Overrated restaurants 2015


#1

[content removed by author]


#2

Pizzeria Mozza
Guisados


#3

You cray JJ :wink:


#4

Well, I for one love that tepid viscous fat sauce. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Father’s Office - Sorry, I just don’t get the love for that burger.
California Donuts
Neptune’s Net
85°C Bakery

You didn’t ask, but…

Underrated:
Isaan Station
Stout Burger


#5

Overrated:
Huckleberry
Lincoln
Chengdu Taste - I’ve never had a bad meal here. It’s good, but I don’t understand the insane hype for it.
Guisados
Father’s Office - I’m with you on this one @thechez5
Leo’s Tacos
Mexicali Tacos & Co
Tacos Puntas Cabras
Horse Thief BBQ
Garlic & Chives by Kristin

Underrated:
Pailin Thai
Issan Station
Nanjing Kitchen
Liang’s Kitchen
Shen Yang
Kam Hang Garden
Carnitas El Momo

Including underrated places is a good idea. Listing only overrated places makes us sound like negative nancies. :grin:

EDIT: Since the topic title has been changed to “disappointing” instead of “overrated,” I should make it clear that none of my “overrated” restaurants were disappointing perhaps with the exception of one which I intend on revisiting very soon. Quite the opposite, I enjoyed each and every one, but with respect to the hype surrounding them and how often they’re recommended, they are “overrated.”


#6

I had a fantastic meal at Animal. So did the regular sitting next to me at the bar, and our meals barely overlapped. If you don’t eat whole hog and Thai spicy, don’t go. If you think it’s overrated, I think you’re getting distracted by non-essentials.

I liked Gjelina a lot, great if unsurprising food and hyper-LA scene. Had a very entertaining conversation with the minor celebrity and her agent sitting next to me.

The lunch I had at the downtown location of Guisados was great. It’s not easy to find tacos that good in Guadalajara.


#7

Saying a place is “overrated” is expressing an opinion about other people’s opinions, which is not allowed on this board. “Disappointing” is an appropriate alternative as that’s your own opinion.


#8

I do not agree with your characterization of Bay Cities. That place has a fantastic selection of high-end pastas, great fresh baked bread, good cheese, good wine and liquor (especially Amaros and grappas), and hard to find items like bottarga. In fairness, none of that is the deli part, which did always seem unappealing.


#11

I think the OP is way off though on Providence, Gjelina, Tsujita, and Park’s. I don’t know where you get your kalbe but the unmarinated bone in short ribs at Park’s is top notch in marbling, flavor, and thickness.

I would agree with Animal as Overrated and I would add Totoraku.


#12

I agree regarding the burger and yet I still love FO.


#13

Yeah it’s more a meatloaf sandwich. Been years since I’ve gone back.


#14

I think sometimes I need a reboot and to question my list of regulars. Point wasn’t to say they suck - some do - but today not deserving of the fawning and repeat visits and mentions.


#15

Take providence, the ugly bunch, I just don’t think that dish has the elegance and skill of presentation of a Japanese sashimi plate for example. On other fish dishes I find the flavor of the fish itself obfuscated. I also find the portions tiny and expensive. Too bad this is the consensus high end dining joint.


#16

Issan chicken is dynamite. Haven’t tried much else yet.


#17

nanjiang kitchen severly fucking under-rated.


#18

I love the ugly bunch and I think it’s genius in terms of flavor and texture. Beautiful presentation. I have yet to see a version like it in other fine restaurants elsewhere (unlike say the caviar egg, or live hokkaido scallop crudo of some sort).

But I too find myself disliking the time and money commitment high end dining requires and prefer the high yield and high QPR rewards for the mid to low end restaurants. Maybe that’s why you dislike Providence more than anything else. If you really want to be upset, go drop some coin at Melisse.

Personally I make n/naka, Mori, and Shunji my high end go to spots depending what I am craving and then I take advantage of our mid to low end eats here in LA.

In NYC I’ll do more high end because the cost is the about same and the caliber is really a notch or two above.


#19

mine:

pink’s, yes garbage dogs, no fucking joke.

animal.

Cassia, sorry guys, though i do like that vietnamese coffee pudding whith fresh whipped cream.

Madacrapa ---- flavorless to me falafels, yes, i much prefer even Falafel King though I may get shit for it.

son of a gun.

connie and ted’s — it’s probably the one joint in town that everyone fucking loves except for me.

zam zam market.

sqirl love/hate relationship for me. love those coffee drinks and the green eggs with caramelized onions and the fucking jam, the pretentiousness nopes.

fishing with dynamite.

gcm burger santa monica, except for the fucking mixed dranks.

manpuku.

kiriko, yep, except for my tamagoyaki and those blue crab handrolls, the mango with house smoked salmon and caviar (when on pointe, natch), toro h/rs, and my white truffle ice cream, though the black truffle varietal will do as quite necessary consolation prize on an off-year.

bay cities, i definitely concur with that, especially due to the completely fucking up lines and yes the Sysco (sp???) shit going on, if that’s the fucking case there.

pizzeria mozza, even though when it first opened i sort of enjoyed it.

Chinois on main, crappy crap stuck in the mid 80s, if someone is dropping the fucking dough i may just hit it up.


#20

Shunji n/naka and much of what u said I agree


#21

Well, you can have a good meal at Providence but I don’t think many are nominating it as utterly world-class. It’s on a short-list of high-end dining places in LA partly because of the relative strength of competition in LA. It’s like “if you want high-end in LA, then Providence is nearly as good of a choice as you can make here,” and it’s not “Providence is world-class.” With that said, I do and have enjoyed Providence, though my expectations are calibrated accordingly - they have some great dishes, some not sustaining those highs, but I can usually count on having at least one or two good dishes for each meal. I tend to find myself visiting less often in the past few years, partly due to my own preferences, but I still think Providence is good and nearly as good as it gets in LA. With that said, that’s not some underhanded compliment, and I do respect them and wouldn’t hesitate to mention them if someone asked me for high-end dining in LA. If it sounds “overrated,” perhaps it’s due to the frequency of it being mentioned - and like I said that might be partially due to it being one of the only rather solid games in town for this kind of cuisine.

Also, part of it has to do with preference for cooking style. When you talk about Japanese sashimi, note that washoku and by extension sashimi are inextricably tied to the aesthetic and philosophical underpinnings of proper Japanese culture. Because those tastes informed the creation of the dish and because the dish reflects those preferences. I’m talking about “shibui.” Which, I have learned from others, values elegant simplicity and therefore in my mind is very much kindred to the idea of quality. When you have fantastic ingredients, why dress it up with 15 flavors, when you can just let the ingredient impress? I’m not talking about just serving an unadorned fucking fig on a plate, but I’m talking about bring the best out of an ingredient - and true to form, that often involves manipulating things less. “Less is more” here, but I must add this quote from Brancusi which I think hits the nail on its head: “Simplicity…is not an end…but we usually arrive at simplicity when we approach the true sense of things.” He was talking about art, but I find some parallel between valuing the purity of line and letting the subtle flavors and textures of a quality ingredient shine. One can use complementary flavors to enhance the natural qualities of ingredients, and that to me is well-thought-out and successful cooking.

Note that perhaps the best sashimi dish I had was at Saison, an American restaurant but one whose menu seems at times kindred with washoku. It was karei, killed ike-jime so the texture retained a good sense of “hagotai” that was reminiscent of engawa. It was served with daikon, roasted wakame salt, a vinegar made of the karei’s bones, some chrysanthemum leaves, pink lemon, and a “wasabi” of daikon stems and horseradish. THAT was a fantastic dish where all the flavors were complementary but the karei shined. So smart with textures, first of all, and supreme freshness due to ike-jime. Karei, which is notoriously a slow starter but gradually impresses as you chew, was augmented by the umami from the wakame and its own bone-vinegar. Chrysanthemum was a perfect foil to the mild sweetness of the “wasabi.” It was a complex and rather labor intensive dish that seemed simple. But really it was about purity of flavors and letting the karei shine by bringing out its best qualities (hagotai for texture, umami for taste) through complementary flavors and techniques.

As one said, “Good cooking is when things taste of what they are.” In my mind, this is partly why Japanese ingredients and techniques are so popular nowadays. The emphasis on beautiful simplicity harmonizes very well with showcasing quality ingredients. Which is why in so many high-end restaurants you have Japanese elements, even though the American high-end restaurants may not necessarily work with such in a way that demonstrates understanding of them. Very, very few American restaurants really understand dashi, for example. Too many misappropriated dashi as an umami bomb that’s yet another taste to amalgamate into a dish. I think it’s very, very difficult to be successful with tons of flavors, but someone like Gagnaire can do it well. But, he’s a master and an anomaly for the most part. I, too, tend to find myself focusing on LA’s true strengths which is the mid or lower end restaurants in LA.

What I try to do is evaluate a restaurant on if it’s good for what they’re trying to do. If I get the sense that they’re haphazardly stringing together high-end ingredients, I’m not so impressed. But I’m very attracted to restaurants that have a clear vision and successful execution of it. What do I think of Providnece? I think it’s a high-end American restaurant with a strong seafood focus (given Chef Cimarusti’s background) and one that borrows from international cultures, especially Japanese. This sort of makes sense because the Japanese are so good with seafood (Japan being an archipelago, sushi being very in vogue, umami being a fairly modern discovery, etc. etc.), and when it comes to high-end, the shared ethics of quality and the Japanese concept of “shibui” go hand in hand. The “ugly bunch,” however, is a dish from a high-end American restaurant, and fwiw and what it seems they’re trying to do, it’s quite successful. You may prefer just a plate of mirugai sashimi, maybe some sudachi and some salt, or maybe just a platter of uni and soy, but remember that Providence is not a Japanese restaurant. Which is totally fine if you prefer it. I just wouldn’t really make a direct comparison between Providence to a Japanese restaurant or their respective dishes, because Providence is simply not a Japanese restaurant. Their aims, viewpoints, etc. are different, even if at times they intersect. There may be somewhat of a chiasm here internationally between American and Japanese high-end restaurants, but I think it’s safe to say that there’s still a difference between the two. And, it’s a matter of preference for what kind of tastes and viewpoints (on how to cook and present ingredients) you enjoy, because neither is fundamentally better than the other. Note that I tend to prefer sashimi (or dishes like the Saison sashimi I mentioned above which stay true to the aesthetics of the cuisine from which they’re borrowing), but for what Providence is aiming to do, the “ugly bunch” is still a good dish. The “ugly bunch” btw is somewhat similar to Manresa’s “raw milk panna cotta with abalone, dashi gelee, and radishes.” It’s about expectations and taking things for what they are.

edited: should’ve used the word “American” in place of “Western,” so I made changes.


#22

thanks for the thoughts…I agree with a lot, especially probably why I like Japanese food so much. But I still feel ugly bunch is an ugly and crude attempt at what others do so much better…perhaps because so few high end dining spots in LA, it gets too much attention…I don’t go often anymore.