Ludobites 5.0

Ludobites, we meet again. For Ludobites 5.0, I didn’t have a meal until the last week. In fact, today is the last night of Ludobites 5.0. As a testament to Chef Ludo’s success, reservations were spoken for within minutes. I tried for 40 minutes trying to make them, even ignoring personal safety as there was an earthquake during the first few minutes the reservations opened. Then a second round of reservations opened and again, I was just not lucky enough. This week, a food and wine writer told me quite bitterly she felt bloggers must have a special in for reservations. Well, not this one as I really tried my best and Lady Luck was just not on my side.

But fortunately for me, a friend was able to make them and off we went. I brought two bottles from Domaine LA, a nice soft red and a sparkling rose. We started with the baguette with buckwheat butter. I missed the honey lavender but the buckwheat was nice.

heirloom tomato salad, mozzarella ice cream, basil crumble

poached egg, potato mousseline, chorizo condiment

cold miso soup, cherry tomato, uni black panini

Originally when I walked in, our table was to be one of the back tables but Krissy was kind enough to put us near the front. That is the only blogger benefit I can see- better pictures! The heirloom tomato salad was perfect, the potato mousseline was a crowd fave but the uni black panini stole the show. I had just forgiven uni for all the atrocious meals it ruined for me the night before at Test Kitchen and this panini built on that new appreciation.

king salmon "a l'huile", juniper berries, rainbow carrots, orange vitamin sorbet, pistachio

raw waygu beef, dried miso, somen noodle, peanut vinaigrette, watermelon, mint

Santa Barbara Prawns, beignet, cinnamon beurre blanc, shrimp head sugar

We were told this version of Ludobites would have all new dishes and that is true. However, I find Chef Ludo has his favorite ingredients. I loved this version of his King salmon. The colorful carrots and invigorating sorbet were nice. The somen was new to me though. I wasn’t the biggest fan of his veal udon noodles during Ludobites 3.0 at Royal/T but I really enjoyed this somen. The peanut vinaigrette tied it all together.

Then the prawns arrived. Ludo made LA foodie news last winter with his foie gras beignets. These beignets were plain but they were dusted with a sugar made with shrimp heads. Take that savory and sweet fiends. This dish was delicious, innovative and fun.

hot foie gras dynamite, raw tuna, lychee, crackers

grilled octopus, oregano, burnt red bell pepper polenta, pineapple aioli, piment d'Espellette gelee

crispy veal sweetbreads, poached carmelized peach, curry marscapone, balsamic

The hot foie gras dynamite arrived. It was the dish I had anticipated the most. It was basically a creamy, fatty, luscious heaven in my mouth. And the tuna was really fresh and good too. The octopus paired surprisingly really well with the pineapple aioli but that is what Chef Ludo is known for- raising the bar.

To be honest, I’ve never had sweetbreads before. However, I knew I was going to have to eat it and put on a smile for our friend who really was scared of them. I ate my portion and I agreed the crispy sweetbreads were indeed tasty. The buttery maple-y nutty sauce on the peach also really helped to enhance the flavor.

We probably should have had this sparkling rose first but we had to chill it first. I actually thought it went well with the upcoming fish, pork belly and steak dishes.

John Dory, saffron risotto, corn, chanterelles mousse emulsion

confit pork belly, raw choucroute Thai style, mustard ice cream

steak, charcoal oil, goat cheese, candied black olives, cauliflower

I always love and dread the end of the tasting. So much good stuff and it’s going to end in a few minutes. But joy suffuses all when we realize there’s always dessert.

I had noticed quite a few of the dishes this night were on the sweeter side. The corn in the John Dory sauce was definitely sweet. It was quite interesting but perhaps overwhelmed the delicate chanterelles flavor. My inner health freak was appalled I was going straight for the fat in the pork belly but my inner devilish imp shushed it. I am always fascinated by Chef Ludo’s steak dishes. He comes up with more than just grilled steak. The candied black olives on the cheese was interesting and I was marveling how thinly shaved the cauliflower was. It was amazing.

caramel souffle, grapefruit gelee, fleur de sel ice cream

We are weaksauce. We couldn’t fit in the cheese plate nor all the desserts. As a table, we decided the one thing we really wanted was the caramel souffle. I loved it of course, being the chocolate fiend I am though I favored the chocolate souffle I had the last  run just a tiny bit more. But this fleur de sel ice cream was amazing. I really liked how the summer season influenced all these ice creams and sorbets this run.

Ludobites 5.0 may have been in the same location as 4.0 but it somehow seemed very different. I can’t wait for 6.0! In the meantime, I’m considering writing a post about the first time I ever went to Ludobites, 2.0 at Breadbar. Oh, the memories.