By Patric Kuh
This year L.A.’s freshest culinary stars dug down to their roots, introducing diners to Singaporean laksa, Peruvian ceviche, Israeli shakshouka, and meatballs like Nonna used to make. Add to that a swank seafood shack and the dramatic debut of one of reality television’s most exciting innovators and you’ve got the city’s most appetizing arrivals.
The traditional fatoush salad—crisp pita chips among Little Gem leaves that are bathed in a lively sumac vinaigrette—places you on the Beirut corniche; the farm egg shakshouka, its soft yolk running into simmered tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers, transports you to the waterfront of Tel Aviv. Chef Micah Wexler, an alum of Vincenti, Craft, and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, casts an eye over the eastern Mediterranean in a panoramic survey of dishes that stays remarkably true to each. Once ascetic, the former Sona space has been warmed with earth tones and rope-upholstered chairs, creating an understated backdrop for Wexler’s explorations. Braised lamb shoulder with smoked green wheat and dukkah spice brings out the plumminess in the meritage from Lebanon’s Chateau Kefraya vineyard. For a hit of pure yiddishkeit, order the flatbread—pulled straight from the hearth before being schmeared with lebneh and dotted with caper berries and draped with smoked sablefish.