The soul food twist on ‘The Bear’-fueled Italian beef craze

Jerk Italian Beef Bread

You won’t find an Italian beef sandwich anywhere on a printed menu at Bernie’s Soul Kitchen, the new restaurant next to Wendy’s in downtown Culver City. Instead, it is listed on the dry erase board of daily specials over the counter. But owner Jay Betts says it’s always available, he just wants you to eat it there.

“I don’t want to do it on the go or on apps,” he said on a recent visit. “If you get a sandwich, I want you to come in here and get a sandwich.”

He’s been familiar with Italian beef sandwiches since watching “The Bear” on FX. But his version has been around much longer. Betts is from Joliet, Ill., a city about 35 miles southwest of Chicago. He ran Tha Kitchen there, and had Bernie’s Jerk’s Kitchen on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles before opening Bernie’s Soul Kitchen in May. Sandwich is what he serves at Jerkit’s, and it has followed him. to Culver City.

There’s a reason behind the sandwich dinner rule. You will need to eat it before the bread falls out.

The soft French roll contains rough slices of beef soaked in a flavorful broth, scented with all sorts of spices; and a light orange cheese sauce. Brilliant chunks of meat and cheese topped with chopped pickled carrots and cauliflower versus full giardiniera. It’s a sandwich in an identity crisis, somewhere between a Philly cheese and Italian beef with a cup of beef gravy (a thick red sauce with a hint of chili, paprika and dill) on the side.

Betts explains: “The kick is the taste. “If you put a sauce on it, it’s very spicy, but the spiciness in it is the flavor. Regular Italian beef is not spicy”.

Three bites and 10 napkins later, the sandwich feels perfect.

Croquette Monsieur from Mr. BILLION

The owner of the croquette from Mr.

The owner of the croquette from Mr.

(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

When restaurateur Guillaume Guedj was about to open an LA outlet of his Paris bistro, Mr T, he told chef Alisa Vannah that he wanted a croque-Monsieur, the classic grilled cheese and ham from France. France. Only he wanted a vegetarian dish on the menu.

“I’ve made a few versions with mushrooms, but when I plating it, it’s never pretty,” Vannah said on a recent call. “And I don’t want to serve a sandwich at dinner.”

She decided to turn the sandwich into bite-sized croquettes. The chef starts by sweating portabello, white button, chanterelle mushrooms and shimeji with garlic, onion, thyme and bay leaf. She combined the mushrooms with the bechamel sauce, let the mixture cool, then added the Mimolette cheese. She forms the cheese mushroom mixture into balls, wraps them in panko and parsley, and then frys them in rice bran oil.

The crispy, almost falafel-like exterior gives way to the molten center of cheese and mushrooms, which has the orange Mimolette color. Think arancini stuffed with cheese but with a layer of earthen mushrooms instead of rice. Its unflinching richness is cut only a little by a lemon sorbet and a splash of parsley oil. The crispy balls aren’t even vaguely reminiscent of a Croque Monsieur sandwich, but that doesn’t matter. I suggest renaming them crispy mushroom cheese balls. But now that won’t be French anymore, will it?

Egg salad sando from Katsu Bar

Egg salad sandwich at Katsu Bar in Koreatown.

Egg salad sandwich at Katsu Bar in Koreatown.

(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles)

Egg salad sandwiches, the kind that are pressed in plastic containers, waiting for you on the shelves at many convenience stores across Japan, were a daily favorite during the pre-pandemic trip. Our dinner reservation is not for another hour? Get an egg salad sandwich. Too many drinks at the robot bar and you need something to cool off? Egg salad sandwich. We’re leaving in three days and I’m not even hungry but I’m worried I’ll never have an egg salad sandwich? Egg salad sandwich.

Since Konbi opened its doors in Echo Park – and its new location in Culver City – it’s easier than ever to buy an egg salad sandwich. And I’m also liking this version of the Katsu Bar chain. The new location in Koreatown mimics the streamlined convenience of stores in Japan, with bread on display at the counter and a kiosk where you order.

The filling is cut into small pieces, nestled between sheets of soft milk bread with a slice of soft-boiled egg in the middle. Everything is centered and you need to squeeze the bread to spread the filling to the edges. It’s sweeter than many of the others I’ve tried but is heavy on mayo in a good way. And most importantly, it reminds me of wandering around Tokyo.

Where to eat

Bernie’s Soul Kitchen9032 Venice Blvd., Culver City, (424) 283-1269,
Mr.T953 N. Sycamore Ave., Los Angeles,
Katsu Bar, 3801 West 6th St., Los Angeles, (213) 352-4060,
Konbi, 1463 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles and 10000 Washington Blvd, Culver City, The soul food twist on ‘The Bear’-fueled Italian beef craze

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