Friday, November 19, 2010

Foodie Fridays: LudoBites 6.0

LudoBites 6.0 at Max
13355 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Ludo. Ludo. Ludo.
As many you in-the-know know, one of LA’s hottest eateries of the moment is none other than the pop-up guerrilla-style venture helmed by chef-of-the-moment (and super hottie) Ludo Lefebvre.

Photo by Stephen Wayda.

His imaginative, culinary world of wonder LudoBites doesn’t reside in a permanent brick-and-mortar location. Instead, Ludo has thought out-of-the-box with his nomadic concept. Each iteration of LudoBites holds residency at a different Los Angeles restaurant, taking over its host and infusing it with new heart, soul… and stomach.

Rotating menus are something I’ve come to expect at many chef-driven restaurants, but rotating addresses are part of the novelty of LudoBites that has everyone talking.

Ludo has tapped into the web-savvy, food enthusiast community of LA, slightly reminiscent of the way Roy Choi utilized Twitter to draw the city’s population of drunken hipsters and late night comics out for some Korean-taco fusion on wheels.

But Ludo’s enterprise is far from the food truck experience, and while it’s true that the mailing lists and web presence have definitely helped to brighten Ludo’s star, his reputation undoubtedly has been solidified by his FOOD. Each of his insanely mouth-watering, French-inspired, decadent and masterful dishes have the no-boundaries flare that Ludo is famous for. That’s why, when Ludo “pops-up,” all of Los Angeles floods OpenTable pleading for even just a bite... of Ludo.

I felt privileged to attend LudoBites 6.0 (held at Max in Sherman Oaks), thanks to my good friend Ben Hardwicke’s ability to snag a reservation. The coveted spots filled up within minutes of going on sale and crashed OpenTable’s servers. Thank you Ben for the quick reaction time and the invite.

Upon arriving at 6PM on a Monday, the place was already buzzing. I quickly ordered one of the recommended “COQtails”: a whisky, pumpkin and ginger - shakerato. It was holiday drink perfection. I’d love one right now.

The Vietnamese-style hamachi blew me away, and not only because I had practically been fasting all day in preparation and was ready to pounce at any food that came my way. The fish was fresh, delicate and melted in my mouth. The blissful Vietnamese flavors were just the right combination of sweet and savory.

The pad thai was re-thought in a playful and delicious way using “barely cooked squid” instead of noodles, and was combined with black radish, prawn, and sauce.

Next we ordered the foie gras, fattened goose liver for those of you who have yet to try this indulgent treat. It was served with with golden honey, delicate ripened fruits and rose flowers. Exquisite.

The mussels velouté was served as a dipping sauce that was so delicious I would have dived in head-first had I been able to fit in the three inch bowl.

Heirloom tomatoes sat and soaked in this rich concoction and wispy frites were served on the side for a varied texture and dipping enjoyment.

The half-chicken with poached egg, chanterelles, and chorizo was a dish far superior than the sum of its parts—definitely a stand out that I would return for again and again if I could.

And of course, there was the marinated Korean steak with crispy kimchi and bone marrow—hallelujah! Just listen to the sound of that… well, it tasted even better. This dish was the biggest crowd pleaser of the night at our table.

For dessert, we ordered the lemongrass cake with curry frosting. The description speaks for itself.

I hope I’ve convinced you to add your name to the mailing list (if you haven't already) to try to squeeze your way into one of the coveted seats around Ludo’s table for LudoBites 7.0.
Invites are always welcome if you happen to reserve an extra spot!

Ben, Ludo's wife Chrissy and me after a wonderful meal.

Photos by Ben Hardwicke/

I also thought I'd share this great article on the LA culinary scene from the NYTimes! :)
NYTimes: Feeding Frenzy

NEXT TIME on Foodie Fridays: We'll be giving you the scoop on A-Frame, Roy Choi's new venture in Culver City.


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