Chef Bruce Kalman of Knead & Co. Pasta Bar Shares His 10 Favorite Dishes in L.A.

From Singaporean chili crab to an upscale patty melt, here are the chef’s go-to dishes

Bruce Kalman is very busy. He’s the executive chef and owner of Union, one of the best Italian restaurants in the city. He has the same role at Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market in Grand Central Market, which, if you’ve been there during the lunch rush, you’ll know does crazy-high volume. And on top of that, he plays lead guitar in a band called Foie Grock with Duff Goldman. That’s just rad. But between all that, the man’s gotta find time to eat, too. Here are his ten favorite dishes from around the city.

1. Singaporean Chili Crab at Phorage

A photo posted by chris oh (@chefchrisoh) on

“My buddy, Duff Goldman, and I made a pitstop on our way to band practice at Phorage, because I told him how amazing the pork banh mi is. Perry Cheung had saved us one of his special Singaporean crabs and O.M.G.! Duff and I were literally licking the chile sauce off the table! (Editor’s note: pics or it didn’t happen). Sweet, spicy, tangy, and finger-licking good! It’s not always available, so if it is, order it!”

2. Crab Pops at Playa Provisions

“When I was going to Playa Provisions for dinner, Brooke told me I had to have the crab pops, and they did not disappoint! It’s like a crab cake wrapped around a snow crab claw. Absolutely delicious!”

3. Sushi at Sushi King in Santa Monica

A photo posted by Kevin Culhane (@kpculhane) on

“I’ve been eating sushi at this little spot for a few years now, and every time, every bite blows my mind. It’s nothing fancy (no edamame), just a legit OG sushi bar with incredibly fresh seafood prepared exceptionally well. It’s ruined me on sushi anywhere else.”

4. Koda Farms Chickpea Curry at Cassia

A photo posted by Cassia LA (@dinecassia) on

“Bryant takes a dish that is so simple and blows your mind with the balance of spice and sweetness from the coconut milk and the creamy chickpeas. The stone oven flatbread is the perfect way to scoop up the remaining sauce.”

5. Peads & Barnett’s Pork Chop at The Cannibal

“This pork chop is one of the best I’ve ever had. Simon Majumdar and I were dining there and Francis told us that we had to try it and he was correct! Perfectly cooked, juicy, great char on the outside served with some cooked bitter greens. It stopped Simon in his tracks, which we all know is not easy to do!”

6. Lobster Roll at Cape Seafood & Provisions

“Michael’s lobster roll is hands down the best I’ve ever had, the lobster is so fresh with just the right amount of dressing, and the roll is buttery, crispy and soft all at the same time.”

7. Chicken at Pollo a La Brasa 

A photo posted by Katie Meza (@kmeza) on

“The first time I had this chicken, I couldn’t wait to go back and have it again. The seasoning, the wood fire and the way they split the chicken so effortlessly and quick with a cleaver is the magic formula. The Aji Verde sauce is a force to be reckoned with, so fresh, so spicy, and so addictive!”

8. Pozole Verde with Mussels at Rustic Canyon

A photo posted by Javier Ramirez (@gourmandj) on

“I lived in Santa Fe for a while and some incredible pozole, but Jeremy Fox’s version is so clean, fresh and well balanced. Just the perfect amount of heat.”

9. Patty Melt at The Bellwether

A photo posted by Kris (@tableforkris) on

“Ted Hopson’s patty melt is a perfect rendition of an old classic—buttery, crispy, griddled bread, some good stinky cheese (Taleggio), sweet caramelized onions, and a smashed almost salty burger patty. The Calabrian chile aioli gives it just the right kick.

10. Torta Della Nonna at Osteria Mozza

“Dahlia’s torta della nonna is incomparable. It’s creamy, sweet, slightly savory, has the perfect crust and that honeycomb, I could eat a whole torta!”