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LA (SAWTELLE): THE BEST SHRIMP & EGGPLANT IN BROTH YOU’LL WANT TO DRINK

By Nora Zelevansky / April 19th, 2010

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I've been diagnosed with malaise.  By my sister, Dr. C.  She got her honorary degree online via Web MD (and by that I mean that she checks the site A LOT).  Anyway, I'm not about to come down with some serious disease (um, we hope–knock on wood! Knock on wood!), but I'm a little antsy and blue and basically I'm craving some shift in the routine.

So, with a fresh experience in mind Saturday night, Andre and I decided to check out a new restaurant for dinner.  I perused Jonathan Gold's most recent 99 Essential L.A. Restaurants list and found, Kiriko, a Japanese restaurant just of Olympic on Sawtelle.

I was sort of tempted to jump ship and head to one of Sawtelle's many awesome ramen joints, if I'm honest, but we stayed the course and it was worth the trip.  I wouldn't say that every single dish blew our collective mind (say "no" to the spicy miso albacore handroll, which tastes neither spicy nor like miso), BUT a few dishes really stood out:

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As Jonathan Gold suggests, the super smoky salmon wrapped around fresh mango is AWESOME and, though simple in its ingredients, complex in its mixture of flavors.  The sweet mango kind of cuts the salmon's flavor, which is seriously reminiscent of the smoked mozzarella I grew up eating from Fairway.

But our favorite find was definitely the eggplant and shrimp in broth (pictured above).  Now, I LOVE Agedashi Tofu in almost every form I've ever sampled.  If you haven't had it, it's basically lightly fried tofu in a sweet, salty and mild soy broth, usually with some grated radish and daikon.  In this case, you're having the Agedashi Tofu experience, but instead of tofu you have this amazingly flavorful, warm and amazingly textured eggplant stuffed with shrimp soaking in the broth.  I'm not going to lie.  It was amazing.

Andre and I were initially drawn to the dish because we LOVE an eggplant stuffed shrimp dim sum dish from Empress Pavilion downtown in Chinatown.  (I'm going to go out on a limb without Andre here to confirm and say that it's probably our favorite dim sum dish.)  That one is drizzled in black bean sauce and is also DELICIOUS, but definitely a different thing.

But different is good.  At least I think so.  After all, it's the only real cure for malaise.

xo – N.

BROOKLYN: THE BEST CREAM CHEESE SELECTION

By Nora Zelevansky / April 13th, 2009

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Throughout the ages, poets and soap opera actors alike have wondered: Is it possible to love two entities at once?  Well, folks, I'm here to tell you that, yes, it is.  See, growing up on Manhattan's Upper West Side, I have endless happy memories of marching into H & H bagels, demanding whatever was hot (ideally an everything, salt or raisin bagel) and then watching the doughy heaven steam against the cold air, as I devoured it under the brown awning outside.

In recent years, though, I've spent a lot of time nesting at my sister's abode in Park Slope and, now, I'm in love with another as well: Bergen Bagels.  I mean (I know this is not surprising cause I'm obviously beyond food obsessed), but literally hitting BB is one of my major first priorities upon arrival to NYC.

Here's why: first of all, though LA has a rep for being all woo-woo and health conscious and all that jazz (must be the plethora of nutritious Botox), for some reason the Cali bagel places almost never carry tofu cream cheese.  Now, I'm sure that sounds pukey anyway to some of you purists, but–for us lactards and vegans too–it's a necessary evil like goat milk ice cream or I dunno–other stuff.  Tofu scallion cream cheese happens to rock and BB carries that along with about 5 billion other types of cream cheese.  Seriously, doesn't the above look like gelato?  It's their selection of CREAM CHEESE!

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Second of all, their black and white cookie is unreal, they carry Dr. Brown's soda, their chicken soup is the perfect blend of homemade and canned-style thin noodles (not TOO real, if you know what I'm saying) and their cranberry muffins are almost (ALMOST) as good as Fairway's version.

OH and their salad bar is like the cheapest best salad bar deal in the city.  So cheap and also fresh that I feel like I almost should keep it locals' little secret.  But I won't.  Cause this is Pocket Lint.  And this is just how we do.

xo – N.

LA (BEVERLYWOOD): THE BEST SALT STICK

By Nora Zelevansky / March 16th, 2009

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If you didn't know that Beverlywood existed (and most non-locals are unaware), you might imagine the neighborhood's name was made up; an imaginary conflation of famous LA streets or a fantastic place where–defying the space time continuum–the Hollywood sign and Rodeo Drive exist side by side.

In fact, Beverlywood is a low-key mostly hassidic and orthodox jewish neighborhood just south of Beverly Hills. And, among other things, this area is home to one of the city's best jewish bakeries, aptly named Beverlywood Bakery.  And this ain't one of those newfangled cupcake spots.

Now, I know most east coasters lament the absence of good bagels, but (as I've mentioned before) a few more obscure treats are even more notably hard to fine, in my humble opinion.  Amazing cranberry muffins like the ones found at Fairway on Manhattan's Upper West Side (with sour fresh cranberries to cut the sweetness of the cake) are one major hole.  Another missing link, though, is the salt stick, which was a major staple in my salt addicted household growing up.

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So call it nostalgia, a gut reaction to too many skinny models or just plain old hunger, but driving back from a fall collection preview (which is probably what I should actually be covering since it's Fashion Week–eh), I just had to stop at Beverlywood Bakery.

A salt stick, if you haven't had one, is a sort of buttery roll (see above) topped with kosher salt and caraway seeds.  And they happen to be one of life's great pleasures.  Beverlywood Bakery makes the best ones I've tasted in LA (crusty on the outside and perfectly doughy on the inside), along with delicious jewish cookies and all that related sweet, buttery jazz.

The bakery has been open since 1946, which is a particularly long time by LA standards. So, stop by and try one out for breakfast (cause by lunch, they're usually all gone).

After all, Beverly would.

xo – N.

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