If you don't live in Downtown LA, now you will really want to. DTLA has really evolved over the past few years. From catching the metro before sundown (more like before the crazies come out), to now, staying out after a few drinks, roaming the streets passed midnight with friends searching for food. DTLA has definitely become the next hot spot as well as home for passionate LA residents. With the perks to live in LA, there comes a little gem with big time chefs rocking it out amazing food for the community. All you need to do is sign up, and RSVP for the next dinner (you better be quick). All that is asked in return, is to bring a bottle of wine or of course a beverage. This is the DTLA Dinner Club.
Previously, DTLA dinner club was hosted by Josh Gray-Emmer, but has passed down the torch to Arnold Myint as he takes a big, beautiful leap, to Bali.
I was lucky enough to get invited to be able to share with y'all the wonders of this night. And of course, what the DTLA Dinner Club has to bring to their neighbors.
So. Arnold Myint. That name sounds extremely familiar. But from where? All I knew was he was a contender on Top Chef. Without looking into this further, I headed out to NCT lofts in DTLA. As I walked into the loft, the first person that greeted my was this man, with the biggest warmest smile. And for a minute, I told myself "I know this guy" but I just don't remember where. Or, if we grew up together. It gave me a weird yet nostalgic feeling in my gut, but it made me feel comfortable with my surroundings instantly.
This was the face, (taken from his website: Arnold Myint):
Before going into his passions, a brief history of Arnold Myint besides being the contender on Food Network Star that I wanted to win. Arnold is just the sweetest guy from good ole Nashville, Tennessee.
From his own words taken from his site:
"I was born in Nashville, TN, spending a majority of my childhood climbing 100 pound rice bags at my parents' market and traveling to their homeland of South East Asia for summer break. Having toured as a competitive and professional ice skater, attending the Institute of Culinary Education, and working in Jean Georges Vongerichten’s culinary empire, I returned to Nashville for my own pursuits."
There's more to his life, but we can talk about that in a bit.
So going back to walking in and instantly falling in love. Arnold is extremely comfortable in the kitchen. He had no trouble asking one of us for help. And I had no trouble assisting him as long as I have my glass of Cabernet in my hands.
It wasn't long before the first course was flying out from the open layout kitchen.
Here is the Roasted Garlic Panzanella:
As beautiful as it looked, it tasted even better. I almost crapped my pants knowing that he is serving this with crispy baked chicken skin. Where the skin is pressed between 2 sheet pans. And yes, cooked in it's own fat. Scream till no one can hear anymore. I am dying. Such a fantastic thought out dish. The brightness of blistered tomatoes is exactly what you need to cut through the richness of the egg and hummus. I'm salivating as I am describing this. The tartness of the mustard seed, the roasty smokiness of the garlic, and the light touch of dill and mint.
Ok you want to see the yolk right? Here is some yolk porn bitches:
Yes, I had seconds of the chicken skin. I am not ashamed. I can eat a big bowl if that any day.
Next up? A surprising twist to family style. I love family style just because, hey I am Chinese and that's what we do growing up. Just sit near what you want to eat the most. But in this case, everything was within my reach.
So let's start with the Eggplant Rollatini:
This was a classic twist with the red pepper jam. I loved the sharpness of the feta, but it was balanced by the creaminess of the ricotta. The peaks of caramelized onions made each bite sweet and savory. Meat was not missed. The eggplant also played a part in texture. Cooked to perfection.
Oven Roasted Carrots:
Such a simple dish, but looks and taste decadent. To wow every party, this is a great idea to harvest seasonal veggies from your grocery store. Make it bright and fresh by topping a handful of pomegranate seeds. I will definitely think of this when hosting spring BBQs.
So, I think key to a good meatball is the quality of the meat. These lamb meatballs were fantastic. It wasn't seasoned too much where you can't taste the meat, but it was perfectly balances. I dredged these balls with the cilantro yogurt as well as on the carrots. It was heavenly. Also, these meatballs was something that Arnold made in Food Network Star. So these pretty much were home to him. When no one looks, just take 5 more for yourself. Or just drop them in your purse to take home. Just saying. Wouldn't this be fantastic on a sandwich? Good gracious.
My first plate to start off. Classy and elegant. What I did afterwards, you don't need to know.
Are y'all ready for dessert?
Arnold recently bought an ice cream machine. So we were definitely in for a treat.
Arnold getting ready to serve this ultimate Orange Olive Oil Cake. More like I love you Olive Oil. The final touches before it gets crowned with ice cream. Sit back an relax.
Orange Olive Oil Cake
That cardamom ice cream was everything. The cake was so moist, but had a nice density to eat with the ice cream. I've never had flavors like this before, so besides omg this is f*cking good, I don't even know how else to explain this.
So after wining down, we got to speak with Arnold a little bit about himself.
Arnold has an Alter Ego. One that I don't think you can handle. That's pretty much how fabulous she is.
I only have one word to describe her: Queen.
If you don't know the tails of the original Suzie Wong, it's basically a romantic love story found in a what ifs of 2 different worlds. One American man, falling in love with a prostitute in Hong Kong hotel brothel.
Arnold as Suzy Wong. I can't picture anything else that suits him.
Ms. Boss Lady running a brothel in Tennessee. I'm sure walking in the restaurant, you would feel the naughtiness creep up your neck. Oh yes, you are naughty.
Arnold was also inspired a lot by his culture and of course, family. Arnold talks highly of the memories he had growing up with the flavors of his heritage. Which brings up my next question. What are you going to serve next for DTLA dinner club. And I already had a gut feeling it was going to be home. Thai food. Now, if you aren't living in DTLA, you have time to do so now.
So. This leaves me in an awkward departure. I would love to get invited again and document the wonders of different chefs that whips up their spin. Arnold is also working with the Tourism Authority of Thailand WHICH by the way, teamed up with William Sonoma. Arnold will be making a debut in William Sonoma here in Southern California so stay tuned for updates.
Until then, au revoir.