The Other Critics

Virbila Is Not Feeling Firefly’s Glow; Gold Ducks Into Beijing Duck House

We could have predicted this one: S. Irene Virbila goes to Studio City’s Firefly and doesn’t like it. The problem? Jason Travi’s dishes are “more generic than Menes’ graceful originals were,” though she allows that they are a work in progress. “Most main courses… don’t make much of an impression,” she writes, and even a baked Alaska is “disappointing.” Before handing out one measly little star, she sums it up in saying Firefly “doesn’t offer as much excitement or reliability as you’d expect from a seasoned chef like Travi,” but just to make sure you’re confused, still calls it “one of the better places to eat” on Ventura Boulevard. [LAT]

Like some sort of Chinese restaurant version of Tom & Jerry, Jonathan Gold once saw a cook throw a meat cleaver at another dude’s head at Quanjude, “where the best Beijing duck was served.” There are some good dishes at Beijing Duck House while you wait for your quacker, “which are clearly roasted with a savory marinade inside the cavity, which prevents the skin from turning a glorious bronze but makes the residual meat, usually a throwaway, delicious.” [LAW]

Los Angeles magazine claims Boyle Height’s Mariscos El Jato might easily be confused with being on the beach in Ensenada. How much beer did this dude drink here? Anyway, a platter of five shrimp tacos is only six bucks and they swear these are “among the best in the city.”
[Los Angeles]

Searching for alternates now that Anisette and Pho Minh have closed? Chances are you’re not just missing the croissants at Alain Giraud’s, but Mr. Gold gives some great recommendations for their replacement anyway. As for Pho Bac, the world mourns its loss, but try Pho Filet nearby, “which also has a delicious pho bac, highlighted by a slab of filet mignon that looks as if it came off on the losing side of a knife fight.” [LAW]

J. Gold takes a first peek into Bryant Ng’s Spice Table and finds “This isn’t quite the food of the hawker centers, but it isn’t tame,” with preparations of black-pepper crab “abstracted into a kind of juicy crab canape,” curry laksa “jolted with the strong, toasted shrimp paste belacan” and “skewers of grilled beef tripe, which picked up all the smokiness from the grill.” [LAW]

Virbila Is Not Feeling Firefly’s Glow; Gold Ducks Into Beijing Duck House