At new pop-up Colibrí, chef Ricardo Zarate returns to his Peruvian roots


Colibrí

It’s been a busy year for Ricardo Zarate. The Peruvian chef formerly behind concepts Picca, Mo-Chica, Paiche, Rosaliné and Pikoh kicked off 2022 by overseeing the food programs of Beverly Grove’s Short Stories Hotel, blending Latin and Californian flavors. By summer he’d opened the lauded Causita in Silver Lake, building a menu of Nikkei dishes that epitomize the diaspora-spurred blend of Peruvian and Japanese cuisines. Now, closing out the year, he’s debuting a new venture, Colibrí, with a yearlong residency that quietly took over Hollywood’s Los Balcones space this month (a grand opening is slated for Jan. 15).

The new pop-up serves his take on the traditional dishes that Zarate grew up with, with an additional nod to his culinary beginnings. The name, meaning hummingbird, harks back to his childhood in Peru; nicknamed Colibrí by his neighbors and family, the chef says he began to learn cooking by darting through his neighborhood looking for lessons. “I was very energetic,” he said. “I would go to my neighbor’s house and I would ask them to teach me something, and then I would go to my next neighbor’s house and knock on the door and ask them to teach me something.”

The menu includes classics such as lomo saltado, arroz con pollo, ceviche mixto, tiradito and tallarines rojos — a favorite that his mother used to make — but here the spaghetti is handmade tagliatelle, served not with red sauce but a Peruvian pesto. The pop-up also serves wine and beer, and houses a cocktail program with staples such as old-fashioneds, margaritas and gin and tonics, plus ample pisco and a chicha morada sour.

“This is going back to my roots,” he said. “Colibrí is my interpretation of traditional Peruvian cuisine: something that I really love to cook, something that I really love to eat. This is kind of like Mo-Chica style — my beginnings in Los Angeles, and that’s what my love for cooking [is], to be honest.”

Zarate hopes to plant the concept somewhere permanently in the future, perhaps in multiple locations, but for now his residency as Colibrí Pop Up Cantina runs Tuesday to Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from noon to 11:30 p.m. in Hollywood’s Los Balcones.

1360 Vine St., Los Angeles, 323-561-0332, colibripopup.com

Niku X

A new Japanese tasting menu can be found within downtown’s Wilshire Grand Center with robatayaki grills, a focus on Wagyu, and black and white truffles — with more set to launch next month. The 9,000-square-foot Niku X, from the hospitality group behind Rowland Heights’ Wagyu by the X Pot and Las Vegas’ the X Pot, Chubby Cattle and Xtra Sweet, is now soft-open, debuting with a $230 yakiniku — grilled meat — tasting menu that features beef sourced from the company’s own farm. Courses include grilled items such as 45-day dry-aged strip loin; Wagyu beef tongue with black vinegar; A5 Wagyu donabe with fresh wasabi; and dry-aged salmon, with appetizers like lobster sashimi with ponzu, and caviar with Wagyu tartare and uni. In early 2023, the restaurant is expected to unveil its la carte menu as well as its cocktail, beer and wine programs. Niku X is open Sunday and Tuesday to Thursday from 5 to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight.

900 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 212, Los Angeles, (323) 920-0302, nikux.com

Bootleg Pizza’s spinoff

Founder and cook Kyle Lambert launched his pop-up and roving pizza truck, Bootleg Pizza, in 2019 serving thick, square-cut pan pies with crispy edges and regularly selling out each appearance. The concept’s short-lived Mid-City bricks-and-mortar restaurant closed in 2021 and ever since, Lambert has popped up only sporadically. In early 2023, his cooking will make a comeback. Lambert plans to open a new pizzeria in the former Cauliflower Pizza Kitchen space in Mar Vista, ideally in February, with the same pizza he’d been serving at Bootleg — under a new name. “It’ll be the exact same thing,” Lambert told The Times. “It’s just going to, unfortunately, have to have a new name because I got my name taken from me.” (Lambert is embroiled in a dispute with a former partner in the Pico location.) Owned and operated solely by Lambert, the new restaurant is set to offer whole pizzas, select slices and specials in the 750-square-foot space. The business model will focus on takeout, and the menu will include past Bootleg Pizza flavors as well as new toppings.

11736 Washington Place, Los Angeles, instagram.com/bootlegpizza

Kyle Lambert, seen in the now-closed Bootleg Pizza restaurant on Pico, will reprise his signature square pan pies with a new venture in Mar Vista next year.

(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

Dan Modern Chinese Woodland Hills

A rapidly expanding dumpling specialist just opened its sixth L.A.-area location, this time bringing fresh soup dumplings, scallion pancakes, oxtail noodle soup, mapo tofu and other Chinese specialties to Woodland Hills. Dan Modern Chinese, which debuted in 2018 in Pasadena, is open in the Village complex attached to the shopping center. Its newest location is one of its largest yet, and offers the local chain’s signature xiao long bao in addition to other steamed or pan-fried dumplings; stir-fried vegetables and noodles; entrées such as shrimp with crab sauce; short rib fried rice; and pickled cucumbers with Sichuan peppercorn. Dan Modern Chinese is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. A location in Long Beach’s 2nd & PCH shopping complex is expected to open in 2023.

250 CA-27, Suite 1595, Woodland Hills, (818) 835-9211, danmodernchinese.com





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