The Five Dishes You Must Order at Majordōmo
When Majordōmo opened in an industrial corridor in Chinatown in 2018, it made a major splash as the first (and still the only) restaurant from David Chang’s New York-based Momofuku universe to open in Los Angeles.
Today, Majordōmo remains steadfast in its role as the California representative of Chang’s inventive Asian-American empire. With chef Jude Parra-Sickels at the helm, the kitchen leans on a combination of exclusive ingredients developed in the Momofuku lab and seasonal California produce to keep things fresh while staying true to the spirit of Majordōmo.
That ethos is best described as a desire to create dishes that hit at the delicious intersection of multiple cuisines and cultures. “We try to land in the overlap in a Venn diagram of different cuisines,” says Parras-Sickles. The large-format short rib, which references both Korean and Texas barbecue in its own singular fashion, is probably the best example, which is why it’s been on the menu since day one. (More on that later.)
If you’re hoping to feast on the menu’s large-format dishes like the boiled whole chicken with ginger-scallion sauce or a smoked half bo ssam, you’d be wise to rally a party of six or more. That said, Majordōmo also works well for a date night, with plenty to offer in terms of market-based shared plates, noodles, and rice. Here, Parra-Sickels reminds us what makes Majordōmo special, in five dishes.
1. Bing with Chickpea Dip
A section of Majordōmo’s menu is devoted to dips served with the fluffy Chinese flatbread called bing. It’s their way of kicking off the meal with a communal eating experience, similar to Korean banchan or Middle Eastern mezze. Of all the dips, which range from slow-roasted beef shank basted in coconut milk and topped with crispy shallots to cave-aged butter and caviar, the chickpea is the most distinctly Momofuku. It features chickpea hozon, a fermented paste developed in the Momofuku lab in New York that works as an umami powerhouse. So while it looks like hummus, this topping packs a distinct punch.
Before Majordōmo opened, Chang and his chefs at other Momofuku restaurants put the chickpea hozon to use in dishes here and there. But once they got to L.A., Parras-Sickels says the team “leaned into [hozon] hard,” introducing the ingredient to a larger clientele. It’s also used in the macaroni and chickpea pasta with miso and black pepper, a dish inspired by the now-closed Nishi’s cheeseless cacio e pepe.
2. Half-Dozen Oysters with Kimchi and Kombu Mignonette
“We’ve had oysters on pretty much every Momofuku menu, no matter what the concept or the city,” Parra-Sickels says. “We all just love eating oysters.” Here, they’re garnished with a mignonette made with kombu seaweed and a dilution of strained kimchi brine seasoned with a bit of vinegar and sugar. Although it has evolved over time, the garnish is a throwback to a kimchi consommé that came atop oysters on the opening menu at Momofuku Ssäm Bar. “In the beginning, we set out to bring a lot of what we had done in the past in New York to the L.A. audience,” Parras-Sickels recalls. “Things that had been lost, or were maybe no longer part of the New York City restaurants that we wanted to harken back to.”
3. Mushroom Crispy Rice with Shiitake, Burdock, and Yuzu
Majordōmo always has two crispy rices on the menu: one seasonal and one mushroom, which was developed by the restaurant’s chef de cuisine, Tim Mangun. There are upward of eight mushrooms in the dish, including maitakes, enokis, and creminis. (In the wintertime, they’ll add truffles.) Shiitake are the most visible of the bunch, since some mushrooms are pureed and others are cooked down and mixed in. It’s all served in a miniature Le Creuset pot, in which the rice is cooked before being flipped over so the crispy side faces upward. This is one of Majordōmo’s most popular items, and one of its staple vegetarian dishes.
4. Little Gem Salad with Anchovy, Miso, and Smoked Trout Roe
The “Market & Snacks” section of the menu changes constantly, but one of its mainstays is a lettuce and greens salad. A little gem salad is practically de rigeur on Los Angeles menus, but Parras-Sickels tries to tweak the formula to make Majordomo’s version more unique. “[A little gem salad] is kind of a throwaway dish, so we’re making it a little bit more challenging and engaging,” he says. There’s fish sauce and miso in the dressing, bonito flakes mixed into the breadcrumbs, and smoked trout roe to add a notable texture and color, in addition to flavor. “It’s crunchy, it’s punchy, it’s a little bit funky, it’s refreshing,” Parras-Sickels says.
5. Whole Plate Short Rib with Beef Rice, Ssam, and Condiments
Of all of Majordōmo’s large-format dishes, the short rib is the crown jewel. The seven-to-nine pound cut takes two days to make — one to marinate (with Korean flavors) and another to smoke (as you would in Texas). “But we don’t cook it quite as much as you would in Texas, so we’re still able to slice it in pieces the way they do in Korean barbecue,” Parras-Sickels explains. “It’s neither of those things exactly, but it’s also both of those things at the same time.”
The dish serves anywhere from four to seven people, depending on what else you’re getting. It’s brought to the table with kimchi, ssamjang, sesame oil, salt and pepper, soy-jalapeño sauce, and pickled daikon, plus shiso leaves and lettuce wraps. Then, it’s sliced tableside. After the table is given ample time with the meat, the leftover bones and trim are taken back to the kitchen to be chopped up and re-presented as beef rice. If this is a dish you know you want, your best bet is to order it in advance — this one goes fast.
Emily Wilson is a Los Angeles-based food writer from New York. She has contributed to Bon Appétit, Eater, TASTE, The Los Angeles Times, Punch, Atlas Obscura, and more. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Follow Resy, too.