For a combination of innovation, deliciousness, and value in the LA area, I don't think Bistro K can be beat. These dishes have very unique combinations of flavors which would be completely haywire in less competent hands, but Chef Laurent is right on the mark with almost everything we've tried. The website's claim that the menu is "inspired by the flavors of the San Gabriel Valley" is a perfect summation.
Three of us, second visit, decided to order from the menu rather than the tasting menu (a deal at $55). It's BYOB, no corkage fee, and the total for all of this food, including tax but not tip, was a mere $125. We couldn't have gotten another morsel in our mouths. No way.
I'm going to use Poet Kitty's sensible grading system for each dish. The service was generally excellent, though there's one thing I have reservations about and it's such a trifle, I'm not going into it. You'd probably figure it out on your own.
"Cassolette of Duck Hearts and Duck Tongues, Braised Turnips in a Morel infusion with Tarragon and Cardamom." Creamy, rich, amazing. Liquid velvet. A+
"Steamed Black Mussels with Lime, Ginger, Curry and Coconut Milk." Very generous portion for the price, each one was juicy and fresh. Spicier broth than you'd imagine from the description, but you won't let a drop go back to the kitchen. A
"Sautéed Duck Foie Gras, Lightly Smoked Eel, Caramelized Green Apples and a Splash of Xeres Vinegar." The eel and foie gras are a great match. Again, a very generous portion for the price. I give it an "A;" the others rated it equal with the duck hearts.
We split an order of "Black Cod Beignets, Longaniza , Blood Sausage in a light Bouillabaisse Chipotle Infusion with Hominy and Nopales." Three pieces of batter-fried fish in a very rich broth of diced longaniza and nopales, with a couple slices of blood sausage and a sprinkling of corn. I will make this proclamation: this is the best fried fish I have ever eaten in Los Angeles! Including tempura at places like Komatsu. The corn kernels were a suprising but perfect complement. And made me wish they cooked a posole. The table next to us received their order about an hour after we did and they raved as well. Perfect for sharing; the broth is probably too intense to eat as a main course. A+
Note: I just noticed that the menu changes on February 8th and this dish is not included. Run! Or ask for it.
"Wild Boar Shanks Braised Civet Style. Served with a Wild Mushrooms Ragout, and a Chestnut Puree studded with Pomegranate Seeds." Very flavorful wine reduction. Mushrooms and chestnut puree served separately in cute ramekins. I loved the mushrooms, the pig was very good, as was the chestnut puree, but this dish didn't shine like the others. B+
"Venison 'Noisette', Lentil Stew with Veal Tendon and Braised Leeks, and Cardamom Port wine Sauce to complement." Yum. Intense but not gamey. Perfectly cooked rare/medium rare. I'd get this again. And again. A
"Roasted Squab, Taiwanese and Telecherry Pepper Spiced Japanese Eggplant, Dry Sack Sherry Sauce scented with Tonka Bean." What the heck is a tonka bean? Whatever it is, this dish was the star for the course. Perfectly prepared and presented (the squab, on the bone, was sliced and fanned). It'll be difficult to order a different dish when I go there again. A+
Didn't need it, but couldn't resist. A cheese course isn't offered right now, but may be in the future. I didn't realize that desserts weren't on the website or I might have committed more of the description to memory. In any event, we all thought this was the weakest link. Good, but where some of the other dishes are outstanding, these pale.
Apple upside down tart (something like that). An individual tarte tatin. I'm picky about this and have perfected (in my mind, at least) my own version and this wasn't a challenger. The apples weren't tart enough and the pastry was "cakier" than pate sucre should be. B
Green tea creme brulee. Sounds lovely, tasted fine, but not awesome. The burnt sugar layer was pretty thick. The accompanying guava coulis made the dish better, demonstrating again that Chef Laurent really has a knack for putting flavors together. B+
Chocolate parfait with meringue kisses. This is not what it's called and I'm drawing a blank. It's flavored with coffee and really quite good, but coffee is the one flavor I don't care for, so I didn't pay much attention. B+
My advice is to look carefully at the menu before deciding on wine(s) to bring. The flavors are all over that map and even though they work wonderfully, wine pairing is kind of a trick.
The room is small--9 tables, I think. It's a little noisy but very convivial. They're only open Wednesday through Saturday for two seatings at dinner. Available for private parties on the other days. And they do catering.