Saturday, October 22, 2011

Komida - Tokyo Meets Tijuana Meets Greenwich Village by Hollywood and Highland

The lesser trafficked stretch of Orange Drive, in back of the Hollywood and Highland complex, is now one of the most dangerous spots in the city - for those with an addiction to Chef Brock Kleweno's crazy delicious Japanese tacos and wasabi guacamole.

My first introduction to the genius fusion creations was at the taco stand at the seasonal Yamashiro Farmers Market.  Yamashiro had, for me at least, for years just been an unaffordable tourist spot that held little interest beyond its much touted views of the city.  Then came the Farmers Market, with its unbridled access both to said scenery, and to the talents of Yamashiro Exec Chef Kleweno - all for the comparatively low, low price of $6 a taco (complete with 'fixin's').

There was Miso Sake Black Cod tacos, with incredibly fresh, tender, flaky fish on amazing little flour tortillas (my fav).  And the Hoisin Duck Confit taco.  And salsas with Asian-inspired flavors. It may look like street food, but it tastes like fine dining - ingredients are all top quality.  That's not all, the tacos are all served with free chips with wasabi guacamole and pickled shishito peppers.

Yamashiro's taco stand brought excitement to a staid brand, made its food accessible 'for the people', and most importantly introduced a whole new interpretation of Latin-Asian fusion street food. Arguably, what Roy Choi did for Korean-Mexican, Brock Kleweno trail-blazed for Japanese-Mexican.

I was just getting sad that the seasonal market was drawing to a close for the year, which meant losing access to those amazing tacos and guac - when the announcement came that Chef Kleweno would open a 'pop-up' in Hollywood, serving those fan favorites!!!

And this weekend I finally got to check it out!

The pop-up is currently in 'soft open' mode, Thursdays 5-9pm (mirroring former Farmers Market hours) and Saturdays 10am-2pm, but they hope to expand hours as business ramps up.  They will be officially up and running starting October 31st.

It's sort of a 'hidden gem' right now, tucked away in back of the Hollywood and Highland complex in an industrial looking space that's big on character.

There's a small lobby with walk-up cashier, covered outdoor patio complete with a little stand for a bar, and a semi-private party room near the front.  All come with 'dressing' befitting the fusion cuisine - Japanese shoji inspired roof panels, matted curtain, subtle stone buddha statue, Mexican bar table covers and vintage soda bottles, and tongue-in-cheek artwork on the menu board.  All in a sort of urban yet laid back space, with exposed brick walls that makes me think, for some reason, of some cozy neighborhood gem in Greenwich Village.  It was love at first sight - everything was done tastefully, not in a too serious way but also doesn't hit you over the head with too-obvious cultural references.

So, the food (right, that's what I came for!) - along with fan favorite tacos and salsas, a Chicken Satay taco makes an appearance on Komida menu. I was there for a quick snack, so I went straight for a fix of my favorite - the Miso Sake Black Cod Taco ($6).

Komida takes a casual approach, serving food in a cardboard tray (a la Farmers Market), which works for the casual seat-yourself outdoor dining space.  The taco - and everything else from wasabi guacamole (buttery with a kick!) to the pickled  shishito peppers (sweet and tart) with fresh tasting chips were as fantastic as I remembered, and I inhaled every last morsel in the tray.

Chef Kleweno previously mentioned plans to sell the wasabi guac 'to go', but they are not quite ready yet.  Starting in November we'll be able to squirrel tubs of the stuff away back home to scarf down shamelessly.

As for drinks: in addition to Mexican sodas (including Pepsi) beers, wines and cocktails are served at Komida - I had the Jamaican Agua Fresca ($10), a refreshing burgundy colored drink made with hibiscus syrup and champagne.

All in all, loved that there is now a place for me to get Chef Kleweno's fusion tacos, and that the space is centrally located - yet an awesome haven of calm just steps away from over-the-top Hollywood - is a bonus.

I can't wait to go back to Komida - if I had my way it would be a weekly fix ritual.

[Update 10/31: They are officially open - hours are now Monday to Fridays 11am-9pm!]

[Deal alert:  Happy Hour Mondays to Fridays 5-7pm $2 Chicken Satay Taco, $3 Short Rib Taco and $15 beer bucket (Singha x4), carafe of Jamaican Agua Fresca or carafe of Lycee Sangria]

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6 bites
Presentation - 5.5 bites
Originality - 6 bites
Ambience - 6 stars
Service - 6 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $ (1 bite mark)
Probability of return visit - 100%


Hours Thu: 5pm-9pm Sat: 10am-2pm (Update 10/31: Hours are now Mon-Fri 11am-9pm)
1738 North Orange Drive, Hollywood, CA 90028

Parking: Hollywood & Highland structure - $2 first 2 hours w/ validation from stores in the complex, $1 for each additional 15 mins.

Twitter: @Komida_LA

Komida on Urbanspoon

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