Third time’s the charm.

So. I did it.
I really diiiiiiid it.
I finally made it to LudoBites!!!
Quick back story: I made my first ressie in June to celebrate me and Don’s 3rd anniversary. Then I got sick and had to cancel my ressie. It took me a week to recover (turns out, my cold made a come back Blink 182 style and kicked my ass), and we had lunch at Marche Moderne instead.
The SECOND time, I was invited to a ginormous blogger bash towards the end of July, which I gladly accepted. I was soooooo excited… Until I ran over a screw and busted my tire. In fear of a tire explosion, I kicked and screamed and reluctantly declined my invite (I also had to change all four of my tires that weekend because it was that time of the year. Fail.)
I was thinking of giving up LudoBites this time around (it’s a pop up restaurant that’s only open for a limited time. Read up on the concept here on Nation’s Restaurant News), since by the time August rolled around I had moved south of Irvine and the drive back from LA became grueling (and sleep inducing.) Plus, after two failed attempts and my friends having to cancel their reservations, I was starting to feel like there was this… Curse, of some sorts, latching on to me.
…BUT everybody tweets about the squid ink croque monsier! The foie gras tart! The foie gras CUPCAKE! And how they get to hang out with this rock star of a chef! Jealosy ensued, and it quickly became unbearable. I had to try just one more time, I had to.
So I did. 7 PM, Saturday.
I went to LA for work, with a good luck charm on hand (okay, it was a scholastic good luck charm that Don got me in college, but still… I was desparate), and the whole time I was counting the hours, the minutes, the very seconds to my ressie. After my work was done, we wiggled through the labyrinth that is LA and made it to BreadBar (in one piece!), where Ludobites was held, on time. Or so I thought. Turns out, I remembered the wrong reservation time and arrived an hour early! I totally blanked out from being nervous about this the whole day, but Krissy graciously let us in, saying that it was okay because another party canceled.
So, on to the food.
Hawaiian Tuna, Spicy White Chocolate, Grilled Peanuts Oil

We started with something that sounded light: Hawaiian Tuna, Spicy White Chocolate, Grilled Peanuts Oil. Blood red tuna is actually pretty tasty with sweet chocolate and sesame-like flavors of the peanut oil, and the grilled baby peppers (shishitogarashi?) adds a nice mesquite touch. Japanese people approved!
Marinated Heirloom Tomato, Feta Mousse, Red Onions, Olive

We had some veggies too: Marinated Heirloom Tomato, Feta Mousse, Red Onions, Olive. It’s pretty self explanatory – vinegary, salty, yummy goodness with a lace of fat from the light mousse – but fricking delicious.

Foie Gras Black Croque-Monsieur, Ham, Cherry, Amaretto

And then something the Twittersphere won’t shoosh about: Foie Gras Black Croque-Monsieur, Ham, Cherry, Amaretto. And, well, no wonder. This is fricking good. Smooth foie and ham, heat sealed with squid ink bread is good enough… But add the cherry-amaretto jelly and it is sublime. Crunch and mmmm, crunch and mmmm.

Poached Beef Tenderlon in Red Wine, Goat Cheese, Radish, Smoked Eggplants

Something hearty for the boys: Poached Beef Tenderlon in Red Wine, Goat Cheese, Radish, Smoked Eggplants. Unfortunately I was a little meh about this, because I’ve been on a little beef overload as of late, but Twiggy loved it eggplants and all.

Lacquered Pork Belly, Mustard Ice Crea  Vadouvan

The Lacquered Pork Belly, Mustard Ice Cream, Vadouvan wowed us though. The outside of the pork belly was crispy like rib skins, with burnt sugars, but the inside was soft and juicy like a kakuni (Japanese stewed pork belly). The fluffy mustard ice cream was a delicious surprise, and surprisingly cooling. Plus, the frilly leaves had a great curry flavor, and who doesn’t like curry?

Creamy Polenta, Cantal Cheese , Oxtail Beef, Black Truffle

“Pooooleeeeeentaaaaa!” is my favorite line in Bill Buford’s Heat. It’s also how I found out that this delicious corn goop doesn’t only come in tubes from Albertson’s. Chef Ludo’s Creamy Polenta, Cantal Cheese , Oxtail Beef, Black Truffle is very, very rich in savoriness – I bet if you take out the polenta and put in ramen noodles, it’ll still be good. Scoops of gooey polenta exposes shredded oxtail, and remotely reminds me of tamales. Twiggy, our resident carbs freak, was dying over this.

Homemade Boudin Noir Terrine, Potatoe Puree, Musyatf, Black Currants

We ran into Jo and Noelle, fellow bloggers and tweeters, who had an earlier reservation that night. They told me that I HAD to get this new dish, and that I will my change my life. If the grown ups say so… Why not! So we ordered the Homemade Boudin Noir Terrine, Potatoe Puree, Mustard, Black Currants. Chef Ludo asked me if I knew what it was, just to be sure. I told him that I knew that it was something black and it came in terrine form, and he laughed. Oh my.

What came out is a dark mousse with a purple wine-y sauce, with smooth potato puree and green banana x passionfruit seed salad. One fearful bite, and it hits me instantly: ooooooh, pig’s blood! The stuff in bun bo hue (Vietnamese spicy pork and beef noodle soup)! It wasn’t so scary after that, and we enjoyed it very much. It’s super good if you scrape the sauce with bread chunks.
Chocolate Cup Cake, Foie Gras Chantilly, Candied Bacon-Almonds, Maple Syrup

We finished our meal with a Chocolate Cup Cake, Foie Gras Chantilly, Candied Bacon-Almonds, Maple Syrup. This was all over the blogosphere too, so I HAD to try it. Dense chocolate cake, piled on with rich foie cream Mrs. Beasleys style, and chunks of sugary bacon and nuts = weirdly yummy. I reckon this is similar to what a Foie Gras macaron from Pierre Herme would taste like – simply put, it’s sugar-laced liver-ness. Twiggy was a bit irked by it, but I thought it was a nice finish to the meal.

Fan Girls
I was sooooo nervous, that I couldn’t talk much at first. But then when Chef Ludo made his rounds to say hi to his guests, Twiggy blurted out, “CAN WE TAKE A PICTURE WITH YOU?!”. Her defense: because I wouldn’t ask myself (which is true). Then it was all down here from there: I couldn’t stop talking, I blushed, I got drunk fast, and I even shamelessly asked for an autograph. But Chef Ludo and Krissy were very nice and welcoming, and we all had a grand time.
Too bad there’s only a week left though… get your reservation while you can!
As I was leaving, Krissy told me to be careful because, you know, with all that bad luck I’ve been having prior to the dinner. Which made the whole dining experience even more better… They care about their clients!
I really really really want to come back again before they close shop… We’ll see what happens.
LudoBites at BreadBar

8718 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Wed~Saturdays only

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Marc @ NoRecipes August 17, 2009 at 6:26 am

    I keep hearing about these restaurants that only pop up for a day or two each week. Seems to be the new trend in restaurants.

    This place looks fantastic! Sounds like it was worth the (long) wait.

  • mattatouille August 17, 2009 at 7:07 am

    these are some of my favorite photos of ludobites ever. none of mine have turned out satisfactory to me. these are great. i'm glad you enjoyed the meal!

  • K and S August 17, 2009 at 10:35 am

    wasn't "heat" written by bill buford? everything looks so good, glad you were able to enjoy it this time!

  • G August 17, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Beautiful photos. Fantastic commentary. Killer post, Ila!

  • Gastronomer August 17, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    G = Gastronomer = Cathy 😉

  • Connie August 17, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    That all looks so amazing. I could eat a very large bowl of that polenta with the croque on the side. How lucky you are that you got to go (even though it took a few tries.) Awesome!

  • fumipuriri August 18, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    CHO umasou!!!
    their closing in a week!? man…

    have you heard of boqueria in costa mesa?
    its at the rooster cafe on selected nights
    i wanna try it sometime! let me know if you have

  • Daniel S. August 18, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Beautiful pictures. Well written review. I went a few weeks ago (review up on my blog) and loved it so much we're trying to find an opening for Friday for round 2.

    PS. I didn't get to make the burgers over the weekend :( but I'll let you know when I do. Thanks!

  • aoife mc August 19, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Hi there, just found my way to your blog through a link on Foodhoe, so glad I did. Your pics are fab and I'm really looking forward to trawling through your archives. Yum!

  • Justin August 19, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    wow, amazing photos, but the foie gras sandwich looks almost like chocolate. maybe that's a good thing.

  • Exile Kiss August 20, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Hi ila,

    Sugoi. I've been holding off on going for so long… your dinner looks amazing! The Boudin Noir Terrine sounds insane. :)

  • The Food Librarian August 20, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Yum! Yum! Yum! Glad you made it. Looks like you'll be back!

  • ila August 21, 2009 at 5:38 am

    marc>> it was! i wish i could go again, but its so faaaar

    matt>> aw, thanks, we must go to his next location together!

    kat>> thanks for the correction. what would i do without you?!

    Cathy>> thanks. the sunlight gods were kinda on my side that day.

    connie>> and it was worth every try!

    fumi>> CHOOO UMAKATTA! demo i haven't tried boqueria yet. didn't they have 'the hidden restaurant' there last year?

    daniel>> i saw, i saw. let me know how round 2 goes!

    aoife>> welcome, and thanks! 😀

    justin>> it's so hard to photograph black things… but its so good!

    exile kiss>> arigato~~~ it was sooo good! good with bread :]

    food librarian>> i wish… if only it wasnt so far!

  • Peabody August 24, 2009 at 4:34 am

    That is one heck of a cupcake!

  • Wesley August 26, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    The pictures are wonderful and these are some of my favorite of Ludo Bites as well. Great pictures and great blog – I'm a new fan.


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