Once upon a time I was totally on top of the food blogging world. Not so much that I was a good food blogger, but that I knew everything that was going on with food in LA. New restaurants, restaurants closing, new Taco Bell items. You name it, I knew it. But then I got busy with my real job and fell out of the loop. So when my buddy invited me out to dinner at A-Frame in Culver City, I really had no idea why he wanted me to go. But then with a little research I found out it was Ray Choi’s (the Man behind Kogi and Chego) newest restaurant escapade and was not to be missed. The old unvegan might have gone opening day, but the new unvegan let this restaurant opening get away from him, but was plenty excited to try it out.
The name A-Frame comes from the shape of the building, which is a former IHOP. Outside, the building hardly looks different from an IHOP aside from the lighting, but on the inside it looks almost like a ski lodge. The wait was a crazy hour, but after about 2o minutes of waiting, we asked if there were any other options and were told that there was a self-seating fire pit outside. Just as we went to look, a group left and we were all set to get ourselves a fireside meal.
The menu had a lot of great-looking food that looked like nothing I could have found at Kogi or Chego. If I hadn’t known the place was Choi’s, I probably never would have made the connection. In an attempt to try as much as I could, I split a few things with my buddy. First was their Spiced Sugar Nuts. This was just a snack to warm up with and was prepared with Japanese Snack Mix and Beef Jerky. So in essence this had peanuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, wasabi peas, and seaweed-wrapped rice crackers, with jerky. The sweet flavoring of the nuts was delicious, and although I like the flavor of wasabi, I felt like the wasabi peas were out of place here and was always disappointed when I bit into one. I felt the same way about the rice crackers. The seaweed just tasted fishy and was also unwelcome in my mouth. I’m all about fusion, but in this case I think it would have been better to just stick with the regular nuts and jerky. Although I didn’t think I could ever enjoy moist nuts and jerky, these were tasty.
On top of that we ordered their creatively named “Wings.” These were described as Korean-style, with blue cheese dressing and also came with some heirloom pickles, which I allowed on the plate since I was splitting with my buddy. I was a little wary of these, because a lot of Asian-style wings have very little spice and too much sweet. Fortunately, these were not that way. While they were not your average buffalo wings, they seemed to use buffalo sauce as a base, but added Korean spices and a little something that made them a bit sweeter than your average wings. This made for a unique flavor and was a very nice twist on ordinary wings.
Finally, we ordered the Cracklin Beer Can Chicken. Apparently this was done Peruvian-style, with century egg and a salsa roja and verde for dipping. Since it was two of us, we ordered the whole thing, but you could also order half. A beer can chicken is an interesting method of cooking that involves shoving an entire open can of beer inside the chicken’s ass and then grilling it. The result should produce a juicy chicken, although not exactly the most flavorful one. I had never heard of it done Peruvian-style, but I’m pretty sure the only thing that distinguished it from a backyard beer can chicken was the salsa. When it came, it looked delicious and the chicken glistened with char and juice. As expected, the chicken didn’t have a ton of flavor, but it was definitely juicy and tasty. I dipped it in the different salsas, which were nice, but neither were exactly what I wanted.
I looked around and noticed that my other eating companions had a great-looking dipping sauce that came with their Heirloom Pickle appetizer. While I frowned upon these pickles, for once in my life I was thankful for vegetables because they led me to such a delicious sauce. Simply called a “creamy dip,” this sauce gave the beer can chicken a completely new and delicious dimension. The dip had hints of garlic and parmesan, but was more complex than that and just made things taste great. I tried it with the wings as well and it made them taste better. This dip probably could have made pickles passable as food, but I wasn’t about to find that out for myself.
With A-Frame, Ray Choi has once again brought delicious and unique food to LA. I would take a pass on the nuts next time, but there are enough unique and delicious items on the menu to keep me coming back for more. I just can’t wait to see what else Choi has up his sleeve.