The Amazing Taste: A Food-Forward Race Through L.A.

Three chefs, 13 cuisines, one day. We challenged L.A.’s hottest up-and-comers to a citywide Ethnic food crawl. Guess the country, eat the food, drive like hell, and win the race.


Kuniko Yagi

Hinoki And The Bird

Clue #1

It’s time to use your noodle! The rich pork-based soup from the small island nation has the city in a frenzy.

Answer: Japan

10:43 A.M.

Tsujita La Annex, West L.A.

DISH: Tsukemen (dipping) ramen. “I’m from Japan’s Kansai region, where the ramen has a clear broth—never fatty like this kind from Tokyo. It’s like East Coast versus West Coast.”

Clue #2

Meat and malbec are the favorite specialties of this nation’s red-scarved gauchos.

Answer: Argentina

11:36 A.M.

Empanada’s Palace, West L.A.

DISH: Empanadas and mate tea. “This place makes me want to go to Buenos Aires. I started drinking mate when I went off coffee—it has a lot of caffeine. It’s going to make us go fast!”.

Clue #3

Much of this large country’s population says no to meat—especially beef—but yes to exotic spices.

Answer: India

12:12 P.M.

Samosa House West, Culver City

INGREDIENT: Rose water. “I love Indian food! I have a new chef from Turkey, and she was telling me about rose water. I’m going to bring this to her and see what she makes out of it.”

Clue #4

Jacques and Gilles went up to (Beverly) Hills to fetch a pastry from one of this nation’s world-renowned bakeries.

Answer: France

12:34 P.M.

Chaumont, Beverly Hills

DISH: Religieuse (a stacked, cream-filled choux pastry). “Parking on South Beverly was a hassle. It took us at least ten minutes to find a spot! But it’s so pretty in here—I have to come back and taste more things. French pastries are my favorite. For now I’m getting this one wrapped up to go.”

Craig Thornton


Clue #1

Stop in your neighborhood taverna and order the flaming halumi cheese, a dish most associated with this country of islands. Take care to not singe your eyebrows.

Answer: Greece

11:05 A.M.

Papa Cristo’s, Mid City

DISH: Spanakopita (spinach and phyllo pastry). “I stop by Papa Cristo’s once in a while to pick up mastic, a syrupy tree resin I use to add a cedar flavor to desserts. They also carry their own brand of root beer, which is pretty awesome.”

Clue #2

Holy mole! Although mole sauce is found in almost every Mexican state, this one is often referred to as “the land of the seven moles.”

Answer: Oaxaca

11:22 A.M.

Guelaguetza, Koreatown

DISH: Tlayuda (a large, crispy tortilla spread with beans, string cheese, and meats). “I’ve been obsessed with Oaxacan food, especially mole, for as long as I can remember. It’s so complex and distinct.”

Clue #3

Making the classic French dish choucroute garnie? You’ll need a certain sauer ingredient that originated in this country.

Answer: Germany

12:05 P.M.

Currywurst, Beverly Grove

DISH: Currywurst (veal and pork sausage in a ketchup-curry sauce). “I’m half Austrian, so this food is my heritage. I loved sauerkraut as a kid, which I’m sure some people thought was strange. I’m very happy the portions are somewhat small here!”

Clue #4

Loco for loroco? The plant’s flowers are often used as filling for the grilled corn cakes popular in this country’s cuisine.

Answer: El Salvador

12:40 P.M.

El Chipilin, Koreatown

DISH: Pupusa stuffed with pork, beans, and cheese. “Pupusas remind me of farmers’ markets, where it always seems like there’s a stand selling them and I always get one.”

Jessica Koslow


Clue #1

Señores y señoras of this island nation near Florida often start their day with café con leche.

Answer: Cuba

10:48 A.M.

Cafe Tropical, Silver Lake

DISH: Guava and cheese pastry with café con leche (sweet coffee and milk). “This pastry is perfectly flaky and has great chunks of cream cheese. I love it, even in haste. The only thing slowing me down is how hot the coffee is.”

Clue #2

Don your finest plaid to guess the cuisine of this country, known for its bagpipes and a certain distilled spirit.

Answer: Scotland

11:06 A.M.

Tam O’Shanter, Atwater Village

DISH: Corned beef sandwich and a dram of scotch. “I come here to sit at the bar and order a pile of meat and a Pimm’s Cup. I chose the Highland Park 12-year-old Scotch because it’s the lightest—easier to get down the gullet.”

Clue #3

Spanish, Cuban, and Mexican flavors spice up the fusion cuisine found in this Caribbean commonwealth.

Answer: Puerto Rico

11:52 A.M.

Old San Juan, Glassell Park

DISH: Mofongo (mashed plantains with pork and cracklings). “It’s really heavy—you want this before working in the field or wrangling cattle. The little pieces of chicharrón are delicious.”

Clue #4

Feeling spicy, tiger? This country’s diverse cooking style will satay-sfy.

Answer: Thailand

12:23 P.M.

Bangluck Market, Thai Town

INGREDIENT: Fish sauce. “In college some kids make mac and cheese, others make Top Ramen. I made larb gai. A key player in the dish—and most Thai food—is fish sauce. A little goes a long way.”


For our GRAND finish, this downtown bazaar has everything from Thai food to tortas to tritip. The meaty cuisine you’re looking for is on fire- and familiar.”


1:08 P.M.


1:20 P.M.


12:45 P.M.

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