Lotusland Best of L.A. 2011

The “Best of LA 2011” edition of the LA Weekly just came out, and it has some kooky categories in its food section:

  • “Best Expensive Biscuit (Half) Sandwich”
  • “Best Thing to Come Out of a Clamshell Since Venus”-
  • “Best Buy-It-Before It Expires Deals”
  • “Best Contrarian Brewery”
  • “Best DIY Pig’s Foot Feast”

…you get the picture.

Here, Lotusland offers up its own take on the best of Los Angeles food, in a style inspired by the Weekly.  For the sake of simplicity, we’re limiting our scope to downtown.  Check it out:Best Use of Vegetables in a Cocktail: Our vote goes to the kabocha martini at Aburiya Toranoko.  Don’t know what kabocha is?  We’ll give you a hint: Halloween.  The kabocha is a japanese pumpkin, green-colored, and a bit smaller than its jack-o-lantern cousin.  The cocktail at Toranoko includes kabocha puree.

Best Place for a Very Expensive and Very Simple Meal:  It has to be Kagaya.  The main menu item at this shabu-shabu restaurant is a pot of bubbling hot water filled with cabbage,  where you dip paper-thin slices of beef for about two seconds until cooked.  Oh, and the price tag?  It ranges from $45 to $138 per person.

Best Place to Blow Out Your Eardrums:  Huh?  Say that again?  I can’t hear you!!!!  Oh, you said Cole’s, Home of the French Dip? Yes it certainly gets noisy here, especially right by the bar.  It must be the crunch of people who storm the joint at all hours for roast beef and old-fashioned cocktails (our favorite is a take on the Cosmopolitan).  It’s a good thing those sandwiches and martini glasses keep our mouths busy – because it’s certainly too loud to actually talk.

Best Margarita, With or Without the Worm:  Las Perlas is serious about its margaritas and tequilas – there’s hardly anything else on the menu.  So you have the option of playing it safe or going all out.  Gusano, por favor?

Best Use of Rabbit Livers:  The crispy rabbit livers at the Lazy Ox Canteen come on a bed of bitter radicchio leaves and pear slices.  Their skin is breaded and flaky.  The liver texture is just right – balanced between chewy and soft.  It is a meal of decadence.

Best Music in a Bathroom:  Some restaurants offer only a toilet stall, mirror, and soap.  Others take exquisite care in decorating their bathrooms – including the soundtrack.  At Aburiya Toranoko, the bathroom tunes are called “roukyoku.”  It’s not quite music, actually – rather a form of storytelling that combines narrative with singing, often to the accompaniment of shamisen.  The speakers are dramatic, their voices melancholic.  It’s too bad we can’t understand Japanese!

Best and Most Unlikely View: Think of famous spots for good views.   In New York, the Empire State Building. In LA, the US Bank Tower, and the Tom Bradley observation deck at LA’s City Hall.  Such tall buildings!  But a stellar view doesn’t have to look from the sky down.  Our favorite view requires you start from the ground, then look up.  It’s at Casa, an upscale Mexican restaurant at Bunker Hill.  The outside booths are situated just beneath some of the most tall, elegant, sleek buildings around.  Two wear neon bands around their top in purple and teal.  When you look up past those roofs into the darkness, you feel a sense of  freedom and possibility.

Best Picnic Spot: When you think “park,” do you think an empty expanse of grass?  Not at Vista Hermosa Park.  The one acre space is intricately landscaped with a diversity of plants, flowers, and trees, creating rainbows of colors.  Best of all, Vista Hermosa sits on a hill overlooking Downtown LA and Echo Park. No wonder its name means “beautiful view.”

*To be continued!


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