HIGHLIGHTS OF 2018
I have to say, I was extremely fortunate to experience wonderful meals, cocktails and just plain damn good times in 2018. While I look forward to see and experience what 2019 has in store, it’s always fun to take a moment and look back.
One of my favorite dining experiences of the last couple of years, Chec John Carlos Kuramoto’s Ainoko, a truly wonderful Mexican Omakase journey, was daring and dynamic and absolutely delighted. Unfortunately the concept didn’t last but Kuramoto continues to be a leading chef of the popular h.wood group. What I wouldn’t give to have more of Chef’s Banh Mi Torta, A5 Japanese Wagyu Taco or his amazing charred white corn soup.
I didn’t know what to expect when I was invited to check out LA AX, the city’s premier axe throwing social club. Danger and amusement came to mind, but it was an absolute blast as we hurled axes without a care in the world. In the event of the zombie apocalypse, we’re ready to do our part to fight off the living dead.
Speaking of the zombie apocalypse, kudos to The Raymond 1886 barmen extraordinaire Jesus Gomez and Adam Vaughn for their phenomenal all scotch Zombie Apocalypse, which was a standout of their Final Solstice winter cocktail menu. While Jesus has moved on to Old Lightning, and Dama, the duo came up with an all scotch zombie that gave new life to a cocktail classis and aptly proved two heads are better than one.
MASTERS OF TASTE / ART BEYOND THE GLASS
When it comes to food and cocktail events, my two favorites of the year, without question, are Masters of Taste, which will be back for its fourth year taking place on Sunday, April 7 at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, and Art Beyond the Glass, which occurs every June. Masters of Taste brings the best in high end local cuisine, while Art Beyond the Glass brings the best in L.A.’s cocktail scene. Both absolutely delight and are not-to-be-missed events.
The one and only Chef Paul Shoemaker did it again in 2018 with his French bistro Montésor in Studio City. Montrésor offers the grace and style of Paris in the 1920’s and serves traditional French cuisine with innovative technique and a whimsical flare.
One of my favorite meals of the year was a Memphis backyard barbecue feast. Memphis is one of the leading barbecue cities in the country and we lucky enough to combine barbecue eats from Corky’s, and Rendezvous, two of the best barbecue joints in the country. Because FedEx is a Memphis Superhub, several Memphis restaurants will ship anywhere in the country overnight—often for free, which was the case here. And let me just tell you, putting the pecan pie on the grill was an absolute moment of genius.
M/O/M - (Top Photo)
When M/O/M debuted, it was billed as a secret kitchen that delivered modern organic Mexican food but the truth is it was fare from the kitchen of Toca Madera, and Tocaya Organica. Now it’s basically home delivery from Tocaya Organica, but the food is still fresh and delicious, and feasting on a slew of tasting Mexican eats paired with some fine Paloma tequila drinks was still one of my favorite meals of 2018.
PREUX & PROPER
This New Orleans inspired Southern restaurant in downtown’s Fashion District welcomes guests into its lovely respite housed in a historic turn-of-the-century flatiron wedge building—formerly The Parish at Spring and Main. Preux & Proper is more Garden District than Bourbon Street, meaning it has charm, class and chic factor.
8 KOREAN BBQ
Looking back at my meals of 2018, dining at 8 Korean BBQ in Koreatown was a feast to say the least. Here, the go-to dish features eight cuts of pork belly, including original; wine; ginseng; garlic, herb; curry; miso paste; and red pepper paste. The meat comes all at once but is cooked in two waves and each style of pork belly is so flavorful that the pork never tastes the same nor does it feel too overwhelming. The garlic, curry, and spicy red pepper paste were my favorites.
There was a lot of buzz when Sweet Chick first opened on trendy Fairfax Avenue. Would the Southern chicken joint co-owned by rapper Nas be legit? Well, it was more than just legit, Sweet Chick delivered offering a cool vibe with good eats and tasty drinks at a great price. While the chicken rocked, so did the Shrimp and Grits, and the Beef Cheek Pastrami. While some folks may have been hesitant about an East Coast rapper bringing his popular chicken joint to Cali, Sweet Chick is definitely a welcome addition to the L.A. food scene.
Story By; Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy Of Above