Friday, April 30, 2010

Yakitori Totto - A Step Above The Rest! (New York City)

Yakitori Totto

Yakitori Totto

After exploring the City of Brotherly Love, my buddy Dan and I braved the rain and wind on a blistering late New York night for some wholesome goodness. The wholesome goodness in this case would be grilled meats (yakitori) and beer, and lots of it!

Yakitori TottoYakitori Totto

Yakitori Totto

House Warm Sake

Hot House Sake

Before ordering, we both decided to start off with some hot sake to warm ourselves up. Living in Los Angeles really made me weak in regards to rain and the cold. It was a real nice pick me up!

Yakitori TottoYakitori TottoYakitori TottoYakitori Totto

Shots from the Bar

After we ordering, I just had to take a few shots of the grill master at work. Luckily we had a seat right in the middle of the bar. Don't worry, future patrons of Yakitori Totto, as shown on the picture above, the grill is separated by a glass, so the smoke does not seep into the dining room. Genius!



After plowing through our sake, we started on the beer. What's better than the best Japanese beer out there? A refreshing cold glass of Yebisu! Refreshing, flavorful, and 100% delicious!

Shirauo Kara Age

Shirauo (白魚) Kara Age (Deep Fried Mini Sardines with green tea powder and sea salt)

The first dish went wonderfully well with our beer. Fried shirauo (白魚), which are also known as Japanese whitebait. Fried perfectly and the green tea powder w/sea salt added a nice flavor to the fried fish. I'm definitely ordering this again!

Tako Wasa

Tako Wasa (Octopus Marinated in Wasabi)

Another winner! Fresh octopus (raw) marinated in freshly grated wasabi. The flavors of the wasabi was strong, but not too overpowering. In fact, it was quite a refreshing course.

Tori DangoTori Dango

Tori Dango (Steamed Rice Dumplings with Chicken Meatball)

Another pre-yakitori winner. This dish reminded me of dish you'd find at dim sum, but done in a more elegant manner. The chicken balls were cooked well, and maintained its juiciness. The sticky rice added a different, yet wonderful element to the dish.

And now, onto the yakitori......

Chicken Heart (Special)

Chicken Heart (Special)

One thing I'll do different on my return trip to Yakitori Totto is to eat at an earlier time. Since I was there after 10PM, most of the special menu were sold out, except for the chicken heart. Unlike some of the other renditions of chicken hearts I've had here in Los Angeles, this version was MUCH better. I don't know if it's texture or the flavor, but something about it made me really happy!

Chicken Gizzard

Chicken Gizzard

Who doesn't love chicken gizzard? Well, actually, ya, I can think of enough people that doesn't. However, you haven't had a good gizzard until you try the version here at Totto. Crunchy, yet slightly juicy. I loved the flavors of the spices used on the gizzard. Definitely one of the biggest winners of the night! Appreciate the gizzard, it's great!


Negima (Chicken Thigh and Scallions)

One of the staples of yakitori, chicken thigh and scallions. Wonderfully done, nothing to complain about this version here. Nice!

Chicken Skin (Kawa)

Kawa (Chicken Skin)

OMFG! Ya, that is chicken skin. It's not pork belly, it's not some bacon wrapped enoki mushroom skewer, this is the truth! Unlike the flabby flat piece of skin served in many LA Yakitori places, here we have 6 rolled up, crispy chicken skin on each skewer. Simply, Mother-Effing good! Yes, it's good. Quote me on it!

Tomato Bacon

Tomato Bacon

Juicy tomatoes, crispy bacon. Match made in heaven? I'm not sure if I'd go that far, so it's pretty damn good! 'Nuff said!

Shishitou Tsukune

Shishitou Tsukune (Chicken Meatball stuffed into Japanese green pepper)

More juicy chicken meatballs? Yes please!! And I'm not even a fan of chicken! Stuffed in Japanese green peppers? It's Bam Wham Thank You Ma'am good!!

Kuro Buta Negi Pon

Kuro Buta Negi Pon (Organic Pork with scallions and ponzu)

Here we have some delicious, fatty pork grilled to a juicy perfection topped off with some tart scallions. Great contrast to use the ponzu to counter the fatty pork. Delicious!

Tsukune (Meatball)

Tsukune with Shiso

To finish my love of the chicken meatball served at Yakitori Totto, we went with the meatball skewer flavored with shiso. Shiso is one my personal favorites, along with the Taiwanese basil, so going with shiso was a no brainer. Other flavors such as salt, tare, and plum are also available.

Chicken Liver (Reba)

Reba (Chicken Liver)

Liver, you might be thinking, why didn't this guy put liver in the beginning of the post, as it's such a common yakitori dish. So ordinary, we didn't even considering ordering it until the end. What I had was probably THE best liver I've had to date, in any preparation. Served nary of sauce, only flavored by Okinawa sea salt, it was moist, succulent, and EFFING fantastic! OK, so yakitori sauce is available (by request), but you'll be doing yourselves a disservice by going in that direction. Order the liver, eat the liver, got it? :)

Yakitori Totto

Yakitori Totto

All in all, a fantastic experience. Can I say it's was the best Yakitori I've ever had? Without a doubt yes! Although I'm a Torihei fan in Torrance, sadly, Totto has Torihei beat hands down. I did not have one bad dish during the meal, and that's with 5 of the 6 special skewers being sold out. I can't wait for my return trip to Yakitori Totto, but you believe it I'll be the Asian dude with a camera waiting in line at 5PM waiting for it to open so I can try to run some sort of gamut! Maybe, not quite a gamut, but I'll order away!

Yakitori Totto
251 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 245-4555
Official Website

Yakitori Totto in New York on Fooddigger

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ludobites - Ludo Is Back 4.0! (Los Angeles)

Ludobites 4.0 @ Gram & Papa's

Ludobites @ Gram & Papa's

Welcome back Chef Ludo! After writing my recent recap of Ludobites 2.0 & 3.0, I was ready to chow down at Ludobites 4.0 at Gram and Papa's (Which will run until the end of May). I was joined by my usual Panda Crew at the cozy location in Downtown Los Angeles. Since Umma Choisauce and J were at the recent FoodDigger dinner, I let the experts take over, though we ended up doing the "gamut" a la kevinEats style, but ordered extra of the good stuff!

Wine GlassWines for the night minus 1

Wine for the Night Minus a Bottle

One more thing I love about Ludobites, BYOB! Don't forget to bring a bottle or two of your favorite wine to accompany the meal.

Raw Scallop

Raw Scallop - Almond Puree, Pickled Grapes, Cauliflower Ice Cream

Refreshing, light, accentuated by the tartness of the grapes. Very nice starting dish!

Carrot Salad

Carrot Salad - Saffron Anglaise Cream, Pearl Onions, Citrus Confit, Mustard Powder

Superficially, it's quite a simple dish, but the carrot salad had a nice blend of flavors. The tartness of the citrus, with the zing from the pearl onions, and finished off with wasabi. The finished product was quite enjoyable.

Burgundy EscargotsBurgundy Escargots

Burgundy Escargots - Garlic Flan, Green Jus, Yellow Flowers

I'll first to admit I'm not the biggest escargot fan in the world. The flavors is something I'll have to get used to. With that said, I enjoyed the escargot mixed with a flan mixed with garlic. In a way, to help tone down the flavors of the snail, also, to add a nice silky texture to the dish. I enjoyed this quite a bit as Wesley of Twohungrypandas allowed me to finish the dish clean!

Tartine Plate "Warm Baguette"

Tartine Plate "Warm Baguette"

Here we have a warm baguette with 2 types of butter. One was a whipped brown butter, and the other was a crack-infused (joking) lavender butter. The lavender butter was something I loved from Ludobites 2.0 and I was glad to see it return to the menu! We must have went through 4-5 orders of the baguette and butter. Simply fantastic!!

Brie Chantilly Napoleon

Brie Chantilly Napoleon - Honey Comb, Frisee Salad, Balsamic

The rumor was, the brie was churned for over two hours by hand, and that was just it, a rumor. However, the brie itself was damn good! DAMN good! A little honey, a bit of that warm baguette, that's all I really need along with that churned brie. Ya, any cheese lover, or even a non cheese lover like myself could dig this!

Parmesan Sable

Parmesan Sable - Sweet & Sour Cherry Tomato, Zucchini Ravioli

Honestly, I'm not sure what think of this dish. It didn't really stand out for me, but I didn't dislike it. Taste wise it was fine, but sadly, it wasn't too memorable.

Egg, Potato MousselineEgg, Potato Mousseline

Egg, Potato Mousseline - Lobster, Borage Flower

This dish is probably my favorite dish I've had a Ludobites. It's so good, I wish I had a dish to myself that night, errr which I actually did since we went through 6 orders. Ya, it's so good I wish I could eat it right NOW! Soft poached egg, potato puree and lobster, what can go wrong with that combination?? The softness of the potatoes, the creamy egg yolks, and the sweetness of the lobster, it's simply divine! I hope to see this dish return when I go back next month!

Foie Gras Croque-Monsieur

Foie Gras Croque-Monsieur - Lemon Turnip Chutney

Ludo's Foie Gras Croque-Monsieur really needs no introduction. Foie Gras, Ham, Cheese all meshed together on a squid ink bread. Is it rich? Yup! Will your doctor care if you eat it? Probably. Do I care? Nope! Even though I normally don't like sandwiches unless I have no other choice, the foie gras croque monsieur is fantastic. This is another one of my Ludobite favorites.

Poached Jidori Chicken

Poached Jidori Chicken - Crispy Skin & Hazelnuts, Leek Salad, Black Truffle Bacon Royale

Do I normally like chicken? The answer would be a big fat NO! However, when I heard from Choisauce this was, quote: "...this was EASILY the moistest chicken I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. like WOAH, LIKE WOW." I knew I'll like this dish, simply because I trust her palate. The chicken, as promised was simply delicious! The accompanied black truffle bacon royale was fantastic as well. Ya, I dig this chicken. Simply put, bar none, one of the best chicken dishes I've had to date!

Steak "Au Poivre" Steak "Au Poivre"

Steak "Au Poivre" - Shallots, Polenta Bone Marrow, White Asparagus

I'll say this, as I mentioned above, that Jidori chicken dish was probably one of the best chicken dishes I've ever had, but I think Steak "Au Poivre" was even better. Let me just say: Steak (I think flank) cooked rare to medium rare, add in some polenta with a bone marrow sauce, finished off with a nice crisp white asparagus, does that sound good or what?? So yes, this dish was fantastic, and I'd order this again, and again!

Merlan "Colbere"

Merlan "Colbere" - Lime-Lemon, Celery Root, Fresh Herbs

Compared to the first two dishes, the Merlan "Colbere" (Deep Fried Whiting) was very simple, but did not stand out. The fish was cooked to perfection and delicious. All in all, a very simple dish, perfect for those that doesn't care for the richness of the steak dish.

Holly of The Michelin ProjectHolly of The Michelin ProjectHolly of The Michelin ProjectHolly of The Michelin Project

Holly of The Michelin Project

During dinner, Remil tweeted (I'm too lazy to look for it now) that "Holly was quite Hot working the blow torch" at the counter for Ludo. So here are some shots for the rest of the general public :)

And on that note, onto dessert!

Raspberry Religieuse

Raspberry Religieuse - Pistachio Parfait

For this, think cream puff, just with a tart berry filling. I was surprised how quickly we attacked it as it was SO good. So good in fact, we had to get a 2nd order of it. I thought it would be a sweet dish, but it was quite the opposite. A very nice palate cleanser. In addition, as a pistachio fan, I enjoyed the accompanied pistachio parfait.

Dark Chocolate Souffle

Dark Chocolate Souffle - Black Pepper Milk Chocolate Ice Cream, Hot Chocolate Cream

Finally, what's a better way finish off a meal than a chocolate souffle? Rich, but not too rich, and with the added ice cream and hot chocolate cream, it's quite the chocolate trifecta! Delicious and quite enjoyable, especially for those chocolate lovers out there.

Quite simply, Ludo Lefebvre did not disappoint. The menu was spot on, the dishes were spot on, and should I say I liked it A LOT more than Ludobites 3.0 at Royal T? I can't wait for my next dinner at Ludobites in May. I hope to see some new dishes and some of my favorites along the way. 2 thumbs up from this Panda!

Here are some other reviews of Ludobites 4.0:


food, je t'aime
mattatouille written by FoodGPS

Ludobites @ Gram & Papa's
227 East 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Official Website

Ludo Bites 4.0 at Gram and Papa's in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ludobites - Recap of 2.0 and 3.0 (Los Angeles)

Foie Gras Black Croque Monsieur

Foie Gras Black Croque Monsieur (Yes, these will be back for 4.0!)

It's time. What time you ask? Ludobites is back! Yes, Ludobites is making a return, and this time, luckily for me, will be located in Downtown Los Angeles at Gram & Papa's. Instead of a normal post, I'm gonna do a picture rundown of my personal favorites from Ludobites 2.0 at Breadbar and Ludobites 3.0 at Royal T. For those that want to read more of a comprehensive post, please read my 2.0 and 3.0 experiences. These shots are taken with both my Canon dSLR and Point & Shoot, the best brand if you're looking to get a dSLR or P&S camera.

Chicken Mousse

Chicken Mousse

Veal Sweetbreads

Veal Sweetbreads

Sweet and Sour Lobster

Sweet and Sour Lobster

"Crack" Polenta

Oxtail aka "Crack" Polenta

Foie Gras CupcakeFoie Gras Cupcake

Foie Gras Cupcake

Chilled Chorizo Soup

Chilled Chorizo Soup

Boudin Noir

Boudin Noir

Foie Gras Cromesquis

Foie Gras Cromesquis

Tuna, Sushi Rice Ice Cream, Soy Sauce Gelee, Smoked Ginger Oil

Tuna, Sushi Rice Ice Cream, Soy Sauce Gelee, Smoked Ginger Oil

Slowly Sauteed Monterey Wild Squid, Chorizo Oil, Kimchi Puree, Black Olive

Slowly Sauteed Monterey Wild Squid, Chorizo Oil, Kimchi Puree, Black Olive

Egg "Meurette," Red Cabbage, Lardo Toast

Egg "Meurette," Red Cabbage, Lardo Toast

Foie Gras Beignet, Saffron-Dried Apricots

Foie Gras Beignet, Saffron-Dried Apricots

Fried Chicken, Cantal Polenta, Baby Corn, Mole

Ludo Fried Chicken, Cantal Polenta, Baby Corn, Mole

Marinated Hanger Steak, Eggplant, Goat Cheese, Shallots, Radish

Marinated Hanger Steak, Eggplant, Goat Cheese, Shallots, Radish

Fourme d' Ambert Tourte, Red Pear, Honey-Balsamic

Fourme d' Ambert Tourte, Red Pear, Honey-Balsamic

A note on the particular cheese tart. Usually, I don't care for cheese, especially a cheese like this. Somehow, I was able to eat multiple slices of this and took a few slices home. Yes, Chef Ludo can even makes something I'm usually "meh" on into something I'd eat slice after slice......

Vanilla Crème Brulee, Rose Ice Cream

Vanilla Crème Brulee, Rose Ice Cream

Creme Brulee with lychee? Let me just say, the BEST creme brulee EVER! That is all.


Yes, Chef Ludo, I'm a fan. I'm ready for Ludobites 4.0 at Gram & Papa's. Now the question is, are you???

Read my Korean Umma Choisauce's up close and personal Ludobites Post

For more pictures (If you haven't seen enough already) from my 7 (I think) various trips of Ludobites 2.0 and 3.0:

Ludobites 4.0 @ Gram & Papa's
227 East 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Official Website