Cracking the Kakoda: Fijian Food Lands at E.P. & L.P. in Los Angeles
What exactly is Fijian cuisine? At the new Asian-South Pacific eatery E.P. & L.P., chef Louis Tikaram, the Fijian-Chinese-Indian recipient of the 2014 Josephine Pignolet Young Chef of the Year, dishes up Kakoda, Baja rock shrimp, and seaweed ceviches made Fiji-style—with coconut milk, lime and chili that’s cool and a little creamy with a kick.
It’s part of an adventurous menu that spans Asian cultures with dishes like Green Lip Abalone, Chinese BBQ Duck, Thai Som Tum, and Scallop and Mussel Curry with turmeric and galangal. (On September 7, the globetrotting Tikaram will be joined by his chums Sydney and Hong Kong chefs Dan Hong and Jowett Yu for a one-night, seven-course modern Asian tasting dinner.)
On a recent visit, our waiter, sporting a T-shirt matching the elbow-macaroni-print wallpaper set down a plate called Check Yo Neck, a wood-grilled lamb with herbs, chili jam and iceberg leaves to make lettuce cups. “Our food is herbaceous and interactive,” he announced proudly, over the din of a full Wednesday night house.
Occupying nearly 3,500 square feet on the second story at the corner of fashion- and design-centric Melrose Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard, E.P. Asian Eating House is handsomely turned out with a copper-clad bar and tabletops, pink neon signs, and stylish—if somewhat stiff—iron and rope chairs. Along with A-list actors including Matt Damon, Al Pacino, Damian Lewis, and Don Cheadle, the restaurant pulls a flashy young crowd drawn to E.P. (which stands for Extended Play) as much for the music as for the food.
That’s hardly a surprise: partners in the venture include Australian DJ Grant Smillie and Axwell, former member of Swedish House Mafia. And one flight up at L.P. (Long Play), a 5,500-square-foot rooftop, the music and club atmosphere intensifies. Open until 2 a.m., LP serves boba cocktails like the Kriss Kross (gin and kaffir lime cordial with coconut water and tonic tapioca pearls), and has a $10 bar bites menu that includes Thai beef jerky a soft shell crab bahn mi.
David A. Keeps is on the Los Angeles beat for Travel + Leisure. The host of Ovation TV's "Art and The City," he writes regularly about travel and design. Follow him on Twitter at @davidkeeps and Instagram at @davidkeepsinsta.