LA Weekly’s The Essentials proudly showcased the best food in Los Angeles

An entire floor of the California Market Center in Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) was the scene of LA Weekly’s The Essentials. It showcases the best restaurants in Los Angeles all under one roof. Since it was such a popular event, the line to get in was quite long. In fact, it was wrapped around the building and took about 45 minutes to get to the entrance. Comfortable shoes were a must as there were long lines for food as well. Once inside, the atmosphere was buzzing as people sipped on libations and the alluring aroma of food just tantalized the senses.

Here’s some food and drinks that were offered (you can see more in the video):

Night+Market presented Garlic Fried Rice with ikura and homemade hot sauce. For the first bite of the night, it really hit the spot with a garlicky kick in the rice. The ikura added a salty flavor and luxurious silky feel when mixed with the rice. The homemade hot sauce was pretty good with just the right amount of heat, not overpowering the garlic or ikura flavors. Rating: 4.5/5

Corazón y Miel presented Pelón Punch made with reposado tequila, tamarindo, ancho chile, chamomile tea, and orange, pineapple, and lime juices. It was a fruity yet strong drink to start the night off. Tropical and Latin flavors fueled this cocktail. Rating: 4/5

Union presented a Pork Meatball sauced with San Marzano tomato, caper berries, lardo, and chile sitting on a bed of creamy polenta then topped with parmesan cheese. This is one of the best meatballs you will ever have! It is meaty yet not super dense like a hard-pressed meatball. The sweetness from the tomatoes and the brininess from the capers added the perfect balance of flavor to the pork. The parmesan was a nice touch, lightly shaved to melt in your mouth with the sauce and pork. The polenta was a great idea for a base preventing the meatball from rolling off the plate. Mangia! Rating: 5/5

Pot presented Beep Beep Uni Dynamite Rice, which is seasoned rice, spicy mayo, and topped with uni, furikake, and green onions. This little ball of love was like a savory rice ball bon bon. Uni had a mild flavor but plows its way through the spicy mayo and was accentuated by the salt in the furikake. Rating: 5/5

Maude Restaurant presented a Juniper Potato Chip with buttermilk and caviar. It was the perfect hors d'oeuvre to be eaten in two to three bites. The buttermilk provided a creamy, yet acidic flavor. The caviar added a salty element along with a decadent, luxurious quality. Simple yet, elegant! Rating: 5/5

Little Sister presented Coconut Braised Pork with rice, chile, cilantro, and quail egg. Thai-inspired ingredients flavored the coconut braised pork. The sauce seeped into the rice, providing lots of flavor throughout. The chile added some heat while the cilantro added a refreshing greenness. The boiled quail egg added a richness from the yolk and was just a really nice surprise in the box. Rating: 5/5

Lucques presented Braised Beef Cheek. This is a wonderful piece of beef that is greatly under-utilized and under-appreciated. When braised, the texture becomes like a really great pot roast. The collagen breaks down and is just as tender as the meat. This particular bite was very tender with a little bit of lip-smacking from the collagen. It had a buttery quality to it as well. This would have been great paired with silky garlic mashed potatoes. The tomato, green olive, and caper mix seemed a little too acidic for this piece of beef. The arugula was also a little harsh adding a tinny flavor. Rating: 3.5/5

Jitlada Restaurant presented BBQ Pork with spicy fried rice. The pork tasted and looked like char siu pork with a deeply marinated, sweet & salty flavor and red color. The spicy fried rice was not all that spicy, but adding the thai chile sauce will definitely turn up the heat. Rating: 4/5

El Huarache Azteca presented Tostada de Tinga with shredded chicken, shredded lettuce, cojita cheese, and crema. The chicken had a nice flavor to it and the cojita cheese actually makes the flavors pop with its salty profile. It tasted like chicken nachos minus the melted cheese. Rating: 3/5

Chichen Itza Restaurant presented Tacos De Pollo Asado with pickled red onion; another simple, yet delicious item. Since the meat was shredded, it acted like a mop just picking up all the flavors from the sauce. The pickled red onion added a sweet yet acidic flavor for a nicely balanced taco. A taco to dream about! Rating: 5/5

Kogi presented a mini version of their short rib taco. The bulgogi marinated short rib is amazing. The short rib was meaty and included some of the buttery fat in the chop. The richness was balanced out by the acidity and slight spiciness from the kimchi. You can see why Kogi has a huge following. The flavors are just addictive! Rating: 5/5

DRY Sparkling presented their line of sparkling beverages. There is a flavor for everyone from Blood Orange, Cucumber, Rainer Cherry, Vanilla Bean, and more. On their own they are fabulous, but add them as a mixer to a cocktail, it’s a whole different story. Rating: 4.3/5

Guisados presented up a Jalapeno Relleño Taco. The Mexican version of a jalapeno popper but better. The jalapeno heat was subdued by the fry process making it a little sweeter. There was just enough cheese inside to make it gooey. The salsa rojo added a nice flavor to both the jalapeno and the batter of the relleño. Rating: 4/5

Guelaguetza presented a variety of moles with rice and chips. You could also have a chance of trying chapulines, dried, fried, and seasoned grasshoppers from Oaxaca. The mole variety was a great way of trying different types of mole and tasting the different flavor profiles – from sweet to chocolatey to spicy – Guelaguetza is known for their moles. The chapulines tasted like seasoned dry shrimp. Once you get over the fact that it is a bug, it’s pretty tasty. Rating: 5/5

Bai presented their line of drinks. A personal favorite is the Molokai Coconut. It has only 5 calories, yet has the full flavor of coconut and a slight creamy texture on the palate. If you are a Costco member, it is in the coupon book this month! Rating: 5/5

It was so busy and a lot of the restaurants ran out of food early. But all in all, The Essentials is a great event to try some of the best food that Los Angeles has to offer.

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