"Arroz Con Pollo" Cavatelli
Hibiscus Biang Biang
Brocolli Beef Ravioli
Carbonara Tsukemen Ramen
Grilled Beef Tongue "Loco Moco"
Foie Gras Thai Iced Tea Gelato
Coconut Tomatillo Sorbet
What. The. Fuck. On paper alone the concepts that I was reading off on 'Estrano's' latest pop-up menu had my head spinning. Was this actually real? How? Why? But most importantly, where and when?
The answers to such pressing questions I found in a nondescript alleyway on the outskirts of Los Angeles' Chinatown waiting in line alongside folks chattering away about what they were about to order, all while a tumultuous soundtrack of Pig Destroyer, Wormrot, Los Master Plus, and Barbara Streisand marauded the airspace. The perfect setting for the aforementioned menu that 'Estrano' had ready for the people. I was worked up. So was my appetite.
Helmed by Diego Argoti, a chef with an impressive pedigree working in the lauded kitchens of Los Angeles' elite Bavel, Bestia, and Chi Spacca, 'Estrano' — which aptly translates from Spanish to 'strange' — is a pop-up concept that's here to wreck every expectation you have of what any regular dining experience is. The atmosphere alone that it generates is a precursor to the deliciously chaotic event your meal will be.
Touted as "street pasta" on Estrano's Instagram profile, this moniker is an understatement to the frenetic adventure diners can experience through site, smell, taste, and feel. The energy is that of an F5 tornado filled with the sharpest kitchen knives. Fun stuff, really. And you feel it in the food itself, where expertly handmade pasta and thoughtfully crafted flavor profiles borne from the depths of an endless well of freaky meet and wake you up like wet towel to bare flesh.
Oh and at a $12 price point per dish, it's easy to forget you're eating white table cloth quality and execution.
Hats off to Chef Argoti, who's put together an unforgettable experience with 'Estrano' and flips a stout middle finger at all culinary boundaries and norms.