Culver City, California
Inside the skeletal remains of the old IHOP
Roy Choi's rap sheet puts him on L.A.'s most-wanted list; constantly on the run with Kogi, holing up in Chego and always with the Alibi Room to fall back on, all eyes were upon him to see what his next move would be. Choi's latest enterprise has recently been revealed: A-Frame in Culver City, a consortium with partner-in-crime and restaurateur David Reiss. A-Frame hides in plain sight in a building described by its name on a dark corner of Washington Boulevard. Under cover of night, with no signage to reveal its location, it keeps a low profile, its past as an IHOP cleverly hidden in a virtual restaurant witness protection program. The cavernous dining room is lined with wood from floor to the top of the peaked ceiling; in fact, from inside the paneled door makes it appear as if it's part of the wall that frames it. A doorway in the main dining area allows a quick getaway to the patio, cleverly hidden by tall hedges and softly lit by lamps in suspended bassinet skirts. An area in front of the restaurant features foot-high stone seating behind a wooden fence that gives the feeling of hanging out in a neighborhood front yard.
The busy kitchen staff at A-Frame
I rode shotgun with Deep End Dining's
Eddie Lin to find A-Frame and use our investigative skills to uncover the truth. We immediately encountered a flurry of activity in the kitchen under the watchful eye of capo famiglia Roy Choi who stood off to the side. We weren't searched coming in but I noticed that there were no forks or knives available in the dining area, an obvious security precaution being passed off as getting back to the basics of being one with the meal and eating using only fingers and hands. We paid our respects and made our way to the patio where the only available seating was at the stone fire pit, its gas-fueled flames licking at the bed of lava rock like the patrons licking their fingers. We initially discovered what we introduce as Exhibit A: the ribs of a poor, unfortunate animal that were cooked down to prevent recognition, the savory and tangy meat dripping with thick sauce and disintegrating off the bone. Preserving photographic evidence was difficult with our hands coated in food, but we were there to do a job and see it through.
The masterpiece of crispy beer can chicken at A-Frame
The next item we confiscated was a carne asada torta, piled high with sweet onions, cilantro, queso fresco and salsa roja atop a grilled floury roll. Like other dishes at A-Frame, the sandwich tried to disguise its humble Latin origins, but we had it bagged and tagged in minutes. Several bowls approximating banchan surrounded us, with kimchi-style radishes on one side and a mixture of nori crackers, Korean jerky, almonds and other taste treats (using the alias of Spiced Sugar Nuts) congregating on the other. As much as I hate to admit it, I would probably succumb to the illicit lure of these bar snacks while off duty, disregarding my vow to protect and serve pretzels and nuts. Just when we thought we had fully uncovered the plot to hijack Angelenos' taste buds, we were ambushed dead in our tracks by the Cracklin Beer Can Chicken. The Pervivian-influenced dish was reported to also feature a century egg, but someone may have tipped it off that we were actively looking for it as it was nowhere to be found. This weapon took hours to assemble, resulting in a formidable and substantial poultry dish that was crisp on the outside and smooth, juicy and tender on the inside - we never knew what hit us. We were finished - done in by a barrage of cleverly crafted fusion dishes concocted and executed by masters at their game. We left there with heavy hearts and full stomachs wondering what we were going to do next; looks like I'm going to have to take up my old precinct buddy on his offer to be a night watchman at the yakitori...
12565 W. Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90066
GPS Coordinates: 33°59'49.10"N 118°25'56.00"W
Experience the multimedia podcast of Val and Deep End Dining's Eddie Lin at A-Frame in Culver City, California
NOTE: This cost for this meal was provided by the restaurant. The content provided in this article was not influenced whatsoever by the organizer of the event.