The Other Critics

Virbila Purrs at Hungry Cat; Gold Eats Beaver and Bear at Starry Kitchen

Tastes like...bear?
Tastes like…bear? Photo: Flickkerphotos via Flickr

By now you have probably formed your own opinion on Hungry Cat, but nonetheless, S. Irene Virbila is breaking down the newest location of David Lentz and Suzanne Goin’s seafood bistro. “Ridiculous how difficult it’s been before now to find quality seafood a stone’s throw from the beach,” she writes, echoing a very fair gripe we’ve heard her express before. “With the arrival of Hungry Cat [in Santa Monica], we no longer have to lament the lack.” Perhaps taking a swipe at two of L.A.’s favorite young chefs (or maybe she’s talking about The Galley, sure), she credits the lack of maritime geegaws in writing, “Hungry Cat’s decor signals serious restaurant too. No fishnets tacked to the walls or kitschy buoys.” Ooh, snap! She sums it all up: “We’ve finally got a great casual seafood restaurant at the beach,” forgetting that the “casual” part doesn’t really extend to the prices. Her gift card to Enterprise Fish Co. is in the mail. [LAT]

At the risk of hearing more ball jokes, J. Gold goes back to Starry Kitchen, which he finds “as improbable as any restaurant in Los Angeles, an illegal backyard restaurant transformed into a pan-Asian office workers’ canteen with validated parking…after a year, the downtown space still feels like a squat — but it seems clear that it’s going to be around for a while.” He then breaks down an insane (in the good way, but also kind of actually insane) menu of dishes Laurent Quenioux has been preparing for his pop-up there, including bear and beaver meat! He ends with a bawdy little quote that sounds like it came from the LudoBites camp. Okay, we get it. Balls jokes? Verboten! Cock and beaver jokes? Priceless. [LAW]

Jonathan Gold is the last person on this whole hot rock to go to Mother Dough Pizza (well, except us), where Bez Compani’s pies “are unlike anything in Los Angeles…soft and elastic, made from long-rise dough, paler than you think it should be but freckled with bits of char; not quite crisp, but having nothing to do with the undercooked excrescences that pass for pizza in some parts of town.” Speaking of sagging pizzas, he throws Sotto’s soggy pies into the ring alongside Mozza’s, making us scratch our befuddled heads. [LAW]

Some lady is asking Jonathan Gold where she can find the best jajangmyun, which the critic calls the “divine crankcase sludge of black bean paste, meat and melted onions…[usually accompanied by] hand-pulled noodles.” Mr. Gold has a few variations on his mind, but eventually points the way to Mandarin Hotel (room 515!), “which is still neck-snappingly good after more than 15 years,” “player-haters” be darned. [LAW]

Virbila Purrs at Hungry Cat; Gold Eats Beaver and Bear at Starry Kitchen