Dangles of white lights dip down a distressed brick wall. Floating mason jars suspend from above, doing something dazzling to the space between. And floor to ceiling subway tiles both contrast and complement the white wood panelling that frames the bounty of greenery somehow growing out of the walls. At downtown’s new Hock + Hoof, creativity is creeping out of every corner. Proving sometimes, it’s just fine to judge a restaurant by its cover.
If culinary crossroads and fantastical flavor profiles have you chomping at every literal bit, you’re going to want to sit up for this. Hock + Hoof, the newest Spring Street rising, is an Elysian marriage on multiple sumptuous fronts. Chefs Kat Hu and Justin Yi take us on a universal tour, where taste is their playground, where the exotic is baseline and the exceptional is expected. Bite by bodacious bite.
He hails from Korea, she from China, together they double down on diversity with some Mexican influence (his family owned and operated a Mexican restaurant in Vegas), and resultantly, the taste tapestry is one that unfolds in flavors and boundlessness and passion on the plate.
The fry bread. You have to. We tried ours with edamame hummus and squash gratin and a wonder why more things aren’t served with fry bread. Don’t ignite your experience here without it.
We moved onto the crispy artichokes, that feature a fantastical blend of spiced honey, salsa aioli, cilantro, and parmesan. And for my fellow cheese lovers, the Burrata. Go there. So good with those Asian pears. The crunch with the creamy is outrageous.
The squid. What is going on in that bowl. With the forbidden rice, the squid ink, and those wild mushrooms, in a menu that will change seasonally, this one will keep. The texture and taste paroxysm will demand it – maybe my favorite thing of the night. And the cod tempura. With the green moss, black vinegar, and pepper salt, another way they weave in story, sustenance, and scintillating composition all into one inventively magnificent meal.
High dive diners will delight in the market driven “It’s a Mystery.” Truly playing up Chefs’ love affair with luscious experimentation, an order here surrenders us beneficiaries of their boundary free brilliance.
All lit up by a libation program that is Soju centric, and so, so good. If you like a clean drink, the Pandan Mojito will swoon you not just with its visual chartreuse, but the cucumber, mint, lime, and bitters that refresh and rejuvenate. The Petite Pea has a touch more citrus and a slight floral bite, while the Smoking Section, featuring oak smoke and orange bitters, fill that need for something with a little bite back.
Popcorn Baby Back Ribs. Behemoth Bone Marrow. And that crazy Flintstonian Tomahawk – 48oz of it. For the adventurous epicurean, this menu reads like a romance, and the delivery does not disappoint. Chefs Hu and Yi have invited us into their wonderous world of flavor fusions and cultural crossover. Bold and playful, audacious and awesome, Hock + Hoof is edible ingenuity with off the chain charm. Making blaspheme of boundaries, it is a true treat, being invited into their playland, plate after protean plate.
Hock + Hoof, 517 S Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013, USA.
Tel: (213) 279-9983
Located on Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles, between 5th and 6th Street, next door to The Wolves. $15 valet underground parking. Downtown. Is what it is. Hock + Hoof is open Monday from 5:00pm to 9:30pm; Closed on Tuesdays; Open Wednesday and Thursday from 5:00pm to 9:30pm; Friday from 5:00pm to 10:00pm; Saturday from 10:30am to 3:00pm / 5:00pm to 10:30pm and Sunday from 10:30am to 3:00pm / 5:00pm to 9:00pm.
Type of Restaurant: Contemporary Californian Cuisine
Price Band: Medium to high
Insider Tip: We went for dinner, which was outstanding, but talk of their chicken and waffles will have us returning for brunch. There are so many reasonable options and at $13 the “It’s a Mystery” becomes a must-try.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.
Photographs courtesy of Hock + Hoof