David Chang in LA

February 23, 2018

Every time I texted my friends about our reservation at Major Domo, autocorrect changed it to “major doom.”

I hoped that wasn’t an omen.

But when we get there – a journey through a strange, empty industrial landscape that feels like we’re driving to the edge of the moon – we find the most amazingly vibrant scene. Big, buzzy, loud and filled with young energy, this is, instantly, a place you want to be.

Waiters push carts around, giving it a faintly street feel. This is the first flavor, a water kimchi so refreshing I find myself picking up the bowl and inhaling the brine.

Then there are bings – flat breads with various toppings you dip into or roll inside.

I love them all – the spicy lamb, the eggplant, but most of all the chickpea hozon, a smooth velvety variation on humous that puts all others to shame.

This is sliced kampachi. The fish is delicious. What is better, however, is the bonji that comes with it.  A variation on soy sauce, it’s made of fermented rye. I am deeply tempted to drink the entire bottle or – better yet – pocket it and take it home.  Look for it in your future.

Lots of great vegetables here; I especially like the raw sugar snaps with horseradish and fried shallots.

Black cod is the silkiest, richest fish I know. It’s so filled with fat it’s almost impossible to ruin. Still, I really love this version with noodles, daikon and chilies.

Boiled chicken always looks so pathetic and vulnerable, and the whole one at Major Domo (it easily feeds three) is no exception.  Carved and plated with those two sauces it becomes a lot more attractive.  I especially like the ginger-scallion concoction, which reminds me of the one at New York Noodletown that was so wildly popular with French chefs in the early nineties.

Whole chicken, round two: made into soup with hand-torn noodles.  Simple and totally satisfying.

There are only two desserts: This is the ying, an utterly irresistible mountain of shaved ice, fruit and meringue, a take on a Japanese kakigōri.

And here is the yang: smaller, more compact, and equally appealing, this is a kind of Korean hotteok, little cakes stuffed with a rich mixture of dates and sesame.

As we sit there, eating dessert, we watch enviously as whole plate short ribs – great big bones – are wheeled across the room. They look so delicious.  So does the braised boneless short rib as it is dramatically finished at the table with gooey scrapings of melted raclette cheese. And why didn’t we order the signature Chang spicy bo ssam?

I’ll just have to go back.

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