2016 is coming to a close. That means the ‘Best of’ lists are flooding your email inboxes by now, headlining the late night talk shows and taking up precious column space in the dailies. (Yes, some of us still read the newspaper in print on the weekend.) At “Good Food,” we’ve collectively eaten at hundreds of restaurants, food trucks and stands this year, so it only seemed proper to share our favorite dishes of the year. Hopefully our listicle will inspire you to hit the road to try the Jerusalem mixed grill in New Orleans, the al pastor tacos in Copenhagen or the pork tonkatsu in Tokyo. Or, keep it local with the eundaegu jorim in Koreatown or the coconut dark chocolate rocks in Culver City.
Coconut dark chocolate rocks | Lukshon, Culver City
Evan Kleiman, Host: Sang Yoon’s coconut dark chocolate rocks at Lukshon are at the top of my list partly because they were such a surprise. I rarely order dessert after a great meal because I like the savory flavors to linger. But I was with a friend who wanted chocolate. I’m a slavish adherent to ice cream so we settled on the “rocks.” One bite through the dark chocolate coating into the cold uber creamy coconut sorbet, and I had the thought that these rocks were what movie theater bonbons wish they could be if they were rich and grown up. There’s also the pleasure of dragging the rocks through the pools and lines of texture and flavor on the plate. In this case, through coconut cremeux, coconut “sand” and passionfruit gel.
Lukshon: 3239 Helms Avenue, Culver City, CA 90232 | 310-202-6808
Jerusalem mixed grill | Shaya, New Orleans
Laryl Garcia, Segment Producer: 2016 has dished out some dark days. Trolling my Instagram feed over the past twelve months, it became evident I found solace in consumption. If it was fried, pickled or meat, it went in my belly without reservation. Paring down the long list of superb dishes to get to my favorite, I give you the Jerusalem mixed grill at Shaya in New Orleans.
In town for Jazz Fest, I snagged (read: begged for) a reservation. Before I walked in the door, I was set on ordering the buttermilk-soaked veal sweetbreads with grilled chicken hearts and livers snuggled in wood-fired pita. One of the first segments I produced for “Good Food” was about this traditional Israeli street food. Chef Alon Shaya’s version kept the funk of offal to a minimum, the refinement of the dish mirroring an elegant but simple menu. Adding to the thrill was seeing Shaya take home the James Beard Award the following evening for Best New Restaurant.
Find reprieve on Magazine Street from the boudin, beignets and gumbo, and eat Israeli. Eat the Jerusalem mixed grill.
Shaya: 4213 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115 | 504-891-4213
Tacos | Hija de Sanchez, Copenhagen
Ronny Mikkelsen, Sound Engineer: Whenever I relocate for an extended period, as I often do for work, I long for food that reminds me of home. Having recently returned to my native Denmark after living half my life in Los Angeles, the word “home,” quite literally, has two meanings for me now. In California, I dreamt of my grandmother’s traditional Danish meatballs. In Denmark, I dream of tacos.
My favorite taqueria outside of LA is Hija de Sanchez, located in the Danish capital of Copenhagen. As a former professional baker, I believe the best tacos are like the best sandwiches. It’s the bread that counts. The tortillas at Hija de Sanchez are expertly made by former Noma pastry chef Rosio Sanchez and her team. Oaxacan corn is imported and nixtamalized daily, resulting in tortillas that are as good as any I’ve had in Los Angeles. As a proud dual citizen, I will precariously perch on a limb and call these tacos my favorite. Period.
Hija de Sánchez: Slagterboderne 8, 1716 København V, Denmark | +(45) 31 18 52 03
Pork tonkatsu | Hasegawa (はせ川), Tokyo
Abbie Fentress Swanson, Supervising Producer: I had the best meal of the year in Tokyo on a rainy day in September. We were in Ryōgoku for a sumo bout at Kokugikan stadium and stopped at a tiny restaurant called Hasegawa to eat pork tonkatsu for lunch. After a 15-minute wait, we were seated at a wooden table next to the kitchen. We looked on as a pair of chefs deftly sliced and battered the pork cutlets in flour, egg and panko, then fried them briskly in scalding oil. The tonkatsu was cut in six pieces and brought to us on pretty stoneware plates, crispy and golden on the outside, tender on the inside. Each bite was delicious and uncomplicated, like nothing I’d ever eaten. We ate razor-thin strips of cabbage, pickles, wasabi, hot mustard and rice, too, and drank Asahi from frosty glass tankards. Through the windows, we saw the rain had abated and began to make our way to the sumo tournament. Our clothes smelled of fried pork and our bellies were full of beer, but not a bit of tonkatsu had been left on the plate.
Hasegawa: 3-24-1, Ryogoku, Sumida-ku, Ryogoku Ozaki Building 103, Japan | +81 (03) 5625-2929
Eundaegu jorim | Sa Rit Gol, Koreatown
Camellia Tse, Digital Producer: Years ago, a Korean-American friend introduced me to eundaegu jorim at Sa Rit Gol. It was everything Korean food fantasies are made of: thick fillets of silky black cod simmered in a gochugaru-spiked soy sauce of daikon, carrots and onions. I was smitten. I became such a regular that the waitresses began offering me dating advice in between boiling hot bowls of doenjang chigae and extra servings of banchan.
One day in 2009, Sa Rit Gol unexpectedly shuttered its doors, leaving a note on the door thanking loyal customers for 19 years of business. Like any addict suffering symptoms of severe withdrawal, I tried eundaegu jorim at other restaurants in Koreatown. But none came close to Sa Rit Gol’s. The realization that those buttery flakes of umamilicious black cod might never be had again was devastating. “I’ll find the recipe online,” I thought, but several months of searches turned up nothing. I even learned the five characters of Hangul (the Korean alphabet) to run an “은대구 조림” search on Google.co.kr. But those were the early days of Google Translate, and the recipe translations were patchy at best.
Fast forward seven years later — along with the added confusion of some other restaurant on Western bearing the same name — and the original Sa Rit Gol is back! It’s now in a different location on Sixth Street, under the new ownership of Kyung Aha. The original owner is serving up her greatest hits as head chef. Is the eundaegu jorim as good as it was before? It’s even better.
Sa Rit Gol: 3324 West Sixth Street, Los Angeles, CA 90020 | 213-908-5465