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THE HUNGRY CAT - made me meow

thedeliciouslife | Apr 29, 200505:06 PM

Went to the HUNGRY CAT. Good food. Hard place to find. Here are the deets, and I definitely want to go back to try their brunch:
Though the long-ish low bar is almost third of the seating in the restaurant, there is no raw bar. We found out later that California doesn’t allow for it in the true sense of a “raw bar.” But it doesn’t matter – they simply pluck and shuck in the kitchen that’s open for everyone to watch. We sat down, ordered a half dozen oysters without even looking at the menu.

Both the wine list and the dinner menu are small enough enough to fit on a half sheet of paper. The wines, with helpful descriptions and suggestions, are all available by the glass, so I order the Muscadet to go with the oysters. Light and very sweet, but not syrupy. The chunky little glass cup it was poured in was fun, and well, with all the little dishes that were to be flying on and off the table, stem-less is safe. Already, there was a heavy chowder bowl with packages of oyster crackers.

The oysters were delicious – my compliments to King Neptune – though I didn’t quite care for the vinegar disguised as mignonette. It tasted like only vinegar, was way too tart, and killed any taste of the ocean. So for the rest, I *shlouped* them down naked and chased them with the muscadet. Perfect. Again, I marvel at how people know which wine makes certain things taste better and vice versa.

One of the things “you have to get” at the Hungry Cat is the lobster roll, but I don’t really care for what I call scorpions of the sea. The people sitting right next to us had one at their table, so I admired from afar. As far as presentation, it was as beautiful as a lobster roll (usually lobster salad in a hot dog bun) could be – huge chunks of creamy lobster on top of what looked like properly grilled bread. If it’s the same bread that was in the braised clams and chorizo that we ordered, it must have been delicious.

The clams were in their shells, falling over themselves in a deep, dark red broth that left an oily crimson halo around the sides of the bowl. The thinly sliced, oily-crisp bread could have stood alone in the bowl, it was that good, and if not for the charring, I would have sworn it was deep-fried in garlic oil. First, dip bread and taste the spicy broth (not heat, but flavor), then to scoop out the bumpy bits of chorizo sausage that had not gotten caught in the clamshells. I ate one. Two. Three. Eight. I couldn’t slow down, they were so good, and when the shells were all empty, I wanted to drink the broth from the bowl like leftover cereal milk. I didn’t, but I wanted to in a very naughty kitty sort of way.

Hungry Cat’s crabcake, topped with a dollop of aioli-let’s-just-call-it-what-it-is mayo isn’t huge - it’s the size of sex-wax (for non-surfers, that’s wax for your board in the shape of a hockey puck), and though there is but one on the plate, it’s almost all crab meat, large chunks and flakes, held together, it seems only by magic and physics. Meow. Again.

We didn’t know what else to get, because the oysters, clams, and crabcake had been so good; anything else would only have been a let down. We were somewhat right. The whole boneless trout stuffed with either braised cabbage or onions (how’s that for being buzzed on shellfish?) was loosely flopped over a pile of apples. The fish was good, if not interesting with the apples and grainy mustardy sauce, but we probably should have ordered it first, and built upward.

The Hungry Cat
1555 North Vine Street (@ Sunset Blvd.)
Hollywood, CA 90028


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