The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2018

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Page 20 of 124

Two L.A. Malls Welcome Surprising New Food Offerings I t's not often a restaurant opening inside a mall merits notice from the culinary community at large, but two new offerings at upscale shopping centers could very well be ushering in a new era in Los Angeles. Top Chef alum Richard Blaize recently opened a branch of his SoCal fried-chicken chain Crack Shack inside Westfield Century City on L.A.'s west side. In addition to classic fried chicken with a selection of excellent sauces, including Korean barbeque, the menu offers sandwiches like the Coop Deville with pickled Fresno chiles, lime mayo, and Napa cabbage. Bowls like the Border Slaw with papaya, mango, jicama, coconut, chili, and pineapple, meanwhile, provide a refreshing tang. Other Crack Shack favorites include pillowy mini biscuits with miso- maple butter and pickle-brined chicken "oysters." Top everything off with a tiki-inspired cocktail or a bottle from the Instagram-ready Moët & Chandon vending machine. Inside the Beverly Center just a few miles away, Japanese udon-chain behemoth Muragame Udon has opened up another cafeteria-style restau- rant—its third in Los Angeles—with a small menu of freshly made noodles, tempura-fried veggies, and musubi. The quality of the food far surpasses typical mall fare: With sizeable noodle bowls costing $9 or less and piled high with your choice of meat and toppings, your money will go a long way here. —Jesse Hom-Dawson The noodles at Marugame Udon, a new restaurant in the Beverly Center, are both cheap and delicious. BRIEF ENCOUNTERS 20  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2018 The L.A. Times Hosts Its Annual "The Taste" Food Festival L .A. celebrated the final days of sum- mer in true epicurean fashion over Labor Day weekend as the Los Angeles Times hosted its annual foodie frenzy, The Taste. The three-day affair featured small bites from some of Southern California's most popular restaurants, among them Otium, Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken, Hinoki & the Bird, and Poppy + Rose. Held just weeks after the death of beloved L.A. Times food critic Jonathan Gold, the festival—held in the Paramount Pictures Studios Backlot—paid hom- age to his unparalleled appreciation of SoCal's diverse food scene by showcas- ing some of his favorite dishes. With vibrant booths and demonstra- tions led by local chefs and wine experts, The Taste seemed like a decadent riff on an end-of-summer block party. Running the gamut from savory to sweet, standouts included the al pastor tacos with crispy cheese from Puesto and Wanderlust Creamery's Te Amo LA "Neapolitan" sorbet with water- melon, cucumber lime, and chamango. Attendees could pair their bites with sips from the festival's beverage sponsors, including Stella Artois, Don Julio, and Bulleit Bourbon. For more information on next year's event, visit —Madelyn Gagnon At Crack Shack in L.A.'s Westfield Century City shopping center, fried- chicken sandwiches like the Coop Deville get an added kick from pickled Fresno chiles. The Paramount Pictures Studios Backlot recently hosted The Taste, an annual food festival organized by the Los Angeles Times.

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