Thursday, March 15, 2012

Check Out Plan Check: Craft Cocktails on Sawtelle

There have been plenty of exciting new places on Sawtelle recently, including Tsujita and their amazing tsukemen, but Plan Check brings something completely new to Little Osaka: cocktails! I've been looking forward to the opening since learning that Pablo Moix and Steve Livigni are consulting and created the cocktail menu for this new place.

I was able to attend their friends and family night before the official opening, where they brought out the signature dishes for us to try. The kitchen menu is the creation of Ernesto Uchimura, the chef who was at Umami when they first opened, so think heavy drinking food: burgers, fried chicken, and the likes just a stone's throw away from all the curry and tofu houses.

Out of the two burgers we tried I liked the Bleuprint Burger: akaushi red wagyu beef, smoked blue cheese, pig candy (candied bacon), fried onions, steak sauce, peppercress, "crunch bun" ($11)

Bleuprint Burger
The buns are made especially this restaurant and they described it as a Portuguese milk bun with extra crunch. I liked how it's moist and sweet, though it makes the burger a tad richer. There's a lot going on in this burger, as you can see, but since I liked every component, I enjoyed it as a whole.

Their "standard" burger is the Plan Check Burger with akaushi red wagyu beef, americanized (?) cheese, ketchup leather, onions, pickles, "crunch bun" ($10)
Plan Check Burger
You've probably read about the "ketchup leather" elsewhere, but yes. Remember the fruit leathers you might have had as a kid? They've made their ketchup into one of those, to avoid the buns getting soggy from ketchup. I think I still like regular ketchup better, though, since it's a bit drier with the "leather." You can taste the flavors of the wagyu patty better in this simpler burger.

Their appetizer Veggie chips with avocado dip ($6) consisted of yucca, taro, and sweet potato chips.
Veggie Chips
The chips are pretty oily but I did love the avocado dip.

Smokey fried chicken: Jidori chicken, smoked milk gravy, yam preserves, spicy pickled okra ($12)
Fried Chicken
The fried chicken was nicely crunchy and the meat inside was moist. I've never had fried chicken with jam before but I did like the sweet potato preserves here, whereas the okra ... well perhaps I only like okras in gumbo.

OK, now on to Pablo Moix and Steve Livigni's cocktails. The list is concise and pretty comprehensive and contains a nod to Little Osaka with the usage of sake and names reminiscent of Japanese pop culture. I wasn't sure what to order at first so I asked the waitress what her favorite was. She pointed me to the Tropic Thunder: Jalapeno infused vodka, mango, lemon juice, sugar ($10)
Tropic Thunder
While vodka is generally not my spirit of choice, this cocktail was light and refreshing.

I wanted a stronger, less-sweet drink next and the rum cocktail bearing the name of one of my favorite Akira Kurosawa's film caught my eye: High and Low with Zaya rum, Fino sherry, Cointreau, grenadine ($10)
High and Low
I really liked this cocktail; much more my speed (when I'm not hungry), well balanced with a bit of sweetness. During the first weeks Pablo and Steve will be supervising the bar pretty closely and I hope they can keep it up after that.

For dessert, they brought out the Cruller Donuts ($6)
Cruller Donuts
This had an interesting texture, which reminded me more of spudnuts. I didn't get to clarify what the cruller was made of, though. One thing we did notice was that we wished they had made the dessert more finger-friendly like the rest of the menu. Maybe smaller pieces of the cruller that we can dip into the cream?

Plan Check offers something different compared to other Little Osaka restaurants and I think the area was certainly in need of a bar hangout, especially one with good cocktails! With burgers and fried chicken, the restaurant is an outlier but a nice change from the Japanese and Korean restaurants surrounding it. I can already imagine the people getting tipsy here before walking to the karaoke studio down the street.

Plan Check Kitchen + Bar
1800 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 288-6500
Plan Check Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon


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