Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Gastropub Dream: The Lazy Ox Canteen

The Lazy Ox Canteen should be your favorite affordable small plates place. It's mine.
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Chalkboard specials change frequently, and they are often more interesting and better than the regular menu offerings. This is quite the gem at the edge of Little Tokyo. Don't let its slightly odd location deter you. It's definitely a destination restaurant.

Long ago, we went to Lazy Ox for the first time with my good friend, Kerfuffle. Kerfuffle has come so far from when I first met her. She used to be an I-only-eat-plain-chicken-breast-and-simple-pasta kind of girl. Now she eats so much more! It sounds stupid, but I'm so proud and delighted.

Broccolini leaves and yuzu ($9), Bellwether Farms ricotta fritters with basil aioli ($8), lamb neck hash with fried egg ($12).
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All fabulous, although the fritters were seriously tiny, so I wouldn't order those again. The real star was, of course, the lamb neck hash. Tender. Meaty. Yolky. It is the well-rounded student that every college wants.

Fried chicken family-style dinner -- all this for just $27!
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Salad, biscuits and gravy, and fried chicken? Incredible taste and incredible deal!

We kept marveling at the deliciousness of the beautiful golden crunchy skin. Loudly. So clearly audible were our table's raves that our server asked if we knew about this "really good chef in Spain." I said, "You mean Ferran Adria?" And he exclaimed, "Yes!" Well, apparently, Lazy Ox imports a type of yeast that Adria favors to make this fried chicken coating so delectable. Awesome.

Lazy Ox offers a different family-style dinner every night of the week, but they often run out, so get there early to score this deal!

Butterscotch pudding ($8).
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A tad salty. A lot sweet. Ohhhhh, yeah.

Our next recorded visit was with our pals, The Cruisers, and we ate a lot!

Buttermilk fried half quail with smoked sesame, wilted greens, and chive dressing ($14); ox heart a la plancha with garlic ($11); pig ear chicharron with radish salad and lime ($9).
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Yum, yum, and super yum. I love tiny fowl, so I knew the quail would be a winner. The ox hearts meshed well with their accoutrements. The pig ears were a fried fantasy.

Hand-torn pasta with brown butter and egg ($11); soft-shell crab with okra salad ($17); dashi marinated yellowtail with avocado, hash brown, and crème fraiche ($15).
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The pasta at Lazy Ox is out-of-this-world. You should order as much of it as you can. It is so simple, but it will seriously make your eyeballs roll back as you go, "Mmmmm." The soft-shell crab had a lovely delicate crunch. And the yellowtail dish is a permanent resident on the menu for a reason -- it's a grand amalgamation of cool raw freshness, warm crunchiness, and smooth creaminess.

Cavatelli with beef sausage and tomato sauce ($12), albondigas with poblano and cashew sauce ($9), salmon rillette with ricotta ($7).
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Get the pasta, people! I'm not kidding! The cavatelli dish had just the right amount of spice to kick up the heavenly bouncy bites. The Mexican meatballs were warm and saucy with a nutty nudge. The rich rillette came in an extraordinarily generous bowl -- big bang for the buck.

Lamb belly with mint and lebni ($12), grilled octopus with squid and zhoug ($14), corn ravioli with brown butter ($10).
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Delicious meatiness from land and the sea, expertly prepared. But, again, I was blown away by Lazy Ox's pasta. And this was filled with corn! Oh, man, so mind-blowing. I was so in love with this ravioli.

French pressed coffee, blackberry crumble ($10), rice pudding ($9).
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Mr. Monkey always orders French press when it's an option. Lazy Ox didn't disappoint. Mr. Monkey and The Cruisers enjoyed the blackberry crumble. (I couldn't partake because I'm allergic to blackberries.)

But dessert at Lazy Ox is really about one thing -- rice, rice, baby.

The rice pudding comes with warm caramel and vanilla cream. The rice pudding is already scrumptious on its own, but it is positively ambrosial when teamed with its sweet friends.

The Lazy Ox Canteen has become a benchmark of quality for us. Every so often, while we're eating at a different restaurant here in Los Angeles or even elsewhere in the country, Mr. Monkey will lament, "We could get a lot better food for a lot less money at Lazy Ox."

And I have agreed every time.

If you haven't been to The Lazy Ox Canteen, you're really missing out. Go.


  1. My jaw just got tight reading this because my mouth wants all that food so bad. Even the meat, and I'm not eating meat anymore. They don't have joints like this in OC near me. PS I thought this was going to be bar food bc of the name of the place. Hardly. And nice deal on the family fried chicken dinner.

  2. Love the Lazy Ox. LOVE. And I have yet to try the fried chicken. Which means that I will mostlikely end up loving it more.

    But dude, it seems like we are not meant to go to the Lazy Ox together...we are 2 for 2 now! ;)

  3. Sam Kim was just telling me about the fried chicken night on Thursday!!! I need to go back! For that, and for the rice pudding and for, well, everything so that Lazy Ox can be my gastropub too!

    Maybe Pam, you and I should go?

  4. Btw, D takes a B just sent me a link to this post with text that read "So when are we going???"

    My answer: ASAP!

  5. i <3 the yellowtail and rice pudding. i've never made it in time for the fried chicken. :(

    but whenever i go, my tab is not cheap. at all. oink.

  6. Yummmm this place is so so good.

  7. Looks so good! I STILL haven't been yet. I really need to.

  8. we missed you on thursday :) great break down of eats at the ox that i have yet to conquer.

  9. I went there for my birthday last year for the first time and I was lucky enough to go on their Fried Chicken night. It was some damn good chicken. Rest of the food was good as well. I definitely need to go back again, pronto!

  10. My mouth just pooled with saliva. That corn ravioli looks NOM! So does the rice pudding! And the blackberry crumble! And the teeny tiny ricotta fritters. My sad little soup & salad lunch is destined to disappoint me now.

  11. The Ox is one of my favorites in LA. Great summary post!

  12. Do you know what I'm about to heat up in the microwave? Some stupid tofu power soup for my lunch. Just so you know, I had to stop reading after the fried chicken picture. I got too depressed.

  13. Small plates are my favorite. I love being able to try lots of different things and not having to commit to one single meal.


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