Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Majordomo (Los Angeles, CA) [3]

Majordōmo Restaurant
1725 Naud St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tue 12/26/2023, 08:40p-11:40p

Majordomo Exterior

David Chang's Majordomo opened back at the start of 2018 to sizeable anticipation and considerable fanfare. The place was pretty difficult to get into during those early years, but the hype has since died down, and the restaurant has grown into a reliable Chinatown dining stalwart, and thus was the perfect choice for a recent late-ish, post-Christmas dinner.

Somewhat surprisingly, Chang has kept a relatively low profile in LA over the past few years. There was supposed to be a Momofuku Noodle Bar in WeHo, but that didn't end up happening. An outpost of Fuku did open at the SOCIALEATS food hall in Santa Monica back in September 2019, but shut down during the pandemic, only to be briefly revived as part of Kitchen United MIX, which replaced SOCIALEATS. Fuku then embraced a ghost kitchen model, but that experiment was poorly received, and the mini-chain now appears to be limited to just two locations in NYC and concession duty at various sporting venues.

Majordomo Interior
Pictured above is the view from my seat at the northern edge of Majordomo's dining room. Things haven't really changed all that much over the years, which isn't a bad thing.

Majordomo Menu Majordomo Wines by the Glass & Cocktail List Majordomo Sake, Beer & Beverage List Majordomo Wine Pairing
As for the menu, new dishes have certainly been added by Chef Jude Parra-Sickels since my last visit, though the same general feel remains. We also see the restaurant's cocktail list, wines by the glass selection, and array of sakes, beers, and sundry other beverages. Meanwhile, the wine pairing option appears to be new. Click for larger versions.

Majordomo Wine List Introduction Majordomo Wines by the Glass List Majordomo Sake List Majordomo Magnums List Majordomo Wine List: Sparkling Majordomo Wine List: Sparkling Majordomo Wine List: White Majordomo Wine List: White Majordomo Wine List: White
Majordomo Wine List: White Majordomo Wine List: White Majordomo Wine List: White Majordomo Wine List: White Majordomo Wine List: Skin Contact & Rosé Majordomo Wine List: Red Majordomo Wine List: Red Majordomo Wine List: Red Majordomo Wine List: Red
Majordomo Wine List: Red Majordomo Wine List: Red Majordomo Wine List: Red Majordomo Wine List: Red Majordomo Wine List: Red Majordomo Wine List: Red Majordomo Wine List: Red Majordomo Wine List: Red Majordomo Cocktails & Spirits Divider
Majordomo Cocktail List Majordomo Spirits List: Gin, Vodka, Shochu Majordomo Spirits List: Agave Majordomo Spirits List: Bourbon, Rye Majordomo Spirits List: California, Ireland, Australian, Scotland Majordomo Spirits List: Japan Majordomo Spirits List: Cane Majordomo Spirits List: Brandy, Herbal Liquers Majordomo Spirits List: Herbal Liquers
One thing that has changed is the wine list. Currently managed by Lead Sommelier Ryan Kraemer (Bungalow Kitchen, 71Above, Yusho in Chicago, PM in Nashville) and Hana Liu, it's quite a bit better these days. Corkage is $40 for the first two bottles, then $60 for each bottle thereafter, while magnums demand $70 a pop. Click for larger versions.

½ Dozen Oysters
½ Dozen Oysters [$26.00] | kimchi, kombu mignonette
The evening commenced with a half-dozen oysters. I started with the Beausoleils (in the front), which showed off a delicate brine, while the Black Magics were noticeably more saline. The condiments really delivered as well. I appreciated the zingy acidity from the seaweed-boosted mignonette, but even better was that delightfully sweet-n-sour kimchi cocktail sauce.

MSG Martini
MSG Martini [$17.00] | ford's gin, oka kura dry bermutto, umami two ways
Apéritif duties were handled by this martini variation. The cocktail had those cool, boozy, botanical aromas I was expecting, but layered with a healthy dosing of citrus. The taste is where the umami really came into play, as the drink was unabashedly savory in disposition. In fact, it was all a bit much, though the Japanese vermouth did help tone things down a bit.

Sliced Hiramasa
Sliced Hiramasa [$22.00] | fish sauce ponzu, citrus, mint
Tidy shards of yellowtail kingfish ate light and clean, with a lovely texture. The fish paired well with the punchy taste of the ponzu, and I liked the dish's overarching notes of citrus, too.

Butter, Honey, Black Truffle
Bing – Butter, Honey, Black Truffle [$26.00]
Majordomo is fairly well-known for its bing, and for good reason. The Chinese-style flatbread showed off a wonderfully fluffy, multi-layered consistency, and was tasty just by itself. However, as delish as it was, it was indeed much improved when matched with its sugary, musky, and oh-so buttery accoutrements. A favorite.

Autumn's Child
Autumn's Child [$17.00] | lairds bonded apple brandy, lermorton poire cider, amaro, quince, sakura, bitters, cocchi americano, lemon
My second cocktail was a completely different story than my first. It was decidedly assertive with its orchard fruit flavors, and also conveyed a good amount of sweet spices, making it rather apropos for the season.

Fried Cauliflower
Fried Cauliflower [$18.00] | pineapple vinaigrette, cilantro, red onion
Given my proclivity for cauliflower, I was obviously curious about this next dish. I reveled in its rich, umami-driven flavors, countered by touches of tartness and heat, though I just wish that the florets were crunchier.

Grilled Shrimp
Grilled Shrimp [$36.00] | jalapeño, garlic, lemon
I ended up eating the shrimp whole, replete with head and shell, and found them mouthwateringly seasoned, with sophisticated spicing and a welcomed tang.

Banana Chocolate Old Fashioned
Banana Chocolate Old Fashioned [$16.00] | copalli cacao rum, thai baby banana, miso, tempus fugit crème de banana & chocolate
This riff on an old fashioned demonstrated a surprisingly savory nose, though one with touches of mint and banana. Tasting it, I got cocoa up front, along with restrained banana and more mint, all grounded by the boozy weight of the rum. Overall, the cocktail wasn't nearly as dessert-y as I'd expected.

Roasted Pumpkin
Roasted Pumpkin [$16.00] | mole, pickled red onion, oregano
I'm generally not a huge fan of pumpkin, but this was a standout tonight. The key was how the squash's smoky sweetness so effortlessly linked up with the nutty heat of that mole, and I quite liked the acidity provided by those pickled onions, too.

Macaroni & Chickpea
Macaroni & Chickpea [$58.00] | miso, black pepper, black truffle
This chickpea miso-enhanced pasta arrived well-textured, with a nice chew on the noodles, and the classically woodsy, earthy flavors of the truffle certainly made sense in this application.

Tepache Junglebird
Tepache Junglebird [$18.00] | casco viejo tequila, mal bien espadin mezcal, caffo red bitter, tepache, five spice, pineapple, agave, lime
My second long cocktail went down easy. Think bittersweet spices, plenty of tangy pineapple, and nary any trace of booze.

Duck Confit Crispy Rice
Duck Confit Crispy Rice (Mixed)
Duck Confit Crispy Rice [$51.00] | cranberry, leeks, shiso
I'm a sucker for crispy rice, so it should come as no surprise that this was another favorite of mine. In addition to the generous portions of crispy, toasty nurungji, I also enjoyed all those soft, deeply-flavored shreds of duck. The bird was further complemented by the fruitiness of cranberry and what seemed like crunchy, candied hazelnuts, while the leeks and shiso lightened the mood.

Grilled Wagyu Zabuton
Grilled Wagyu Zabuton [$83.00] | steak diane sauce
Our final savory was this Denver steak, which was spot-on in terms of texture, and boasted a satisfying beefiness to boot. However, I found the accompanying sauce a bit overwhelming, as it tended to cover up the inherent tastiness of the meat.

Missionary's Downfall Frozen
Missionary's Downfall Frozen [$17.00] | sweet potato shochu, 3 rum blend, kikori rice whiskey, peach, shiso, mint, honey, pineapple, lime
The night's penultimate libation was this reworked version of a tiki classic. Not too surprisingly, the cocktail went in an unabashedly tropical, sweet, fruity direction, with just a smidge of herbiness. The frozen consistency of the drink was rather nice, too.

Majordomo Dessert Menu & After-Dinner Drinks List
And here we see Majordomo's dessert menu and selection of after-dinner drinks. Click for a larger version.

Pandan Pie
Pandan Pie [$10.00] | coconut, palm sugar
I have hard time resisting pandan, and indeed, its grassy, ricey warmth was well conveyed here, set against the toasty sweetness of coconut. In addition, I quite liked the pie's brûléed top.

Domoquito [$20.00] | mt. gay xo rum, mars iwai tradition whiskey, amaro braulio, coconut, condensed milk, nutmeg, cinnamon
Our last cocktail was decidedly dessert-y, and highlighted the back-and-forth between coconut, dairy, and fragrant baking spices, offset by just enough bitterness and booziness.

Citrus Pavlova
Citrus Pavlova [$19.00] | brown butter, mint
Finishing out the meal was one of the better pavlovas I've had as of late. I appreciated how the refreshing bits of citrus paired with the meringue, while just as crucial were the heftier notes from the brown butter.

The past several years have been tough for David Chang restaurants. Since my first visit to Majordomo, we've seen the closures of Má Pêche (June 2018), Momofuku Nishi (May 2020), Bar Wayō (May 2020, after opening in July 2019), Kāwi/Peach Mart (March 2021, after opening in March 2019), Momofuku Ssäm Bar (September 2023, after relocating in April 2021), and most painfully, Momofuku Ko (November 2023). And that's just New York. Thus, in its hometown, the company is down to just two Momofuku Noodle Bar locations (the second opened in November 2018) and one very casual Bāng Bar (open October 2018), in addition to a few Fukus.

In Las Vegas, both Majordomo Meat & Fish (open December 2019) and Moon Palace (open January 2020) at The Palazzo shuttered in June 2022, though Momofuku and Bāng Bar (open April 2021) are still around at The Cosmopolitan. In Washington DC, Momofuku CCDC closed in May 2020. In Sydney, Momofuku Seiōbo's final service took place in late June 2021. Finally, the tri-level Momofuku location in Toronto (which held Noodle Bar and Kōjin) came to an end in December 2022.

Thus, outside of the aforementioned restaurants remaining in NYC and Vegas, Majordomo is the only other entity left of the once thriving Momofuku empire. Given this grim situation, I really hope that Majordomo can hang on, because the food here is pretty damn good. This really is a key spot for the Chinatown (and Downtown) dining scene, so let's keep our fingers crossed.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home