I have an announcement to make
and here's where I've been eating lately...
Hello! I have a little announcement to share today.
I’ve been writing Some Meals since March of 2018, and as my longtime readers know, I’ve been based in NYC since the beginning. In fact, I was born here, and I’ve never lived anywhere else unless you count college in Connecticut or a semester abroad in Copenhagen. Still, in this space, I’ve covered Paris, Detroit, London, Mexico City, Bangkok, Hanoi, Copenhagen, Southern Utah, New Orleans, lots of LA, and more. As safe international travel returns, I plan to keep dishing reviews, recs, essays, and takes from as many cities as possible. Newsletters will continue to arrive in your inbox more sporadically than they have in the past because the freelance writer hustle is no joke. But I’m not going anywhere!
Except that I am. I’m kinda sorta moving to Los Angeles. Saarim and I got a place in Los Feliz and we’ll be there from October through the winter, then back in NYC come spring. It’s all very new and exciting and I’m not totally sure what our attempt at bicoastal life will deliver. But I wanted to let you all know that I’ll be off the NYC beat for a bit. Not yet though! I’m here now, and I’ll be in and out on the regular. Greece is up next — so stay tuned for that issue next month. (Psst: if anyone has restaurant/other recs for Athens or Syros, please send them my way!)
I hope you’ll still want to follow along and see how this little, fun, free newsletter continues to evolve. For the old-timers, thanks for sticking with me, and for newer folks, welcome! If you ever have questions or feedback, I’m just an email away—and you can always reach me on Twitter or Instagram.
Ok, onto dining! (I’ve been back and forth to LA over the past month due to house hunting, so this one’s another mix.)
Found Oyster is a hip Los Angeles articulation of a New England oyster bar dishing next-level raw bar towers. Don’t sleep on the scallop tostada — chewy slivers of raw fish, yuzu kosho, and opal basil draped over a crunchy fried tortilla for a colorful, textural, and sensual delight. A slice of Fat + Flour’s key lime pie to finish is another must (h/t Tabi!). /East Hollywood, Los Angeles
I hadn’t been to Little Pepper in ages, but a recent visit confirms they’re still making the best Szechuan food I’ve had in New York. Tingly peppercorn oil trickles down your throat with each bite of cold spicy noodles. There’s bouncy, fluffy scallion fried rice the color of freshly cut grass. And mapo tofu that’s equal parts luscious and biting. The menu is gigantic, but those are some hits. /College Point, Queens
It’s a small stretch to call Radburg’s “Greenburg” a burger, but it’s a marvel nonetheless. Think of it as a mashup between two Thai salads — som tum and fried watercress — piled tall and neat into a soft Bimbo bun. A fritter of morning glory and bean sprout serves as the patty, which is then topped with smoky stir-fried yuba strips, sliced green papaya, coconut-lime dressing, vegan fish sauce, spinach, cashew, cilantro, vegan Kewpie, and scallion.
The roving pop-up was at Melody for a few nights recently, serving the seasonal vegan sandwich in addition to other salads and burgers, plus slices of Chainsaw’s phenomenal passionfruit-lime icebox pie. (Melody is a breezy, vibey wine bar with a food program powered by LA’s fierce pop-up scene.) /Silver Lake, Los Angeles
Hojicha fans will love the iced latte at Thank You Coffee, which is a beautiful sandy color and a little bit sweet. The perfect afternoon treat. /Chinatown, Los Angeles
It was 95 degrees when we touched down at LAX and we were hungry, so we went straight to Jitlada. They say it’s good to eat spicy food in hot weather because the energy your body uses to evaporate sweat is a more efficient way to cool down than springing for an ice cream cone. Or at least this is what I told myself as we funneled crunchy fried tofu in choo chee curry dip and fruity-fiery jackfruit curry into our mouths, chased by wedges of raw cabbage and plenty of Singha. /Thai Town, Los Angeles
Somewhat relatedly: name a better drink for weekend summer days than the michelada. I’ll wait. All you need is an ice-cold light Mexican beer, a lime or two, salt for a rim, and Tajín or hot sauce.
The next time I return to Dan Sung Sa, the boisterous drinking den in Koreantown, I hope it’s to end my night. But starting there is fun, too. It’s open until 2 AM, 365 days a year, and between their meat skewers, cheesy corn, kimchi pancake, spicy ddeokbokki, and Koren fried chicken wings, you really can’t go wrong. /Koreatown, Los Angeles
When the same restaurant gets recommended to you again and again, you should probably go. No one was wrong about Tsubaki, where my friend Becky and I started off with a zippy bottle of sake. We had sugar snap peas with whipped tofu and nori, a Japanese-style Caesar salad, charcoal-grilled blue prawns with green-garlic butter, chicken oyster skewers with yuzu kosho, and salmon roe fried rice. It all rocked. /Echo Park, Los Angeles
At Qahwah House, iced coffee comes in a big glass mug and khaliat al nahl—a pull-apart Yemenite honeycomb bread filled with buttery cheese and drizzled with honey—is served warm. The Dearborn, Michigan import sits in a quiet and roomy Williamsburg storefront, making it a great spot to catch up over Yemeni-style coffee and tea drinks. /Williamsburg, Brooklyn
When I was a senior in college and thinking about moving to Los Angeles, I flew out for winter break and met with a bunch of creatives types that I’d been connected to. I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do with my life, but I hoped that maybe one of them could inspire me with the right advice. One woman, a writer who lived in Atwater Village, invited me to lunch at Viet Noodle Bar, an unassuming Vietnamese joint with bare walls and a menu of spring rolls, sandwiches, noodle bowls, and rice plates. She said it was one of her favorite places to eat, and urged me to try the turmeric fish noodles, which came loaded with lettuce, sprouts, daikon, carrot, dill, shallot, cilantro, and green onion. That was my favorite of those meetings.
Almost seven years later, I finally returned, and I’m pleased to report that it’s as good as I remembered. We split (and loved) the cold noodles laced with soyskin, shiitake, tomato sauce, cilantro, crispy shallot, and sesame, and a compact tofu-basil sandwich. /Atwater Village, Los Angeles
Nossa’s pão de queijo are so gooey I wouldn’t be surprised if they were made with mochiko flour. The cheese buns were the highlight of our meal, but we only scratched the surface of this newcomer’s ambitious southern Brazilian menu with influences from northern Italy. I want to go back and try some of the pastas next. /Los Feliz, Los Angeles
If you can get into Via Carota, here’s a tip that I picked up from a regular: at the end of your meal, order the ginger soda for a booze-free digestif. They make it with fresh ginger, pure cane sugar, and lemon, and it’s refreshing and energizing in the exact way your body needs after housing a buttery bowl of cacio e pepe on a hot summer night. /West Village, Manhattan
Wings are the food I crave the most when I’m not eating meat. At some point, I’d like to do an in-depth guide (book, even) on the manifold styles from around the world and maybe a best-of list or two while I’m at it. But for now, here are two finger-licking versions I enjoyed recently: Woon’s fried five-spice and garlic wings, and Eszett’s smoky, charcoal-grilled wings served with salsa macha. /Silver Lake, Los Angeles
While down in Long Beach reporting a story, I swung by Gusto, a sourdough panadería that’s been getting some buzz. There, the baker Arturo Enciso makes a pan dulce deemed Nixtamal Queen out of house-milled blue corn masa, which he laminates into the shape of a kouign-amann. The result is a nutty, dense, and buttery pastry bearing a crispy caramelized exterior that’s worth going out of your way for. /Long Beach, California
At Bakers Bench, the baker Jen Yee is making some of the best croissants I’ve ever had and serving them out of a kiosk in LA’s Chinatown on Friday and Saturday mornings. Here’s the catch: they’re vegan. The secret is a cocoa butter-based butter substitute called Fora. Her chocolate chip cookies—also vegan—rank extremely high as well. (Read more here!) /Chinatown, Los Angeles
Cozy Royale is a meat restaurant — chicken liver mousse, steak tartare, burger & fries, pork sirloin steak, you get it — and yet my favorite dish was the Hippie Salad. The key ingredient is fried lentils, which impart each bite of gem lettuce, cucumber, mung bean sprouts, and avocado dressing with a Pop Rocks-like sensation. /Williamsburg, Brooklyn
From the spiced black bean hummus to a chewy tabbouleh salad that swaps bulgur for nopales, the Oaxacan-Arabesque fusion fare at X’tiosu in Boyle Heights is mindbendingly delicious. /Boyle Heights, Los Angeles
For Vegetarian Times: why the baker Jen Yee, who is not vegan, is making vegan croissants at her brand-new bakery—and how they’re so good.
I was lucky to see the artist Eddie Rodolfo Aparicio’s Pansa del Publico—a sculptural, functioning beehive oven in the Los Angeles Historic State Park—in action. So for MOLD, I wrote about how he collaborated with local chefs (and fellow second-generation immigrants) to activate the work.
How to style a dinner party for Garmentory.
A few recommended reads:
Michael Pollan for The Guardian: The invisible addiction: is it time to give up caffeine?
Tejal Rao for The New York Times: At Nobu Malibu, Dream Time With the Famous and Almost Famous
Mina Stone in Blackbird Spylane: Home-Gourmand God Mode
Brooke Jackson-Glidden for Eater: Please Stop Calling Portland America’s Best Pizza City. We Don’t Care.