What you may not know about Hanukkah is that, gustatorily speaking, it’s not about the potato pancake so much as it’s about the oil. Latkes are a Hannukah food not because of the potato, or because of the pancake per se, but because of the cooked in oil part. The eight days of Hanukkah, you see, commemorate, the eight days that the lamp in the newly rededicated temple stayed lit, when there was only enough oil for one day. It takes eight days to press and prepare new oil, and thus the eternal flame didn’t need to go out. Ergo, a great miracle happened here.
More to the point, one is supposed to eat foods cooked in oil to celebrate Hanukkah. And what’s not to like about a holiday that requires you to eat fried food? It’s the sixth day of Hanukkah today, which means there is still ample time to get out there and eat some fried foods. Here are eight of my local “cooked in oil” favorites.
Best french fries is a crowded field. I give the 101 Coffee Shop the crown for the best sweet potato fries. Father’s Office has those cute little shopping carts of garlicky shoestring fries. Mmm, mmm. And my roommate Shane gives The Kitchen the best fry award because he claims their seasoning puts them in a class by themselves.
In the critter category, there are a number of worthy contenders. In terms of fried chicken, at the risk of being completely heretical, I have to give the “Best Of” crown to Yabu for their unbelievably yummy Japanese style teeny fried chicken pieces. Chicken fried steak? That’s easy: Millie’s. Just bring an appetite. And when we’re talking fried foods, we can’t forget calamari. I’d say Fritto Misto dishes up the best squidly diddly plate. (They also have the best banana cream pie I’ve ever eaten.)
Of course, I don’t want to neglect those traditional Hanukkah favorites, the jelly doughnut and the latke. I’m not a big doughnut eater honestly, but if all doughnuts were like the Bob’s at the Farmer’s Market, I’d forsake the muffin to become a regular doughnut eater.
Finally, the latke itself. This year, at the holiday party we are having at my workplace, we’ve decided to serve latkes along with the other holiday food. On a tip, we checked out Old Jerusalem in Winnetka a couple of weeks ago. The woman behind the counter explained to us that they weren’t offering latkes yet, but that we should come back closer to Hanukkah. Too bad, we said, we were shopping for a source for our holiday party at work. In that case, she said….and went back into the kitchen, busted out the grater, and put together a plate of latkes for us. And they rocked.
101 Coffee Shop: 6145 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90025
Father’s Office: 1018 Montana Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90403
The Kitchen: 4348 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Yabu: 11820 W. Pico Blvd, W. Los Angeles, CA 90064
(also 521 N. La Cienega Blvd., W. Hollywood, CA 90048)
Millie’s: 3524 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Fritto Misto: 601 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90407
Bob’s Coffee and Doughnut:: 6333 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Old Jerusalem: 7147 Winnetka Ave., Winnetka, California 91306
Of course, when speaking of fried food, one can’t help but think wistfully of the county fair and its food-on-a-stick bounty. But alas, tis not yet the season for fried twinkies.