DTLA: Secret Menu Items at The Exchange, Freehand Hotel

Vermilion fish

Although I’ve been to the Exchange restaurant plenty of times for lunch, it was a treat to check it out for dinner. The menu is much more extensive and showcases the Chinese-Israeli fusion better. Also, there was a secret menu item; whole fish, that we couldn’t pass up!

The Vermilion fish was bathed in a tangy sauce that reminded me of sweet and sour (but the good kind of sweet and sour, not gloppy orange chicken). It also had shishito peppers and noodles. We spent a good deal of time tackling this fish but I never doubted my fine dining partner and I… we have skills to find every little bit of meat.

Watermelon and date old fashioned


We started our meal with the Watermelon and old fashioned cocktails. My watermelon drink was a good mix of bitter (Campari) and spicy. It was great with food. My friend had the Exchange’s spin on an Old Fashioned. This one infused walnut into the bourbon and used Israeli date honey as the sweetening agent.

Watermelon – pisco, Campari, dry vermouth, California watermelon, Aleppo pepper, pink peppercorns, Persian black lime, poppy seed air

(date) Old Fashioned – Walnut infused eagle rare 10yr bourbon, Israeli date honey, Baharat spice blend.



I love, love, love the pickles at the Exchange. It’s a combo of fermented and pickled veggies. These are hasty pickles that sat overnight in an acid bath but fully flavored, can’t stop, won’t stop eating them pickles. Get some.


It was a special menu that night at the Exchange and although we ordered mostly from the regular menu, we did get this flatbread with chickpea and basturma (cured meat).

blue crab fried rice

We had originally ordered a steak and the crab fried rice. When the kitchen surprised us with the fish, they had scaled back our order and weren’t going to fire up the rice since the fish came with noodles. But then we dropped a few hints we really wanted the steak.. and got the rice. Haha! Well, it was great fried rice and I’m glad they made the decision we did need it.

grapefruit black pepper & tamarind


We had more drinks including the Grapefruit Black Pepper and Tamarind. I’m a huge fan of grapefruit so this refreshing drink went very well with our meal. I also liked the Tamarind with its many layers of flavors between the boozy rum, tart tamarind and aromatic coffee infused amaro.

Grapefruit Black Pepper– Absolut vodka, dry vermouth, clarified California grapefruit, citrus, black pepper, tarragon, seltzer

Tamarind – Appleton rum, sweet vermouth, tamarind, citrus, spritz of Turkish coffee-infused Amaro Nonino


kougin amann

We finished off our night with a kougin amann the kitchen sent out. It was really good and I now know why people go so nuts for this particular pastry. I also loved the delicious nutty ice cream.


The Exchange at the Freehand Hotel

416 West 8th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014  —  (213) 437-9511

© 2018 The Minty