Where to eat in LA: Animal

I like to consider myself an adventurous eater.  I’m fortunate enough that I do not have any dietary restrictions or allergies that would refrain me from eating an ingredient or type of food.

Animal has been on my bucket list since opening its doors nearly six years ago, but I don’t travel to LA as frequently and it’s usually for work where dinner arrangements are generally made.  Well, last month I had a work trip with an open dinner so there was no questioning where I’d take my solo dining.

I propped up at the bar where I was greeted by extraordinarily friendly and hospitable staff. I asked the server what’s good.  “Pig ears hands down.”  That’s when I scrunched my nose, remembering I took the daring leap to ingest pig ears a few years ago at a restaurant in NYC (I can’t remember the name or else I’d share the info) and was deeply disturbed by the squishy texture and recall an unpleasant taste.  It may have been the preparation, but that’s when I decided I’d consider pig ears only as a treat for my dog. After declining and explaining my historical pig ear problem, he convinced me that this preparation is different, and GUARANTEED that I would like it. Ok, fine.  He was right, and no regrets.  The pig ear was crisp and fried in little shreds on top of a bed of julienned vegetables, sautéed in a spicy red chili lime sauce and served with a duck egg on top to break and mix in.  Maybe the key to any unsavory ingredient is to fry it because this certainly worked for me.  And that red chili lime sauce gave it a splendid kick.

His second recommendation: the hamachi tostada.  I actually think I preferred this dish over the pig ears.  Also enveloped in punchy Thai-style fish sauce vinaigrette, this was hands down the most beautiful, brightly colored dish I have seen and eaten in awhile, towered with powerfully flavored herbs, greens and peanuts.

I was severely full after both dishes, but I didn’t know when I’d come back and I had my eye on the bone marrow with chimichurri and caramelized onions. Note to readers:  eating a decadent, super fatty dish on an already full stomach is NOT ideal.  I’m happy I ordered it because it was delicious, but after two bites I needed to surrender and call it a night.

All-in-all, I am a huge fan. The three dishes were reasonably sized, well-presented and packed with big flavors.  Next up – Son of a Gun! Check out the menu here and make your next reservation:  http://animalrestaurant.com

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