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Animal’s Loco Moco

ilikai hotel, MyLastBite.comI first tried Loco Moco back in 2003 while on vacation with my husband in Hawaii. It was Peter’s first visit to the islands, and I insisted that we stay at the Ilikai Hotel on Oahu. I’ve always been a huge fan of  “Hawaii Five-O”, and if you remember the opening credits with the cool, balcony shot of Jack Lord (aka the legendary Steve McGarrett!), then you’ll recognize the Ilikai Hotel. We had such a fun time visiting random locations from the show, and we definitely made an effort to eat like the locals.

Loco Moco Hawaii 2003, MyLastBite.comOur favorite dish was (of course) the Loco Moco. The traditional version is made with white rice, hamburger, fried eggs and brown gravy. We first ordered the burger version for breakfast at our hotel, and also tried a SPAM version (instead of beef) that I loved.

It’s been almost six years since I enjoyed that first plate of Loco Moco and I guess I just never thought about searching it out in Los Angeles. So when I read about Animal’s version on TastingTable last week, my heart skipped a beat and I sent Peter a text: “WE NEED TO GET TO ANIMAL NOW!”

Animal’s Loco Moco (below) is anything but “traditional”, and should probably be called “Beyond Loco Moco”, or simply “WHACK”! The dish exemplifies the reason I love Animal so much… because chefs Vinny and Jon are absolutely FEARLESS. Their version doesn’t come with just the burger or a piece of SPAM. It comes with BOTH, and they top it off with an insanely decadent piece of seared foie gras and a fried quail egg.

Foie Gras Loco Moco! MyLastBite.com

It was so good that Peter and I couldn’t stop laughing while we ate it! You know, that guilty “we should be ashamed but we’re NOT” sort of laughing. I can still taste the runny egg yolk spilling over the seared foie gras, through the crispy spam and tender beef, then down to the bottom of the gravy soaked rice. 

Foie Gras Loco Moco! MyLastBite.com

Of course it was rich… and I admit that I made sure Peter and I both took our 81 grams of heart-healthy aspirin afterwards. A few days later, I’m pretty certain I still haven’t worked off the calories, but it was SO worth it! Foie Gras Loco Moco, Quail Egg, SPAM, Niman Ranch Burger, Anson Mills Gold Rice, $35

Crispy Hominy and Lime, MyLastBite.com

I try to order only new things when we eat at Animal, but Peter insisted on getting his favorite Crispy Hominy and Lime! $5

Fluke Crudo, MyLastBite.com
Along with the Loco Moco we did select a light and healthy dish (above) that we loved. The palate-cleansing and refreshing Sliced Fluke, Citrus, Mint, Sea Salt & Jalapeno, $12. (See? They make healthy dishes too!)

[Visit #11)

Animal Restaurant
http://www.animalrestaurant.com
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

Mentioned Above:

Tasting Table

Opening Scene of Hawaii Five-O

Ilikai Hotel

More SPAM

Loco Moco on Wikipedia

A few more Hawaii Photos:
Hawaii 2003, MyLastBite.com   Hawaii 2003, MyLastBite.com

< Animal Visit #10

Written by Jo Stougaard ©MyLastBite.com All Rights Reserved.
No usage allowed including copying or sharing without written permission.

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Animal [10]

I was a little worried about taking our friends, Ron and Diane, to Animal over the weekend. Ever since my first visit to the restaurant last summer, I’d been raving, ranting and downright praising the food heavens for bringing us Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Not only because everything they cook is delicious and adventurous (link to previous posts & photos below), but also the profound sentimentality I feel when I eat it. The food at Animal reminds me of my dad’s cooking and since he lives far away in Scotland, a meal at Animal makes me feel closer to him. A little silly I know, but that’s the magic of food and memories.

For our dinner last Saturday, our server was someone new (to us). Joshua was sweet and very helpful, especially when we were deciding which wine would go with our various dishes. After we tasted a couple of different glasses, we selected the La Salette Valpolicella (Italy) 2006, $54. The new manager, Asher, was also very gracious and made sure I went back to see the guys in the kitchen (I missed them!). Jon (chef & co-owner) came out to say hi to Peter and meet our friends, then had to get back on the line for the busy dinner service.

After Joshua took our orders, I was still a little concerned about Ron and Diane. They’ve eaten in the best foodie towns in the world… from Le Bernardin in New York, to the freshest sashimi in Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market. Would Animal be good enough for them? Maybe I overhyped it. Maybe the food wouldn’t be “refined” enough for them.

I need not have fretted of course because, just like me… they LOVED every bite. 

What we ate:

Fried Chicken Livers at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Fried Chicken Livers w/ Jalapeno Slaw $7

Pork Belly at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Pork Belly, Kimchi, Peanuts, Chili, Soy Sauce & Scallions $11

Rabbit Ravioli at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Rabbit & Kale Ravioli w/ Truffle Butter & Parmesan $22. (This dish forced me to have bad table manners because after finishing the ravioli, I couldn’t stop dipping my finger into the truffle butter sauce!)

Flatiron Steak at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Flatiron Steak w/ Mash, Foie Gras Sauce, & Roasted Cipollini Onions $28

Mexican Shrimp at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Mexican Shrimp, Fennel, Olives, Tomato, Borlotti Beans & Green Garlic $26

Duck Breast at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Duck breast with parsnip, apples, bacon, butternut squash & red wine $25

Desserts at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar w/ S&P Anglaise $8, Tres Leches Cake $7, Joe’s Doughnuts w/ Apple & Caramel $8

Donuts at Animal, MyLastBite.com
A close up of
Joe’s Doughnuts w/ Apple & Caramel $8 (As Bourdain would say…”these are purely EVIL… but in a GOOD way”)

We also ordered: Crispy Hominy with lime $5 (Ron said he loved it, and he could imagine movie theaters selling fried hominy by the bucket!)
and
Melted Petit Basque with Chorizo and Garlic Bread $11

Dining Date: 2/7/09

<- Visits 8 & 9

– > Visit 11

Animal Restaurant
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225
Website

Mentioned Above:

Tsukiji Fish Market

Le Bernardin

La Salette Wines

Bourdain

Eater L.A.

With my dad in Scotland

 

Animal on Urbanspoon

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Ten Minutes To Midnight

My husband Peter and I had reservations at Animal for New Year’s Eve dinner. We’ve been “regulars” for the past six months and there was nowhere we would rather be at years end, than at our favorite eatery celebrating the outstanding food of our friends Vinny and Jon.

So when I came down with a wicked head-cold a few days before, I was a tiny bit distressed. What if I had to stay home and miss out on the Flat Iron Steak with PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) Fondue? Who would be eating the portion of my beloved Foie Gras, Biscuit and Maple Sausage Gravy? And what about the totally addictive “crisp, assertively salted” Fried Hominy that Jonathan Gold recently raved about in L.A. Weekly?

On the morning of the 31st, I still felt pretty lousy and looked even worse. There was no way I would be going out to celebrate. Peter really didn’t want to sit home watching me pout and gulp Nyquil, so he called a friend and kept the reservation. Doing my best to be unselfish, I told Peter that I was happy his buddy Julian would be his New Year’s Eve date. But honestly, I wasn’t happy… I was selfishly miserable.

I tried going to bed early, but the Nyquil wasn’t making me sleepy like it usually did, so I sat at my computer watching the clock. Then I started “timing” Peter’s delectable dinner. “He’s been there a half an hour, so he’s licking his fingers from devouring a bowl of the Fried Hominy with Lime”… “Forty-five minutes in, that means he’s biting into the Pork Belly and Kimchi”… “I wonder if he’s ordering the Quail Fry with Grits, or the Stewed Rabbit with Turnips”?

It was pathetic and I actually worked myself up into a ridiculous, jealous state. I can blame most of this on lack of sleep and continuous sips of Nyquil, but the truth is… I felt like Peter was CHEATING on me! Not with a hot, young girl he met at the bar, but with Animal’s hot, gut-pleasing plate of Poutine (french fries) covered with Oxtail Gravy and Cheddar. How could Peter be so uncaring? How could he even step into Animal Restaurant without me??

At ten minutes to midnight I heard Peter’s car pull up the driveway. This was several hours after I assumed he had finished his dessert (the now famous Bacon, Chocolate Crunch Bar). I was ready for a battle, but didn’t jump up and yell at him like I wanted to. What was I going to say?… “You ate Animal’s house-cured, crispy Pork Belly WITHOUT me, so now you’re sleeping on the couch!”?

With just a hint of sarcasm I blurted out “How was dinner?”. Before Peter said a word, he handed me a bag. “Oh golly, THANKS…. scrappy leftovers” I thought. When I looked in the bag I just smiled. My wonderful and caring husband had brought me my very favorite dish from my very favorite restaurant…. the Foie Gras on a Biscuit with Maple Sausage Gravy. It was perfect and it was officially “MyLastBite” of 2008.
Foie Gras To Go! MyLastBite.com

Foie Gras To Go (plated)! MyLastBite.com

My Dinners at Animal (with photos)

Animal Restaurant
http://www.animalrestaurant.com
435 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

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Animal [8 & 9]

12/13/08 Dinner with Peter and Julian.

Crab Legs & Sweetbreads at ANIMAL, MyLastBite
New dishes we really enjoyed were 
King Crab Legs, Sweetbreads, Hush Puppies & Tabasco Butter$22

and

Flat Iron, PBR Fondue at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Flat Iron Steak, PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) Fondue, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, $25

Foie Gras To Go (plated)! MyLastBite.com
 12/31/08 Foie Gras on a Biscuit with Maple Sausage GravyOfficially “MyLastBite” of 2008.

Animal Restaurant
http://www.animalrestaurant.com
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

Dining Dates:
12/13/08
12/31/08

-> Visit #10

<- Visit #7

Animal on Urbanspoon

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Animal [5 & 6]

Visit #5 and #6

10/5/08
Animal Restaurant's Foie on Biscuits and Gravy by MyLastBite.com
Dinner with Dean & Steph. Foie Gras on Biscuits and Gravy! Hooray! It was so worth the wait. This was by far my favorite Foie Gras dish EVER! 
Thanks Vinny!!!!

10/30/08
Back at Animal Restaurant last night. This time with my girlfriend Laur and our production designer neighbor, Nelson. My husband had band practice… which was a shame because he really missed out on a great evening!The three of us shared five appetizers and two entrees… plus dessert. I know, I know… it was an absolute glutton-fest. But the food is SO AMAZING at Animal, that you don’t care if your brain tells you that you’re full. You don’t care if you have to secretly undo the top button of your pants at the table. You don’t care if you need to recline in the car on the way home because you can’t breathe… The food is THAT GOOD.

My favorites from last night’s dinner…Grouper, King Crab, Tabasco Butter at Animal by MyLastBite.com
Grouper, King Crab, Tabasco Butter with Gold Rice Succcotash & Cipollini$28
I didn’t think anything could top my Animal favorites… the 
Foie on Biscuits & Gravy or the Raw Amberjack, but this super grouper did it. 

Red Fish Crudo at Animal by MyLastBite.com
Red Fish Crudo, Blueberry, Serrano Chili, Apple Slaw $14
Beautiful, clean and tart. Just as tasty as my beloved Amberjack! 

Poutine at  at Animal by MyLastBite.com
Poutine, Ox-tail Gravy, Vermont Cheddar $12
In these tough economic times, I wish everyone could feel as good as I did whilst happily working my way through this plate of comforting goodness. Poutine are traditionally made with cheese curds, but chef Vinny wasn’t happy with curds that were locally avail, so he went for Vermont cheddar. You know when you eat something and you sort of feel like you want to cry? It was that sort of contentment.

Dining Date 10/5/08 and 10/30/08

– > Visit #7

<- Visits 3 & 4

 

Animal Restaurant
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

http://www.animalrestaurant.com

Animal on Urbanspoon

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Animal [3 & 4]

Visit #3 and #4

We had another fantastic dinner at Animal last night with our friends Adela, Andrew and Jodi. 

Animal Restaurant's Foie Gras & Strawberries by MyLastBite.com

My favorite was the Foie Gras & Strawberries, Brioche and Mache $20.

9/21/08 Dinner at Animal with my nephew Cody and his girlfriend Jade… and friends Bob, Andrew & Clara. It was such a treat to have Cody there. He is by far my favorite eating partner! We especially loved the Pork Belly and the massive “109” Steak. Chefs Vin and Jon both came around to chat with our group. Love those guys!

Animal Restaurant's "109" Steak by MyLastBite.com
The “109” Steak, Foie Gras Sauce and Mash $70

Dinner at Animal Restaurant by MyLastBite.com

Animal Restaurant's Pork Belly by MyLastBite.com
Pork Belly, Kimchi $10

– > Visits 5 & 6

<- Visit 2

Animal Restaurant
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

http://www.animalrestaurant.com

Dining Date 9/6/08 and 9/21/08

Animal on Urbanspoon

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Animal [2]

We loved Animal so much that we went back the next night! Everything was AMAZING but my favorites were the ooey, gooey petit basque and the melt-in-your-mouth flat iron steak.

Petite Basque, MyLastBite.com
Melted Petite Basque Cheese, Flame Grapes, Rocket & Pinenuts $9

Grilled Quail, Lemon, Pigweed & Garlic, MyLastBite.com
Grilled Quail, Lemon, Pigweed & Garlic $10

Pork Chop, Wax Beans, Squash, Lipstick & Pimento Peppers, Garbanzo, MyLastBite.com
Pork Chop, Wax Beans, Squash, Lipstick & Pimento Peppers, Garbanzo $28

Flat Iron at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Flatiron Steak, Potato, Corn & Grilled Torpedo Onion Hash, Ox-tail Bordelaise $25

Macerated Strawberries, Cream, Toasted Pound Cake, MyLastBite.com
Macerated Strawberries, Cream, Toasted Pound Cake $8

Dining Date 8/30/08

– > Animal Visit 3 & 4

<- Animal Visit 1

Animal Restaurant
http://www.animalrestaurant.com
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

Animal on Urbanspoon

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