RiceBox team heads to Sherman Oaks
Since 2018, the Lee family has served some of L.A.’s top Cantonese barbecue, chile oil and combo plates heaped with grandma-inspired curry and roast meats from a small storefront in downtown’s Spring Street Arcade Building. Now, after years of planning, they’re ready to expand with a second, more ambitious restaurant in Sherman Oaks that will showcase two concepts in one.
“We’ve outgrown RiceBox,” said chef and co-owner Leo Lee, who runs the restaurant with his wife, Lydia. “RiceBox has always been a steppingstone for us to grow from there, and we were very fortunate to meet a lot of people along the way that were very supportive. Now we’re ready for the next step.”
RiceBox’s takeout format, Leo Lee says, makes it hard for guests to fully and immediately enjoy their specials such as Lunar New Year dry-aged duck or the labor-of-love, abalone-and-rice-stuffed whole chicken baked in bread and lotus leaves, which takes multiple days to prepare and is often only available from the Lees in December for the holiday season.
At their new restaurant, these dishes — and others beloved by Lydia Lee while growing up in Hong Kong, such as short ribs and dumplings — will be available, sometimes with upgrades of caviar. They plan to serve classic banquet-hall-style dishes, such as live lobster, but will utilize French technique such as stock so fortified it almost becomes bisque to surprise diners.
“When you eat it, you’ll go, ‘Oh, this is a Chinese restaurant, this is Cantonese, this is like the lobster noodle dish that you would get at a banquet hall,’” Leo Lee said. “But then there will be extra depth and levels to make you say, ‘Oh, there’s something different about this dish.’”
The plan for their sophomore restaurant, which has yet to be named, is twofold: In the front, they expect to open a casual cafe of sorts for drinks and desserts. As guests walk through — likely through a kind of speakeasy-inspired, unmarked entrance — they’ll find themselves in a larger, roughly 3,500-square-foot Chinese restaurant that seats about 100.
The building that houses their Sherman Oaks location has been the location of businesses including a bathhouse and an art studio, and as such is under renovation; the Lees hope to open their new restaurant in early 2024.
13257 Moorpark St., Sherman Oaks, ricebox.net
The brother-and-sister duo of sushi spot HRB Experience and the European-inspired Carrera Cafe have launched a new steakhouse with a bit of personal history. Kia and Kathryne Illulian remember stopping in after school for sweets at Michel Richard’s famed pastry shop on Robertson Boulevard, which was then located adjacent to their father’s furniture store. Today, the former home of those sweets is their own restaurant: Foxhall Steakhouse, where filets, chops, martinis, flatbreads and chilled crab legs are all on offer, with more to come. Chef Marni Sandico (also of HRB) is heading the kitchen and serving dishes such as rack of lamb with garlic butter sauce; sea bass in miso teriyaki glaze; caviar-topped potato pave; and salmon carpaccio with truffle and dill, plus a weekly rotation of specials such as langoustines, chicken Parmesan, and mushroom ragù. The team also plans to utilize the space — which includes private dining rooms — for tastings, cooking classes and other events. Foxhall is open daily from 5 to 10 p.m., with brunch service expected to follow.
310 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, (424) 313-8238, foxhallsteakhouse.com
Maple Block Chicken
The team behind some of L.A.’s best barbecue recently debuted a new concept that puts “spin-roasted” chicken front and center. Maple Block Chicken, from Maple Block Meat Co.’s Mike Garrett, Daniel Weinstock and pitmaster Rudy Suazo, first appeared at Sunday-only food market Smorgasburg with spatchcocked chickens placed over coals. The custom-built spit displays the chickens, which then are finished on a grill and served whole or carved in front of customers, and accompanied by sides such as French fries or slaw and sauces such as aji verde. Chicken fries, featuring chopped chicken, gravy and house sauces, also are available. Maple Block Chicken utilizes the same brine found at the restaurant but involves a long-developed, entirely separate cooking method. “It is not smoked, it [is] not barbecue,” Weinstock and Garrett told The Times. “We take our brined spatchcocked chickens, season them with a special spice rub we developed specifically for MBC: It’s a rub that hits on all the senses. We like to refer to our process as soon-roasted.” The pop-up runs at Smorgasburg until May 7, at which point it will launch a summer residency at the Brentwood Farmers’ Market on Sundays as well as the Miracle Mile Farmers Market on Wednesdays.
Colibrí West Hollywood and Tacos on the Alley
In December celebrated Peruvian chef Ricardo Zarate (Picca, Mo-Chica, Rosaliné) debuted a pop-up residency called Colibrí, inspired by his childhood-favorite dishes reimagined. This month Colibrí got a second location — with a twist. The second Colibrí pop-up, located in the former Onizuka space in West Hollywood, runs in tandem with Hollywood’s Colibrí but offers a separate take on Peruvian food: the “Italo-Peruvian” cuisine created by Peru’s influx of Italian immigrants traced back to the 16th century. At Zarate’s latest concept, it’s cooked in partnership with chef and longtime friend Michael Fiorelli (Love & Salt, Olivetta) and features fresh pastas, peperonata-topped grilled meat, and desserts such as budino and bomboloni with Peruvian flair. Look for rigatoni with lamb “ragù verde” and whipped ricotta; grilled sea bream with sudado guazzetto and yucca; and kanpachi crudo with leche de tigre and Parmesan chips.
Run out of the same space is a late-night pop-up from restaurant El Zarape called Tacos on the Alley, with tacos, quesadillas, burritos and bowls filled with chicken tinga, chile relleno, carnitas and more, plus ceviche, quesabirria, margaritas and micheladas. While the Hollywood Colibrí pop-up is set to run indefinitely, the new West Hollywood iteration could potentially run for only three months. Colibrí in West Hollywood is open Tuesday to Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. Tacos on the Alley in open Monday to Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
The Little Goat Pizza House
Using a combination wood-and-gas oven, a Glendale pizzeria is turning out Neapolitan-style pies and sides such as roasted Brussels sprouts in tahini and Parmesan. The new project is the first restaurant from artist Tina Gasparyan, and tops pizzas with pancetta, pear, taleggio and tarragon; sausage, fontina, baby kale and Calabrian chile; ’nduja with mozzarella and roasted peppers; and shiitake, cremini, fontina, truffle oil and parmesan. The neighborhood pizzeria also serves house-made desserts such as tiramisu and panna cotta. The Little Goat is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
942 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, (818) 245-6325, thelittlegoatpizzahouse.com
One of L.A.’s widest-sprawling food celebrations is back for 15 days of special menus and discounts. DineLA, now in its 15th year, runs April 28 to May 12 with 367 participating restaurants spread across more than 60 neighborhoods. Menus start at $15 with a range of options (Grand Central Market alone offers 14 specials at that price point) while the dining weeks’ prix fixe dinners often ring in under $65 with options for casual and Michelin-starred concepts alike. New participants this year include Superfine Playa in Playa Vista, Kodō in the Arts District, Heavy Handed in Santa Monica, Asterid in downtown, restaurant and ax-throwing bar Mo’s House of Axe in Koreatown. Restaurants attached to hotels — such as Silver Lake’s Marco Polo Trattoria & Bar — are offering special menus in addition to “dine and stay” options for room bookings and poolside reservations. A handful of participants from the inaugural dineL.A. are also returning, including Chinois on Main and Lawry’s the Prime Rib.