Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ludo Fried Chicken @ Akasha

Chef Ludo Lefebvre has been popping up all over town the past few months, at Royal T Salon in Culver City in December, in a truck at the Los Angeles Street Food Festival on February 13th, at the Gold Standard event at the Petersen Automotive Museum on February 28th, at The Foundry on Melrose on March 2nd, and most recently at Akasha Restaurant on Monday night March 22nd. His upcoming 6 week run at Gram & Papas in downtown LA sold out in one day.

Before his series of pop-ups, he was the chef at Bastide in West Hollywood, where his adventurous and playful cuisine challenged many Angelenos conceptions of fine dining, especially those of LA Times reviewer S. Irene Virbila who demoted the restaurant to a single star. He has perhaps achieved his widest fame for appearing on Top Chef Masters, the upcoming season of which he is also competing in.

In his pop-ups, his signature item has been Ludo Fried Chicken. That was the only item he featured at the Street Food Fest and the recent dinners at The Foundry and Akasha. His fried chicken balls are boneless meat shaped into spheres and fried with rosemary.

On Monday night, the dinner at Akasha sold out within hours and the evening was filled with food bloggers and Ludo-fans. The Ludo Fried Chicken was $18 per person and was served in a portion of 3 balls of chicken, with your choice of 2 of the 4 sides (mashed potatoes, sweet potato fries, cole slaw, or kale.)

The chicken arrived to the table piping hot and was as delicious as I had remembered it from prior events. The chicken on my plate appeared to be dark meat and was juicy and flavorful all on its own. The dipping sauces were tried, but I did not find them necessary. The sweet potato fries were nice and crunchy but not too sweet (a good thing). I tried the coleslaw which went really well with the chicken.

Our table also ordered the macaroni and cheese, which was wonderful - on par with the great mac & cheese at Church & State. One of my tablemates liked it almost as much as their favorite at Lou on Vine. It was not too liquidy and had some strong cheese flavor.

We also ordered the buttermilk biscuits and bacon corn bread. The biscuits had sugar sprinkled on the top to combine savory and sweet one bite. I confess I did not enjoy these as much as my friends, as I will choose savory or salty over sweet any day. I did not sample the corn bread because I do not eat pork. My dining companions also ordered the pulled pork sandwich and raved about it. It came in an order of two sliders, generously portioned.

Now that I have been able to try the LFC at the street fest, at Foundry and at Akasha, I can say that it is remarkably consistent, and consistently good.

The kumquat mojito cocktail that I had was refreshing while the hibiscus drink one of my friends ordered was poorly conceived. Service was friendly. The only mixup was that our table repeatedly received items destined for another table, but these things happen when there is a full house and a special event on.

Until I had tried Bakesale Betty's in Oakland for their fried chicken sandwiches, I did not believe that great fried chicken could be boneless. Ludo Fried Chicken further underscores that point.

The next iteration of Ludobites is coming up next month but has been sold out. Apparently a waiting list will be developed, so follow Ludo's wife Krissy's twitter stream for updates.

This event came about because Ludo and Eric Greenspan of the Foundry were discussing his LFC on Twitter and Eric invited him to cook at his restaurant but didn't have a spare fryer and Akasha jumped in and offered one of hers. Then the adventure continued when Ludo continued the collaboration by cooking on site at Akasha's namesake restaurant.

Akasha Restaurant is located at 9543 Culver Blvd (corner of Watseka Avenue) in Culver City. Phone: (310) 845-1700. Website:

Parking: There is a free two hour city lot on Watseka directly next to Akasha restaurant. Could not be more convenient.

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