BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.
The L.A. restaurant Red Medicine has gotten a lot of attention lately, but not necessarily for its food.

The stylish spot in Beverly Hills recently started tweeting the names of guests who don’t show up for their reservations. The public shaming has garnered debate and attention, which Red Medicine’s GM Noah Ellis must be used to. He’s the same guy who two years ago refused service to a Los Angeles Times critic and circulated her photo via social media.

I made reservations to visit this spot during my recent spring break trip to L.A. because I heard that the food was something worth checking out. You can be sure that I didn’t cancel my reservations and showed up on time for my Monday night dinner with my sister.

Vietnamese Influences
As for the food, it’s presented as Asian dishes with a nod to Vietnam, but don’t call it fusion. On the website, the owners – which include Chef/Partner Jordan Kahn, Ellis, and Adam Fleischman – say they were inspired to open the restaurant after eating late-night Vietnamese pho.

For sure, the ubiquitous pungent fish sauce is freely used in several dishes. (Sometimes too much, as I found in a dish of Brussels sprouts.) But the owners don’t want their dishes compared to authentic Vietnamese food, saying dishes like their imperial rolls or dumplings are their own creations.

Santa Barbara uni ($18) is creatively presented in a fish bowl with finely chopped cauliflower, Chinese sausage and what seemed like a bed of aioli or crème fraiche.

Santa Barbara uni ($18) is creatively presented in a fish bowl with finely chopped cauliflower, Chinese sausage and what seemed like a bed of aioli or crème fraiche.

The menu contains a mix of ala carte dishes or a six-course tasting menu for $65. My sister and I decided to order a few dishes, but I have to say that I was confused with the listing of “large format” dishes.

Three dishes were listed as “large format” without any prices. (They were New England scallops, Wagyu beef, and heritage pork belly.) Our waiter explained that these dishes were about three times the size of regular entrees (and three times the price) meant to be served at large parties.

On the Plate
Some of the things I learned about the dishes from Chef Kahn, who has worked for chefs like Thomas Keller and Michael Mina, include the following:

  • The plates are beautifully presented, although sometimes Kahn has a tendency to hide the main ingredients, such as our Brussels sprouts dish ($9) covered with shrimp chips or sweetbreads ($28) hidden under thin spice bread chips and greens.
  • The dishes need more balance. For example, fish sauce was a strong flavor in many dishes, and a uni dish ($18) had too much of what was either an aioli or crème fraiche.
  • Cooking technique seems a bit off. I don’t know if it was an off night for the kitchen, but the sweetbreads would have been better a bit more cooked or crispy, and the Akaushi beef dish ($36) was cooked too long, leaving the shredded beef a bit dry.

The Last Bite
There were some nice moments, such as my dessert of coconut bavarois ($9), which reminded me of coconut pudding I loved growing up in Hawaii. But again, it needed to be balanced with the chocolate and peanut croquant, which added a nice crunch but there was too much of it.

The service at Red Medicine was attentive yet unobtrusive, and the place sports a lounge-like vibe with hints of Colonial Vietnam. Unfortunately, the food needs more balance in the use of fish sauce despite how pretty it arrives to the table.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 camera snaps
2.5snaps

 

Red Medicine, 8400 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, Calif. PH: 323.651.5500. Open daily from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. redmedicinela.com

Red Medicine on Urbanspoon

Young turnip dish ($17) included banana vinegar and crème fraiche served with banana slices and purple potatoes. I was glad for the sweetness of the banana to balance the overly saltiness of the sauce.

Young turnip dish ($17) included banana vinegar and crème fraiche served with banana slices and purple potatoes. I was glad for the sweetness of the banana to balance the overly saltiness of the sauce.

Sweetbreads ($28) are brought to the table covered with thin spice bread. (I had to push one away to unveil the sweetbreads).

Sweetbreads ($28) are brought to the table covered with thin spice bread. (I had to push one away to unveil the sweetbreads).

There were little touches of Colonial Vietnam in the furnishings, which were contemporary and casual

There were little touches of Colonial Vietnam in the furnishings, which were contemporary and casual

Akaushi beef ($36) served with pistachio and mustard juice. The beef comes out looking like a log, which we then broke apart like shredded pork.

Akaushi beef ($36) served with pistachio and mustard juice. The beef comes out looking like a log, which we then broke apart like shredded pork.

Brussels sprouts with shallots and fish sauce ($9) is presented with a cover of shrimp chips and basil leaves.

Brussels sprouts with shallots and fish sauce ($9) is presented with a cover of shrimp chips and basil leaves.

Coconut bavarois ($9) with coffee, condensed milk, thai basil, and peanut croquant

Coconut bavarois ($9) with coffee, condensed milk, thai basil, and peanut croquant

2 Responses to Review of Red Medicine Restaurant in LA

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    Interesting presentations, especially that “log” of beef. Too bad about the heavy hand with the fish sauce, though.

  2. foodhoe says:

    yes, very pretty (except for that log, that looks hideous)! Looks like a fun spot.

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