Downtown LA was abuzz last week thanks to LA Film Fest. I love indie films as much as the next Angeleno, but my Awesome Friend Irene pointed out a particularly interesting event – a screening of Dinner Rush along with a conversation with the artist in residence Michael Voltaggio. Since this one was at LA Live, Irene and I decided to have a pre-movie dinner across the street at WP24 on the 24th floor of the Ritz Carlton.
WP24 (WP = Wolfgang Puck, 24 = 24th floor) is a snazzy restaurant with a dining room and a bar/lounge, both boasting a beautiful view of the Downtown LA cityscape. The upscale Asian cuisine-based menu is generally on the expensive side, but they are currently running a special called Four for $24 — a rotating menu of their “Asian tapas” selections — as well as a $24 three-course tasting menu, both from 5-7pm daily. It initially drew us in but because of traffic, we arrived a bit too late to partake. No matter! We ordered several small plates to share and they were simply delectable.
Baby Pork Belly “Bao Buns” / Chinese Honey-Garlic Glaze
The first thought that crossed both of our minds simultaneously was, more or less, “There are two pork belly dishes on the menu. Let’s get both!” This one turned out to be my favorite dish. The bao was perfectly fluffy and warm, the pork belly were succulent and coated in a delicious glaze, and the mini “sandwich” was topped with housemade pickles and a nice crispy julienne of scallion. It tasted wonderful as assembled, but once I dipped a bite into the hoisin-sriracha dollop, my taste buds were immediately transported to the full sides of roast pork hanging in the windows of Chinese barbecue joints back home.
Tiny Dumplings / Pork Belly / Black Vinegar / Chili Oil
When I saw the words “tiny dumplings” alongside “black vinegar”, I assumed they would look like a cousin of xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings). I was a little thrown off when I saw they more closely resembled gyoza (Japanese potstickers), but they were absolutely delicious nonetheless. The filling was juicy and glistening with the fat from the pork belly, and the dumpling wrappers were a bit crispy from the pan searing.
Chicken “Dan Dan” Dumplings / Ground Peanuts /Chili
These round spheres of dumplings arrived swimming in a flavorful peanut sauce that reminded me of Vietnamese satay soup (not to be confused with satay the grilled meat skewer dish). The chicken filling was very juicy and melded well with the strong flavor of the sauce.
Peking Duck Roll / House Special Hoisin Glace
Irene was quick to point out that these rolls left out the very best part about eating peking duck… the crispy skin! That was quite sad and a bit disappointing. The duck, however, was moist and well seasoned and the rolls themselves were crunchy without being too greasy. I’m not a huge fan of fancified egg rolls, but these were pretty good and went well with the hoisin sauce.
They recently added some summer cocktails to their lounge menu as well — if we weren’t in a rush to catch the screening, we would have stayed longer to try some of them. I spotted some refreshing buzzwords like cucumber, lemonade, and verbena. The service was just attentive enough and they brought out the food quickly since they knew we were pressed for time. Our server even closed out our tab and had the check ready in her hand right when we were asking for it. Props!
Many people mentioned that WP24 is dressy, but the lounge area is relatively casual since many patrons come straight from work in the nearby DTLA buildings. But then again, it is in the Ritz Carlton, so I don’t know about you, but I’d go a bit nicer than t-shirts and jeans. I will definitely be back sometime between 5-7 to try the Four for $24 menu! It’s a great alternative to regular ol’ happy hour specials.
Off we went to see the movie Dinner Rush, which was an interesting portrayal of the restaurant industry through a “day in the life” sort of perspective. Plus violence. But I don’t want to give away any spoilers. And grand finale we had been waiting for – a Q&A with the artist in residence Michael Voltaggio.
All in all it was a great evening and very much an “LA” thing to do. If you’re in Downtown or near LA Live, I’d definitely recommend swinging by WP24 for a pre-event meal. As someone who grew up watching the Food Network, I’m borrowing the closing words from Wolfgang Puck himself — live, love and eat!
Check out WP24: www.ritzcarlton.com
900 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90015
See their Yelp reviews here!