Each week, we present our most delicious bite.
This week, the crispy spring rolls with dungeness crab, lime, pea pods, fines herbes & chili at Red Medicine in Los Angeles, California.
It was late night, the dinner hour long since past. We’d hosted an important event earlier in the evening, stopping afterward to check in on some new restaurant openings. As we drove through the city to go home, the thought of a particular reward of “red medicine” made us smile. Of course, the red medicine we had in mind was a bit different than that of the restaurant of the same name. Fortunately, however, they offer an expertly prepared version that photographs almost comically alongside the restaurant’s logo.
We hadn’t visited Red Medicine since their heatedly controversial opening last year. It was extraordinarily provocative. Chef Jordan Kahn was clearly exploring culinary inroads that LA had never before witnessed. It remained to be seen exactly how the city would respond to the concept over time. To our credit, Angelenos have clearly responded in large and happy numbers. And in a pleasantly stark contrast to the new spots that we had just visited, Red Medicine was busy and bustling at an unusually late hour for L.A., and the barman here welcomed us at with a smile and a terrific cocktail. And a menu.
Fortunately, this decision to enjoy a late night snack turned out to be a very good decision, indeed. Jordan Kahn has always pushed the envelope. I can vividly remember my first introduction to his cooking, with a dessert display at Brad Johnson’s restaurant awards event for Angeleno magazine. It was designed to grab attention and it did, with Jackson Pollack-esque drama splashed across white tiles. The next year, he upped the ante, with guests entering a “performance space” in which how one viewed his food was give equal importance to how one tasted the food. Fireworks.
I didn’t expect fireworks from a Spring Roll. Then I took a bite.
Whenever I forget that there is a Negroni sitting in front of me, something serious has just happened. It was one of those moments when you stop… you squint… you pause to think of what you are experiencing….the flavors…the textures. It was startling. Flavors were subtle and shocking, familiar and altogether new. I had to grab the menu and re-read the description. It read so simply, and yet arrived with flavors as complex and enjoying as anything I’d tasted. Ever. ALL THAT from a little crispy spring roll? Incredibly, yes. Had the hour been earlier, I would probably have ordered a second serving. Instead, I ordered another Negroni and reflected upon what a great time it is to live and dine in LA.