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Editor’s Note: Pearl River Deli and Angry Egret Dinette are sadly no longer open.

Eating in the city of Angels is always an exciting time, with new restaurants and pop-ups continuously appearing and longtime restaurants still holding their own. Cliché as it may sound, Los Angeles is a true melting pot of cuisines where you can find food from pretty much every corner of the globe, as well as a new generation of third-culture chefs cooking amazing dishes based on their experience growing up in an immigrant family in the United States. It was no easy task to narrow our choices down, but these are the memorable meals that made it onto our Los Angeles Best Bites list for 2022.

Caldo verde at Caldo Verde

Caldo Verde is the latest restaurant from chef Suzanne Goin, one of the pioneering female chefs in Los Angeles. At Caldo Verde, she blends Portuguese flavors with California ingredients. The eponymous green soup here has the usual components: sausage (in this case linguica), potatoes, kale, and saffron, but it also contains rock crab and mussels harvested in Santa Barbara. The broth is made using the crab shells and innards, creating one of the most delightful seafood soups in town. It’s a large portion meant to be shared with the table, though we wish we could devour the whole pot.

Chicken Khao Soi at Northern Thai Food Club

A small strip-mall joint with only a handful of tables, Northern Thai Food Club in Thai Town is often lauded as having the best khao soi in Los Angeles, and we tend to agree. The khao soi at this family-run spot has an especially creamy coconut milk broth with deep flavors. The yellow curry noodle soup is topped with a large, braised chicken leg with meat so tender you can easily tackle it with your chopsticks. Northern Thai Food Club also offers very affordable prices. Not only would Northern Thai Food Club be one of the best value meals in the city, it’s also one of the best meals, period.

Soto Tangkar from Dapoer Bunda

Dapoer Bunda is run by an Indonesian home cook who sells her cooking for pickup only via social media. Her menu rotates every week, and she offers a handful of dishes each time. One of the best dishes to order from Dapoer Bunda is soto tangkar, a traditional beef rib soup from Betawi (an ethnic group who used to live in what is now Jakarta). The soup is made with coconut milk, tomato, galangal and various other spices, and it features beef ribs because those were the only cuts of meat that the Betawi people were able to access during the colonial period (the ribs were considered lesser cuts and the better cuts were reserved for the Dutch). Of course, ribs actually turn out to be one of the most delicious cuts and Dapoer Bunda’s soto tangkar showcases this with her tender ribs in a rich and complex soup. She offers this semi-regularly as it is a very popular item, so check in when she releases her weekly menu on Instagram.

Kishka burger from Birdie G’s

Birdie G’s is an American restaurant born through Chef Jeremy Fox’s upbringing as an Eastern-European Jew who grew up in the Midwest, the South and eventually found himself in Southern California. They offer a very special burger that is only available on their happy hour menu: the kishka burger. The kishka burger’s patty is made out of seared blood sausage and it is topped with swiss cheese, cornichon, red onion and a persimmon comeback sauce, all sandwiched between a sesame pretzel bun. It is an earthy and flavorful burger that all adventurous eaters should try.

Biscuit & Kare Gravy from Yangban Society

Yangban Society has been making waves and changing the perception of modern Korean American food in L.A. Like a deli, Yangban Society has rotating salads and cold appetizers, as well as a more permanent menu. Among the mainstays, the best may well be the biscuit and kare gravy. Flaky, buttery layered buttermilk biscuit is smothered in a Korean curry gravy cooked with ground beef and pork, carrots and onions. It’s an excellent execution of a Southern staple combined with Korean flavors, and most importantly, it’s just plain delicious.

Bread with Époisses butter at Camphor

A Thai Chef and an Indian chef met while working at Alain Ducasse, and a few years later Camphor was born, a French bistro with South Asian sensibilities. There are a number of great dishes to try here, but the can’t-miss item is actually the bread. Yes, do not skip ordering the bread, especially if you are a lover of stinky fresh cheeses. At Camphor, thick slices of bread are served with a soft spread of butter mixed with Époisses, a soft, cow’s milk cheese known for its pungency. It’s also served with a side of honey that pairs perfectly with the butter. The bread and Époisses butter is a great start to what is also a wonderful meal at Camphor, though I’d happily eat just the bread for my meal any day.

– Fiona Chandra

Macau Pork Chop Bun from Pearl River Deli

Soon after debuting in early 2020, Pearl River Deli, a Cantonese-inspired restaurant, closed – like many vendors due to Covid-19. After two years of anticipation and following updates on their social media, I was finally able to try the restaurant in 2022, shortly after Chinese New Year. They found a permanent location on the historic Mei Ling Way, one of the first streets that makes up New Chinatown’s Grand Central Plaza just outside downtown Los Angeles; the very meeting point for our Culinary Backstreets tour.

Pearl River Deli is changing the perception of Chinese food and Chinese takeout. You won’t find Kung Pao Chicken, Sweet and Sour Pork, or fortune cookies, but there is a light and fluffy crab omelet and sought after Hainan chicken, traditionally made with minimal seasoning to allow for the fresh ingredients to shine. When first visiting, the amount of food ordered took up so much space on the table I could hardly find my chopsticks and steak knife as I was preparing for my most anticipated dish, and soon to be one of the best things I ate of 2022: the Macau pork chop bun. At first bite, you crunch through the large, sugar-coated bun that is just able to contain the breaded, crispy, seasoned meat and melt-in-your-mouth fat of a bone-in pork chop slathered in special mayonnaise. I’ve recommended it more than any other food this year. While giving praise to this restaurant and bun, I must mention the special team which includes chef-owner Johnny Lee and chef de cuisine Laura Hoang. Together, they are having fun in the kitchen and making delicious food while respecting and legitimizing traditional Cantonese recipes and ingredients, even in a pork chop bun coated with sugar and stuffed with fat.

Hey Porky’s Breakfast Burrito at Angry Egret Dinette

I am not myself without a hardy breakfast every morning, and when I am not making eggs with garlic spread at home, I’m ordering the Hey Porky’s breakfast burrito, one of the best foods I ate in 2022, found at Angry Egret Dinette. Unlike tacos, where you can get away with a bad corn tortilla if you have good meat or salsa, the right flour tortilla is essential in a good breakfast burrito: it needs to be strong enough to hold massive amounts of protein, egg and salsa, but thin enough to not outshine any ingredients. It must be flavorful, and a nice chew to the dough is a plus. The Hey Porky’s Burrito does it all and more. Its main ingredient is a heavy amount of slow roasted pork shoulder that is extremely tender and dripping in fat, packed against crispy bacon with a fluffy scrambled egg surrounded by black bean paste and dense Oaxacan cheese with hints of heat, sweetness, and acidity from a salsa verde.

Chef-owner Wes Avila and Sous Chef Bryan Landeros are leading the way for contemporary Mexican food in Los Angeles as their restaurant was recently named as a finalist for best New Restaurant in the United States by the James Beard Foundation. The chefs share their experiences growing up in Latino households combined with their professional training to join a small class of chefs who are cooking a new genre of food altogether, what’s known as Alta California Cuisine. What makes this different than the tacos, tortas, burritos or seafood you will find across the city is that the chefs are elevating their recipes with high quality, fresh ingredients that thoughtfully acknowledge memories and flavors of traditional home cooking, while exceeding expectations by tasting like something new in a familiar package. As part of our first stop on the Los Angeles Culinary Backstreets tour, you will be able to try one of a number of amazing dishes on their menu

– Ulysses James Salcido III

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Ulysses Salcido and Fiona ChandraUlysses Salcido and Fiona Chandra

Published on December 19, 2022

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