In keeping with its whimsical name, Fickle has put out a new menu featuring James Ta's latest culinary endeavors. And while chorizo-laden broccolini, spring lamb with pickled corn, and gochujang-marinated flat iron have made their way onto the list of offerings, the items most worth noting can be found in the Seafood section.
When was the last time you had jumbo shrimp? I'm talking about thick, tennis ball-diameter prawns with a solid crunch and succulent sweetness. Chances are that it's been a while since as of late, a new crustacean disease called AHPNS has been causing Southeast Asian shrimp to die before becoming fully mature and has driven market prices way up. Yet the peel'n'eat shrimp here, grilled and topped with pickled carrot and cilantro, are mammoth-sized and possibly the best new item on the menu, especially when doused with the fantastic black pepper and lime vinaigrette that accompanies it.
Another item that will immediately catch one's eye is Uni Bún, a Vietnamese dish involving cold vermicelli noodles, mint, and julienned cucumber. While sea urchin is well-represented in Little Tokyo, the quality of the roe here is exceptional, with a firm yet creamy texture and the buttery flavor you expect from only the top sushi restaurants. Diners tempted to eat the uni straight off the top of the noodles might be better off acting on that inclination, since the housemade nuoc nam has an unfortunate sweetness that hides the seafood’s quality. Knowing the ever-experimenting chef, though, that’s not likely to be a problem for long.
Added to the dessert family (whose menu line simply says 'Chef's Seasonal Desserts') is a chocolate hazelnut salted caramel tart, with a taste and texture more like a Twix candy bar than a standard filled pastry. It's a shame that the best aspect of the dessert is the scoop of Fosselman's ice cream on the side, but one gets the feeling after sampling the rest of the menu that Chef Ta’s culinary passions lie more on the savory side of the spectrum.
Previous offerings that will continue into the new season are several "Fickle family favorites," including a roasted bone marrow laced with a ginger soy lacquer, basil gremolata, and paired with perfectly-grilled sourdough. If there's anything consistent about Fickle’s capricious menu, it's this marrow, which always manages to strike a great balance between gelatinous and slurpy textures and rivals the best in the city.
Of course you can expect the meal to begin with a bowl of popcorn, mixed with cinnamon, sugar, and cumin. Despite the numerous examples of flavored popcorn dominating Los Angeles’ appetizers, this is one of the rare few that works.
Fickle’s Spring Menu begins at dinner today, April 9, and will continue until the chef’s fickle whims determine otherwise.