My Last Call at Michael Voltaggio’s ink

My Last Call at Michael Voltaggio’s ink


There was so much anticipation back in 2011 when it was announced that the new winner of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef,” Michael Voltaggio was opening his first restaurant on Melrose Avenue.  When it finally opened in September 2011, I dined there at least 3 times in the month of October, with 3 different groups of friends, and we all admired and enjoyed his style of cuisine, utilizing molecular gastronomy and new techniques (he was a fan of utilizing ash in his dishes).

Since then ink had switched over from serving shareable plates to a multi-course tasting menu.  After a couple of years of each format, ink went back to an a la carte format with a focus on being a steakhouse, offering dry aged Flannery California Reserve Holstein steaks.  However, in the last few years, I was distracted by the likes of n/naka and Maude.

Now that I’ve cut back at dining at such higher end places, I was able to consider dining at ink to find out how the food and the offerings have changed over the years, but with the announcement of Voltaggio closing ink after Sunday’s dinner service (July 31st), and opening ink.well soon thereafter on La Cienega in West Hollywood, I decided to make an impromptu stop for dinner last night and took advantage of the DineLA 4-course Caviar Tasting Menu for $95.00.

However, after seeing the Foie Gras Shavings on the regular menu, and being such a lover of foie gras, I added it as a starter before the 4-course tasting, and I was glad I did.  The foie was creamy and unctuous.

The Caviar Tasting Menu  was lovely, especially the first 2 courses: Smoked Mozzarella and Egg Yolk Gnocchi.  The ball of mozarella was wrapped with a layer of leek gel on the outside, creating a bit of whimsy as one had to break through the layer of get to tender and smokey mozzarella.  The gnocchi  looked like little cylinders of pasta encapsulating creamy egg yolk inside.  Then end result reminded me of a play on mac n’ cheese, with add saltiness from the trout roe.  Both of these dishes were delicious and surprisingly filling.

While I enjoyed dry aged Holstein filet, I didn’t think there was enough “cheesy caviar” to add to the dish.  While the filet was tender and well seasoned, the zucchini strips were a stand out as well.  A side of seaweed mashed potatoes was served with the filet.

Out of curiosity, I added a side of the Carolina Gold Rice as well.  Whoops, too much carbs!  Since I never had it before, it was a treat tasting Voltaggio’s version of it, with the creaminess of the cheese contrasting the airiness and crunchiness of the crispy rice, it was definitely a few bites of fun in my mouth.

Dinner ended with the Caramelized White Chocolate course, which was a nice scoop of rich, sweet, butteriness that was offset by the saltiness of the caviar.  Incorporating the aerated blinis and frozen pieces of creme fraiche into one bite with the white chocolate, my mind kept telling me I’m having a deconstructed cupcake.  That’s what my mind was telling me.  It was a wonderful tasting experience, and I guess a good way to reacclimate myself with Voltaggio’s style of cooking before ink closes, and he moves on to ink well.


FOIE GRAS SHAVINGS, hazelnut butter, radishes, smoked sea salt, pumpernickel


SMOKED MOZZARELLA, vichyssoise, leek-lime, Shasestra caviar, purple potato chips
Close up of the Smoked Mozzarella wrapped by a leek-lime gel and topped with Shasestra caviar.
EGG YOLK GNOCCHI, trout roe, pickled onion rings, lox toppings, micro croutons
Close up of the Egg Yolk Gnocchi
AGED HOLSTEIN (FILET) STEAK, cheesy caviar, zucchini
Close up look of the Dry Aged Holstein Filet
SEAWEED MASHED POTATOES that came as a side with the filet.
CAROLINA GOLD RICE, local milk and freeze-dried Fiscalini cheddar cheese
CARAMELIZED WHITE CHOCOLATE, classic Shesastra caviar, aerated blini, creme fraiche




DineLA Restaurant Week Dinner at Patina in DTLA

DineLA Restaurant Week Dinner at Patina in DTLA

In April of this year, Andreas Roller took over the reigns as executive chef, and with a $49 3-course dinner offered by Patina during DineLA Restaurant Week, it was a perfect venue to be able to sample Chef Roller’s cooking.

Service here was impeccable, and our server was sweet and vivacious.  She took the time to go discuss about the different types of tasting menus and beverage menus they have.

We ordered the DineLA menu (pictured below), and I added the shaved summer truffles ($20 supplement) to my Brentwood Corn Agnolotti.  Tasty, though the bold sweet flavor of the corn seemed to have masked some of the delicate flavors of the summer black truffles.

The dishes were delicious, with the Squid Ink Pasta being the stand out.  The texture of the pasta was on the softer, yet firm side.  It was well tossed in a delicate sauce made with uni and bottarga.  Very unctuous.

I was so satisfied with my experience, that I am looking forward to coming back for either 6-course tasting or the Chef’s Tasting.

Enter a caption
The DineLA Restaurant Week’s 3-Course Dinner is only $49.00 at Patina.
Amuse:  Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Lobster
Close up of the Amuse
Bread Service.  Sadly, it’s 7:00pm on Friday, and they’re out of Olive Bread.
Heirloom Tomato Salad
Preparing to shave some Summer Truffles over the Brentwood Corn Agnolotti


Brentwood Corn Agnolotti with added Shaved Summer Truffles ($20 supplement)
Kurobata Pork Belly
Sea Bass
Close up of Sea Bass
Squid Ink Pasta… so delicate, yet so flavorful.
Close up of the Squid Ink Pasta
Buttermilk Verbana Panna Cotta
Coconut  dessert that’s made with coconut milk, tapioca pearls, mango, yuzu, maracuya, sesame crisps
Close up of the Coconut dessert that’s made with coconut milk, tapioca pearls, mango, yuzu, maracuya, sesame crisps



Knife Cut Noodling at Shanxi Noodle House in City of Industry

Knife Cut Noodling at Shanxi Noodle House in City of Industry

In the East San Gabriel Valley, more and more Asian restaurants are popping up all over from La Puente to Walnut, and from Northern Chinese cuisine to Burmese.  Shanxi Noodle House isn’t a newcomer.  They’ve been in business for over about 2 years now, only having been discovered by me, when a friend and I needed to find a place to grab a bite while on our way home from checking out the superblooms along the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore back in March of this year.  Searching through Yelp, we stumbled upon their listing, which has been awarded a good number of 4 and 5 star reviews from Yelpers, and decided to give them a try.   The result was enjoying the wonderful layers of flavors as well as different textures in the dishes we tried, particularly of the Crispy Potatoes with Oat Flour Noodle Rolls.  After that night, we came back for more.  The noodles and dumplings are all house made, and the knife cut noodles are made to order.

Korean Royal Cuisine Progression Dinner at Yong Su San

Korean Royal Cuisine Progression Dinner at Yong Su San

I’ve heard from some that these progression dinners, aka Royal Cuisine, are more common in North Korea these days than in the South.  Not sure how true that is.  Multi-course meal served family style, in a formal setting, but not as grand and spectacular as one would see at a Chinese banquet dinner.  Nevertheless, it is an interesting experience to partake in at least once.

The dinners are not cheap (about $40 and up per person depending on the menu selected), and while the flavors were there, they were rather muted and not as bold as one would expect from Korean food.  Many of the dishes were good, but there are better versions elsewhere.

Yet, this place is packed, and for the most part, diners are seated in their own private dining room, whether it’s for a party of 4 or 20 (advanced reservations required, of course).


Modern Mexican Cuisine by Chef Diego Hernandez at Verlaine

Modern Mexican Cuisine by Chef Diego Hernandez at Verlaine

Dinner with friends back on Wednesday, April 12, 2017.  Modern Mexican cuisine is finally making a footprint in the LA dining scene.  Chef Diego Hernandez has a critically acclaimed restaurant south of the border in Ensenada, Baja California, before opening up a restaurant in San Diego.  Now, he brings his culinary expertise to LA, and what we got to share was an array of refined, beautifully plated dishes.

The Sorrel Tamal was one of my favorites as the preparation and presentation was nothing one would expect when you order tamal or a tamale.  Our dinner was highlighted by a wonderful Suckling Pig.  Pass me some more of those housemade tortillas!

Dinner ended with a nice Beet Biscocho, soft, smooth, creamy and not too sweet.

VERLAINE, 8715 West Beverly Boulevard, West Hollywood, California 90048, Telephone: (424) 288-4671


Sorrel Tamal – Corn masa, sorrel juice and cheese, mole amarillito, swiss chard, onion ashes
Grilled Half Dozen Oysters – Fresh sage, warm butter, lemon
Beef Tartare – Ginger, chive, kalamata olive, arugula, egg yolk sauce
Whole Baby Beetroot – Smoked and roasted garlic puree, hibiscus powder, dried cheese
Ceviche of the Day – Tostada, avocado, mayo
Whole Baby Carrots – Carrot orange ginger puree, carrot top salad
Fish of the Day – Ash crust, spinach chilpete, swiss chard stem, guisado, russian kale, preserved lemon
Suckling Pig – Sweet potato, salsa madre, smoked squash
Suckling Pig – Sweet potato, salsa madre, smoked squash
Sauce and accoutrements for Suckling Pig
Beet Biscocho – Orange creme, beet apple gel, cacao sorbet
With Chef Diego Hernandez


Bites at Superbite in Portland (PDX)

Bites at Superbite in Portland (PDX)

This was where I had my first meal in Portland, when I arrived on May 4, 2017, for a week long getaway visiting the Pacific Northwest.  I chose Superbite after reading some good press on them, not realizing that chefs and owners, Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, were nominated for a James Beard award and finally won (after having lost in 2015 and 2016) the award for best Pacific Northwest Chef.

After studying the menu, I was intrigued to sample just about each of their “superbites,” especially the much lauded Spaghettios, a 3-bite dish with truffles for $7.00.  While each of the dishes I tried were wonderfully plated and tasty, none of the superbites truly “wowed” me.

My dining companion echoed the same sentiment.  We were particularly disappointed with the Spaghettios as we did not taste any essence of black truffles.  I know, it’s only $7.00, but at least it would be nice to see a few crumbs of truffes in the dish.

My favorite superbite was the Dungeness Crab and the Grilled Shitake.  The Grilled Shitake sat on top of a Miso-Porcini Marshmallow which had a fun texture, quite similar to a marshmallow but firmer.  Whimsical comes to mind.

We did love the one big plate that was ordered, the Grilled Bavette Steak.  That was delicious.

In the end, I just chalked this dining experience up as one that went over my head.

SUPERBITE, 527 SW 12th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97205, Telephone: (503) 222-0979




Griled Shitake, Miso-Porcini Marshmallow, Sauternes Glaze
Duck Croquette a L’Orange, Crispy Duck Rillettes, Tangerine Aioli
Dungeness Crab, Celery Root Tortilla, Sesame Mayo, Orange, Tobiko
Dungeness Crab, Celery Root Tortilla, Sesame Mayo, Orange, Tobiko
Salmon Crudo, Hibiscus Ponzu, Pickled Jalapeño, Shiso
Salmon Crudo, Hibiscus Ponzu, Pickled Jalapeño, Shiso
Salmon Tartare, Caperberry, Sour Cream, Chive, Potato Chip, Horseradish
Salmon Tartare, Caperberry, Sour Cream, Chive, Potato Chip, Horseradish
Beef Tongue “Spam” Musubi, Cucumber, Chinese Hot Mustard
Sphaghettios, Fresh Truffle, Irish Butter, Parmigiano
Sphaghettios, Fresh Truffle, Irish Butter, Parmigiano
Whoops, can’t recall what this dish is.
Grilled Bavette Steak, Potato-Bacon-Onion Skewer, Sauteed Mustard Greens, Balsamic Soy Cream
Grilled Bavette Steak, Potato-Bacon-Onion Skewer, Sauteed Mustard Greens, Balsamic Soy Cream


Fourme D’Ambert Blue Bite, Chocolate, Dates, Roasted Cashew / Crémeux de Bourgogne Bite, Candied Apple, Truffled Pistachio
Fourme D’Ambert Blue Bite, Chocolate, Dates, Roasted Cashew
Crémeux de Bourgogne Bite, Candied Apple, Truffled Pistachio


Dinner at Commerson in Miracle Mile

Dinner at Commerson in Miracle Mile

Having read that Sascha Lyon, formerly of “Baltazar” and “Dauphine,” was manning the kitchen here at Commerson, I decided that a visit is in order here.  Located at the northeast corner of La Brea Avenue and 8th Street in the Miracle Mile area, I had no expectations here.

However, with their tremendously attentive and accommodating service, we were able to drop our guard and enjoy what was being offered by Commerson.

And what they offered were dishes that were prepared well, with portions large portions, and delicious flavors.

The Grilled Rachlette Sandwich was decadent and very filling.  This dish, itself, can be a meal on it’s own.  The creaminess of the melted Rachlette cheese with the juicy crimini mushrooms and the super buttery grilled bread gave us bite after bite of deliciousness.

I also ordered the Filet Mignon with Foie Gras.  The foie was a very generous portion size, and it was seared and seasoned beautifully. Every bite was buttery, and you could taste that wonderful delicate flavor of the foie.

This place is a nice welcomed addition to the super packed LA restaurant dining scene.

Commerson Restaurant, 788 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90036, Telephone: (323) 813-3000,




WILD CAUGHT PACIFIC YELLOWTAIL POKE toasted corn nuts, avocado, soy-yuzu marinade, tortilla chips



GRILLED READING RACLETTE SANDWICH ON LODGE BREAD / crimini mushroom, bloomsdale spinach, red onions, whole grain mustard aioli



CAESAR SALAD WITH NIMAN RANCH ALL NATURAL BACON / organic romaine, grana padano crisps



RADICCHIO TREVISO, CASTELFRANCO AND ENDIVE SALAD candy cane beets, praliné grains, feta vinaigrette

CHARRED WILD CAUGHT SPANISH OCTOPUS / creamy mascarpone polenta, puttanesca



WILD PACIFIC WHITE SHRIMP AND CHORIZO BURGER avocado, pepper jack, broccoli sprouts, spicy sauce


A PARISIAN DIVERSION escargots, garlic butter, french fries, baguette


SEARED WILD CAUGHT ATLANTIC SEA SCALLOPS cauliflower, jerusalem artichokes, preserved summer truffle




LOUPE DE MER, Day’s Special 


MEYER LEMON ETON MESS / Lemon Curd, Meringue, Pound Cake, Whipped Creme Fraiche