Beef tongue might at first give you pause, but think about it: Tongue is tender. In a subtle way. (You've bitten your own tongue -- you know.) Unlike a well-done piece of, say, shank, you won't find yourself chewing and chewing (and chewing) a piece of tongue. If done right, you'll want to savor your cut of tongue, almost let it rest on your own for a few seconds, enough to relish its scrumptious game and its smooth texture. Want good tongue-to-tongue? The following 10 restaurants can provide it:
L'Epicerie Market: How or why Culver City became LA's town square for French restaurants is unknown; But L'Epicerie Market, reliable for its morning routine of espresso and pastry, delivers for dinner millimeter-thick tongue a la boeuf fanned out on a plate and kindly drizzled with brown sauce diable, a salty flavor that titillates your own tongue bite for bite.
L'Epicerie Market, 9900 Culver Boulevard, at Duquense Avenue (310-815-1600 or lepiceriemarket.com)
Robata Jinya: Mid-City's Jinya iteration is much more that bowls of premium pork ramen; the Robata serves izakaya grazing items like the miso-marinated beef tongue, a small dish for $4.50 that reveals one-tenth of a cow's licker. If you sit at the counter, your tongue is passed to you on big pizza paddle. Grab it. You need this tongue.
Robata Jinya, 8050 West Third Street, at Crescent Heights Boulevard (323-653-8877 or jinya-la.com)
The Gorbals: After sampling The Gorbals' beef tongue the size of a Pringle chip at the recent Plate by Plate event, we felt sorry that we hadn't visited Top Chef winner Ilan Hall for his tongue sooner. His beef tongue is a confit, boasting a subtle crisp, a thoughtful complement to the texture of the scattered croutons. Drag it all around in bright orange romesco sauce.
The Gorbals, 501 South Spring Street, at West Fifth Street (213-488-3408 or the gorbalsla.com)
The Lazy Ox Canteen: The Frito-y pig's ears get a lot of play at the Lazy Ox Canteen -- so much that it's never available whenever we're there. So, for other parts (and that of the steer's), we "I guess … " ordered beef tongue one evening, and, yeah, so savory we shoveled it into our mouths like an animal. These days, it's served seared and with pickled fennel and creamy semolina.
The Lazy Ox Canteen, 241 South San Pedro Street, at East Second Street (213-626-5299 or lazyoxcanteen.com)
Fig: In Los Angeles, you can sniff tacos de lengua at every half block, but if eating out of a taco truck, whilst leaning against pump #9 at the 76 gas station won't suffice as a proper Date Night (at least for this girl …), then off to Fig it is, wherein the menu is market-driven and all that. However, because chef Ray Garcia is, well, awesome, he's got a section of a la carte tacos -- we say get the lengua and don't worry about it (or her).
Fig, 101 Wilshire Boulevard, at Ocean Avenue (310-319-3111 or figsantamonica.com)
Hostaria del Piccolo: The pizzeria off-shoot of Venice's beloved Piccolo audaciously rattles its casual Santa Monica denizens with its primi fare like lingua. It's an updated vitello tonnato, Italy's classic snack that unusually covers its cold cuts of veal with tuna-flavored "mayonnaise." At the Hostaria, the veal served is, of course, veal's tongue.
Hostaria del Piccolo, 606 Broadway Street, at Sixth Street (310-393-6633 or hostariadelpiccolo.com)
Ramen Bull: Yes, that peculiar ramen pop-up inside West Third Street's Breadbar eschewing the pig altogether for its beef-stocked ramen offers its noodles with … tongue! Ever conveniently, tongue is often cut to look like chashu anyway. But if you don’t want your tongue swimming in soup, get the appetizer where it's dotted with ginger-scallion puree.
Ramen Bull at Breadbar, 8718 West Third Street, at South Hamel Road (310-205-0124 or breadbar.net)
Savory: At Malibu's Savory, we are at the mercy of a Bastide alum (oh, first world problems). As a starter, chef Paul Shoemaker marries homemade pasta noodles covered with marinara sauce, parmesan and at least 10 tender cubes of beef tongue that are, in effect, too easy to pop in your mouth, one after the other, like a savory candy chew.
Savory, 29169 Heathercliff Road, at Pacific Coast Highway (310-589-8997 or savorymalibu.com)
ink.sack: Top Chef winner Michael Voltaggio successfully surprised Angelenos with the opening of his sandwich shop, ink.sack. The full-blown restaurant, ink., is encountering formidable delays, so you know, five-dollar sandwiches it is. Each sandwich is three times the size of an amuse bouche, and here is where we mention there is a damn beef tongue rueben. Get a sack of 'em.
ink.sack, 8360 Melrose Avenue, #107, at North Kings Road (323-651-5866 or mvink.com)
Chimu: At the foot of Angels Flight and across traffic is a culinary addendum to the Grand Central Market. It's Chimu, gingerly serving Peruvian soul food out of a takeout window. Its Estofado de Lengua is wildly lauded as the critic's favorite: a stew, really, of a huge helping of braised beef tongue, baby tomatoes, salsa madre and Beluga lentils. There isn't a tongue -- that you chew and swallow -- that could offer more comfort to your belly.
Chimu, 324 South Hill Street, at East Third Street (213-625-1097 or soulfoodofperu.com)