Perhaps the most famous nose-to-tail eater in the world (next to yours truly) is Andrew Zimmern of Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods. Zimmern once said that eating all types of animals—not just the big three of beef, pork, and chicken—can relieve pressure off the world’s food supply chain. The same idea can be applied to off cuts, offal, and less popular parts of the animal. Maximizing the amount of food produced is one way to eat in an environmentally responsible fashion.
Little Tokyo restaurant b.o.s. specializes in beef-centric nose-to-tail dining and quite literally has offal and sustainability written into its name. “b.o.s.” is an acronym for beef, offal, sustainable. This is an integral part of the establishment’s mission statement. And as much as most people support this mission with their hearts and minds, the challenge for b.o.s. is having them support the idea of offals with their mouths.
Getting unadventurous diners to eat offals like chitlings, tripe, and tongue is sort of like getting kids to eat veggies. You have to trick them a little. At least that’s what Jun Isogai, founder of b.o.s., believes. He also believes that once people give offals a chance, they’ll be hooked, but only if it’s done right.
Enter chef David Bartnes. His specialty is making the nasty bits taste good. Chef Bartnes is of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and German upbringing. So, theoretically, the guy eats and cooks it all.
He may kick off your meal with small intestine “chicharron” or fried tripe “calamari” depending on your level of nose-to-tail experience. If a novice is in the house, that’s when the sweetbread taco is a better option: Veal thymus gland coated in panko crust and punched up with a Sriracha sour cream on mini, flaky flour tortillas will fake out the squeamish.
My favorite of item on the menu is closer to the cow’s nose than it is to the tail: “sizzling Thai tongue”. This Isaan-accented dish was created “to highlight the use of fresh aromatics,” explained Bartnes. Paper thin slices of center-cut tongue are marinated for 24 hours in house chili and lime sauce. Upon service, the tongue is combined with Chinese celery, cilantro, Thai basil, ginger, carrots, and a touch more marinade before it hits a sizzling, cast iron platter presented table-side. The result is a beef tongue plate that is both delicate in texture and vibrant in flavor. If you’ve never tried tongue, this is the tongue to taste.
An ambitious, off the menu entreé available for larger groups is the whole oxtail, another Thai-inspired dish. But, instead of plating the oxtail in segments like all the other restaurants do, b.o.s. keeps the tail in one piece, creating a dramatic visual on the plate. This entree takes the tail part of nose-to-tail very seriously.
Believe it or not, b.o.s. also slings great veggie plates, even salads, too. Vegetarians are very much welcome here—and that doesn’t just include the cows b.o.s. serves.
b.o.s., 424 E. 2nd St., Little Tokyo, 213-700-7834