Monday, November 30, 2009

Anticipating the Return @ Ludobites (Los Angeles)

We recently just had a Thanksgiving holiday, which got me thinking of a few things I am thankful for the year 2009. Met tons of new friends, visiting fascinating places and having a great meal to go along with it, great stories to share, and more importantly another year of good health.

Because of some great friends I met, they were able to share with me some of their favorite places they like to dine at. One of my favorite discovery for this year was not a taco truck, but a pop-up style restaurant where a chef would take over a non-descript place and run the restaurant like a Ghetto Gourmet in San Francisco. I never heard of a concept like a pop-up style restaurant until a friend of mine, Gastronomnom introduced it to me over the summer.

He confided to me that Ludo Bites was his favorite new restaurant along with Animal (which he suggested to me as well). Once he go into details on how the former chef at L'Orangerie and Bastide, Ludo Lefebvre have decided to turn a small Artisan Bakery cafe (BreadBar in Mid-City) into his personal kitchen and run it with great precisions. Then my friend begin to tell me how Ludo was able to turn some simple ingredients into a delicious fanfare, I was at the time more than intrigue wanting to find out more.

Then a slew of my other blogger friends relayed to me in that one of their blogger companion was at the BreadBar bragging about how great Pierre Gagnaire's food was, Ludo calmly replied with a smile and said "Yeah I know, I used to work for him for a few years".

With that, I knew I was going to love the guy and the food he was going to serve!

Green Bean Salad, Peach, Coconut, Apple, Horseradish, Lemongrass

Snails, Spinach Curry, Yogurt

Homemade Boudain Noir Terrine (Pork Blood) - Potato Puree, Mustard, Black Currants

Some of these dishes that I am about to show were some of my favorites in my three visits to LudoBites. When we first got the menu, I was very perplex to see some of the dishes on the menu. For instance like pork blood. Don't worry, I have pork blood plenty of times due to my steady of diet of Taiwanese cuisine as part of my raising by my parents. I was amazed Ludo was able to glamorized a street food and work it with a potato puree. Think of this like a soft pudding and get it dipped with some creamy potato sauce. Never imagine it with mixture of potato until now and was absolutely stunned that it can worked well together.

Already, the imagination on these charts worked splendidly better than I hope.

Creamy Polenta - Cantal Cheese, Oxtail Beef, Black Truffle

Foie Gras Black Croque - Monsieur, Ham, Cherry, Amaretto

Some of the few dishes that I was able to get my hands on, I was truly impressed and amazed by how complicated of a work these simple dishes can be made into these wildly intricate with vivid imaginations. A lot of the starters are favorites among my dining friends that joined me that night along with Gastronomnom and his fiance, FoodforFel from The Food Ledger, the Minty, and a common friend of the group, Ally. We also spotted FoodSheThought right when we were about to be seated in a corner table.

The two starters stood that night for me was the Foie Gras Black Croque and the creamy polenta. Think about this for one second: if you can get a hand on a perfect moist sandwich with a dipping of cherry jam and neatly stuffed with foie gras and ham. How much will you willing to pay? For myself and a few in the table, we would gladly fork over the $20 (the price tag at the time) if Ludo was willing to serve it for a take-out lunch bento box.

The creamy polenta with oxtail is something that is very comforting and one of the more traditional dish on Ludo's repertoire. An addition of black truffle was a major plus as it only enhanced a rich, creamy dish that was a favorite of mine.

Monkfish "A la Nage" Leeks, Nutmeg, Lemon, Potato

Spaghetti Carbonara - Santa Barbara Prawn, Sage

Grilled Duck Breast - Leek Salad, Ginger, Capers, Black Truffle

Let me pointed out that his savory dishes are some of his strength. I didn't get the chicken dish that was flavored with duck fat as it was wildly described by LA Weekly's food critic, Jonathan Gold. However, the three savory dish that I was able to experienced was more than adequately fill the void (where the chicken was last served the week before I got there).

My favorite was the Grilled Duck Breast which had a conflict of battle in taste, but somehow came beautifully once it is inserted into your mouth. Some chefs likes to play with presentations or with molecular gastronomy. Chef Ludo likes to let the tastes and flavors be the deciding factor. If you were able to tell me that ginger goes along with salt on a duck, I would have plenty of skeptical doubts. Taking the unconventional road and recreating it was a risk worth taking if you have the confidence. Not only it pays off beautifully, it was a dish I would order every chance I can get when I step in to his Bread Bar location.

Of course this was a man who was on a TV competition show trying to hawk a pig's ear quesadilla. He is not only brave, but very daring and willing to take risks.

Vanilla Panna Cotta, Caviar, Carmel

Peach Curry - Masacarpone, Verbene

Chocolate Cupcake, Foie Gras Chantilly, Candied Bacon Almonds, Maple syrup

Desserts are usually not my favorites, but you just couldn't skip some of the treats waiting in store at this place. Have you had a savory chocolate desserts? How about a foie gras on your cupcake? Maybe a caviar on top of a panna cotta?

Sweet mixing savory? Does it work? Believe it or not, my mind says no way, but my taste bud didn't stop licking what is on the spoon or plate. Just asked my friend Hall-e of The Michelin Project (below picture) about it. She can't stop either.

Trust me when I say it's a sight to be hold until you get to experience these little pleasures in life. There always something new every week when I was there. After my initial visit, by chance I was able to come back the second time in three days span. Didn't stop there as I came back again for the third time two weeks later.

If the question from my loyal readers was that does Ludo still have his pop-up restaurant at Bread Bar, then the answer is no. Fret not, he does have a new location and an interesting twist to his new venture. The new location of his pop-up restaurant is at Royal/T cafe in Culver City where the space is also a Japanese-style cosplay café where you do get to see something of interesting arts that is provided there for your constant amusement. It's one thing to get an entertainment out of the food, but to also have bizarre art pieces to display around your dining table probably will complete your evening of curiosity.

Not only am I excite to see what he have in store for us on the menu, but can't wait to see how a work of Takashi Murakami fit in to this dining experience.

ps. Make sure to make your reservation on their website. Even though the reservations might be filled up, you can get on the waiting list for this limited, selected 13-day engagement at Royal/T. The start date official begins on December 2nd. Don't miss out!

LudoBites (old location)
8718 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 205-0124

LudoBites (new location)
Royal/T Cafe
8910 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

Reservations for Royal/T can be made in the website.

LudoBites (at Breadbar) on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Great review. And I can't wait for our next Ludo dinner on Thursday!

Thanks, as always, for the shout out too. I'm glad to have introduced Ludo and Animal to you.

Chubby Chinese Girl said...

oh man! i just went to the site and it's sold out =( next time if you know ahead of time let me know =) i've been wanting to try his food after seeing him on top chef =)

Anonymous said...

Nice review. One day I'll make it to one of these Ludo meals! Love the pic of your friend licking the plate!

MyLastBite said...


My life has been missing something... LUDO BITES.

e*star said...

YUM! I can't wait! My res is on Thursday. :)

Gastronomer said...

Eeee! I love the excitement in your voice. LUDO's BACK!!

Hall-e said...

Thanks for the shoutout, Mike! I still remember licking the plate..haha. Too bad we'll miss each other this week, but enjoy the dinner on Thurs!

Right Way to Eat said...

Hi Gastronomnom,

You're very welcome! And thank you for introducing me to your favorite places because those were truly gems.

See you on Thursday!

Hi and this blog,

It's not too late. There are usually cancellations or postponements on some of the people who made reservations. Put your name down on the waiting list for the desired date or show up on the date you want. Who knows? You might get lucky. There are flakers in this town like in any other cities.

Hi South Bay Rants n Raves,

Thank you very much! Hope you do get a chance to go to LudoBites. It's not too late. That picture is a friend of mine!

Hi My Last Bite,

Totally agreed. I am dying to see his new menu! Can't wait!

Hi e*Star,

I'll see you tomorrow! My reservation is on that night too!

Hi Gastronomer,

You know I'm excited and can't wait!

Hi Hall-E,

Don't worry, we'll catch again soon. We couldn't go on Wednesday because we weren't able to secure a large table big enough for our group on opening night. No worries though, it's still early.

Kung Food Panda said...

Hope you guys have a great dinner at Ludobites! I just got back and had a fantastic time. Look out for the lightbox Krissy has setup for us bloggers! Cheers!

Right Way to Eat said...

Hey Kung Food Panda,

We sure did buddy. Hope you enjoyed the last meal of the day at Royal/T!

Anonymous said...

Foie gras. So selfish of you.