Friday, December 24, 2010

Foodie Fridays: Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from the Foodie Fridays team! We'll see you in 2011!

Photos by Young-Wolff Photography.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Foodie Fridays: A-Frame

The Kogi King has done it again. First he kicked off the now-infamous Korean taco truck trend. Then he took that crazy addictive grub and paired it with a fantastic selection of beers at the always-packed Alibi Room. Next he opened Chego, where his pork belly rice bowl rose to instant fame. Somewhere along the way, the truck reproduced, allowing for multiple Kogi-bots to roam around town. And now? Roy Choi’s biggest, baddest, and most delightfully greasy creation yet: A-Frame.

Abby, our friend Serena, and the Kogi King himself, Roy Choi.

Like its sister restaurants, A-Frame (which opened less than a month ago) calls the Culver City/Mar Vista area home. Believe it or not, the building—whose high, A-shaped roof was the inspiration for the eatery’s name—used to house an IHOP. Whodathunkit, given the new venue's dim lighting, well-stocked bar, hopping musical selection, and in-the-know clientele.

Choosing a drink off the extensive list of draft beers, wines and cocktails was challenging, but I ultimately went with the St. Bernardus Tripel, a light Belgian beer which I correctly predicted would pair well with all the meat which was coming our way. While A-Frame is more of a sit-down establishment than Choi’s other eateries, the food is equally—if not moreso—mouthwatering. Once again, we have unique contemporary global fare, and as always, Choi means business when it comes to grub. We started with the Furikake kettle corn. It’s the same sweet and buttery stuff you remember from childhood carnivals, just with a unique Hawaiian—and apparently addictive—twist.

"A-Frame is a place that came from the feeling I used to get when cracking crabs on Redondo Beach Pier as a youth," Choi states on the restaurant's website. Perhaps the most obvious menu item recreating this childhood memory are the blue crab cakes. Served with a ginger lemongrass creme fraiche and greens, they become a hybrid reinterpretation of both lettuce wraps and the popular beachside snack.

Next we moved onto some tempura-coated veggies, but not the usual carrots and peas you find at your everyday sushi shack. The interesting choices of kabocha squash and broccoli rabe were all perfectly crisp, and paired well with a bold shoyu dipping sauce.

And now for the meat. The glorious, glorious meat. First up was the Peruvian beer can chicken, one of A-Frame's signature dishes. The selection of vibrant salsas provided (roja and verde) really brought the bird alive.

The Korean lamb chop is a menu-must. Charred to perfection on the outside, the meat is mouthwateringly succulent when you bite in. The salsa verde made a reappearance, once again serving as the perfect partner-in-crime.

Rounding out the "meat show" were the baby back ribs. Coated in a hoisin-chili glaze and sprinkled with sesame seeds, the ribs were tender, well flavored, and finger-lickingly-good. Wings, carne asada, and fries are all on the menu as well, so A-Frame would certainly be the perfect place to hit for a guys night out.

As if we hadn't stuffed ourselves enough already, we decided we wouldn't be able to call ourselves true Foodies without ordering dessert. So naturally, we went for the "Chu-Don't-Know-Mang." You're probably now asking "what the hell is that?" Well, it's churros made out of pound cake and served with a malted chocolate and vanilla ice cream dip. Needless to say, it was a decadent end to an equally indulgent meal.

The space is meant to encourage sharing and getting to know fellow diners. There is a huge communal table in the center of the restaurant, but even at smaller ones, your party will be seated next to complete strangers. While this might cause social anxiety attacks for some, the idea is actually a novel one. The dishes served are meant to be shared, so this approach allows diners to sample more items off the hard-to-choose-from menu. Who knows, you might even meet your new BFF.

So Roy Choi wanted us to make new friends, and new friends we made! Meet our giggly new pals Shawn and Michelle. After our bellies were stuffed, our entire table mosied on over—literally next door—to another recent addition to the Culver City dining scene, Waterloo & City, where we sipped on refreshing ginger beer cocktails. A pretty successful night on the Westside if I do say so myself.

And with that, I leave you with the words of wisdom found at the bottom of A-Frame's menu: "Eat. Drink. Share. Get Messy. Enjoy." Cheers!

A-Frame, 12565 Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90066, 310.398.7700,, MAP.

COMING SOON on Foodie Fridays: We'll be getting a taste of Belgium at Shaky Alibi, a coffee shop and wafflerie on Beverly.

Mail to: foodiefridays at foundtrack dot com