Catching up on a few return visits to Majordomo. We were curious and hopeful to see how Majordomo developed after its opening months.
Majordomo has certainly taken off since its Grand Opening. It was completely packed with a throng of people waiting for bar seats to open up.
Old Fashioned (Rye, Bonji, Bitters):
A decent Old Fashioned, perhaps a bit too heavy on the Rye Whiskey.
Mule (Vodka, Japanese Cucumber, Shiso, Absinthe, Ginger):
Much better, this was much more balanced, bright and fresh. The use of Japanese Cucumber, Shiso Leaf and Ginger was wonderful.
Fried Butterball Potatoes (Salsa Seca, Peanuts, Chili):
This was a pleasant start: Extremely nutty and fragrant, with the Salsa Seca, variety of Seeds and Nuts coating the Potato chunks.
Santa Barbara Rock Crab (Spicy Cured, Chilled & Crab Fat Rice):
I love a good Crab dish. Sadly, this is not one of them. Presented 3 ways, the Chilled Santa Barbara Rock Crab tasted OK, but lacked the brightness and natural sweetness from great, fresh, Live Crab dishes around town.
With a name like “Crab Fat Rice,” we were all excited to dig in and hoping this would be transcendent. It turned out merely OK. Tasting briny, slightly bitter, and lukewarm-cold, the Rice was mixed with the Tomalley from the Rock Crab and nothing else. We were hoping to get some of the actual Rock Crab meat / sweetness when you think about a Crab Rice, but it was sadly lacking. And having it be lukewarm-cold just added to the unappealing nature of it.
The 3rd preparation was Spicy Cured Crab, which turned out to be raw, essentially Chef Chang’s version of the Korean Spicy Raw Crab dish Ganjang Gejang. This was delicious and the best preparation for the Rock Crab we had this evening. The Gochujang Sauce was sweet, spicy, balanced and complemented the Raw Crab meat, which tasted silky and tender.
Chickpea Hozon + Wooden Uni Box Bing:
We were really excited to try this, especially after reading @PorkyBelly’s post on this dish. When it arrived, one thing we noticed was that we had only 1 row of Uni, unlike @PorkyBelly’s visit, which had 2 rows of Uni (double the portion).
When Majordomo is charging ~$88.00 for this dish (including tax & tip) and you suddenly get HALF the portion and they keep the same price, that just felt wrong to us.
The Chickpea puree was tasty, earthy, and smooth, but still had some texture to it (not overly pureed). It went very well with the Bing (which was piping hot).
The Uni was not very fresh. The case of variable Uni season strikes again this year, with a fishy, heavy oceanic aftertaste hitting every bite that we had. For this price and the smaller portion compared to others, we’ll be skipping this option in the future.
Thao’s Farm Greens (Chili Jam):
We see Thao’s Farms stand all the time at the local farmers market (and buy from them from time to time), so we knew what to expect in terms of the actual greens. The flavoring was fine, lightly spicy from the Chili Jam, with a Soy Sauce based taste coming through. There was a lack of any Wok Hei (Breath of the Wok) in this.
Stuffed Peppers (Benton’s Sack Sausage, Buttermilk):
The Stuffed Peppers had a decent crispness to each bite. The Benton’s Sausage was zesty and savory, but not as divine as the Benton’s Reserve Ham they use in their Bing dish.
Boiled Whole Chicken (Morels, Hand Torn Noodles):
The menu doesn’t spell it out, but their Whole Chicken dish is actually prepared 2 Ways: In Chef Chang’s take on a pseudo-Hainan Chicken Rice, and then a Chicken Stew with Noodles.
First up, Majordomo’s attempt at Hainan Chicken Rice. For all of you dark meat lovers out there, you’ll be sad to know that this first course is white meat-only. The actual Chicken Breast is tender, not overcooked.
However, the Green Onion & Ginger Sauce topping was OK at best. It lacked any real pop or brightness from the better Hainan Chicken Rice dishes we tried around town.
In place of a Spicy Sauce for the Hainan Chicken Rice, Chef Chang and company use a Spicy Black Bean Sauce (maybe to combine the Chili Sauce with the Soy Sauce (salty) flavors in one?).
The actual Spicy Black Bean Sauce itself was pungent, potent and fine on its own. However, when eaten with the Chicken Breast and the Rice, it overpowered everything. All you can taste is “Spicy Black Bean Sauce.” If you’re preparing a premium Chicken dish, don’t you want to actually highlight and support the Chicken and its inherent flavors? Not mask it?
The Rice itself had no perceptible Chicken Broth flavor coming through. It was just wet Rice (might as well have been water).
It was this chef-ified take on Hainan Chicken Rice that made us gather up a few more friends and the next day we started the Hainan Chicken Journey and tried the other versions of Hainan Chicken Rice around L.A. (it was too long to document here, so I broke it out separately).
The 2nd course in the Boiled Whole Chicken dish was using Morel Mushrooms and Hand Torn Noodles. This was delicious! The Morels infused the Chicken Stew with its unmistakable earthy, fragrant aroma in every bite. The use of the Chicken Leg & Thigh meat for this portion helped to add more flavor as well. Excellent.
But when you’re paying ~$110.00 for 1 Chicken, you’d hope there were better hits in this dish. As it stood, we all loved the 2nd Course (Morel Mushrooms & Hand Torn Noodles), but would skip on the 1st Course.
When we arrived it was packed as usual. In the sunset light, Majordomo is a nice space, bright and airy, albeit a touch loud but lively.
Foie Gras, Ricotta, Strawberry & Walnut Bing:
This initially looked very curious: What looked like a mound of “sawdust” turned out to be the actual Foie Gras(!) grated liked Katsuoboshi (Dried Bonito Flakes). Adding some of that, with the Ricotta and Strawberry Puree to the Bing:
Resulted in one of the best versions of the Bing dish we’ve had so far! There was the inherent lush mouthfeel and taste that you might expect from Foie Gras, but it was delivered with Foie Gras shavings, creamy Ricotta and sweetness from the Strawberry Puree, on top of the piping hot Bing.
It was incredible!
Definitely one of our favorites with the Benton’s Reserve Ham Bing, and the Cultured Butter & Honey Bing.
Raw Sugar Snaps (Horseradish, Lemon, Shallot):
This was the last time we had the Raw Sugar Snap Peas before they were rotated off the menu. They were fantastic as usual: So crisp, with a real snap, bright, with a powerful Horseradish punch. Outstanding!
2016 Frank Cornelissen Etna Rosso “Contadino”:
This was a real surprise recommended by the sommelier: It had this slight fizziness / carbonation, with layered Berry flavors. Really distinct.
Sharred Sprouting Cauliflower (Brown Butter, Macadamia, Chervil):
Nice char, with the Brown Butter and Chervil going well with the Sprouting Cauliflower. We didn’t get much taste of Macadamia, however.
Whole Plate Short Rib (Smoked Bone-In APL-Style Ribs. Served with Beef Rice, Shiso, Rice Paper, Ssamjang & Condiments):
The much-lauded Whole Plate Short Ribs have been something we’ve tried to order a few times. Logistically it’s a bit of a challenge as you need enough people, get a reservation time that everyone can agree on, and then make sure you pre-order it, or else you run the risk of them being sold out for the evening.
This is Chef David Chang’s version of the Smoked Bone-In Short Ribs by Chef Adam Perry Lang (of APL Restaurant). We were originally skeptical, as most of the other larger format protein dishes at Majordomo have been overpriced and not very well executed. But hearing @PorkyBelly @J_L and others recommend this dish, we knew it must’ve been something special.
The Beef Short Ribs arrive whole and bone-in (seen above), and then they are meticulously carved into thin slices, tableside:
Taking a bite straight up:
Tender, smoky, beefy, meaty with a delicate chew, yet also coating your mouth with Beef Fat (from the marbling).
It is RIDICULOUS how good this is!
I can see why @PorkyBelly @CiaoBob @J_L and others have raved about this dish.
The condiments seem to try and follow Korean BBQ preparations around town:
Which is OK, except for the fact that the condiments themselves are the weak link. We brought a friend from Seoul, Korea with us on this visit, and everyone at the table agreed that Chef Chang’s Kimchi was mediocre at best. It’s serviceable, but tasted watered down, not fermented enough (and not fresh like a really fresh Kimchi either). It is not hyperbole to say that Korean Supermarket bought Kimchi tastes better than this (and I can vouch for that because we just tried some Supermarket Kimchi hanging out at a friend’s house the week before).
The Pickled Radishes were fine as well, but needed a bit more acidity to help cut through the Beef Fat.
The Shiso Leaf was delicious, but I always love Shiso Leaf in any dish I find it in. And the Ssamjang with some of the Beef Short Rib + Shiso + Lettuce was great.
Rice Paper with a bit of the Sesame Oil & Salt & Spices were OK, but ended up making it feel a bit too heavy.
Ultimately the amazing thin-sliced Smoked Beef Short Ribs by themselves were amazing enough, and as weak as the condiments were (except the Shiso and Lettuce), they still complimented and elevated the dish far more than the original version at APL Restaurant. The nice, thin slice carving of the Short Rib by experienced kitchen staff certainly added to the enjoyment of the Whole Plate Short Ribs dish as well.
Yes, I was guilty of nibbling on part of the bone and it was just as tasty!
Beef (Fat) Rice:
Just when you thought it was already delicious and amazing enough, there’s more! The kitchen staff takes a small remaining portion of the Beef Short Ribs back, and makes it into a “Beef (Fat) Rice”!
The pictures don’t do this dish justice: When you dig into the Beef Rice, a slow moving wave of lusciousness and small chopped up chunks of Smoked Beef Short Rib meat (and fat) along with the Rice starts to coat your mouth. I started feeling happy for some reason, and this euphoric wave crescendos to pure joy as I realize this might be one of the best celebrations of Beef I’ve experienced in years.
It is even more absurd than the actual Smoked Beef Short Ribs themselves in some ways. Pure Beef & Fat with Rice luxuriousness!
I could only have 1 bowl of this Beef (Fat) Rice before being completely overwhelmed by Beef Joy (and being totally full).
I had a dear friend visiting, so we decided to stop by Majordomo.
Bounty Bowl (Green Goddess, Domojang):
Yes, this is basically Chef Chang’s version of Crudites, except the farmers market veggies that are chosen and presented are just visually stunning. The raw flavors in most of the Vegetables were fun to explore and just truly taste, but they were nicely paired with the Domojang Sauce:
Which added a lightly spicy, garlicky, oniony flavor to each bite. Delicious.
Benton’s Reserve Ham Bing:
One of our favorite Bing on the menu, the Benton’s Reserve Ham exudes a deeply porcine flavor, a distinct, pleasing funk and wonderful savoriness, especially when paired with the fresh off the griddle Bing Bread.
Cultured Butter & Honey Bing:
In a shining example of where price doesn’t dictate deliciousness, Majordomo’s cheapest item on the menu (at only $6) is arguably one of the best items on menu as well. Using French Normandy Butter and Honey, served with a perfectly cooked, piping hot Bing Bread, it may seem like it’s just because of the ingredients (and it is), but they truly sing perfectly together.
The indescribable satisfaction of quality French Normandy Butter, a bit of quality Honey spread onto piping hot, fresh made Bread? It is SO GOOD!
Crispy Pork Belly (Kohlrabi, Bibb Lettuce, Domojang):
We’ve ordered this before during the Grand Opening, but wanted to see if it improved. This is fine: Crisped Pork Belly Skin lends a satisfying crunch, but the actual Pork Belly meat beneath that (with lean and fat sections) was merely OK. It tasted a bit old, and after exploring Hong Kong-style Roasted Pork Belly dishes recently, and especially that amazing Suckling Pig at Monterey Palace, it kind of made this dish mundane by comparison. (Yes, they are different preparations, but it just made this dish feel underwhelming.)
Also at $22 (+ tax & tip) for 5 small pieces of Pork Belly, it still feels a bit precious.
Boiled Whole Chicken (Black Truffle, Hand Torn Noodles):
So after having finished the Hainan Chicken Rice Journey recently, we wanted to try Majordomo’s version one last time, to see how it compared as the finisher on the journey.
One thing we noticed was the the Green Onion and Ginger Sauce was rather dark, as if it was slowly sauteed in the oil, rather than fresh chopped in, or flash-fried. As before, it is still Chicken Breast meat only for the Hainan Chicken Rice portion, with the Leg & Thigh portion saved for later.
The Chicken quality itself is good, but it lacks any distinct flavor. The Rice tasted wet and bland as before, and the Chili Black Bean Sauce portion was just as overwhelming as before. If you wanted to eat Chili Black Bean Sauce with Rice, then this is for you.
Otherwise, it is not an understatement to say that every Hainan Chicken specialist we tried on the journey was better than Majordomo for Hainan Chicken Rice execution and flavor. Or as @beefnoguy and @ipsedixit have said, even ordering a Hong Kong Soy Sauce Chicken (w/ Green Onion, Ginger & Oil Dipping Sauce) or the Green Onion & Oil Chicken from Sam Woo or any HK specialist would blow this away… at about 10% of the cost(!).
Seeing that they added “Hand Torn Noodles” back on the menu as the 2nd Course for this Whole Chicken dish, we were excited and hopeful it would’ve been the amazing Morel Mushroom preparation we had before.
Perhaps hearing some outrage and complaints about charging ~$110.00 (including tax & tip) for a Chicken dish, Majordomo has decided to add Black Truffles to this 2nd Course.
Sadly, it didn’t do anything for this dish! This was nothing like the amazing Morel Mushroom & Hand Torn Pasta from earlier on. Instead of a fragrant, deeply satisfying stew, we got a watery, overly salty (really salty) “Chicken Soup” with Corn, Summer Squash, Dark Meat Chicken and Non-Fragrant Black Truffles.
These weren’t the fake Chinese Truffles seen at places like Din Tai Fung, but they had almost no aroma, and really didn’t add anything to the watery Salt Soup.
Fruit Plate (Grapes, Melon, Nuts):
Yes, since this was talked about on FTC, we had to order the (in)famous new Dessert Menu addition: The Fruit Plate, featuring 1/4 of a Weiser Family Farms Melon, some Frozen Grapes and some Nuts on the side.
The Frozen Grapes sound like a refreshing finisher to the hot Summer evenings. But in freezing the Grapes, the flavors become more muted. They tasted rather bland and not that sweet.
The Weiser Family Farms’ Melon was fine (we buy from them all the time), but perhaps because the kitchen has to buy in bulk, they’re not getting the most ripe, most fragrant Melons. The Melon just lacked the beautiful aroma that the ripest Weiser Heirloom Melons exude (we just had some at home the day before).
Even at $8 (+ tax & tip), this felt like something we wouldn’t want to order again.
Banana Chocolate Mousse (Miso Butterscotch):
Velvety, sweet Mousse, this felt like their attempt at Chef Nancy Silverton / Mozza’s famous Butterscotch Budino, except it wasn’t as good.
Mule (Vodka, Japanese Cucumber, Shiso, Absinthe, Ginger):
As refreshing as the last time.
Seaweed Butter & White Sturgeon Caviar Bing:
A newer entry on the Bing Menu, this sounded intriguing. The mix of Seaweed into the Normandy Butter, along with a nice dollop of White Sturgeon Caviar gave every bite a pleasing briny, creamy taste. At this point, our favorites are the Cultured Butter & Honey, Benton’s Reserve Ham and the Foie Gras Bings.
Fried Oxtail (Salsa Seca, Peanuts, Chili):
It seems they’ve taken away the Fried Potatoes dish, and replaced it with Fried Oxtails (with the exact same seasoning blend). The result?
Deliciousness! Fried Oxtails are meaty, tender, and when mixed with the Seed & Nut blend and the light spiciness from the Chilies, just makes for an unusual Appetizer, but very crave-worthy dish nonetheless.
Summer Squash (Spring Onion, Tomato, Crispy Shallot):
Perfectly cooked Summer Squash, sweet, bright Tomatoes and Crispy Shallots. Delicious.
Wild Salmon Donabe (Scallops, Roe, Avocado):
The server brings out the large Donabe vessel filled with beautiful rows of Salmon, Scallops and Salmon Roe. It’s then brought back to the kitchen where they mix it all up and add some additional seasonings.
When it is brought out again, it’s now plated in a rather grandiose fashion, with lots of small condiment bowls, letting you build your own Handrolls / Onigiri (Rice Balls) / or just Rice wrapped in Seaweed like the Jumeokbap dish Chef Chang had during Grand Opening (that is no longer on the menu).
Besides the fun, slightly ostentatious plating, looking at all of the condiments it is a brilliant and smartly executed dish: There’s practically no way you can screw up making your own Onigiri / Handrolls.
Lightly Sweet Pickled Cucumbers? Safe. Crunchy, nutty Puffed Rice & Seeds? Delicious on their own or in the Rice. Green Onions? Fragrant and delicious. Avocado? Creamy, delicious fat. Shiso Leaf? Fragrant, wonderful. Nori (Seaweed) wrapper? Umami flavors.
OK, maybe the spicy Yuzu Kosho (Yuzu Citrus, Chilies and Salt Paste) might be dangerous if used too much.
But seriously, otherwise, it’s fun and pretty safe to add a variety of toppings and come out with a delicious Handroll / Rice Ball.
Taking some of the Mixed Rice (with Salmon, Scallops and Salmon Roe), a few toppings and the crisped Seaweed resulted in a delicious Handroll / Rice Ball experience. (Thanks for the rec @PorkyBelly!)
After 7 visits, Majordomo feels like a place that is at once a great place to get some excellent dishes that you can’t get elsewhere, and a place that delivers watered down versions of Asian classics at massive markups. The bad, fishy Uni with Chickpea Hozon Bing for ~$88.00 was a massive disappointment (and small portion). The Santa Barbara Rock Crab with cold-luckewarm briny Crab Rice, Chilled Crab (that was dull) was another major disappointment. 5 small slices of mediocre Crispy Pork Belly (with the outer skin being the highlight) for ~$29.00? Another miss.
Boiled Whole Chicken (Pseudo-take on Hainan Chicken Rice with a Chicken & Noodle Dish) for ~$115.00? Nope. (Note: On this latest visit, they suddenly dropped the price of the Chicken dish by $20.) Boneless Chuck Short Rib which is Chef Chang’s take on the Korean Galbi Jjim (Korean Braised Short Ribs) dish for $110.00, that is so far inferior to the utter deliciousness at Soban and Sun Nong Dan (at a fraction of that price).
As mentioned before, it’s one thing if it was the neighborhood or something. If this was in Beverly Hills or Santa Monica or Venice, OK, sure, we can say maybe the rent is factoring in. But it’s not. This is the outside of Majordomo (a run-down, industrial, sketchy part of Chinatown):
But if you know what to order, Majordomo shines. Their Bing (fresh, housemade Asian “Flatbreads”) are generally outstanding! The Cultured Butter & Honey Bing is one of the best dishes on the menu and is only $6. And it is SO GOOD! Benton’s Reserve Ham Bing is another winner. So is the Foie Gras Bing. They are unique and delicious and a great start to the meal.
Fried Oxtail (and previously the Fried Potatoes). Excellent. Their Market section of Seasonal Vegetable dishes generally shine, and we loved the Summer Squash dish, as well as the Raw Sugar Snap Peas (which were stunningly delicious and one of the bites of the year for only $10).
And while their Meat section feels like the biggest disappointment, the new Wild Salmon Donabe (with Scallops, Roe, Avocado) to make your own Handrolls / Onigiri is absolutely delicious and a fun, interactive presentation.
Finally, one of the most expensive items on their menu is also one of the most worth it: The Whole Plate Short Ribs (Smoked Bone-In APL-Style Ribs) with Beef (Fat) Rice is simply one of the BEST BITES OF THE YEAR! It is indulgent, luscious, beefy, and so primal and joyous, it should be experienced at least once. I know we can’t wait to go back just for this dish.
So what is Majordomo? It feels like a very mixed menu, where if you know what to order, you’ll get an outstanding meal, and if you don’t, you might get some major duds and feel ripped off with poor QPR. Now that we know what to order (and with the help of FTC reports on new dishes), we’re looking forward to great dinners in the future.
1725 Naud St.
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
Tel: (323) 545-4880