Restaurant: Moko

Location: 9540 Culver Blvd. Culver City, Ca. (310) 838-3131

Date: July 9, 2011

Cuisine: Modernized Korean

Rating: Very tasty — Spicy!


Moko is a newly opened Korean bar/restaurant serving very modernized variants using a Korean palette of flavors. This is to Korean as Red Medicine is to Vietnamese.

The pleasant but industrial space in the heart of Culver City’s bustling downtown.

The have the BBQ in the table, and there is an extensive section of the menu for ordering meats and vegetables to cook here — we didn’t do that on this visit.

An amuse of three “salads.” Left to right: “Watermelon Namul with tasted almonds chile, shiso and ginger,” followed by “Kong Maul, mixed sporuts with spring onions sesame and soy,” and on the right “Market Radish Namul, sweet ginger and pineapple mint.”

“Spicy Smash, Tequila Silver, lime juice, agave & cucumber, Thai basil, serrano.” This is one of those spicy specialty cocktails that has popped up all over the place lately. It was good, with a long serrano burn.

“Tai Snapper, asian pear jus and pickled ginger.” Sweet and lovely.

“Big Eye Tuna, yuzu, soy, and blood orange.” Also a really good presentation of the fish with complex flavor profiles.

“Sesame Duck Confit, sweet lettuces and mango with ginger aioli and chipotle jang wrapped in jjin bahng.” This was amazingly tasty. The smokey duck, the sweet fruit, and the tang of some pickles paired perfectly — and there was all sorts of texture going on.

“Green Chili Pork Sausage, pineapple and butter lettuces with ssam jang wrapped in jjin bahang.” Also great. The sausage thing tasted amazing.

Asian Pear and Kholrabi Salad, pea shoots and perilla with mustard vinaigrette.” Pretty spicy!

Heirloom tomatos, green beans, soy ginger vinaigrette.”

Silken Tofu, ginger dashi broth.” Wasabi in the sauce was incredibly hot. Hotter even than atomic horseradish. My nose hurt for an hour. Each bite made me sneeze. I finished it all.

“Kimchi eggplat dumplings, mushrooms and silken tofu with pine-nut mustard dipping sauce.” Very tasty too, and not too spicy.

“Wagyu Beef Roseu Pyeonchae, truffle scented seared beef carpaccio with asian pear and arugula salad.” This was one of the blander dishes. The meat was succulent, but I felt the dish could use a little more zing.

“Pan Friend Duck and Foie Gras dumplings with sour cherry dipping sauce.” Incredible potstickers. Some of the best I’ve even had — foie gras! The sauce was really good too.

“Soju Cured Salmon, crisp potato pancakes with pickled onions and ginger cream.” Sort of a giant potato latke with salmon and creme fraiche. Pretty tasty.

Moko certainly had strong flavors, and I for the most part loved them. A lot of dishes were quite spicy, more than I would have expected (and I have a pretty high tolerance). So several hours later I’m still feeling the burn.

Check out some other modernized Asians like Red Medicine or Xino.

Ghost of Thanksgivings Past

This year I’m going to fully document the gluttony that is the Gavin/Flitter Thanksgiving “weekend” (it’s really more the better part of a week – WED THURS). As a teaser, I shall reveal 8 historical testaments to the gut. Each year, my mother and her sister gather to craft an exquisite and entirely homemade feast. No attention to detail is too small. Stay tuned for lavish documentation of the 2010 process.

2002 – While the feasting and plates like this go back for decades prior, it was only in 2002 with the purchase of my first DLSR that I started recording the spoils. Notice not only the large number of dishes, where everything is made from scratch (including cranberry sauce, stuffing, etc), but the carefully planed color coordination.

2003 – No two years are the same. Peas make an appearance in the green vegetable category. Dishes do repeats. For example, my mother’s incredibly delicious cranberry sauce, which has citrus, ginger, and cayenne added to the cranberries. There is a tongue searing zing to the stuff.

2004 – Asparagus and beets make an appearance.

2005 – A different salad, and the beets become a regular guest.

2006 – The sweet potatoes get an experimental dose of black mustard.

2007 – Brocoli Rabe comes onboard.

2008 – This year was the odd man out, although no less delicious. My son was born just a week before in California, and so we hosted. My aunt wasn’t able to make it and so my mother had to shoulder the load alone. No problems with the cooking, and we heard the East Coast feast went on strong too, but it just wasn’t the same without the whole gang. However, in honor of sunny California, the salad went frisse and apples. Oh, and my father and I, unaware that my new European gas BBQ had a thermometer labeled in Celsius, cooked a 20 something pound turkey in a record 2 hours.

2009 – The entire gang returned to Philly for the usual reenactment. The fare was as sumptuous as ever!

2010- This year’s plate! As good as ever.

Just so you can appreciate what the spread looks like, here is 2009’s fare before being plated.

And in case you thought deserts were neglected. Just two of the fabulous array. The “rustic apple tart.”

And my mother’s incomparable homemade pecan pie.

And last but not least: the Chefs!  My mother on the right, my aunt on the left.


Food as Art: Hatfield’s part 2

Restaurant: Hatfield’s [1, 2]

Location: 6703 Melrose Ave, Los angeles, Ca 90038. 323-935-2977.

Date: Nov 18, 2010

Cuisine: Modern American


I went back to Hatfield’s with friends to try it again. You can read about our PREVIOUS MEAL HERE.

They had the same Amuse, crab with quinoa and a light curry flavoring. It was okay, but certainly not mind blowing.

At one time I had two cases of the Gros Frere et Soeur 1998 Richebourg. This is my last bottle, and I’m sad to see it go. Not only were there only a couple hundred made, but it was last sighted on the internet for $1,332 a bottle. Oh well. Richebourg is one of my favorite wines, particularly when as balanced as this one. Some find it too subtle. Not I.


The Prix Fixe menu.

The regular menu.

The other half of the regular menu.

“Roasted baby beet and mizuna salad, french feta, falafel, balsamic vinaigrette.”

“Sweet corn soup, poached lobster, jicama, roasted hon shimeji mushrooms.”

I love these French style soups with the “pour in” around the stuff, I don’t know exactly why. I also love corn soups when done right.

“Warm creamy crab buckwheat crepe, pickled beets, marinated radish, fine herbs.” This was very yummy, particularly the guts of the crepe. Oddly, it was reminiscent of a high end version of that crab omelet thing they have a IHOP (haven’t been there in around 20 years — just so you know).

“Steamed skate wing salad, wild greens, fried maitakes, garnet yams, harissa.”

“Warm summer salad, corn agnolotti, cherry tomatoes, zucchini coulis, fava beans.”

“Charred octopus, caramelized fennel, saffron vanilla braised hearts of palm, red wine olive puree.” The fennel tasted like caramelized onions. Overall this was a very sweet (and tasty) dish with a variety of unusual textures.

“Slow cooked beef short rib, blue lake beans, braised radish, horseradish potato puree.”

“Sauteed Loup-de-mer, braised shelling beans, english pea puree, charred pea tendrils.” I always require my pea tendrils charred, otherwise The Day of the Triffids is a possibility.

“Brown butter-roasted cauliflower”, golden raisons, corn, etc.  — again (we had it on the previous vegetarian menu).

“Pan roasted duck breast, caramelized endive and cherry, pistachio pistou, celery root puree.” This was about as good as a duck breast dish gets (and I’ve tried plenty). The duck was medium rare, and perfectly tender.

The dessert options.

“Chocolate Carmel Semifreddo, salted peanut crunch, bitter chocolate sorbet.” Wow. This was a good dessert. Sort of like a chocolate caramel penut butter cup. There is a new trend to mix salt and caramel. Having always been a fan of the sweet/salty (I put syrup on my bacon), I’m loving it.

“Warm pear strudel, poached sour cherries, black walnut praline ice cream.” I only tasted the ice cream. It was pretty wonderful.

A repeat for the petit fours as well! At least the main menu changes up a lot. It takes a lot to create new dishes and it’s nice to see a place that is willing to experiment. Hatfield’s seems to me to spiritually pick up where Sona left off, with bright Franco-American market driven cuisine. I like it. Somehow it isn’t totally WOW, but it is very good. These are not easy dishes, and each was very good, nothing fell particularly flat. Our last meal at Sona before it closed, for example, felt limp. The chef’s here are as bold as a Ludo (SEE MY REVIEW HERE), but there is also a lower failure rate among dishes. I’d like sometime to try the chef’s “anything goes” menu and see what happens.