Koreatown: Checking Out the Food and Drinks at Terra Cotta
Terra Cotta opened in Koreatown late last year. The restaurant and bar is next to the Wiltern. Opened by the successful group behind Kang Hodong Baekjeong and Quarters Korean BBQ, Terra Cotta brings non-KBBQ dining to that particular corner of Ktown. Many of the staff and kitchen are second generation Asian Americans and they wanted to bring a menu of what they like to eat.
We first started at the bar with drinks and some bar food. The beautiful long bar would be fun for happy hour (weekdays 5-7 p.m.).
One of the prettier drinks I’ve seen in a while has to be the Upside Down. Terra Cotta puts a 2-drink limit on this beauty. I had it with charred persimmon, blood orange and grapefruit but its current version features yuzu and Thai basil instead. I’m sure it’s just as delicious and I love that the drink is seasonal.
Upside Down – Terra Cotta 4-rum blend, yuzu, cinnamon, lemon, Thai basil, bitters
After we settled at the dinner table, we decided to order a bit from each category of the menu which is split raw, anju, vegetables, and main courses. Anju is the Korean word for bites meant to be eaten while drinking, aka bar food.
Under the raw category, we ordered the scallop crudo which was very lovely and I really enjoyed the black bean vinaigrette.
I noticed Terra Cotta had a number of Spanish style gin and tonics. We tried a few on the menu and I really enjoyed both the Vegetable and Citrus which luckily are still on the menu.
Vegetable G&T – Ford’s gin, cucumber, black pepper, Thai basil, tonic
Citrus G&T – Damrak gin, muddled grapefruit, lemon peel, tonic
Besides the scallop crudo we also got the Japanese buri (hamachi). This was not only pretty presentation but I was so intrigued by the crystalized soy and cherry blossom salsa. It was also very flavorful from the jalepeno and tarragon emulsion.
The toro tataki took on some more traditional flavors with truffle amazu (sweet and sour) ponzu. We enjoyed it with avocado and shitake salad.
For those who want something a little bit familiar like Pimms’ might want to give the Peach Melba a try. Or if you see the soju cart coming around, get a shot of American soju (produced by St. George Spirits).
Peach Melba – Pimms’, peach liqueur, cognac, lemon, raspberry, orange, Champagne
Lately I’ve been getting into clams more. I think this is a response to having a lot of mussels (such a trendy thing for seafood and farm to table spots). Often clams are just as wonderful. The bright yuzu comes through with these clams. I can see why these would be a great drinking food.
What do you get when you apply the fantastic Korean fried goodness to cauliflower? Exactly that- fantastic Korean fried cauliflower. Crunchy and addicting.
I enjoyed Terra Cotta’s version of the Vieux Carre. This one uses one of my favorite Japanese whiskies, the Nikka Coffey Grain (named after the Coffey still, not a funny spelling of coffee). Of course it has to have a cool name like Vieux Kyoto.
Vieux Kyoto – Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese whisky, cognac, Benedictine, vermouth, bitters
Looking a bit like modern art, the grilled octopus with gochuchang romesco sauce and roaded garlic came with the grilled octopus. The octopus was very perfect- not too overcooked and had a nice chew.
One of my favorite types of mixed drinks is the Fix which is composed of a spirit, sugar and lemon. Something carbonated is also added. In this case, Terra Cotta has a raspberry fix with bourbon and ginger beer.
Raspberry Fix -bourbon, raspberry, lemon, ginger beer, bitters
The closest you’ll get to KBBQ at Terra Cotta is the galbi toban. To get your beef fix, consider this prime short rib served with caramelized onion and galbi sauce.
I just loved the big pile of Korean mushrooms we ordered. The savory mixture of shitake, king, oyster, eringi, maitake and enoki mushrooms are tossed in a shiso chimichurri. This is where my second generation Asian American sensibilities approve of this fusion.
More fusion is seen in the spatchcock chicken as it’s served with aji verde salsa and aji amarillo mayo. It reminds me a bit of A-Frame’s beer can chicken which is of course their take on Peruvian chicken. The Korean moo (marinated radish rounds) was a great way to eat the chicken, almost like tacos.
I enjoyed the food with the Passionate Seoul. It doesn’t distract with its spiciness and went well with the chicken in particular.
Passionate Seoul – tequila, passion fruit, Thai chili tincture, lime, Creole shrub
If there wasn’t any uni on the menu, I would have been surprised. What could be better than uni rice? Nothing really. This rice came with a lot of uni with a generous scoop of caviar!
Terra Cotta has three barrel aged drinks on the menu. I tried the Greenpoint which is one of my favorite Manhattan variations.
(barrel aged) Greenpoint – rye whiskey, vermouth di Sardegena, Yellow Chartreuse, orange bitters
We had a selection of desserts including the Makgeolli which is named after the Korean rice wine used in the foam. It tops the banana ice cream and passion fruit cream. It wasn’t too rich and quite nice after our extensive meal.
I always like a good creme brulee. Terra Cotta has a nice spin on the vanilla custard with a raspberry yuzu crust and it’s topped with fruit.
Matcha is probably the most in the moment. The mille feuille sandwiches salted toffee and matcha between caramelized phyllo and comes with coconut ice cream.
Terra Cotta is a solid restaurant with lot of instant favorites from drinks to food. It probably is a great place to go before or after a show at the Wiltern but I’d go anyway for a Vieux Kyoto and that spatchcock chicken.
(213) 365-1077 © The Minty 2017