Mole
Ludo definitely had his way with it (Crispy Escargot?!) that’s for sure, demoting it to a supporting role in the plate with that meager smear of it, instead of the exuberant star, which it always is–and should be. But then again, it was a lot sweeter and unrefined. Nonetheless, it was fine for a first time attempt from a guy that’s never had it before other than the time I taught him, it’ll due Ludo, it’ll due. The grilled baby corn–husk and all–was an awesome touch, purveying that deep, sweet corn taste that fresh, handmade Tortillas deliver when one is eating it. Don’t know what the Bok Choy was doing there though?

7th
cheese tart
Like a French Cheesecake

Fourme d’ Ambert Tourte, Red Pears, Honey-Balsamic
Creamy, sweet, nutty french cheese encased between two really flaky puff pastries…need I say more? Red Pear slice finished faster than the tart. Balsamic was sweet and sour–

8th
chocolate cake
Mmmmm….Spicy and Chocolaty

Chocolate Cake [w/pink peppercorns], Coconut Sorbet [soup], Caramel Coffee
Ethereally creamy and flourless-like in texture, the simple addition of crispy and spicy peppercorns is what makes this stand out, creating this stimulating feeling of wanting more! Coconut soup was nice n’ coooool.

With such experimental food, the humble and always curious Ludovic Lefebvre is the living example that not all French Chefs are snobby.

To many more infinitely progressive Ludobites and perhaps a permanent spot soon!

And thanks again to the food-serious people at Fooddigger, for making the effort to make spectacular events and dinners like these happen and finally providing a effective measure for all to reliably find out about Los Angeles restaurants.

LudoBites and Royal/T
8910 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232
310.559.6300

Ludo Bites at Royal/T in Los Angeles

Straying from "the usual": Thaitalian and the Alcove Cafe

Thai and Italian, how does that work you say?

Very Nice Actually

As for the latter…not so much unfortunately.

I understand how it can be hard to stray from your “usuals” every once in a while, sometimes we need some security in our lives. But there are so many great options out there, but along with those oppurtunities come great risks. Sometimes the oppurtunity cost is great as in Thaitalian in Pasadena, but more often, it is dissapointing as in the Alcove. (I usually don’t thrash on places or write about bad experiences since stuff happens sometimes but just to prove a point…)

Thaitalian…man, a Squid Ink Risotto with a Thai Basil Seafood Stir-fry, a tart, authentically fish-y Tom Yum soup packed with cubed veggies. This was just one of those meals, the creamy, pallid pitch-black Risotto actually Al Dente, circling around tender mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, scallops hell….i even swear their was one of those chewy “veggie shrimp” that they serve at those vegetarian chinese places. With my new veneration for bivalves, probably my new current “favorite dish” at the moment. They also have curry Pasta, Pizza and Mozzarella Egg Rolls if you’re into that sort of thing.

Alcove on the other hand…*sigh*. I was dissapointed with this place, it was good….but just not as good as i expected. It sounded so promising. Don’t get me wrong, i’m willing to come back and get their juicy Lamb Burger again with a cup of their Immortal Tea blend but maybe I’ll go somewhere else for dessert, somewhere where they actually bake their Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons on premises. A cool place to hang out for wine, coffee, tea and conversing though.

Thaitalian
49 E Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91105
626-585-8808

The Alcove Cafe
1929 Hillhurst Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 644-0100

Blue Marlin

Aww…Sawtelle, where the hipsters come out and play. Colorful, young “cool” people killing time sipping their bobba and conversing about the latest whatever. This place has certainly been given a lot of attention lately. The restaurants leading the Japanese revolution, fusing it with such techniques as complex as French or as comforting as Italian.

I still dream about Orris, blending Japanese and Italian. So i thought i would try another place around there, Blue Marlin.

Italian and Japanese? Under one roof? Wow right?…Wrong.
I really had high hopes for this place, but too bad they will remain as just that.

I hate it when i am the one that suggests somewhere to go and it turns out to be crap, it makes me feel it’s all my fault and makes me feel bad. When i first walked in, i thought for sure it was going to be good, having that abating aroma that we all know and love of garlic & olive oil.

Being the carbaholic that i am, i find it really pleasing when any restaurant brings fresh complimentary bread before any meal, it keeps me from going ravenous and makes me savor every bite of the main course even more. But for some reason the waitress did not bring any to our table. At first i did not notice, but then i saw that everyone else was enjoying them, everyone except us.

Looking at the meny, they had a bountiful amount of both Japanese and Italian plates. Me and my brother decided on the most interesting sounding plates in the menu. Our entrees came with a small salad and a bowl of soup. The salad was pretty good, although the fluorescent soy/citrusy orange dressing did need some getting used to, i managed to like it. The bowl of “soup” was just a bowl of Miso Soup, which i don’t like so passed it along to my dad. Savoring the people next to us as they gorged their bread, i hoped the entree would be worth it.

After a couple of minutes, my Sauteed Jidori Chicken and Organic Vegetable-Salty finally arrived. Although they were extremely generous with an abundance of vegetables and a whole oval plate stacked with white rice, The chicken was overly dry, i mean i had to drown it in Ponzu sauce in order to make it somewhat acceptable. The selection of vegetables were nice though; broccoli, cauliflower and the root end of a carrot? Oh well, i didn’t really care about that but did mind that on both my brother’s dish of Stuffed Pork Cutlet with Demi-Glace Sauce and my dad’s Vegetable Tomato Risotto there a slice of what seemed to be some sort of fried squash that was really good. Why am i always the victim of unlikely odd’s such as these? The Stuffed Pork Cutlet was probably the best dish of the night(again my brother’s). Very moist and not greasy oozing with Demi-Glace Sauce and Mushrooms It came with a little shredded cabbage salad and a scoop of potato salad that none of our plates had. I wonder why? I also noticed that they used the same type of rice that they used for the white rice in the Tomato Vegetable Risotto. This was very similar to mexican fried rice but with enough garlic to feel it the next day.

After this, i was really looking forward to the oddly interestingChocolate Caramel Pyramid with Vanilla Ice Cream that I’ve had my eye on it ever since we walked in, But of course, they were all out. So we settled with a typical Chocolate Souffle that was nothing out of the ordinary. I was going to take pictures, but didn’t feel it was worth the walk to the car and get it. Maybe it’s just me but oh well.

Blue Marlin
2121 Sawtelle Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Blue Marlin in Los Angeles

Orris: My first encounter with Food

When I was first discovering my newly found love of food, I remember my brother’s friend mention “Orris” as a recommendation for a unique tapas style meal. We did not go but the mystery of the name still lingered in my mind. It wasn’t until recently that upon my daily browsing of other Los Angeles Food Blogs that I decided to make it a goal to experience this place for myself.

Actually making up my mind about something I decided to try to find it and hopefully be able to experience it. And there it was, the blue sign like an answer to a question that I thought I would never get.

Reading the menu, I noticed that this place was unlike any other place I had dined before. I knew I was going to remember this day. As usual I could not decide what to get, but with the help of my dear brother we were able to decide on four small plates.

First we received the anomalous Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Shrimp Mousse fried tempura style with Olive Salsa. Anything that is deep fried always tends to be good and although I am not a big fan of shrimp or olives, I liked this quite well. The shrimp mousse was very fluffy and not too fishy. The olive’s acidity countered the shrimp very nicely. I found the bitter root ends of the squash more to my liking. We devoured this in an instant.

Second, we received a array of what should be the standard of anything that is grilled vegetables that consisted of a duo of really red sweet peppers, Chinese eggplants and Shitake mushrooms flavored with oregano and topped with a mild feta cheese. The sweet peppers natural sweetness were brought out intensely by the perfect caramelization, and evened out by the creamy feta, The chewy eggplants were intensely flavored with smoke absorbed by it’s flesh and also evened out, but the best of all had to be the thick meaty Shitake Mushrooms that even fooled my dad as a piece of steak. It made my brother consider ordering another order of pure mushrooms!

Third, we were served a petite piece of Basil-Marinated Black Cod that was beautifully displayed on a small bed of mashed potatoes next to three little silver dollar- sized pieces of grilled zucchini. This was one of the highlights of the night, the fish was so tender and buttery and tasted like it too, with the crunch of the skin in your mouth. It’s hard to believe this fish was not caught minutes prior. It was leaking with what I thought was a mixture of olive oil and butter.

And lastly (so we thought) came the Lamb Loin Carpaccio infused with garlic and rosemary topped by bitter Aragula leaves and shavings of robust Manchego cheese made from high quality sheep’s milk. Nervous about the blood red shade of the meat, I did not know what to expect. Although it was a new concept for me, I bit into my first piece confident that like everything else that night, was going to be delicious. Everything worked out perfectly as if every flavor was meant for each other, the chewy, natural gamy taste of the lamb, the bitterness of the Aragula and the nuttiness of the sheep’s milk was like a some twisted form of a salad.

Thinking and feeling bad about the bill, I thought that was going to be it for the night. Then daaada,da,da,da,daaaa!! My dear brother pulls me from my depressed thoughts and sets me straight by ordering his Berkshire Pork Medallions with Blue Peppercorn Sauce that he had his eyes on since the beginning. He did not want to leave without trying them and damned he was going to be if he left without tasting them.

After a couple of minutes, the waiter brought us out some warm crusty baguette that I had been craving since the beginning that tasted too much like a Mexican Birote that I’ve had all my life. I was curious as too why he brought it(although I didn’t mind at all) since it only came when you ordered a specific plate. It was then that I realized that the chef had forgot to make the Medallions. And because he probably noticed how fast we engulfed the first couple of plates, he wanted to keep us busy in the meantime and keep us from going crazy.

After that short delay we received our long-awaited Medallions. The smell made me reminisce in my younger years and all those times I would indulge in the artificiality of “Macaroni & Cheese with my secret ingredient…pepper. Remember right before you added the “cheese” and had that aromatic mixture of butter-flavored margarine and 2% milk? yeah, that one. I never thought an animal that has gotten such a bad reputation could be that tender and soft.

Of course, after such a good meal, we had to give in to our hereditary sweet tooth’s and challenge our hereditary fast metabolisms by ending it with the perfect ending. And since I was with my brother, that was going to be anything with chocolate. I did not even put up a fight once I saw Flourless Valhorona Chocolate Soufflé with Coffee Gelato but I did show a huge interest in the ultra-exotic sounding Fresh Fruit Wonton with Yuzu Cream and Caramelized Poached Pear. That was something I would only read about other people enjoying but never experiencing myself.

When the waiter came, my brother ordered his usual indulgence and since we usually share the dessert surprised me and insisted on ordering the Fruit Wonton that I only dreamed of eating. “Fucken Roy” was what I said. Again, he surprised me and just wanted to make me happy. But this time, I did not feel bad. He has made me see that everything that i overthink about was all… just… in my head.

My fantasy dessert came beatifically displayed with the fresh fruit mixed with the citrusy Yuzu cream and the crispy wontons sandwiching them. With the caramelization of fruit that I only saw on T.V. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to partake in this work of art. The fruit was nothing like what I’ve had before. The perfectly ripe blueberries, the perfect sweet strawberries, the crisp poached pear, it was probably one of the best desserts I have ever had in my life. Like usual I couldn’t help myself from tasting everything, so I tasted my brother’s indulgence. It was hard to believe it was not flourless, so fluffy and chocolaty, not sweet…chocolaty. I can’t think of any better combination of the combinationn of ice cream (in this case, Coffee Gelatto) and a pastry (chocolate soufflé).

“I think I just made up my mind about what I am going to do in life.”

-me

“This is the way to eat” were my dad’s words exactly.

Orris
2006 Sawtelle Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 268-2212

Orris in Los Angeles