Critics’ choice: Culinary couples who are generating sparks
Gado Gado Portland, Ore.
To cook the way Thomas Pisha-Duffly does “requires chutzpah and skill,” said Benjamin Tepler in Portland Monthly. At the cheerful new strip-mall restaurant he runs with his wife, Mariah, the onetime New Englander draws from memories of his Indonesian grandmother’s cooking, his travels in Southeast Asia, and “his own twisted mind” to create an ever-changing menu unlike any other. The combination “makes for the most exciting eating in the city right now.” Even for weekend brunch, Pisha-Duffly’s cooking is “unremittingly playful,” jumping from Dungeness crab omelet noodle soup to the Cap’n Crunch–covered pandan waffle puffs to Singaporean kaya toast: pandan jelly spread over palm-sugar bread with a soft-cooked egg, soy sauce, and maple syrup. Dinnertime might bring pork and blood sausage corn dogs with the house condiment the couple calls hoisinaise. Or maybe a fairly traditional take on coconut-braised beef short rib rendang, “a dish with enough umami to launch a lunar lander into orbit.” Bring a willingness to explore, and you’ll get why Gado Gado is our staff’s choice as 2019’s rising star. 1801 N. César E. Chávez Blvd., (503) 206-8778
Talk about stress management, said Phil Vettel in the Chicago Tribune. In a recent two-month span, spouses Johnny Clark and Beverly Kim received their first James Beard Award, had a third child, and opened a second restaurant. About that last item: The follow-up to Parachute, their Michelin-starred Korean-American restaurant, Wherewithall is every bit as sensational, offering a freewheeling four-course prix fixe that’s a steal at $65. In a space just doors away from Parachute in family-friendly Avondale, Clark handles kitchen duties while Kim and their infant son, Bowie, manage the house. On the frequently changing menu, recent highlights included Norwegian trout in a sherry glaze, “gorgeous in color and flavor,” and a “standout” Iberico pork collar, served with a side of caramelized arrowhead cabbage. Several complimentary bites, such as charred broccolini with Pleasant Ridge cheese, boost the bargain, as does the $45 wine pairing. You can even get veggies with dessert: Think black-raspberry tart with peapod ice cream. 3472 N. Elston Ave., (773) 692-2192
République Los Angeles
Six years in, Walter and Margarita Manzke “have perfected the template for the all-day modern American restaurant,” said Bill Addison in the Los Angeles Times. At any time of day, the couple’s castle-like, two-story Hancock Park storefront “gratifies many palates and persuasions.” Long queues form in the morning for Margarita’s pastries—croissants, kouign amann, danishes topped with sliced O’Henry peaches—as well as such “precision-engineered” comfort foods as the croque madame. At lunch, the menu “embodies an only-in–Los Angeles pluralism,” from the signature-level kimchee fried rice to the dry-aged cheeseburger. “Don’t forget to look up,” as daylight favors the spectacular dining space, built by Charlie Chaplin in 1929. Come evening, the restaurant “achieves an elegant, gymnastic leap” into formal service, and Walter excels at seasonal California cuisine, such as Santa Barbara spot prawns in ponzu or pork belly with apples. Because the place does it all, “I wind up recommending République more than any other restaurant in the city.” 624 S. LaBrea Ave., (310) 362-6115 ■