Saturday, August 19, 2017

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Check out the master Index of Posts to view a list of all the restaurants that I've visited. Or, see the Interactive Dining Map and The Best Thing I Ever Ate, a list of my favorites dishes of all time. Contact me via email at kevin at kevineats dot com.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Plate by Plate 2017 (Los Angeles, CA)

Plate by Plate 2017 at the California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037
www.platebyplate.org/la/
Sat 08/05/2017, 06:00p-10:00p




Plate by Plate Logo


At the start of August, Project by Project hosted its 15th annual Plate by Plate charity tasting benefit at the California Science Center's Wallis Annenberg Building, which, coincidentally, was where the first Plate by Plate that I attended back in 2010 was held. If you're not familiar with the organization, Project by Project is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit centered on issues related to the Asian-American community, one that's celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. As is always the case, the tasting showcased the talents of some of LA's top restaurants, as well as beverages from a variety of purveyors, so let's get into it:

Walter Manzke Anthony Harguindeguy
L: Walter Manzke took a break from his usual style of food and instead highlighted his new ice cream concept, Crèmerie at Republique, which launched just recently on July 14th. He did much of the scooping himself, and the flavors available were Almond Toffee, Peach Sorbet, Strawberry, Chocolate Chip, Rocky Sweet Melon Sorbet, and Chocolate Hazelnut.
R: And speaking of ice cream, Portland's Salt & Straw was also on hand, with LA Event Manager Anthony Harguindeguy leading the charge. Their slightly unconventional flavors were Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, Freckled Woodblock Chocolate, Birthday Cakes and Blackberries, and Roasted Strawberry Coconut.

Cathy Hong Peter Yun, Eileen Ung, Anny Chien, Jenelle Yee, Kevin Ung
L: PbP Marketing Team Member Martin Kwok (on crutches), as well as PbP Manager of Past Partner Relations Cathy Hong.
R: Most of PbP's Fundraising team: Manager of Corporate Relations Peter Yun, Director of Fundraising Eileen Ung, Manager of Auction Donations Anny Chien, Fundraising Team Members Jenelle Yee and Kevin "Little" Ung.

Yoya Takahashi, Jesse Duron Nigirizushi
Executive Sushi Chef Yoya Takahashi and GM Jesse Duron represented their new restaurant Umi by Hamasaku, which is scheduled to open in El Segundo's The Point shopping center this fall. Their various types of Nigiri and Sashimi were a hit, and I was digging their mini sushi case as well.

Savory Blue Prawns with Serrano Ham and Smoked Panca Aioli Andrew Chiang, Chloe Lin, Ricardo Zarate
Longtime Plate by Plate supporter Ricardo Zarate was back with Rosaliné, his much-anticipated return to the LA dining scene that dropped in June. His dish? Some appealing Savory Blue Prawns with Serrano Ham and Smoked Panca Aioli. Assisting were PbP volunteers Andrew Chiang and Chloe Lin. Also, do note the schmancy custom PbP 20th anniversary apron that "Martin" is modeling, provided to each Chef by local design firm BlueCut.

Winnie Fong, Michelle Li John Wirfs
L: PbP Outreach Team Member Winnie Fong and PbP Manager of Past Partner Relations Michelle Li, both looking sullen.
R: PbP Director of Outreach John Wirfs rocking his fancy engraved name metal tag (why is he the only member who has one?), pocket square, and lapel flower thingy.

Hubert's Lemonade Team Brynn Smith, Noe Garcia
L: Hubert's Lemonade was last year's "Best Beverage" winner, and the team was back for a second helping.
R: Coincidentally, right next door was Sotto, which ended up winning the top spot this year. Bar Director Brynn Smith and Noe Garcia definitely delivered with their cocktail, the Miele di Nettare (Tito's Vodka, Lemon, Honey, Meletti Amaro).

Freddy Vargas, Kelly Guilday Porchetta with Bitter Greens and Calabrian Chili Vinaigrette
Stephane Bombet's been a perennial supporter of PbP, and though he was absent this evening, he did send his new eatery, The Ponte. Executive Chef Freddy Vargas and GM Kelly Guilday served up a lovely salad of Porchetta with Bitter Greens and Calabrian Chili Vinaigrette.

Tram Tran Lawrence Tang, Nina Kin, Wilson in, Patrick Lee
L: PbP Events Team Member Tram Tran, with poorly pinned name tag.
R: A family affair: PbP Director of Volunteer Management Patrick Lee with the parentals, as well as PbP Manager of Communications & Multimedia Wilson Kin (his cousin) and other cousins Lawrence Tang and Nina Kin.

Eton Mess with Meringue, Berries, Chantilly, and Lemon Zest Amanda Craig, Wes Whitsell
Newcomer Manuela did well for their first time. Chef/Partner Wes Whitsell and GM Amanda Craig chose to go with a dessert, specifically an Eton Mess with Meringue, Berries, Chantilly, and Lemon Zest.

Stan Weightman Jr, Valerie Gordon / Valerie Gordon Hojicha Panna Cotta / Coffee Crunch Cake
The Valerie Confections station was manned by the owners themselves: the wife-and-husband team of Valerie Gordon and Stan Weightman Jr. On offer were a Hojicha Panna Cotta and Coffee Crunch Cake. Mouseover for secondary photos.

Michael Keng Vickie Chan
L: The unforgettable Michael Keng, a former PbP-er, with a woman that he didn't come to the event with.
R: PbP President Vickie Chan and guy with a somewhat inappropriate tie.

Blake Huang, Jacqueline Ho Michael Russell
L: Friends and PbP volunteers Blake Huang and Jackie Ho were in charge of the Lotte Chilsung station, and were slanging cans of HOT6 (that would make a good name for a K-pop boy band) energy drink and the soju-based Ku Mojito.
R: Repped by Sales Account Executive Michael Russell (who was at Plate by Plate last year as well), Pacific International Liquor/Silkroad Wine and Spirits once again had an impressive array of sakes available for tasting.

Summer Salad with Arugula, Watermelon, Goat Feta, Heirloom Tomatoes, Cucumber, and Four Leaf Balsamic Patrick Zagorski
Bar Angeles' new Head Chef Patrick Zagorski had a light Summer Salad with Arugula, Watermelon, Goat Feta, Heirloom Tomatoes, Cucumber, and Four Leaf Balsamic going on.

Patrick Zagorski Patrick Lee, Cindy Lee
L: Zagorski sampling one of Nguyen Tran's balls. I will say that I appreciate the headband.
R: PbP Director of Volunteer Management Patrick Lee with PbP Manager of Team Development Cindy Lee (no relation).

Renata Rokicki Braised Meatballs with Potato Purée, Cipollini Onions, and Parmesan
Sister restaurant Cafe Birdie of Highland Park had some homey Braised Meatballs with Potato Purée, Cipollini Onions, and Parmesan, courtesy of Executive Chef Renata Rokicki (also with the headband).

Chicken Machaca Tostadita with Bell Pepper, Tomato, Roasted Peanut Sauce, Guacamole, and Pickled Onions Valentina Batture
New Chef de Cuisine Valentina Batture of Petty Cash was dishing out a Chicken Machaca Tostadita with Bell Pepper, Tomato, Roasted Peanut Sauce, Guacamole, and Pickled Onions. Note the dual BlueCut aprons.

Da Chhin, Chris Tran, Anh La, Mimi Xu, Linda Zhou Lisa Xu, Eileen Ung
L: Some peeps from other Project by Project chapters: Marketing Team Member Da Chhin and Fundraising Team Member Chris Tran from San Francisco (matchy-matchy!), PbP SF Events Team Member Anh La, PbP SF President Mimi Xu, PbP NY President Linda Zhou.
R: PbP Director of Marketing Lisa Xu and PbP Director of Fundraising Eileen Ung.

Andrew Chiu, Andrew Wong San Antonio Winery Team
L: The duo of Andrew Chiu and Andrew Wong--Andrew²--from Peking Tavern had two cocktails on offer: a Chrysanthemum Martini (with Russian Standard vodka) and a Baijiu Sour (with Beijing er guo tou jiu).
R: San Antonio Winery had a variety of quaffable Maddalena, Stella Rosa, and Bodega Sangria wines available.

Michael Lee Tuna Sashimi
Regional Manager Michael Lee was fronting the KazuNori station, which once again boasted the longest lines thanks to their made-to-order Handrolls (Cucumber, Yellowtail, Toro, Crab, Salmon, Bay Scallops) and Tuna Sashimi.

George Yin, Judy Chu Cathy Nguyen, Mike Bow, Samuel Oh
L: The ever-well-connected PbP Manager of Past Partner Relations George Yin, with US House of Representatives member Judy Chu (from our 27th congressional district--i.e. much of the SGV).
R: The event's MCs Cathy Nguyen (replacing Dan Matthews, who pulled out at the last minute) and Mike Bow, with PbP Marketing Team Member Samuel Oh.

Crispy Tofu Balls with Spicy Sriracha Aioli Nguyen Tran
Starry Kitchen/Button Mash's Nguyen Tran once again had his Crispy Tofu Balls with Spicy Sriracha Aioli in yo' mouf. Note that his cookbook, Adventures in Starry Kitchen, was released recently at the beginning of June.

Michael Hung Orange Braised Duck Wraps with Savoy Cabbage and Plum Sauce
Chef Michael Hung was present, repping his upcoming eatery XO on Beverly (which takes over the old Stir Market spot) with Orange Braised Duck Wraps with Savoy Cabbage and Plum Sauce.

Nirendran Kathirithamby, Liliana Chen, Michelle Ko Vickie Chan, Jason Su
L: The O.G. PbP crew: National President Nirendran Kathirithamby, Co-Founder & Board Director Liliana Chen, Board Chair Michelle Ko.
R: Current PbP President Vickie Chan once again, with boytoy Jason Su.

Elton Keung Austin, Jerin Dennis Haynes
L: Labobatory founder Elton Keung had someone doing card tricks(?) at his station, but also served up some tasty alcoholic boba cocktails in the form of the Bobagasm (Soju, White Russian, Boba), AMF (Asian Matcha Fever) (Soju, Strawberry, Matcha), and Lebanese Rose Milk.
R: Pressed Juicery had a selection of cold-pressed juices available, served by Jerin Dennis Haynes and his good buddy Austin.

Nikki Reginaldo, Jonathan Yao Beef Tartare
Chef/Owner Jonathan Yao and GM Nikki Reginaldo from the very of-the-moment Kato take the cake for most unusual plating with their nasturtium leaf-wrapped Beef Tartare with what I believe was Meyer lemon.

Jay Chen, Alek Tan Sophie Westacott
L: PbP National Treasurer Alek Tan (on the right) with "friend," along with politician Jay Chen (he ran for Congress back in 2012, losing to Ed Royce) and wife.
R: Sophie Westacott from the California Science Center, after inhaling one of Kato's tartares.

Pickled Mussels in Black Garlic Vinegar Ryan Riedy
Kali's station was being run by Ryan Riedy, who's actually Head Chef at Belcampo Group (Kevin Meehan attended, but I assume he was absent making the rounds). And the dish? Pickled Mussels in Black Garlic Vinegar, which I also have to commend presentation-wise.

Joel Miller / Carlos Enriquez Tacos de Caja Payaso / Joel Miller, Carlos Enriquez
The Wallace's Executive Chef Joel Miller had some fun Tacos de Caja Payaso. He was joined by Carlos Enriquez, who had some even funner Nitro Meringues. Mouseover for secondary photos.

Kelly Li, Clayton Tran Jay Chung
L: Former PbP members Kelly Li and Clayton Tran with the box-head guy from The Wallace--not exactly sure what he was supposed to be.
R: Trial attorney Jay Chung, a partner at Lee Anav Chung White & Kim LLP as well as CPAF board member, with the new girlfriend.

Danielle Lew Coca-Cola Team
L: Kikori was a definite crowd favorite with its rice-based whiskey. They had two cocktails--the Kikori Bonsai (Kikori, Yuzu, Lime, Mint, Cucumber, Sugar) and the Kikori Old Fashioned (Kikori, Yuzu Bitters, Ginger Juice, Sea Salt)--and you could also sample it straight. In the photo we see marketing person Danielle Lew, as well as a bartender that apparently has his apron on backward.
R: Global beverage giant Coca-Cola had a variety of their drinks available, but seemingly no decoration at all at their station.

Hatcho Miso-Braised Pork Ribs Charles Namba, Julie Leong
Echo Park's modern izakaya Tsubaki was serving some hearty Hatcho Miso-Braised Pork Ribs. Assisting Chef/Owner Charles Namba was PbP volunteer Julie Leong.

Marian Bacol-Uba, April Joy Michelle Lim, Sunny Park, James Park
L: My award for most surprising person to see: Former PbP President Marian Bacol-Uba (back in town from Miami), with friend April.
R: "Uncle" James Park (winner of the baller dinner for six at Otium that was in the silent auction), with noona Sunny Park and her BFF Michelle Lim.

Josh McKnight Amaretto Glazed Pork Belly with Spaetzle and Caramelized Peaches
Speaking of pork, Chef Josh McKnight had an Amaretto Glazed Pork Belly with Spaetzle and Caramelized Peaches for The Roof on Wilshire.

Salted Donut Drop with Black Garlic, Salsify Purée, and Oxtail Jam Danielle, Philip Pretty
The sole representative from Long Beach, Restauration's Chef/Owner Phil Pretty was joined by Pastry Assistant Danielle, and their dish was a Salted Donut Drop with Black Garlic, Salsify Purée, and Oxtail Jam.

Brenna O'Leary, Kaitlin Egan John Wirfs
L: Brenna O'Leary and Kaitlin Egan repping Bread & Butter PR.
R: PbP Director of Outreach John Wirfs, with a man who sort of resembles a young Nixon.

Matt Bostick Shi Jun Ng
L: Baldoria Bar + Kitchen's Matt Bostick didn't do bottled cocktails this year. Instead, he had the fittingly Asian-y but tasty Seoul Train (Jameson, Soju, Ginger, Cherry).
R: Shi Jun Ng's The Assembly in West Hollywood had a variety of beverages happening: Espresso, Cortado/Cappuccino, and Cold Brew, as well as their Cinnamon Vanilla, Sparkling Yuzu Lemonade, and White Coconut Tea signature drinks.

Chris Vetter, Marcel Vigneron, Mason Uemura, Alison Le Lamb Bacon with Dates
Marcel Vigneron's Wolf ended up winning top dish honors tonight thanks to their Lamb Bacon with Dates. Helping out were Event Coordinator Chris Vetter as well as PbP volunteers Mason Uemura and Alison Le. Note that this was not Vigneron's first time at Plate by Plate. On season 2 of Top Chef, he actually competed in an elimination challenge at 2006's event at this very venue. His team lost, so I guess this is a redemption of sorts.

Delia Rodriguez, James Rodriguez, Jenelle Yee, Ver Starr Marilyn Tran, Andrew Le
L: PbP Fundraising Team Member Jenelle Yee with boyfriend Ver Starr, along with Delia and James Rodriguez, the godparents of PbP Operations Team Member Ruben Rodriguez.
R: PbP National Marketing Director Andrew Le with ex-PbP-er Marilyn Tran (who used to work for one of Project by Project's former partners, CPAF).

Crisp Maitake Mushroom with Ricotta and Malt Vinegar Kris Tominaga
WeHo's Mardi had a Crisp Maitake Mushroom with Ricotta and Malt Vinegar, created by Executive Chef Kris Tominaga.

Jason Tsai Drinks / Potted Plant Milk Tea
Jason Tsai's Macchiato in Monterey Park (and the upcoming Next Republic in Alhambra) had some visually appealing beverages at his station: cocktails, sangria, and his signature Potted Plant Milk Tea. Mouseover for a secondary photo.

Patrick Lee, Michelle Chen Susan Hirasuna, Steve Jones
L: PbP Director of Volunteer Management Patrick Lee and future wifey Michelle Chen.
R: Fox 11's incomparable Susan Hirasuna (who's actually MC'd the event a couple times), along with Steve Jones, owner of real estate development firm BetterShelter (I'm sort of digging his jacket).

Andreas Roller 'Canned' Yellowtail Escabeche
Let's move inside into the Muses Room now. Patina has a new Executive Chef in the form of Andreas Roller. He and his team deserve some presentation points for their "Canned" Yellowtail Escabeche, which was also a guest favorite.

Dry Aged New York Tataki with Dashi, Pickled Ramps, Marrow, and Beef Fat Creamed Corn Alexander's Steakhouse Team
Alexander's Steakhouse was serving a lovely Dry Aged New York Tataki with Dashi, Pickled Ramps, Marrow, and Beef Fat Creamed Corn. Executive Chef Matt Bata was present at the event, but must've been out hobnobbing when this photo was taken. Note, though, that he ended up leaving the restaurant just a couple days after Plate by Plate!

Julie To, Sherwin Goo, Flora Yin Casey Chiu, Cindy Chan, Tony Chen, Simon Cheung, Robert Ly
L: The legendary Sherwin Goo, accompanied, as always, by at least one of his ladies. Tonight we had Julie To and Flora Yin.
R: Leet VIP level guests: Casey Chiu, Cindy Chan, Tony Chen, Simon Cheung, Robert Ly.

Hongbo Sun, Charles Olalia 'Lo Ma Gai' Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice with Pork Sausage, Salted Egg, and Tomato Salad
RiceBar's Charles Olalia was helped out by PbP volunteer Hongbo Sun, while his dish was an intriguing "Lo Ma Gai" Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice with Pork Sausage, Salted Egg, and Tomato Sal.

Pulled Pork Sliders / Watermelon Rory Herrmann
Rory Herrmann, Director of Culinary for Sprout LA, led the Barrel & Ashes team, and they had some Pulled Pork Sliders and Watermelon going on. Mouseover for a secondary photo.

Hard & Stone Bartender / Baby's First Bourbon Smartwater Team
L: Getting into the VIP area now, Houston Hospitality's Harvard & Stone whipped up the tasty Baby's First Bourbon (Bourbon, Orgeat, Lemon, Angostura Bitters). Mouseover for a secondary photo.
R: With all the booze at the event, you'd be smart to stay hydrated, and Smartwater certainly fit the bill.

Dante Basco Alek Tan, Jason Chen, Lilian Hwang, Alvin Chou
L: Taking a seat at the VIP tasting station was actor Dante Basco, who's no doubt best known for his work as "Sammy" on ABC's Hangin' with Mr. Cooper.
R: PbP National Treasurer Alek Tan and PbP Events Team Member Lilian Hwang, along with Jason Chen and Alvin Chou.

Green Mussel & Sea Urchin Sake Shooter Radishes, Beet Mustard, Parmesan
Hanger Steak, Potato, Blistered Tomatoes Chocolate Bar
Phillip Frankland Lee's Scratch|Bar & Kitchen served a four-course mini-tasting menu in a seated station setup, which is always appreciated by VIP guests. The menu: Green Mussel & Sea Urchin Sake Shooter; Radishes, Beet Mustard, Parmesan; Hanger Steak, Potato, Blistered Tomatoes; Chocolate Bar. Director of Operations Gabriel Wischmeier, meanwhile, did a great job as maître d', taking everyone's reservations and managing seating. Note, also, that Neal Fraser's Redbird was also serving in the VIP, though unfortunately I wasn't able to get a photo of the team.

John Tung, Tiffany Hsu Kelly Li, Clayton Tran, Lily Tran
L: PbP Manager of Leadership Development John Tung and PbP Manager of Event Production (and future Director of Events?) Tiffany Hsu.
R: More former PbP members: the inseparable Kelly Li and Lily Tran, along with Clayton Tran.

Mengqiao Wang Katie Tang
L: We now head up to the garden area, which had six more beverages. Ballast Point had their famed Sculpin IPA (my go-to choice back in the day) available for tasting, as well as their Sea Rose Tart Cherry Wheat Ale. Pouring was PbP volunteer Mengqiao "Rhine" Wang.
R: Katie Tang from PbP NY was serving two beers from Glendale's Brewyard Beer Company: Love Affair Witbier and Everything Nice, a maple cinnamon Belgian dubbel.

Helena McMurchie, Michelle Lorme, Cherisse Cleofe, Cherisse Cleofe Annie Lin, Ken Liu
L: The Tuyet crew: Helena McMurchie, Michelle Lorme, Cherisse Cleofe, Cherisse Cleofe (yes, they have the same name, and yes, it's confusing).
R: Old school PbP-er Annie Lin, with hubby Ken Liu.

Honest Tea Pourer Andrew Kwong
L: Honest Tea had some much-appreciated non-alcoholic offerings and the best hair color of the entire event.
R: Escondido-based Stone Brewing (actually PbP volunteer Andrew Kwong) was pouring their Tangerine Express IPA.

Kelly Kwan, Calvin Kwan Heather Szerszen, Kian Farhadi, Yulree Chun, Patrick Noel Tio, Trevor Chang
L: A family affair, part deux: PbP Director of Operations Calvin Kwan and PbP Operations Team Member Kelly Kwan with their father. I'd invite my dad, but he'd be unsettled by the food (nasturtium-wrapped beef tartar--no thanks).
R: PbP's previous President Yulree Chun, along with new hubby Patrick Noel Tio and Trevor Chang (did he swipe that cap from The Wallace?), both also ex-PbP-ers, as well as Heather Szerszen and Kian Farhadi.

Diane Leigh Kawaba Beer Team
L: Mighty Swell and PbP volunteer Diane Leigh provided some refreshing (and boozier than I expected) Grapefruit and Mango Sparkling Cocktails.
R: Kigen's Kawaba beer came in two varieties (the only two varieties available Stateside I think): Snow Weizen, a witbier, and Sunrise, a red ale.

Nguyen Tran, Aussie Jen Yim, Grady Ha
L: Decked out in his signature banana suit, Starry Kitchen's Nguyen Tran made for a popular photo op. Pictured with him is someone named Aussie...who's actually Aussie (and Chinese). I like those Hello Kitty frames.
R: Jen Yim, with the inimitable Grady Ha.

Finally, guests were provided with voting tickets, one for best dish and one for best drink, and were able to vote via ballot boxes at each station. Here are the final results:
1st Place Wolf Sotto
2nd Place Kato Kikori Whiskey *
3rd Place Patina Labobatory
* Due to an oversight, Kikori's box wasn't tallied at first, and thus Labobatory was announced as 2nd, and Macchiato 3rd. However, when Kikori's votes were counted, they moved up to #2.