Yes, there is good dim sum on the Westside — these shaggy taro puffs are it

This is the place to eat – and what to call – right now.

Lotus Dim Sum Duum House Fried Taro Dumplings

I spent many Sundays growing up eating wu gok at dim sum bars throughout the San Gabriel Valley. Fried taro dumplings may be the most distinctive of all dim sum dumplings in both appearance and taste. Wu gok appeared in another world, the result of taro and flour creating a spider web-like structure when it was fried. The rough exterior protrudes straight out, with thin strands of crispy dough sticking out at every angle. It’s cousin It after sticking wet fingers into the socket.

I used to wait patiently as Lazy Susan circled the table, quickly reaching out an arm to stop the turntable as golden puffs landed in front of my plate.

There are no lazy girls at the new Lotus Dim Sum Duum House in Santa Monica, but there are great wu gok dishes and another deep-fried favorite, ham, or sticky rice dumplings with pork.

The wu gok has the characteristic appearance of a sea creature stranded on Mars. Underneath the crispy skin, the light purple taro flesh is rich in starch and sweetness, wrapped in minced pork and mushrooms.

Ham sui gok, my mom’s favorite, are small ball-shaped dumplings made from chewy rice flour that, when fried, taste like mochi donuts. It’s almost completely hollow in the middle, except for a small spoonful of minced pork.

Thang Co fried dumplings.

Stewed ox tail and the situation of wrapping banh tet on Tet holiday

Cow tail soup on Tet holiday

Beef tail soup from the first day of Tet.

(Andre Karimloo / Tet-a-Tet)

A few months ago, during a busy dinner service at Here’s Looking at You in Koreatown, chef Jonathan Whitener called his partner Lien Ta with an epiphany. The two run HLAY and All Day Baby, a cafe in Silver Lake, known for its sandwiches and bacon.

“Stew oxtail, but like pho meets pozole,” he said.

I said, “Yes, genius, let’s go.

Earlier this month, when the two launched the New Year of the Dog, a pop-up restaurant that serves dinner at All Day Baby, combining Ta’s Vietnamese background, Whitener’s Mexican heritage and love of Vietnamese cuisine , oxtail pho combined with pozole has been put on the menu.

The base is a delicious broth made from beef shins, knuckles and collarbones simmered with spices and brûléed onions. Whitener shreds and smokes the ends, then braises them until tender. They lay like giant rocks in a bowl, intact and perfectly caramelized. The bottom of the dish is lined with hominy’s filling. Floating to the top are chunks of pickled jalapeño, a bunch of raw Maui onions, and blistered scallion oil.

Like any good pho or pozole, the soup is served with a variety of condiments: raw sprouts, fresh herbs, and a cup of salsa macha.

It’s great pho with the soul of pozole. The flavor comes out just right and kicks in, with lively strands of cinnamon, cardamom, white pepper and ginger running through the broth. Add some hominy, break off a bit of the oxtail, season with salsa, slurp and repeat.

And for bread aficionados, there’s Jidori chicken liver pate, a dish meant to inspire the ultimate sandwich, where the only protein is a generous amount of luxurious pate. Whitener’s pate combines emulsified butter and maple syrup with Jidori chicken liver along with whiskey and onions. Served with a soft bread of Banh Mi Che Cali, you tear the bread apart, spread a thick layer of pate, then coat your bread with the accompanying pickled onion, mango jam (mango and sugar have been reduced to reduced sugar). sticky seasoning) and lemongrass. Crispy chili (fried lemongrass with Thai chili, turmeric, black pepper, white pepper and star anise).

“For me, Vietnamese food and a lot of Latin dishes have the same ingredients,” says Whitener. “We were colonized by the same people, the French colonized Mexico and the Vietnamese, so these dishes are very meaningful.”

Dirty Chicken at Augie’s on Main

Dirty Chicken by Chef Josiah Citrin.

Chef Josiah Citrin is building on one of his most popular Citrin staples by opening a casual chicken shop that serves his “dirty” roast chicken, along with sandwiches, salads, and other treats. dish together. The new venture is named for his son.

(Jeff Couch / Augie’s on Main)

There’s no shortage of casual chicken restaurants in Los Angeles. Kismet Rotisserie revolutionized the genre when it opened in Los Feliz in early 2020. On the chain, there’s Zankou Chicken, Boston Market and California Chicken Café. Who remembers Kenny Rogers Roasters? What about Koo Koo Roo, with that winking rooster logo and friendly staff, bright and cheerful as the sun?

Augie’s on Main, by Michelin-starred chef Josiah Citrin, is the next great fast casual chicken restaurant, built around the roast chicken he has served at his other restaurants, Mélisse and Citrin for several years.

“When someone mentions the name Augie, it gives me a lot of different feelings,” Citrin said in a recent phone call. The restaurant takes its name from Citrin’s late son, Augie. “I just feel like giving better food at a better price to the city where I grew up.”

I don’t know if I necessarily agree with the “dirty” moniker, but it’s an impressive panorama of taste and technique. Jidori chicken is injected with a wet brine, then cooked in a low-temperature oven. Citrin raises the temperature to roast, then takes them out and whisks them with a mixture of tamarind, miso, mustard, and lemon. Then he crumpled the chicken with pulverized panko breadcrumbs, preserved Meyer lemons, pickled garlic, Sriracha powder, and added dry seasoning and vinegar powder.

It’s juicy, crunchy and messy, combining all the best parts of both fried and roasted chicken. Things get dirtier when more dipping sauce is added. You can order straight cooked chicken, charred California salsa (molcajete with aji Amarillo), green salsa with anchovies or fermented green chili sauce with cilantro and vinegar.

The name is also a premise for possible future locations.

“It’s Augie’s name on the dotted dot, so we can name it anywhere,” says Citrin.

Here’s hoping Citrin brings his filthy chicken to a neighborhood near you.

Where to eat

Lotus Dim Sum Dumpling House, 326 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (424) 380-5500,

Lunar New Year, 3200 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 741-0082,

Augie’s on Main, 2428 Main St., Santa Monica, Yes, there is good dim sum on the Westside — these shaggy taro puffs are it

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