Rappahannock Oyster Bar
Located in the ROW DTLA complex (the same area as Hayato, Pikunico, Smorgasburg and Tartine Manufactory L.A.), I had high hopes for Rappahannock the very first time I heard that Chef Nick Erven was joining the project.
(Note this visit was when Chef Erven was still in the house, just before he left.)
Walking in, it’s an airy, high-ceiling, sunny spot, more polished, bright and modern-looking than many of my favorite Oyster spots in L.A. The restaurant’s name is from their parent company, a wholesaler and Oyster farm specializing in revitalizing and harvesting Oysters from around the Chesapeake Bay on the East Coast.
Oysters - Rappahannock, Rochambeau, Olde Salts:
Rappahannock offers 3 types of Oysters throughout the year (the same 3 that they farm).
The Rappahannock River Oyster the lightest and most delicate tasting of the 3. Low salinity and it did seem to have a slight sweetness to it. Tasty.
Rochambeau Oysters had more of a distinct ocean salinity compared to the Rappahannock, and was also quite tasty.
The Olde Salts were a bit of a shock: A real, very stark saltiness (naturally), briny, bold, and totally different compared to the other two.
It was fun comparing all 3 Oysters back-to-back-to-back, but at $3.50 per Oyster(!), while distinct, they are far more rotating offerings from Connie & Ted’s, at a cheaper price, and with better condiments, so I’m not sure how much of a rush I’d be to come back just for Oysters.
Lobster Roll (Mayo, Herbs, Meyer Lemon):
I’ve enjoyed Chef Nick Erven’s cooking back when he was still near us at Erven Santa Monica (the once Vegan turned Meat + Vegan restaurant that he helmed a while back). So I was expecting his interpretation of the Lobster Roll to be amazing.
Sadly, this was not the case.
The Lobster Roll was done in a Maine-style Lobster Roll, where it’s dressed in Mayo, served cold with a warmed, toasted Bun. It tasted a bit too sweet and the Lobster meat lacked the brightness of L.A.'s best Lobster Rolls (like Connie & Ted’s).
Chef Nick Erven is no longer at Rappahannock these days, and with the pricey, but delicious Oysters, we’d probably stop in only if we were in the area and felt a craving for some Oysters before a meal somewhere else.
Rappahannock Oyster Bar DTLA
(at ROW DTLA)
777 S. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Tel: (323) 435-4004
We somehow ended up at this little Soft Serve Ice Cream spot because one of our friends casually mentioned the words “Salted Duck Egg” and “Ice Cream” in the same sentence.
My dear Taiwanese friend mentioned that this place has been popular because of its unique flavor combinations.
Walking in, their Daily Specials board indeed had some interesting Soft Serve Ice Cream flavors offered:
Mango Jasmine Tea
Hong Kong Milk Tea
Salted Duck Egg Custard Soft Serve Ice Cream:
My first thought was to ask @ipsedixit @chandavkl @beefnoguy and others, why didn’t you tell us about this potentially horrific (or amazing) Soft Serve place before?!
My Taiwanese friend assured me that it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. And…
It was surprisingly… tasty? There wasn’t a very strong Salted Duck Egg taste to it (not like the Salted Duck Eggs we’ve had with Hong Kong / Cantonese dishes before). But there was definitely some kind of deep, unctuous quality to this Soft Serve. Some salinity, but mainly sweet and Custard-like in flavor with this backnote of Egg Yolk.
If anyone has tried other flavors here, please chime in. We were intrigued enough to want to stop by again the next time we’re in the SGV.
128 S. Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Taqueria Los Anaya
Huevos Rancheros (3 Eggs Any Style on Homemade Tortillas with Salsa Ranchera, Rice and Beans):
Delicious! I don’t order Huevos Rancheros that often, but this was definitely the best one we’ve had in recent memory. I loved their Housemade Ranchera Salsa, the warm, soft Eggs, their Tortillas with a nice heft and mouthfeel and their Beans!
(Thanks @Bookwich @BHAppeal @Dommy)
Chilaquiles (Sautéed Crunchy Tortillas Chips w/ Red and Green Sauce, Egg, Onion and Mozzarella Cheese + Lengua (Beef Tongue)):
@Dommy was right: Excellent Chilaquiles, the balanced combination of Tortilla Chips, Eggs, their Green and Red Sauce, a bit of Guac, and their Lengua (Beef Tongue) was tender and meaty. A nice combination. (Thanks @Dommy)
Not overly sweet, I liked the Cinnamon notes and balanced flavors.
Carne Taquitos (3 per order with Shredded Beef, Lettuce, Oaxacan Cheese, Mexican Cream, Salsa & Guacamole):
These were only OK. A bit heavy and oily, they weren’t as good as their Flautas.
Costillitas Norteñas (Roasted Baby Back Ribs Topped w/ Caramelized Onions and Roasted Tomatillo Green Sauce Served w/ Rice, Beans and Mexican Salad):
I love Costillas in general, and was excited to see how Los Anaya might prepare Ribs here. These turned out to be a disappointment: They were basically oven-roasted Baby Back Ribs in a basic Salt & Pepper seasoning, and doused with a Tomatillo Salsa.
The Ribs were dry and tasted a bit old (like reheated from the day before), and the dish felt like a sloppy, lazy dish (Roast some Ribs, throw Salsa on top).
We’ll be sticking with their Huevos Rancheros, Chilaquiles and Flautas next time (those were great).
Taqueria Los Anaya
4651 W. Adams Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
Tel: (323) 731-4070
We had met up with friends for a Happy Hour but only nibbled on a few things, so we were still hungry. Thankfully Kiriko had an open table for us to stop in for a quick bite.
Koi no Kawa (Love River) - Junmai Ginjo Sake (Yamagata, Japan):
Aromatic, a bit fruity, sweet with a nice finish, this was a nice starter to our meal.
Spinach Ohitashi with Shiitake Mushrooms:
Tender with a decent snap and crunch still. Great pairing with the Shiitake Mushrooms and Katsuobushi on top.
Kimpira Lotus Root Saute:
I liked the delicate flavors infused in the Renkon (Lotus Root). It was cooked down to a surprisingly tender consistency, while still retaining a slight crunch.
Today’s Assorted Sashimi Plate (Amberjack, Halibut, Smoked Salmon, Seared Japanese Bonito with Garlic Ponzu):
We’ve gotten so used to the simpler, OG preparation of Sashimi at Aburiya Raku that when this plate arrived, it took us by surprise. Definitely more Fusion than we normally like, we still held out hope it would be tasty.
Did the Amberjack really need Jalapeno Peppers and a Pesto-like Sauce? Not really. Thankfully Kiriko’s Amberjack was very fresh and bright on its own, so we could appreciate it that way. The extra adornments worked, though, and made for a good Fusion interpretation.
The Smoked Salmon had a delicate layer of smokiness that pervaded every bite. No complaints.
The Seared Japanese Bonito with Garlic Ponzu was fine. It might’ve been a bit oversauced, but I liked the inherent brininess of the Bonito combined with the Ponzu.
Halibut Tempura with Shiso Leaf and Sour Ume Plum:
This was decent. Good quality ingredients, but the frying skills don’t match up to a Tempura specialist like Inaba.
Shimeharitsuru “Jun” - Junmai Ginjo Sake (Niigata, Japan):
More delicate and lighter than the Koi no Kawa, it paired well with the remaining dishes we had this evening.
Japanese-style Fried Jidori Chicken with Soy Flavor:
Kiriko’s version of Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) was perfect for the group: Slightly crunchy, thick batter and juicy Jidori Chicken.
Yaki Nasu - Japanese Grilled Eggplant:
This had a good smokiness, but it lacked the verve and higher plateau of Raku’s Eggplant.
11301 W. Olympic Blvd., #102
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tel: (310) 478-7769
We had been eyeing this place ever since we read an Eater LA article on this family that made a Pueblan-style Menudo and Barbacoa in their home on weekends. During this 1st visit, the Zavaleta family had purchased a food truck, parked it outside of their home and started cooking and serving the food from that truck (perhaps also to be compliant with food regulations?).
Located in a quiet residential neighborhood in East L.A., when we arrived there was a line of people waiting for their food outside Petra Zavaleta’s home and food truck. We were greeted warmly by what turned out to be Petra’s children who were taking orders and serving food to the customers. They introduced us to Petra and the whole family which was awesome.
In the garage, you could see more of the family and friends helping out, including making fresh Tortillas by hand per order.
It turns out Barba Kush does indeed serve a Lamb Menudo based on a style from Puebla, Mexico, known as Mole de Panza Enchilada as Petra’s son told us (even though it has nothing to do with what we might think of as “Mole”).
They also slow-cook their own Whole Lamb for a Barbacoa de Borrego served on the weekends as well(!). We couldn’t wait.
Barbacoa de Borrego (Roasted Lamb):
Their Barbacoa de Borrego is unfortunately a bit bland. As in, really bland. I generally like lighter dishes, but this Barbacoa was so underseasoned it was a bit of a shock. It was also a bit dry in parts, and they included a lot of the gristle / silver skin, etc.
Consomme (Lamb Soup):
Their Consomme was the total opposite: Super salty, a punch of massive flavor with Oregano and other spices, this was really strange. It felt like you had to take a bite of the Barbacoa de Borrego (bland Lamb) and take a small sip of the super salty Consomme to get any kind of balance of flavors.
Barba Kush’s Handmade Tortillas are gigantic and hefty, a far cry from the usual tiny Corn Tortilla rounds found at most places. They feel like they were made for Burritos more than anything. Regardless, they arrive piping hot, fragrant, toasty and a bit too hefty for the Barbacoa.
Cabeza de Borrego (Roasted Lamb Head):
More limited in number, you can also order their Cabeza de Borrego, or the Roasted Lamb’s Head, which is half of the Roasted Lamb’s Head served as is. It’s a bit shocking at first, but no less shocking than seeing it at Broken Spanish last year.
The Lamb meat here is more flavorful and moister. Taking some of the Roasted Lamb Cheeks or a bit of the Roasted Lamb Tongue, adding it with either of their Housemade Salsas made for a more satisfying bite than the regular Barbacoa.
Mole de Panza Enchilada (Pueblan-Style Lamb Menudo):
But the #1 reason to stop by Barba Kush is for their Pueblan-style Lamb Menudo. It arrives in a shocking dark crimson red Broth, so fiery that it could be mistaken for a Szechuan roiling inferno.
The first sip washes away all worries that your trip may have been futile: An incredible, heart-warming long-stewed concoction washes over your insides. While it’s spicy, it’s nowhere as spicy as it looks: Aromatic notes of Chile de Arbol and Guajillo Chilies, a wonderful gaminess from the Lamb Meat, Bones and Lamb Offal.
One of the best Menudo preparations we’ve had in years.
We were still thinking about the Pueblan Menudo and wanted to make sure it was consistent (and it was so cold, it felt perfect for more of this wonderful Broth).
During this 2nd visit, their food truck is gone. Speaking with Petra’s son, he says that they sold the truck and are back to serving it from their garage. He mentions that the customers liked seeing them cook and prepare the food in front of them (as opposed to being hidden inside the food truck).
You walk up to the backyard / garage and follow the line of people heading into the garage where the cooking and order taking is happening.
Barbacoa de Borrego (Roasted Lamb):
Unfortunately their Barbacoa is the same as last time: It tastes fresh, but very underseasoned and a bit dry and full of gristle and fat in parts. It’s not bad, but nowhere near as good as the top Barbacoa de Borrego specialists in town.
Consomme (Lamb Soup):
Their Consomme is just as salty as last time. Extremely salty, we found that it was best to dunk the Lamb into the Consomme, or take a bite of that dry, bland Lamb and take a tiny sip of the Consomme to balance it out.
Mole de Panza Enchilada (Pueblan-Style Lamb Menudo):
Then their Mole de Panza Enchilada arrives, and it’s all smiles from that point. This is truly incredible Menudo! So flavorful, not too salty, gamy, with bits of Lamb Stomach, Liver, Intestines and other organs. And while I’m not an Offal fan, the whole stewed Menudo has so much depth of flavor I didn’t mind eating any of the Lamb Offal at all.
Barba Kush delivers some of the most flavorful, unique Menudo that we’ve tried in L.A. so far: A style from Puebla, Mexico known as Mole de Panza Enchilada, it is bolder, spicier (but not overly spicy), more herbal and daring than most Menudo around town.
Skip their Barbacoa, which doesn’t come close to the amazing preparations by places like Barbacoa Estilo Taxco Guerrero, or Aqui es Texcoco.
The other thing to keep in mind is that you’re dining in someone’s backyard / home. It’s rustic and inviting, but at the same time, during the warmer days there are tons of flies invading the tables (so you have to constantly swipe them away), and there’s no real place to wash your hands or use the restroom.
One hopes that the Zavaleta family makes it big enough that they can open a real brick & mortar restaurant, because that Pueblan-style Menudo deserves a bigger stage.
(Note: Sundays Only. From 7:00 a.m. - Sold Out (usually by 1:00 p.m. or so).)
657 S. Record Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90023
Tel: (323) 245-1683