Red Medicine is the fairly new Vietnamese-inspired restaurant on Wilshire just east of La Cienega that's open late, serving tired and hungry industry folks well into the wee hours (2 am). The former Kokusai location has Jordan Kahn at the helm (his first solo venture since leaving XIV as pastry chef extraordinaire) Umami's Adam Fleischman and beverage director Noah Ellis. Production designer Charisse Cardenas uses lots of reclaimed wood here, with Douglas fir on the walls, an 8 seater bar made of Oak, and custom-made maple furniture set inside this industrial feeling, candle lit space.

Turns out the joint is named Red Medicine because of the hot and spicy nature of the food, and it's therapeutic, healing effects. In reality, Vietnamese has lighter and some would say, more feminine flavors than other Asian food, but "Red" also connotes good fortune, success and honor.

Here is the dinner menu for you to peruse. It is sectioned off into cold plates, hot plates, small plates and large plates. Of course, the dessert menu is unbelievable and another story all together.
The crispy spring rolls [$15] with dungeness crab, lime, pea pods, fines herbes, and chili were a pretty good start, but I would instantly recommend the dungeness crab from the hot plates section of the menu if you were to choose between the two. 

The chicken dumplings [$9] with caramelized sugar, pork fat, lemongrass and confitures was more of a meatball than a dumpling. They get wrapped in a leaf of lettuce and the fun part is choosing which toppings to sprinkle or slather on.
It's refreshing to use so many leafy greens and get that fresh bite of lettuce for a change. It's easy to come here and avoid eating any rice or bread, and still leave feeling satisfied. The chicken was sweet and savory and the condiments and spicy sauce punched it up even more.
The brussels sprouts [$9] were topped with fried shrimp crackers which I just pushed to the side. The actual sprouts were incredibly good. They were rich and glazed in a fish sauce with caramelized shallots and vermouth, so they were really decadent.
The dungeness crab [$32] arrives like a hidden treasure beneath this Vietnamese crepe and surrounded by black garlic and malt crumbles. Here is what to expect underneath.
A giant pile of dungeness crab, sweet and delicious from a strikingly delicious marinade of passion fruit and brown sugar, and topped with a few pieces of banana, mushrooms, and heart of palm. This dish is a must-have. The crab exudes a tropical aftertaste from the passion fruit juice and banana bits, but it retains the soft flavor that makes dungeness so appealing.

Combined with the exquisitely fine crepe and the garlic and mushrooms thrown in, that element of earth manages to ground it all as your taste buds soar. 

The Imperial Wagyu Beef Brisket [MP} was my absolute favorite. It turned out to be $80 which seems expensive, but not really when you realize it's big enough (2 lbs) to share between 4 - 6 people. It's braised for 36 hours with palm sugar and fish sauce and is juicy and tender with a faint hint of crispy fat. I love, love, love the fixings that accompany this perfectly braised brisket. Intended to be shared as lettuce wraps, the brisket experience is hands-on and social.

You take the meat and dunk it in the citrusy and light fish sauce, and then layer it inside the lettuce cup. Then you top it with a few rounds of sweet pickles, sliced carrots, marinated radish and a medley of herbs like parsley and mint.

One bite and you will understand. The flavors blend together like a cascading waterfall that washes over you and carries you away to a Vietnamese paradise.

The Maitake mushrooms [$17] arrived looking like a forest fairy's delicate wreath on the plate. Once in front of us, a small pitcher of charred cauliflower puree was poured into the middle of it.
Underneath the frizee lettuces were snake beans so long they resembled spaghetti, shaved cauliflower, dehydrated mushroom, bacon, walnuts and bits of fennel. The puree was made with dairy and the cream paired beautifully with the earthy flavor of the mushrooms and charred beans.

I truly enjoyed these charred and earthy flavors. The tinge of bitterness from the lettuce and licorice-like scent of the fennel added an interesting and subtle twist to the dish. A ten for creative presentation and flavor.

The only crime that counts is to leave without trying a dessert.   
The coconut bavarois [$9] with coffee, condensed milk, thai basil, and peanut croquant is worth every single calorie. The textures are gorgeous together, the silky condensed coconut milk and soft crunch of the peanut croquant with the coffee ice cream blending right in with the chocolate powder. The green dots are liquid basil, which I cannot identify exactly how they interact, but I can guarantee that this dessert is one you will not quickly forget. I am dying to go back and try the rhubarb.

Red Medicine is a cool dinner spot. There's always a buzz in the air and the cocktails are ultra creative. We're talking tamarind sours and rye based drinks shaken with pickled peppers and fennel fronds. The staff is attentive and knowledgeable and the food is great. And for a late night snack at 1am, I'd rather tear into a Banh Mi sandwich here then drive to Little Saigon. I'm a big fan of fusion cuisine, and dinner at Red Medicine is just what the Doctor ordered.

 
 
This new spot in New York's West Village caught my wandering culinary eye when I heard about their aeroponic roof-top tower garden. It's always appealing when restaurant menus cycle seasonally and are influenced by personal farm production. There is something to be said for the direct farm to table experience and the effort it takes to offer organic and sustainable food to patrons.

I made a same-day reservation with no problem, but then we waited 40 minutes for a table to open up. The restaurant manager apologized to us for the wait and offered us cocktails on the house, the kind of hospitable gesture that makes all of the difference in the world. We had to wait but were far from ignored. We stood by the bar and bopped around to the hipster-favorite 50's tunes and sipped wine as our stomachs grumbled. 
The moment we were seated we ordered 2 dozen east coast oysters, stat. They were on the smaller side and had a nice briny taste of the ocean. I can't think of a better way to start a meal, but these little gems weren't cheap at $2.50 a pop.
The lobster taco with tomatillo and avocado salsa [$9] is wrapped in a flour tortilla and delivers a bite of butteriness along with the slightly sweet flavor of lobster. Don't expect any citrus or tangy flavors with this dish, since it's taste points are more on the rich side than what you might expect from a seafood taco.
The brisket quesadilla surprised me with its sweetness and turned out to be my favorite dish of the night! I couldn't get enough of these atypical quesadilla flavors, and any brisket lover will appreciate this delicious choice.  
The deviled eggs arrived fried, although the menu certainly didn't mention it. I had never had a fried deviled egg before so I cut it in half to inspect it more closely.
Nothing out of the ordinary. As expected, the fried outer layer just added a bite of crunch and heaviness to the creamy egginess of it all. And the fact that it was fried did make it seem more devilish. Although this wasn't my favorite, I don't think I've ever met an egg I didn't like (as long as it's properly prepared) so I enjoyed the little devil.
The heirloom pear salad [$9] is a living leaf lettuce with point reyes blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. The pear is sliced into cubes and brings an element of grainy texture to the soft mixed lettuces. 
The house-made burrata [$12] with blistered heirloom tomatoes, chopped hazelnuts and rooftop basil and garlic was gooey and firm, just the way it should be. 
The grilled and roasted seasonal vegetables [$17] with romesco sauce arrived with white heirloom carrots, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and sweet potato. The tomatoes were bursting with flavor but otherwise the veggies weren't noticeably exceptional and the portions were far from generous.
The short rib with brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes was braised to a tender finish and the mash was whipped to a light and fluffy forkful of melt in your mouth goodness. The sprouts had gorgeously charred edges and were caramelized, which provided a grounding bitter flavor to the succulent meat. 
The sea bass on a bed of white beans and spinach was delicate but with a strong taste of the sea for those who relish that briny, fishy flavor.  
The warm chocolate brownie [$6] with pistachio ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce could have been more moist. The pistachio ice cream was fabulous and really brightened up the dessert. The dried fig bread pudding with powdered sugar was also on the dry side, sadly.  
I liked the casual subterranean space of the restaurant and the unpretentious menu. The Edison bulbs, reclaimed wood floors and stone walls create a natural feeling to the setting, and the restaurant is mostly comfy, 8 person booths. There is even a secret dining room which seats a table of 5 called something like, "the secret naked room". The bar seats 15 people and seems like it's hopping for a weekday. The service is great, and clean plates and silverware are in constant rotation. The food is nothing to write home about at the Bell Book & Candle, but with such responsible procurement, it turns out it's definitely blog worthy.