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Uchi, lauded Texas sushi bar with a cult following, just debuted its first L.A. location

Uchi and Oheya

A national sushi brand with a ravenous fandom just landed its first West Coast restaurant, launching in West Hollywood — with another L.A. sushi bar soon to follow.

Uchi, founded in 2003 by James Beard Foundation Award-winning chef Tyson Cole, sprouted from Austin before expanding to Miami, Denver, Dallas, Houston and beyond. Famed for intricate seasonal small plates and vegetarian offerings in addition to a range of sashimi, nigiri and daily specials, it’s the first of two flags to be planted in West Hollywood. Oheya, a high-end, 14-seat omakase restaurant, is slated for a 2024 opening in the same building.

“It’s always been a dream of [Cole’s] to open a sushi place in Los Angeles,” said chef de cuisine Joel Hammond, who heads the kitchen at L.A. Uchi and Oheya. “Los Angeles is known to have some of the best sushi in the world. … We’re very, very humble in that we know we’ve got a lot of competition, but I think we’ll stand on our own. Uchi is very unique and its own thing.”

Uchi’s fish is primarily sourced from Japan’s famed Toyosu Market, with some also from Europe, such as bluefin tuna from Spain, and others from New Zealand such as the Ora King found in nigiri, sashimi and with Spanish chorizo and brown-butter hollandaise. The kitchen prioritizes ocean sustainability, Hammond says.

The fish can be found throughout the omakase, as well as what they call the “somakase,” where the server builds an omakase out of their personal choices, plus a la carte small plates, nigiri and sashimi. A vegetarian omakase, a full vegetarian menu and vegan options are also on offer, and the space — all wood, low-lit and modern — seats nearly 200 across a sushi bar, the dining room, the cocktail bar, a patio and a private dining room.

Uchi, pictured, is only the first Hai Hospitality restaurant to open in Los Angeles; a more intimate omakase bar is set to debut in early 2024.

(Shelby Moore / Uchi)

Unique to West Hollywood is the bar menu; most Uchi locations and offshoots offer a happy hour, but here, Hammond and the team hoped to create an entirely different set of bar-only bites — such as fried pork belly over maitake chawanmushi, or beef tartare over house-made milk bread seared in rendered A5 wagyu fat — that could be worthy of their own visit at any time.

Given the proximity to the coast and the Santa Monica Farmers Market, special dishes and other items unique to West Hollywood will feature highly seasonal ingredients, with some pitched by staff even outside of the kitchen .

“The quality of goods is just unmatched out here,” Hammond said, “so that’s what we’re the most excited about.” Some include market vegetable tempura; market-squash gunkan; and a strawberry XO sauce devised in Houston that makes an appearance on a few items, including a seared scallop in vermouth butter and an heirloom-tomato salad.

Beverages include a range of sakes and imported Japanese beers in addition to cocktails such as an umami-packed “dirty dashi ‘’ martini, an apricot-tinged boulevardier, and a citrus old-fashioned featuring yuzu bitters. Uchi is open in West Hollywood on Sundays to Thursdays from 5:30 to 10 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 11 p.m.

9001 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 101, West Hollywood, (310) 708-4808, uchi.uchirestaurants.com

An overhead photo of a purple box of petal-topped cake bars on a pink table at Flouring in Chinatown.

Heather Wong’s Chinatown bakery, Flouring, specializes in petal-topped cake bars in a range of colors and flavors.

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Flouring

A long-anticipated bakery featuring some of the city’s most stylish cakes and treats is set to open in Chinatown with a case full of flower-topped cake bars. Flouring, from Bottega Louie and Sweetsalt vet Heather Wong, soft-opened, then closed, in December to test the business; on Jan. 13 it will reopen permanently after years of pop-ups and residencies.

Wong specializes in familiar flavors but with a twist, some with nods to her Chinese and Mexican heritage such as the black sesame cake bar or the marranitos, or piggy cookies, which she makes with orange zest and piloncillo.

“I just wanted something different,” she said. “It’s been a long time coming, actually, because I’ve been baking in L.A. for 13-plus years, baking for other people and opening bakeries for other people. It was all just to prepare me for my own space.”

Wong has been readying the space for more than two years, flipping a former storage unit and salon into a commercial bakery with a pint-size retail counter. In that counter are cake bars, pavlovas, s’mores bars, citrus shortbread cookies, meringue-topped brownies and more.

Her signature cake bars are topped with a rainbow of edible, pesticide-free flower petals, and come in flavors such as ube coconut, passion fruit, cookies and cream, and lavender lemon marble. Whole cakes, equally aesthetically pleasing, can be purchased with at least a day of advance notice, though some smaller versions will be available for walk-ins. Also available are items for customers to feel comfortable in the kitchen themselves, including aprons, cake stands, piping bags, spatulas and edible coloring kits. Flouring opens Jan. 13 with hours of Thursdays to Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with additional days and hours to be added in the future.

932 N. Hill St., Los Angeles, (213) 266-8946, flouringla.com

An overhead of three dishes from Little Fish at Echo Park's Dada Market: fish congee, potatoes, and cured-trout tartine

At Little Fish’s new Echo Park outpost, breakfast, lunch, vegan pastries and a full coffee program add to the existing seafood-focused menu with new dishes such as fish congee (left).

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Little Fish Echo Park and Dada Market

One of L.A.’s most popular pop-up sandwiches just found a home in Echo Park with an expanded menu, pastries and a full coffee program. Anna Sonenshein and Niki Vahle began Little Fish, their seafood pop-up, during the pandemic. They’ve turned out countless beer-and-vodka-battered fish sandwiches over the years, first from their house, then with a residency at Smorgasburg and another at music venue and bar Checker Hall. This month they launched an indefinite residency within a new corner store, Dada Market, giving Little Fish a more permanent kitchen and picnic tables along Sunset Boulevard.

Here, Little Fish’s breakfast menu is entirely new, with standouts such as fish congee and cottage cheese pancakes,the latter of which Vahle and Sonenshein both happened to grow up eating. Stalwarts such as the whitefish salad and potatoes take on slightly new forms. The cult-status fried fish sandwich is available at lunch alongside a handful of new items such as a steak sandwich; a number of dishes will most likely remain unique to the Echo Park location, even as Little Fish opens a Melrose Hill restaurant sometime next year.

An exterior of Little Fish in Echo Park's Dada Market, picnic benches out front of the windows of both businesses

Little Fish is now open inside Echo Park’s Dada Market. A forthcoming location in Melrose Hill is set to open in 2024.

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Sonenshein and Vahle are also using the new space to run a program that nearly eliminates food waste, especially when it comes to fish; smaller pieces not ideal for the sandwich are utilized in the fish congee, fish salad and the like, while the skin is dried and used as a garnish and the bones make seafood stock for the congee. Also on offer are vegan pastries by Jen Yee of Baker’s Bench, available on weekends, and a coffee bar by Phill Kim, who also handmade the cafe’s ceramics. Inside Dada Market there are teas, oils, fruits, tinned fish, bottles of wine and other gourmet retail items, while its evening menu serves marinated olives, wedge salads, hamachi tostadas and more. The market is set to be a daytime anchor for two forthcoming restaurant and bar concepts located behind the shop, and serve as a space for collaborations and pop-ups like Little Fish.

“We’ve never built a kitchen before, I’ve never worked in a kitchen,” Sonenshein said. “We’re counting ourselves so lucky to have a complete education in starting. We’ve been so fortunate with people being like, ‘Hey, come use our space and figure it out as you go,’ and it’s such a safety net that I can’t believe we’ve lucked into.”

Little Fish is open inside Dada Market on Wednesdays to Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dada Market is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

1606 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 947-3232, littlefishechopark.com/echo-park and dadaechopark.com

An overhead photo of a spread from Mama Lu Dumpling House including soup dumpling, rice cake stir fry and chicken.

Monterey Park’s Mama Lu Dumpling House expanded to Pasadena this year with its signature dumplings, plus family style Chinese and Taiwanese dishes.

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Mama Lu Dumpling House Pasadena

A San Gabriel Valley staple of roughly 20 years just expanded to Pasadena. Famed for its xiao long bao but offering an array of other fresh, handmade dumplings as well, Mama Lu Dumpling House specializes in Chinese and Taiwanese specialties including crystal chicken, beef rolls, Shanghai-style rice cakes, soups, braised meatballs, and whole fish with preserved vegetables. The dumpling specialist recently took over the former Chef Tony Dim Sum space, which features two dining rooms in Old Pasadena. The menu more or less mirrors the offerings found in its sibling Mama Lu locations in Monterey Park and City of Industry (not to be confused with Mama Lu’s, which operates in San Gabriel Valley and Chinatown and is under separate ownership). Mama Lu Dumpling House is open in Pasadena Sundays to Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

2 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 803-0028, mamalutogo.com

Nam Coffee

Two Vietnamese coffee drinks, one iced and one hot, in front of a mural that says "XIN CHAO" at Nam Coffee in Hollywood.

Hollywood cafe Nam Coffee specializes in traditional and modern Vietnamese coffee concoctions, all made with Vietnam-grown coffee beans.

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

After launching a coffee roastery out of his own home in Anaheim nearly two years ago, Vince Nguyen has opened his first cafe and what he hopes will be a center for uplifting Vietnamese coffee culture. Nam Coffee is now open in East Hollywood, using only Vietnam-grown robusta and arabica beans and serving them as lattes, americanos, cappuccinos and flat whites, as well as specialty Vietnamese coffee drinks such as salted-cream coffees, coconut and purple yam cream coffees, shaken coffees with brown sugar and oat milk, classic condensed-milk coffees and more.

Though Nguyen previously worked in fashion, he’s loved coffee since childhood and helped his mom operate her coffee cart in Ho Chi Minh City. After moving to the U.S. he noticed a lack of not only Vietnamese specialty drinks but also Vietnamese coffee that’s made traditionally, using a phin coffee filter.

“It’s not only a coffee shop,” Nguyen said. “I want it to be a place for people to come and experience Vietnamese culture.”

He sources beans directly from coffee farms in Vietnam and for nearly two years has been supplying L.A. restaurants and shops such as Di Di, Sesame and Sara’s Market. His new cafe sells bags of his coffee beans as well as phin filters and other apparatus for home brewing. In the future Nguyen hopes to offer coffee workshops and, thanks to a partnership with nearby shop and restaurant Gingergrass Mini Mart, banh mi and other food items. Nam Coffee is open Sundays, Mondasy, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

4876 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 741-0222, nam.coffee

Creamy Boys

This month Creamy Boys, home to some of the best soft serve in L.A., launched a bricks-and-mortar in South Bay for pillowy swirls of New Zealand-style ice cream. Founder and New Zealander Duncan Parsons launched a roving operation in 2020 before his business partner Joe Wedd joined in 2022, and since then they’ve brought freshly churned, almost whipped ice cream featuring fresh and frozen fruit to events such as Smorgasburg and a weekly residency at the Mar Vista Farmers Market.

In their first permanent ice cream shop — a pink-and-white walk-up window two blocks from the beach — the longtime friends are serving the fruit-forward New Zealand-style ice cream of their childhood alongside seasonal specials and another regional specialty, the Hokey Pokey, a textural wonderland that incorporates crunchy honeycomb candy into the ice cream, then tops it all with another crumble. What’s more, each flavor can be made using dairy or a house-made vegan tapioca base. The trucks will continue to roam in 2024. Creamy Boys is open in Hermosa Beach Tuesday to Sunday from noon to 11 p.m.

1136 Hermosa Ave., Hermosa Beach, (424) 400-1372, creamyboys.com

A hand holds a waffle cone of honeycomb-topped Creamy Boys New Zealand-style whipped soft serve up against the stand's sign.

Creamy Boys, already a weekly staple at the Mar Vista Farmers Market, now brings New Zealand-style whipped soft serve-like ice cream to a new shop.

(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

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