I don’t know whether it’s a myth or if it is true, but I ponder if cats actually like fish. You always see cartoons portraying cats with an appetite for goldfish, swimming helplessly in a goldfish bowl atop a small table. I always thought cats hated water. And don’t you see cats in the wild (lions, tigers..) munching on some antelope or zebra? When’s the last time you saw a cheeta hunting for salmon at the nearby river? Never. When I saw that The Hungry Cat specialized in seafood, I was a bit amused. Clever name I thought, but so not realistic! I kid of course, and I ultimately was excited to try this place. The freshest seafood creations made by chef David Lentz who knows his way around the kitchen? Great! Along with his wife Suzanne Goin, they own some of my favorite restaurants in LA. Lucques, AOC, and joining the list, The Hungry Cat.
Located in the courtyard at the Sunset and Vine building. It is kind of hard to find as it isn’t visible from the street. The inside was dark and intimate with a casual atmosphere. The white walls and sharp edges in design gave the interior a futuristic look. The open kitchen was an eye opener for me. It was cool to watch David Lentz and his crew make dish after dish. It was like the Food Network, live.
We started off with some oyster crackers. It was interesting. Not your ordinary bread and butter, but unique in its own way.
I only had raw sea urchin (uni) from sushi restaurants (pre-packaged), so naturally, having sea urchin straight from the body was a neat experience. Difficult to eat, it was food you really had to dig for. Apart from the pieces of shell and spikes, the flavor was exceptional. The essesnce of the sea was embedded in each morsel of sea urchin. Sprinkling it with some sea salt, and a squeeze of the lemon made everything pop. I am a purest and eating the sea urchin without any other condiments is the way to go.
Their Lobster roll was one of the best I ever had. The lobster was packed on and the pieces were large. Perfectly cooked, it left the meat very tender and had a nice bite to it. The lobster mixed with the mayo and other seasonings were perfectly balanced. The celery gave it a nice crunch. The split rolls were nicely buttered and toasted on the side, leaving it crispy on the outside, warm and chewy on the inside. Though this was a delicious sandwich roll, I wish I could have tried their pub burger. Blue cheese, bacon, avocado, and a fried egg are some of many of the ingredients on the pub burger. I originally wanted to to The Hungry Cat for the pub burger, but felt like seafood that night. Ultimately, I was happy with my decision.
My house-made chorizo and braised clams was excellent. Not a fan of clams because of their rubberiness, I was skeptical about this dish. Mindful of not overcooking the clams, they were left tender and soft. The brother was definitely the star of this dish. Filled with shell beans and black kale, the broth was hearty. Mixed in with their house made chorizo, it was meaty, salty, savory, and full of robust flavor. Though the chorizo took away from the seafood essence of the dish, it fortified the broth to the point where it did not matter. This was all topped off with a grilled bread, quite possibly the best bread I ever had. Grilling the bread gave it a nice crust on it and gave it a complex flavor. Topped with aioli, the bread simply delicious.
The cuisine was nearly flawless. Everything tasted as expected — delicious. The atmosphere was great and the staff was on point. They were attentive and helped us choose the many items on the menu. By the name, The Hungry Cat you would expect some fine seafood, and that is what you get. After my awesome meal, I thanked David Lentz for the great meal, and left with a great seafood experience. I’ll be back to try the pub burger though.