What to eat now: Yes, bathe the cheese in Champagne

Langres Cheese with Champagne at Kippered

Langres, cow’s milk cheese from the Champagne-Ardenne region in France, is often served with bubbles. At Kippered, the new bar in downtown Los Angeles, you can pour those bubbles over your cheese. It is not a gimmick. They pour Champagne from the bottle directly onto the cheese. It spills over the top of the little orange wheel and down the wrinkled sides. Gathering on the disc below, the bubbles quickly extinguished into small explosions. The cheese is pungent and salty, similar to the funnel of Époisses but much milder. It’s sturdy enough to cut but you can spread it out. I ate portions of it on the crackers provided, cut off excess Champagne with a knife and poured it over each. Champagne sharpens Langres, bringing out its tart flavors. And when all the cheese was done, I drained it from the plate. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

El Barrio Cantina’s Potato Tacos

A plate with four banh tet topped with queso murals.

El Barrio Cantina’s potato tacos in Long Beach.

(Brian Addison)
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One of my AYSO soccer coaches has been running Los Tacos in Pasadena for many years, which means I was introduced to the wonders of tacos de papa at an early age. They’re usually cheap and filling, but my constant love comes from the exemplary combination of textures in even the humblest potato tacos. If I see potato tacos on the menu, I’ll order them. My current favorites are at El Barrio Cantina, a restaurant on Retro Row on East 4th Street in Long Beach. The tortillas are thin and filling with molten hot mashed potatoes. Spuds have an almost cheesy creamy quality, as if folding them into a fried tacos has somehow turned them into the most luxurious pizzerias. Crispy skins on contact will break apart, breaking into smooth potatoes. They don’t need embellishments, but at El Barrio Cantina, they’re painted with spicy tomatillo salsa, a few drops of crema, and sprinkles of queso murals. I have booked many miles on my Prius. And for these Tet cakes, there will be many more.

Dim sum for dinner at HKC Dim Sum

A dim sum steamer contains four shumai.

Shumai from HKC Dim Sum in Koreatown.

(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

The shumai at HKC, the new dim sum restaurant on the third floor of Koreatown City Center, is about the size of full-sized Jawbreakers. Plump and plump with chunks of ground pork, minced shrimp, and black fungus, the steamed buns are on par with some of the best dim sum bars in the San Gabriel Valley. As well as lo bak go, a pan-fried savory radish cake. The squares are a nice brown color and the radish in the middle is soft and thick, similar to the consistency of delicious mochi. There are no trolleys; everything is organized from one sheet of paper. Pop music (both American and Korean) comes through the speakers. There’s a TV behind the bar, and shows are projected onto the walls of the dining room. And there’s a full bar, with martinis. Imagine you’re eating dim sum but at dinner and in the university sports bar.

Kimchi dumplings and fried chicken

Selection of dishes from Bafang Dumplings. Don't miss those who hit the vote, top right.

Selection of dishes from Bafang Dumplings. Don’t miss those who hit the vote, top right.

(Shutter Kitchen / Bafang Duum)

There’s no shortage of dumpling experts in Los Angeles, but a recent mention in the news column of my colleague Stephanie Breijo brought me to a mall in the City of Industry. It was Friday night at 6:30 p.m., and the line at the sole US outpost of Bafang Dumplings, a Taiwanese dumpling chain with more than 1,000 locations in Asia, was closed. Most tables have a signature order of kimchi dips. Steamed and then baked into a griddle, the glazed bun-like dumplings are similar in appearance to the hui tou at Hui Tou Xiang in San Gabriel. The skin is thin, crispy, and chewy with chopped pork and kimchi. On a heat scale of one to 10, they are three. But the real star of Bafang is “chili fried chicken.” It’s a fried, buttery chicken leg dotted with a spicy chili and vinegar sauce that will make your nose water in a good way.

Kippered, 361 S Broadway, Los Angeles
El Barrio Cantina, 1731 E. 4th St., Long Beach, (562) 612-0585, elbarriocantinalbc.com
HKC Dim Sum, 3500 W. 6th St., Suite 301, Los Angeles, (213) 739-9205, hkcdimsum.com
Bafang Dumplings, 1552 S. Azusa Ave., Suite B, City of Industry, (626) 778-1958, bafangdumpling.com

https://www.latimes.com/food/story/2022-05-09/potato-tacos-dumplings-champagne-cheese-dim-sum What to eat now: Yes, bathe the cheese in Champagne

Russell Falcon

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