Thursday, February 11, 2021

Rosemallows (Long Beach, CA)

Rosemallows Bar
225 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90802
Thu 02/11/2021, 07:30p-09:40p

Rosemallows Exterior

I recently found myself in Downtown Long Beach and in need of a place to have dinner. I ended up checking out Rosemallows, a cocktail bar with what management describes as an "80's tropical minimalism" aesthetic. Named after the rose mallow (another word for hibiscus), the place opened in late November last year, shortly before outdoor dining was outlawed again due to rising coronavirus cases, and comes to us from none other than craft beer maven Jimmy Han.

Han, of course, is most known for being the driving force behind Beer Belly, which opened in Koreatown in 2011 and in Long Beach in 2016. Unfortunately, the K-town location closed down in July 2019, while LBC shuttered at the start of 2020. The former is now home to smashburger purveyor Love Hour (where Han is a partner), while the latter was converted to Rosemallows. There was also a Beer Belly outpost at Banc of California Stadium that debuted in April 2018, but it looks like it's also dead and buried.

Note that Tiki Tiki, a tiki bar that opened in an unused section of Beer Belly Long Beach back in August 2018, is still around. The team hopes to get it up and running again once the pandemic situation improves.

Rosemallows Cocktail List Rosemallows Menu Tiki Tiki Menu
The beverage program at Rosemallows is run by James Squire (a Beer Belly and Tiki Tiki alum), who also manages the FOH. The cocktails here are fruit-forward and tropical-leaning in nature, and might be considered tiki-adjacent, though you can also order directly from the Tiki Tiki menu if you really want to go in that direction. In addition, there's a small array of beers and a few interesting wines on offer. As for the food, it's the work of Chef Dustin Prewitt (Belly Bombz food truck), and definitely has a pan-Asian bent befitting this place's concept. Click for larger versions.

Lemongrass Mojito
Lemongrass Mojito [$12.00] | bacardi superior carta blanca rum, lemongrass syrup, mint, soda
As some longtime readers might know, the mojito was my go-to cocktail back in the late aughts, so I decided to revisit the drink tonight. Rosemallows' rendition was classic at its core: a refreshing, fizzy concoction, but one amped up by the zing of lemongrass.

Spam Musubi (2)
Spam Musubi (2) [$7.00] | hawaiian glaze, japanese kewpie mayo, green onion, house furikake + tempura battered
First to eat was one of the better Spam musubis I've had. The actual Spam came out well seared, its salty, savory flavors meshing well with the rice while the sesame seeds allowed for even more enjoyment. The tempura'd preparation featured a batter that contributed some further textural interest to the standard dish, but I actually preferred the original.

Prickly Pear Daiquiri
Prickly Pear Daiquiri [$12.00] | prickly pear, cane sugar, ron abuelo 7 yr. panamanian rum, lime
My second cocktail was this ruby-hued take on the traditional daiquiri. I found it fruity and floral overall, with tart, citrusy notes and a pervasive astringency backed by an undercurrent of chocolate-y flavors.

Fried Chicken Sandwich
Fried Chicken Sandwich [$13.00] | coconut & pineapple yogurt brined chicken thigh, sesame-scallion-red miso cabbage slaw, hibiscus & horseradish aioli, brioche bun, served with fries
Next came one of the more interesting chicken sandwiches I've had. The actual bird ate as tender and juicy as I wanted, and showed off a properly crisp crust, but what really struck me was the aioli, which imparted an omnipresent floral note. It was sort of odd, but worked, and I was certainly a fan of the crunchy slaw as well. The fries, meanwhile, were on the crisp, gritty, familiar side, and came with two condiments: an easy-going wasabi ranch and a surprisingly potent curry ketchup.

2020 Ambitious Ales Julia
At this point the bar began shutting down, and so I had to switch over to beer. I opted for the 2020 Ambitious Ales Julia [$7], a sour blonde ale with raspberry, blackberry, and vanilla. Nose on this one was all about jammy fruit. The beer was soft on the palate, and I got a pretty good amount of tart berries, backed by a slight cereal-y character and wisps of moderating vanilla. This was actually the first beer I've had from the brewery, but now I'm curious to see what else they have to offer.

Macaroni Salad
Macaroni Salad [$6.00] | carrot, green onion, sesame seeds, house furikake
As I mentioned above, the restaurant was closing up shop, so I ended up taking the rest of my meal to-go. Let's start with the mac salad, which was a bit different than what I'm accustomed to, and I'm not just talking about the use of shell pasta. The dish had an austerity to it that was unexpected, as the dominant flavors here were the nuttiness of the sesame and the pungency of the scallions. Sort of neat, actually.

Yardlong Beans
Yardlong Beans [$7.00] | cherry tomatoes, toasted garlic, roasted hazelnuts, tropical vietnamese glaze
Beans arrived pleasantly crunchy, with a good smoke to 'em--very nice. I also appreciated how the tomatoes lifted the dish, though I wasn't quite as convinced with the hazelnuts.

2019 Cellador Ellipses
Squire was kind enough to include a complimentary beer with my takeout order, the 2019 Cellador Ellipses, a wild ale with Black Tartarian cherries that was created for the brewery's third anniversary. The bouquet here was all about aromatic dark fruit laced with plenty of tart, earthy, yeasty notes. Tasting it, I got loads of lush, lingering, almost kriek-like cherry, joined by a barnyard-y funk and a good amount of acidity.

Hanger Steak
Hanger Steak [$24.00]
Grilled hanger steak was cooked a bit more than I would've liked, but that didn't really end up detracting from the cut. The beef was still well textured, and had a solid sear to it, along with a deep, rich, robust flavor profile that I found extremely satisfying. Yum.

The hanger also came with a serving of fries, which were more aggressively flavored than what I had above with the chicken sandwich. Also appreciated was the zippy chimichurri on the side.

Loco Moco
Loco Moco [$11.00] | short rib and chuck hamburger steak, fried garlic rice, vegan mushroom gravy, over easy egg, scallions, sesame seeds
Loco moco is one of those dishes I always tend to order when I see it on a menu, and Rosemallows' version didn't disappoint. I was impressed with the rice, which was perfectly textured and spot on in terms of seasoning. It played foil to the combination of a full-flavored burger patty and egg, while the savory mushroom gravy helped bind everything together.

Apparently, the reason for the shutter of Beer Belly was due to Han's belief that craft beer's moment had passed. It's a bit unfortunate to hear that, especially since he was one of the early proponents of the genre here in LA, but perhaps there's some truth behind the sentiment. That being said, though I'm sad to see Beer Belly go, Rosemallows looks to be a promising replacement, and will likely also become one of my go-to drinking spots in Long Beach.


Blogger Jammin said...

just wondering what camera you are using these days?

Wednesday, March 03, 2021 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Jammin said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Wandering Surf said...

Hi Kevin, thanks for the review. Can you expand on Han's belief and perhaps your thoughts, about why craft beers moment has gone?

Wednesday, March 03, 2021 2:10:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

We moved out of Long Beach in October so we never got to try this place. Gonna be there tonight so we might try to drop by this place. I agree with Han's beliefs about craft beer. There are so many small breweries nowadays that curating a select few to have at a restaurant seems impossible. We were a fan of the Tiki location that was here beforehand so Im glad they expanded on that idea.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021 4:26:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Jammin: I'm currently using a Sony α6000, which I've actually had since around late 2015 I believe. The camera came out in early 2014, so it's indeed getting long in the tooth. Strangely though, I just checked Sony's web site, and they're still selling the camera new today.

Wandering Surf: I can't comment too much more on Han's thoughts, since that's just what I was told by the staff here. However, personally I can see where he's coming from. As you know, I'm quite the beer drinker myself, and in the past few years, even my interest level has gone down a bit, likely due to over-saturation in the market and the proliferation of "hype" beers/breweries.

Tony: Were you able to make it out here last week? If not, where did you all end up?

Sunday, March 07, 2021 7:14:00 AM  

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