DineLA Restaurant week takes places twice every year and each time I use these nicely-priced prix fixe menus to try different restaurants. Sponsored by the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, participating restaurants offer specially priced lunch and dinner menus for a two week period. This time around, there were a few fun changes. There was the option of booking on Open Table through the Discover Los Angeles website to donate a dollar to the good work of The Midnight Mission, a local organization that supports homeless services. Also, a handful of restaurants offered the dineLA Exclusive Series at higher-end eateries with menus priced $100 and up. Think along the lines of Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills, The Arthur J in Manhattan Beach and Santa Monica’s Melisse.
I always use dineLA Restaurant Week as a time as a chance to try restaurants that are either newly opened, or new to me. And this time I made it to a record THREE different places and tried THREE different menus. One place has only been open a few months, I drive by another every day on my commute into Hollywood and the third is a Los Angeles landmark that’s been in business in its present location since 1962.
First up was lunch at Hanjip BBQ in Culver City. My husband Matt loves Korean BBQ and Hanjip had been called out as one of the best lunch deals on the roster. That was a true assessment. We each got to choose a meat to grill and a generous rice bowl (Matt got the tuna poke and I got the katsu chicken). Then there were all the banchans, which are the little side dishes you see her circling the grill. We had fun grilling the meat, onion and mushroom with a little help from the friendly servers. Hanjip was started by Chef Chris Oh, one of the guys behind the Seoul Sausage Company, who also emerged as the winners on Season 3 of the Great Food Truck Race.
Next up was Otus on La Brea Boulevard, south of Sunset. They also offered a great lunch deal which included a coffee or tea. I dined solo, in between leading a tour and attending a Chamber of Commerce meeting. I started with hot Tom Yum soup and moved on to the basil and chili chicken with a fried egg atop white rice. And even though I don’t usually drink coffee in the afternoon, I did indulge in one of their lattes made with Intelligentsia coffee. I was happy for the chance to finally walk in the doors and visit this friendly, somewhat under the radar eatery and coffee shop. I will definitely be back for their coffee Happy Hour from 6:30–9:00am.
Lastly I met my foodie friend MEM at Taix French Restaurant (pronounced Tex) on Sunset Boulevard, which is sort of Echo Park and sort of Downtown LA. As much as both of us like to try LA landmarks, she had never even heard of it and I had heard of it, but hadn’t been. We met for dinner, and were blessed to have a wonderful server named Bernardo who started at the restaurant in 1962 and was the epitome of charming. He took great care of us through the three-course dinner, sharing with us the history of the Taix family as well as his own move to the US as a young man. He visited three French restaurants in LA since he only spoke French, and Taix brought him onboard. MEM started with mussels and moved onto the fish entrée. I started with a beet salad and then enjoyed steak and fries. We drank prosecco over shared desserts of chocolate mousse and peach tart ala mode.
I am keeping my list handy for the next run of dineLA, which will take place in July. There are simply too many wonderful restaurants and menus yet to try!
By Trish Procetto