Patric Kuh Bids Adieu to Havana at Xiomara; Gold Digs The Duck at Sun Ha Jung

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Bolivian Salteñas Photo: Rodrigo Galindez via Flickr

Patric Kuh apparently had a real soft-spot for the old Xiomara, "L.A.’s foremost example of the nuevo latino style." He comes to check out its new direction and finds that the cooking of chef Michael Reed "comes across as focused and intelligent, with plenty of polish and little flash." There are times when the chef's excesses feel random and unneeded, Kuh explains, though "Reed becomes most interesting…when he counters the central tenet of California cuisine." Overall, Kuh seems quite pleased with the exacting bistro cooking, even if he misses the Cuban cuisine almost as much as Xiomara Ardolina misses Habana's Malecon. [Los Angeles]

Jonathan Gold laments the loss of some dearly departed Koreatown restaurants, with the long duck gone Il San Duck topping his list. Sun Ha Jang has recently decided to up its own quack quotient, adding DIY duck barbecue and a so-called “roast duck” that is actually “a compilation of the raw parts of the fowl that don't happen to come from the breast.” You breathe in the vapors of duck fat and when all is said and done, you get “the essence of duck” with a little roll in the rice with beans, herbs, sesame seeds, and kimchi. [L.A. Weekly]

Mr. Gold tells us where to get Bolivian salteñas, after the bombshell drops that Northern Virginia has more examples of the staple than L.A. He confirms their scarcity in these parts, and directs us to Beba's in Van Nuys, where this "triangular baked pastry stuffed with olives and seasoned ground meat" is "quite good." [L.A. Weekly]

It’s not only fancy Italian restaurants and Ammo she goes crazy for. S. Irene Virbila also loves western, country-style places in the SoCal sticks. She hits The Old Place in Agoura Hills, and while the food is “not always perfect,” anyone she takes here is quickly charmed into claiming it’s one of their favorite restaurants EVER. Burgess Meredith and Steve McQueen liked it, so they're doing something right. It could be that the new chef, Oscar Ledesma, cooks everything over a red oak fire, not for the staggered, timed seatings. There’s excellent steak at a reasonable price and can’t-miss steamed clams, but the pot pie blows and the specials can be a mixed bag. Finally, in the eloquent words of a skilled, exacting critic, she declares, “Good food. Great place.” She then gives it just one and a half stars, which wouldn’t normally sound like an endorsement, but eh, you know how this goes by now. [LAT]