Last weekend while dining at asterid by Ray Garcia, I had one of the best octopus rolls ever. Chef Garcia fills a brioche style roll with grilled octopus tentacles blended with aleppo chile pepper yogurt and topped with a vibrant purple pickled cabbage. He places the roll on a pretty Robert Gordon pottery plate.
I have followed Garcia for years since he was at Santa Monica’s FIG, Los Angeles’ Broken Spanish and BS Taqueria. He and his teams have received national recognition including being recognized by Esquire magazine as Chef of the Year.
Now he is at asterid at the Walt Disney Concert Hall sharing his culinary story and preparing new California-inspired fare. His menu will entice you to order a variety of small and large plates.
Sitting on the expansive front patio, we ordered a glass of Spanish Constantine Sotelo “Rosalia” Albarino that paired nicely with the octopus rolls, and a vibrant, Martinelli Chardonnay.
Garcia is a native Angeleno who incorporates a wide range of peppers in his dishes. He adds puya chiles and black garlic to tender heirloom carrots to spice things up. Puya are small chiles from Mexico that are similar to guajillo peppers, but a bit hotter. They offer a fruity flavor and vibrant aroma. Fortunately, Garcia adds a little dill yogurt and citrus flavored sumac to calm the heat.
The restaurant gets its name from the largest group of over 80,000 flowering plant species that include radiant sunflowers, coffee, and even fragrant mint.
A touch of mint was presented on the beet salad on top of Meyer lemon enhanced ricotta with orange blossom honey. Pale yellow, pink and bright red beets are cut in quarters next to thinly sliced fennel, a handful of arugula, and halved small yellow tomatoes. Chef Garcia crushes a delightful and slightly sugary tasting pistacchio brittle to provide a crunch with each bite.
When the aguachile arrived, we remarked how beautiful the colorful fresh ingredients looked in the pretty yellow ceramic bowl. Perfectly cubed pieces of fresh hiramasa, a high-quality sashimi that is firmer in texture, higher in fat content and cleaner in flavor than wild yellowtail, were next to sweet, cubed melon. The orange melon is similar to cantaloupe, and has a higher sugar content and a fruitier and more floral aroma. Sliced cucumber, small yellow tomatoes, thinly sliced serrano peppers and chopped chives accompany the hiramasa and it is served with long and thin plantain chips in a blue ceramic cup. We enjoyed this dish to the last bite, spooning the remaining citrus and melon juice for a pleasing sweet citrusy finish.
Garcia’s Heritage duroc pork chop with Chinese greens and peppers is served slightly pink and has exceptional marbling, offering a rich and robust flavor. Served bone-in, the pork is sliced with a crispy caramelized red miso glaze crust. On the side is yu choy, a green leafy vegetable related to bok choy and broccoli, plus a few shishito peppers.
For dessert, try the rice pudding made with organic rose rice, mixed with coconut cream and tropical passion fruit. We also ordered the berry shortcake with sweet, delicious Harry’s berries and hibiscus enhanced angel food cake. Thin meringue wafers dusted with crushed hibiscus, dollops of vanilla cream and a vanilla crumble for texture made the dessert a winner. We enjoyed our meal so much that we vowed to come back for Chef Garcia’s new Sunday brunch.
The next time you are in DTLA for a performance at Disney Concert Hall or a show at the Music Center, visit asterid to be wowed by the beautiful colors, flavors and presentations by Chef Ray Garcia and his talented team.
Dinner is served Wednesday through Sunday starting at 5 p.m. Sunday brunch is offered from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Reservations can be made on Resy or call asterid. 141 S. Grand Ave., (213)972-3535.