Last Monday, The LA Times celebrated the beginning of their epic month of food events known as the Food Bowl. The patio at City Market South was intimate enough for the beginning of the event, which felt like a reunion of the Los Angeles food community, and large enough to accomodate the lively crowd when the party kicked into high gear later in the evening. The event host was Chef Steve Samson’s Rossoblu, the first restaurant to open at City Market South. Located in a former fruit processing plant in the fashion district, the space will soon be home to Cognoscenti Coffee, and an as-of-yet unnamed new bar concept by former Top Chef contestant Chef Antonia Lofaso, Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix, which will open in what was the former banana processing warehouse. I predict a modern take on some rum drinks.
Rossoblu’s open and airy restaurant served delicious rustic northern Italian crescentines, which reminded me of bunuelos. They were topped with house-made prosciutto or mortadella. Another favorite was the chorizo and mashed potatoes dish with crispy new potatoes from Chef Antonia Lofaso. Everyone’s favorite Sichuan restaurant, Chengdu Taste, served a delicate and comforting steamed egg with ground pork with a spicy pork tripe with greens and litsea cubeba oil. Night + Market showed off their exciting Thai food with a Sahm Salad with Shanghai bok choy, larb, fresh herbs, peanut brittle, spicy thai vinagrette and crispy shallots.
Classic kappo-style Shibumi is an extremely intimate Downtown LA restaurant that has only 40 seats. Chef David Schlosser served an impressive Beef Shin Bowl featured beef shin and tendon (cured for 3 months) with green onion, shiitake, konbu (kelp), sansho (related to Sichuan peppercorn) and daikon perfumed with gardenia buds. Each component was really intense on its own, especially the daikon, which deceived the eye so that you expected to taste mango. But when mixed together with the bed of rice, it all came together.
Locol, Roy Choi’s South LA burger joint served a hearty “Soul In A Bowl” with red beans, rice, “messy greens,” and cornbread. Often considered the best fried chicken in LA, Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken also served up some soul food in their “All-American Bowl” with a fantastic mac and cheese, not-too-sweet maple glazed yams, sweet crispy pepper, a drop biscuit, and fried chicken
As a fan of Jonathan Gold and The LA Times, all of these restaurants were very familiar. The big surprise came from Wanderlust Creamery ice cream. Their unexpected world flavors and smooth and creamy vegan and non-vegan ice creams blew me away. Flavors included included Ube Malted Crunch, Sakura, which was infused with cherry blossoms and a Japanese Neopolitan consisting of hojicha and black sesame. My favorite was the Fig Leaf, Honey and Pistachio, with whole pistachios mixed in. Or the Mango Sticky Rice, which is the best vegan ice cream I have ever eaten. I will have to head over to Atwater to try them again and make my final decision.
After everyone was full, there was a short presentation with Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, chefs and owners of Border Grill, being awarded the Gold Award, and Chef Carlos Salgado’s Taco Maria being awarded ‘Restaurant of the Year. Chef Salgado gave a stirring speech, which you can watch here. The party started ramping up, but it was a school night, so we slipped out into the deserted streets.