Pandemic-paused chef is now slinging sandwiches in a medical building

Sandwich at Perking House Coffee

I found some delicious food in unusual places: Pork dumplings in the parking lot of a sporting goods store in Arcadia, crab fried rice in the parking lot of a Thai Buddhist temple, and Now, amazing sandwiches are made by one of the most acclaimed chefs in Los Angeles, in a medical office building in Yorba Linda. Insert car screeching stops here.

After Ryan DeNicola left his job as a chef at Chi Spacca on Melrose Avenue in 2020, he started consulting and catering. When his father’s medical team moved into Yorba Linda Packers in Orange County, DeNicola decided to open a small coffee shop in the lobby. Downstairs, past video games and what looks like a daycare center (it’s a non-traditional medical office waiting area, no medical journals and wrinkled magazines), There’s a small stand called Perking House Coffee that sells La Colombe coffee and DeNicola sandwiches.

He makes six varieties, including a weekly special, all served on Amoroso’s soft rolls. Pork buns are his go-to with roast pork and broccoli robes that you’ll find in Philadelphia. He marinated the meat in achiote and the pomelo he grew in the backyard. After three days, he slows down the roasting of the pork, cuts it into paper-thin pieces, and adds scallions. The meat acts like a sponge in the marinade, soaking up the citrus and the sweet, aromatic peppers. He topped the sandwich with a substantial amount and served it with giardiniera made from pickled cauliflower, celery, chili peppers, and an oregano vinaigrette. If you leave the sandwich at room temperature, the flavor will settle down and become more intense.

DeNicola’s Tuna is green and herbaceous, mixed with chervil, dill, tarragon and cilantro. He marinates his roast beef with a mixture of dry morita and anchor peppers, roasts it on low and slow like pork, and then coats it with provolone and some horseradish mayo. These are beautifully crafted, thoughtfully structured breads that make me crave for a summer picnic.

Sweets from Mil Bakery

A selection of sweets from Mil Bakery in Koreatown.

A selection of sweets from Mil Bakery in Koreatown. From left, the black sesame mochi bar, the cinnamon honey miso roll, the miso-garu cookie, and the pound ssuk.

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Slices of pound ssuk at chef Jiyoon Jang’s new pastry shop look like a Rorschach test. In a recent slice, I can see a portrait of my afternoon: pounds of cake, a steaming cup of tea, and about 38 minutes spent googling susuk medicinal properties. Green sticky rice is also known as mugwort or mugwort, I found countless recipes for tea and steamed cakes. Some claim it can help ease anything from fevers to digestive problems to menstrual cramps. I can’t say any of it, but it’s excellent in Jang’s pound cake.

Jang is selling her sweets from a counter at All Good Things, a kitchen and retail space that houses multiple dining venues in Koreatown.

Every slice of her pastry is filled with the scent of fresh green herbs. It has a deep emerald color, almost black in the cake, swirls and spreads over most of the surface. Its pleasant tartness wafts through the thick, dense cake, helping to balance out the sweetness and give it an almost grassy flavor.

No less satisfying are the miso-garu cookies, topped with toasted white sesame seeds and crispy Demerara sugar. It’s like a savory Snickerdoodle with cereal-milk. Imagine the perfect cookie, delicately crisp around the edges and chewy in the middle. It’s that kind of cookie, highlighted with the savory sweetness of miso and misugaru, a Korean cereal powder often mixed with water or milk to make a drink.

Burger from All Good Things

Hawaiian Smash Double Burger from All Good Things in Koreatown.

Hawaiian Smash Double Burger from All Good Things in Koreatown.

(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Across from Jang’s Mil bread stand is a kiosk where you can order food from the All Good Things kitchen. It’s a Hawaiian menu with garlic shrimp topped with rice and loco moco plates. It’s also home to what’s known as the Hawaiian double hamburger.

There’s no shortage of burgers in Los Angeles. They come in all shapes and sizes, smeared and drizzled with a pink sauce, stacked with crunchy patties and melted slices of American cheese. The Hawaiian version is different, mainly the thickness of Wagyu meat, the Spam crown and a plastic foam gravy cup.

The burger seemed to sparkle from all sides and surfaces. The brioche was toasted and mushy with what I imagine to be butter. Spam, protruding sideways like a fat tongue, glittered in its own fat. The cheese shines as it pours onto the meat. Only when you take the first bite will you recognize chopped onions, ketchup and mustard, diced scallions and a piece of furikake. There’s no need for a cup of gravy, but you’ll find yourself dipping your burger in a rich gravy anyway; Add another glittery light brown element to your lunch equation. It’s decadent and over the top. It will be difficult to focus on anything else for the rest of the day.

Perking Coffee House, 18200 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda
Mil Bakery, 2748 W. August St., Los Angeles
All Good Things, 2748 W. August St., Los Angeles Pandemic-paused chef is now slinging sandwiches in a medical building

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