Celadon: Danny Elmaleh's Triumph
The Grove shopping center has inspired the opening of several new restaurants. One of the latest and most welcome is the arrival of LouieYang’s Celadon. Mr. Yang has found a marvelous chef in Danny Elmaleh, whose last name has an “El” and an “Al” in it, and both mean “God”. From my point of view, Mr. Elmaleh is both a painter of exquisite food with every dish presented before you, and a creative chef who has learned to combine ingredients to whet anyone’s appetite. But I’m getting way ahead of my story.
We were motivated to seek out Celadon because of all the praise heaped upon it by such people as Irene Virbilia and Patrick Kuh. We writers sometimes read each other’s prose. It’s a beautiful place: a lovely waterfall in one corner; a bank of four tiers of shelves, completely surrounding the restaurant with, literally, hundreds of candles giving forth their twinkling lights; a soft orange glow coming from the chandelier in the middle of the room; a most sumptuous adjoining waiting area and bar; and off-the-main room, a private room for parties or private events. Everything is there and everything is in its place.
There are booths, banquettes and tables. We were led to our oversized, most comfortable booth by the lovely Roxanna. Jeffrey sidled up quickly behind her with his warm welcome to take our drink order. I ordered my usual “Joey” (2/3 orange juice, splash of cranberry, pineapple and Sprite with an orange twist) and Celadon’s was one of the very best ever!
The current menu is a four page affair which is being planned to appear on one page for they want you to order your entire dinner at once and let the waiter plan its timing. The menu now consists of ten crudo (appetizers); six Yam Cha (wonton and dumplings); two soups; three salads; five fish entrees; seven meat entrees and five Wok and Sides. However and whatever you order, take out your camera and snap a photo for you have never seen such colorful, exquisite dishes which, with rare exception, taste like nectar from the “Gods” (see the name,
We began our Picasso-like feast with the Ahi Chipotle Stack: four corn fritters, topped with smoked Jalapeno, Ahi in a Yuzu vinaigrette.. The fritters could not have been tastier, the Yuzu so absolutely right to bring out all the taste of the Ahi, tenderly, gently and deliciously! We followed that with two long plates of scallop and shrimp crispy dumplings – all In a Ponzu scallion sauce and Steamed Spicy Szechwan Wontons consisting of shrimp, snapper and fresh bamboo, shitake mushrooms and decorated with a green floral topping, all edible, all fantastic.
The fourth masterpiece is called the Hummus Parfait: two small glass cups filled with the creamiest, freshest hummus this side of Israel, joined with several pieces of grilled Zaatar bread, some Greek Kalamata olives and pickled chilies. This taste was smooth, divine and unforgettable.
Their Mushroom Miso soup is not to be missed for here, our talented chef has created a masterpiece, laced with an ample share of porcini and shiitake mushrooms, oh so amazing as they slide down your palate.
Everything up-to-now was “A+” and the best was yet to come for there is a salad he calls: Tempura Creamy Spicy Shrimp with candied walnuts in an Asian Spring Mix. Beautiful in its presentation, this most ample serving is simply beyond delicious: perhaps, the very finest salad I have ever eaten for each shrimp is so crisp outside, so soft and supple inside. The salad is bathed in a dressing I have never tasted before: light, cheerful, moist and sumptuous. Wow!
Four our entrees, Jackson Pollock must have created this roast duck, laying atop his Okinawa sweet potato (purple) with a side of Pepitas salad (green), all in a Date Balsamic Reduction (brown). Each slice of the duck tender, moist, sending my beautiful wife into a symphony of delightful adjectives. I felt the same about Jeffrey’s wise suggestion to taste the Grilled Prime Ribeye Steak. It was cut thin and prepared with the same extraordinary skill as everything else that came from Danny’s kitchen: simply excellent! And I substituted the sweet potato for the poached egg; everyone should have a little purple with dinner for it’s a royal color.
We closed out this superb dinner with a Rembrandt-like trio of sorbet and fruit; a composite of orange (cantaloupe), green (honey-dew melon), maroon (raspberry sherbet), white (lichee nut), yellow (papaya); all enfolded in a cut-out cantaloupe.
This may all sound like an expensive evening but it truly isn’t. Each appetizer is about fifteen dollars; the soup was seven; that fabulous spicy shrimp salad is seventeen; each entrée was twenty-five. And all of it could be easily shared by four persons.
My acid test for any restaurant answers the question: Would I go back a second time? With Celadon, it’s a resounding yes – a second, a third , a fourth…you get the idea.
And when you go, make sure you tell ‘em Joseph sent you for any friend of Danny’s is a friend of mine.
Celadon 7910 W. Third Street (by Fairfax) Los Angeles 90048 Tel. 323-658-8028 – Dinner – Tuesday – Friday @ 6:00 p.m. – Midnight; Saturday – Sunday @ 5:30 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. – Dinner for two: Approx. $75 w/o alcohol www.celadongalerie.com