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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:

KIKIKO

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.

LA (WESTWOOD AND BEYOND): THE BEST READING

By Nora Zelevansky / February 12th, 2009

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(At this book party, organic-friendly Green Truck served up pretty yummy tacos, although I heard they recently got snubbed in favor of the Korean Kogi Taco Truck that's all the rage by LA Weekly's Jonathan Gold).**

So, it's self (and friend) promotion time . . . sorta.  A couple weeks ago, I attended a book party at Venice's TOMS Shoes (buy a pair and automatically give one to a child in need) Pop-Up Store on Abbot Kinney for a (mostly humorous) essay anthology called, "What Was I Thinking?"  Basically, each essay reveals a different woman's experience with the moment she knew a relationship was over.

Sound heavy?  I guess it could, but most of the stories are long past (gathering levity over time, as these things do) and also they chronicle transformative moments.

ANYWAY, although I didn't write a chapter for the book, I'll be reading a personal essay on the topic along with a bunch of the book's authors (info below).  Whether you check out the reading or not (and there are readings going on in other cities like Portland, NYC, Boston and Chicago too, I believe), the book is worth a gander.

Meanwhile, the more I think about getting up in front of people and reading, the more I wonder what was thinking . . . just another transformative moment one hopes.  Eh.

xo – N.

**For insider taco info check LA Taco, a site dedicated completely to LA taco culture.  LOVE!

READING INFO:

Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009

Border's Books in Westwood at 2pm and 3:30pm
1360 Westwood Boulevard (Second Floor)

2:00 PM Show

1. DORIT SIMONE K.F. -  Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs
2. JUDITH DEWEY  - The Unibrow Breakup
3. KATHERINE TOMLINSON  - Bah Humbug
4. MONICA REGAL  - Funny Boy
5. AMY TURNER   -  Dark Bill
6. BONNIE BRUCKHEIMER -  Handsome
7. MARY JANE MORRISON  -  Signs of Doom
8. WENDY HAMMERS  (HOST) -  Salad Bars with No Vegetables
9. RHONDA TALBOT -   Revenge Baby
10. MARY FEUER 4 Valentine's Day at the Psych Hospital
11. AMY FRIEDMAN  -    Pre - Med Fred
12. CINDY CHUPACK -   Oh, How we Love Bad Boys
13. AMY WRUBLE  -   The 40 Year Old Loser

3:30 PM Show

1. ZOE BRAVERMAN  - Gaydar
2. TINA DUPUY - And then Matt came back  
3. SARAH REINHARDT - The Politician
4. DEBORAH KAGAN - Smash up
5. FRANCESCA LIA BLOCK  - Shaking
6. MARYEDITH BURRELL  - An Affair to Forget
7. BETTY GOLDSTEIN  -  Opera 
8. CLAUDIA HANDLER  -  Star Light, Star Bright
9. KATHERINE RUPPE  -  Open Season 
10. NORA ZELEVANSKY -  Nipples and Nightgowns
11. MARY MARGARET MARTINEZ  - The Idealist