Not Your Bubbe’s Latkes

L.A. chefs are cooking up deluxe takes on the humble potato pancake
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Creative chefs are adding glitz to humble potato pancakes, hash browns, and latkes, coming at the dish from different directions. Leading examples from four forward-thinking chefs build on time-tested methods and include personal, often luxurious flourishes.

OSPI

(pictured above)
At Ospi, chef Jackson Kalb and his wife, Melissa, serve a “giant, buttery hash brown” inspired by his Jewish upbringing for weekend brunch. Kalb loves latkes with salmon and created an oversized version that he manages to keep lacy and light. This russet-potato rectangle resembles a nest, aided by clarified butter and two types of starch. Kalb lashes each hash brown with tangy dill labneh; drapes it with vivid, citrus-cured Ora King salmon gravlax; and garnishes it with pickled red onions, capers, and crunchy sliced cucumbers to achieve balance.
» 2025 Pacific Ave., Venice, 424-443-5007, ospivenice.com.

SQIRL 

A LATKE GOING ON: Sqirl’s 11-inch latke tot. (COURTESY OF SQIRL)

SQIRL chef Jessica Koslow and her crew went big to craft an 11-inch latke tot—a russet-potato slab blended with flax flour, almond milk, and potato starch that still maintains “the taste of nostalgia.” They steam batches in their combination oven, then slice and fry them, resulting in tots with a soft center and crispy coat. SQIRL serves each slab with house-made crème fraîche swirled with parsley juice, Tsar Nicoulai Caviar trout roe, and an optional side of Frog Hollow Farm warren pear and quince butter for sweet contrast. A vegan version is available with a smoked-Marcona-almond schmear and punchy market-driven giardiniera.
» 720 N. Virgil Ave., East Hollywood, 323-284-8147, sqirlla.com.

YANG’s KITCHEN  

SPUD ART: Breakfast hash browns from Yang’s Kitchen. (COURTESY OF YANG’S KITCHEN)

When Yang’s Kitchen co-owner Chris Yang and chef Elaine Chang developed a knockout hash brown for their breakfast plate, they also created a canvas. With dry-aged smoked salmon from The Joint Seafood already on hand, they combined the two and built from there. Now they shred Kennebec potatoes before par cooking, pressing, freezing, and deep-frying them until they’re crispy, buttery planks. At that point, they top them off with luscious smoked-salmon belly; tart, preserved Meyer lemon crème fraîche; marinated trout roe; dill; and chives.
» 12 W. Main St., Alhambra, 626-281-1035, yangskitchenla.com.

REPUBLIQUE

CRISPY DREAM: République serves an especially refined latke for breakfast. (COURTESY OF RÉPUBLIQUE)

République co-owner Walter Manzke’s mom was born in Germany and made potato pancakes for him as a boy in San Diego. At the multifaceted Mid City restaurant and bakery he runs with his wife, Margarita, grated Yukon Gold potatoes are soaked overnight in order to max out the crispiness when they’re deep-fried later. For this signature dish from the breakfast menu, available daily until 2 p.m., République garnishes potato pancakes with smoked salmon, salmon roe, poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce, shaved red onions, and dill.
» 624 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park, 310-362-6115, republiquela.com.

This story is featured in the June 2022 issue of Los Angeles.

(Illustrated by Justin Metz)
(Illustrated by Justin Metz)

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