Canadian Chain Hits L.A. By Storm

Old Sep 18th, 2021, 11:04 AM
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Canadian Chain Hits L.A. By Storm

I believe Tracy and I have found our new favorite restaurant, and it’s a front-runner for Mai Tai Tom’s 2021 Restaurant Of The Year. JOEY DTLA is an export from Canada (where it has many restaurants) and it has now expanded into Los Angeles, Seattle and soon into Texas. It’s hard to define the food, because it crosses over into so many creative cuisine genres. From sushi to corn roasted guacamole to a spectacular Cajun blackened chicken to Spaghetti with Calabrian chili spiked tomato sauce to Korean Fried Cauliflower to Szechuan Chicken Lettuce Wraps … well, you get the idea … JOEY shines through in each category its extensive menu features. It is also known for its steaks, and the ones we tried were both off the charts tasty and perfectly cooked. If you find yourself in L.A., Seattle along with numerous cities and towns throughout Canada, JOEY should be high on your list of restaurants to try. Link with photos below ... without photos below photos ... gets confusing

Subscriber Garrett hit another one out of the ballpark with his recommendation for JOEY DTLA. Garrett was the one who sent us to Hippo, Dama and Bavel. He should join our team, although he would need to keep his day job, as this website is what I jokingly refer to as non-profit!

We have been to Joey three times in the last month! It’s that good.

JOEY DTLA is a chain from Canada which has been expanding into the United States. There are currently three restaurants in Southern California including this one in downtown Los Angeles. The restaurant is well located if you work downtown or are attending an event at nearby Staples, but if you aren’t familiar with the area, be aware the homeless population has expanded greatly during the pandemic.

Modern and airy with patio dining the restaurant is located on the corner of 7th and South Flower on the edge of THE BLOC (an “open-air urban center encompassing a full city block” that features everything from live music to shops to food and drink, which includes JOEY)

If there is a perfect layout of a restaurant, JOEY is nearly there. It features “the largest street level patio in downtown Los Angeles, a “theatre kitchen.” The dining room is spacious and its open layout makes for very comfortable dining. As JOEY’s president says, “You’ll come for the food and drink and stay to enjoy the friendly service and ambiance.

From the moment we first entered JOEY. on all three visits the staff has been top notch. In our opinion, it is the BEST staff we have encountered this year, or any year for that matter. Our most recent server told us everyone wants to work for Joey, and it shows in the impeccable service.

On to the food. As stated, we have dined here three times, once on a Sunday afternoon after going to LACMA (review to come later), the second time for lunch on our wedding anniversary after going to the nearby Grammy Museum (no review on that … not worth the price of admission in my humble opinion) and then we returned for dinner to try the steaks, which had been touted so highly.

Here’s what we have tasted thus far:

JOEY’s Roasted Corn Guacamole; cilantro, fresh lime, cherry tomatoes, Serrano chiles, feta cheese and served with warm tortilla chips, was a great start. This went well with the burn-your-face-off and numb your lips Mezcal cocktail with Serrano chiles that I ordered (mezcal, grapefruit liqueur, lemon, grapefruit, cane syrup, and lip smacking Serrano chiles). Despite not being able to feel my face (slight exaggeration), this was a delicious, refreshing cocktail. Really!

Next up were the Sliders Royale; mini burgers with secret sauce and American Cheese (3 on a plate). These were really good and made me want to try the Hand-Pressed Burger sometime.

We also ordered the Tuna + Avocado Roll; chili mayo, micro cilantro, tempura crunch and teriyaki glaze. Another Wow!

Garrett said we missed out by not ordering the Pan-Fried Gyoza and Korean Fried Cauliflower, so we returned after our visit to the Grammy Museum with friend Jeff (with the name Joey, you should come with Friends) to try more dishes for lunch.

To start we ordered the Pan-Fried Gyoza; pork dumplings with hot mustard (Wow!) and the Szechuan Chicken Lettuce Wraps, sweet soy ginger glaze, peanuts, crispy wontons, spicy aioli … also sensational. At our server’s recommendation, we also ordered the Seared Salmon Sushi; Osaka pressed, fire torched salmon, umami sauce and shaved Serrano peppers (Wow!).

We must have been starving because we proceeded to order the Spaghetti Pomodoro with Calabrian chili spiked tomato sauce, whipped ricotta, fresh basil and parmesan with a wedge of garlic toast. Tracy and I shared this dish, and while it was really good, I think there are better things on the menu to try on your first visit, but it sure did photograph nice.

The server said her favorite dish was the Cajun Blackened Chicken; full breast of chicken served over a warm potato and bacon salad with creamy coleslaw. Wow! She was right. Perfectly cooked with fabulous flavors.

Hard to believe but we managed to squeeze in a dessert on this visit sharing the Individually Baked Apple Pie with toasted almonds and Tahitian vanilla ice cream.

It was another stellar visit topped off by a treat by one of our servers. We asked him what that colorful drink that passed by was called. Not only did he tell us, but he brought over a small glass of The Real Peach Bellini; Appleton Estate Signature Blend rum, real peach molasses, sparking wine, sangria, to try out. It turned out to be great salesmanship on our server’s part, because Jeff ordered one for Tracy and himself.

We returned once more for dinner, specifically to try the steaks which are JOEY’s specialty. But first, we squeezed in the Garrett-recommended Korean Fried Cauliflower, and it was great. It tastes nothing like cauliflower due to the terrific sweet spicy Korean chili miso paste coating the cauliflower. Yum!

Tracy went with the Steak + Sushi which was a tataki-style USDA prime steak in ponzu sauce with a small Tuna + Avocado Roll (8 pieces).

I ordered the JOEY Classic Steak and upgraded to the 7 oz. filet mignon for $13 extra. The steak came with crispy mashed potatoes, which unbelievably are even better than they sound; mashed potatoes with onion, cheese and bacon rolled into an egg roll wrapper and then deep fried. Yes! The server said JOEY’s owner saw a similar dish on Top Chef and developed the recipe for the restaurant. It also came with fresh asparagus, which somehow ended up on Tracy’s plate.

I have to say this was the best steak we have had all year, and possibly the best since that great ribeye steak we had at Hippo a couple of years ago. I tasted Tracy’s prime steak and it was just as delicious. Perfectly seasoned and cooked. As Tracy likes to say, “Wow!”

“Sláinte JOEY!”

The menu is vast and there are plenty of items we have yet to try. The prices seem a little steep, but I think that is going to be the new trend post-Covid. And with food this good, in my opinion it is well worth the splurge.

(Mai Tai Tom Tip: Happy hour is 3 to 6 p.m. every day with reduced price drink and menu items. It’s also a good way to sample some of the menu.)

In three outings, we have yet to have a bad dish. We even haven’t had a dish we wouldn’t order again. Right now, JOEY DTLA is the front runner in Mai Tai Tom’s 2021 Restaurant Of The Year (back after a one year Covid hiatus). As far as we’re concerned, JOEY is the best export from Canada to the U.S. since maple syrup.

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Old Sep 18th, 2021, 03:32 PM
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We have a Joey in Manhattan Beach, too. We've also been three times, and everything ordered has been very good (although I thought their "renowned" Lobster Ravioli wasn't anything special. What will keep us away, however, is the decibel level indoors. (Patio dining at the beach in the evening is not always inviting, even with heaters.) We have asked multiple times each visit, once to a manager, if the volume could be lowered, but nothing happened. Oh well.

Try the Szechuan Chicken (and/or Tofu) Lettuce Wraps... excellent! They remind me of the lettuce wraps at the long-gone Mandarin in Beverly HIlls.
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Old Sep 18th, 2021, 04:07 PM
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Noise level has not been a factor at L.A. location on our visits.
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Old Sep 18th, 2021, 05:28 PM
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Good to know... Maybe it'll catch on.
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