Dave Chang is possibly the most famous chef in America. His cookbook Momofuku sits in our kitchens. His sassy Netflix show graces our television screens. His podcast rattles around in our ears.
When a chef is this influential, I’m compelled to visit their restaurant. Many of us are familiar with Dave Chang’s larger theory of food, but do his restaurants properly realize that vision?
I mean, could you really understand Guy Fieri until you ate at his Times Square restaurant?
I finally got the chance to take a bite of the Dave Chang empire when I visited Majordomo in Los Angeles.
Majordomo’s location is the ultimate flex. It sits below Dodger Stadium, maybe seventy yards from the LA river, surrounded by warehouses. It doesn’t really belong to any neighborhood. Chang opened his restaurant in a place nobody visits and leveraged his fame to make it a popping destination.
Majordomo itself is gorgeous, from the tree-filled plaza outside to the tin-roofed, big-windowed central building. The interior feels like a festive West Elm stuck inside a warehouse. The art is excellent.
The menu is distinctly Dave Chang — there’s a strong Korean influence, but also a kid-who-loves-junk-food influence, and a little bit of bread and cheese everywhere you look.
We started the meal with Bing — a buttery, fluffy, and insanely hot flatbread — and chickpea hozon (essentially miso paste made with chickpeas instead of soybeans, which tasted like hummus).
Then we moved into a plate of fried shishito peppers stuffed with pork sausage. These were the weak point of the meal, closer to a stoner’s microwave snack than fine dining.
Luckily, the highlight of the meal arrived moments later — black cod brushed with that chickpea hozon, blasted with heat, and served with a medley of pickly vegetables and bok choy.
This was one of the best three pieces of fish I’ve ever eaten. It was something more than properly cooked. It was almost a chewable liquid. And the blackened micro-layer of chickpea hozon generated astounding buttery-ness.
Then they set down fried cauliflower in a fish sauce vinaigrette. The cauliflower was delicately fried, but the sauce was pretty dull. When you give Dave Chang a flavor as powerful as fish sauce, you’d hope a little more could be achieved.
And then they set down the granddaddy of them all. The boneless short ribs. Oh lord in heaven. Just look at this:
Here’s what happens. They set a cauldron of boneless rib stew down at your table with a huge bowl of rice and a small bowl of veggies — mostly scallions.
Then they throw the scallions on top of the meat and you’re like “cool!”
But then SOMEONE APPROACHES THE TABLE WITH A WHEEL OF HOT RACLETTE CHEESE THE SIZE OF A CAR TIRE. And they scrape an avalanche of cheese into your cauldron of tender meat. And then they stir it up and you pile it into your bowl of rice.
It’s gluttony at its finest.
For dessert we beheld an horchata and coffee shaved ice, topped with dulce de leche cream and filled with rice pudding.
Yes, it is the size of a human baby. Yes, it’s sort of good. Yes, there are way too many textures.
So is Majordomo excellent, or merely famous? The stylistic vision and bold choice of location are unquestionably the former. As for the food, several dishes were pedestrian, and only the black cod approached the transcendent heights routinely attained by Otium across downtown. You can find food just as good for significantly less money in Los Angeles, but a cauldron of cheesy ribs supplies a special sort of hubristic charm, and the theatrics across this eclectic menu are often more striking than the bursts of umami that repeatedly ambush your taste buds.
In conclusion, scrape hot cheese into hot meat more often. ∎