Words/Photos: Ryan André
The City Pork team went out to California, Los Angeles to be exact, to research a new restaurant concept. Research and development trips are about traveling outside your normal surroundings to gain fresh ideas and learn new concepts. We chose Cali because our new restaurant concept was flourishing in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, so we knew we could gain a lot of intel and experience in the area.
When we landed in Los Angeles we hit the ground running and eating. Our first stop was just for curiosity because we love the bread. It was the King’s Hawaiian Bakery & Restaurant. Yes, I was amazed by this, too. A full restaurant of their breads and other pastries. Hawaiian themed, but with Polynesian styled dishes like “loco moco” and “char sui and eggs.” Outstanding!! Fresh off the plane and already learning—and we haven’t even been to any of our destination restaurants.
By the end of the first day abroad, we had tried six different restaurants that could be models for our new concept. We would go in, try a few dishes, grab a “to go” menu after talking to someone about products, and leave. We did this several times within a few hours. We also saw several sights that I have never experienced—like the ocean. I have only seen the Gulf in my travels and never the ocean. I have to say it was beautiful. Looks like the Gulf in a way, but the water was remarkably bluish green instead of brown.
Day two was more of the same. I began to grow tired of the style of food we were eating and wanted to venture off and eat something different. But self-control kicks in—I still need more of the same to gain the knowledge needed for our new restaurant. Lots of questions, lots of notes, and learning all the time.
Third day of our trip we decided to bypass the restaurants on our list if they didn’t have anything to offer more exciting than our previous stops. This allowed us to start trying other restaurants that we wanted to enjoy.
I have to say day three was a great day. First stop we made was the infamous In-N-Out Burger. I don’t know if I just badly wanted a nice juicy cheeseburger, but that burger was outstanding. The edges of the bread were on the verge of being burnt like a pancake’s edges, so they were crispy and the meat patty was the same. It was by far the best fast food burger I have eaten. It was a good break from all of the other stuff we were eating and it revived me for more eating.
We found a cool hip spot to enjoy a meal in Beverly Hills that night. I will tell you it was like nothing I have seen in this area. It was an upscale restaurant with very rustic decor. None of the tables matched, the tables around the walls had couches on one side and un-matching chairs on the other side. The plates on the tables were elegant, but also did not match any other on the table. The silverware seemed to be silver plated but also did not match your neighbor’s floral designed silverware. The place rhymed.
Dinner there was cool. They passed a dim sum cart through the dining room offering small two or three bite amuse-bouche to tables for a small price per plate. The menu was very clean, seasonal. I chuckled to see grilled king crab legs topped with New Orleans style BBQ sauce. Almost ordered them to check for authenticity, but refrained because we were there to try things that we weren’t able to do in our sleep.
We hit up Venice on our way to the airport to check out the ocean one more time. Venice Beach wasn’t very big, the walkway riddled with T-Shirt shops, muscle beach gyms, and a “green” place that said “get your free testing for medicinal marijuana.” Pretty sure they had no licensed doctor on staff to diagnose you.
After we walked around a bit longer, we realized Venice Beach was the place White Men Can’t Jump was filmed. Cool to be standing on the basketball court.
Home now, realizing how much I love being from Louisiana. We learned a lot while we were out there, and now feel confident about our new concept. Along the way, we were able to pick up a few other future concept ideas, meet some outstanding people, eat a bowl of life-changing ramen, and learn that yes, L.A. may be at the top of the food scene pack, but Louisiana is right there with plenty of food and innovation of its own.