Monday, February 16, 2009

The Hungry Cat: It's Not About Looks

I love ugly foods. I will gladly eat anything that appears in gloop-form or is close to resembling a booger. It’s not like I’m trying to be a “daring diner” or anything, it just so happens that, from numerous past experiences, I’ve become a firm believer that when it comes to food, ugly = good.

I would like to say that I’d been craving fresh oysters recently but that would be an outright lie – I am perpetually craving fresh oysters. One of my fondest memories is of slurping down these beautiful, briny slimesters at the Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City. When Moeha suggested we grab seafood for lunch today, The Hungry Cat immediately came to mind.

Word of warning: The Hungry Cat is obnoxiously difficult to locate. It’s in the Hollywood + Vine complex but it’s completely hidden away in a small courtyard. We circled the complex three times before we realized it was right next to Ivan Kane’s Café Wa S. Well, good thing the Cat doesn’t have set lunch/dinner hours since it was around 2pm by the time we finally got there.

(From left: Gold Creek, Kumamoto, Beau Soleil)

Anne isn’t big on the oysters so Moeha and I ordered a half dozen oysters to share ($15.00
). We got two each of the day’s selection: kumamoto, gold creek and beau soleil. I couldn’t believe how tiny the beau soleil was! There were probably three molecules of oyster on that half shell. On top of that, it just…wasn’t very good at all. It was waaaaay too mild for my taste. I literally felt like I was eating nothing. I moved on to the kumamoto which is a personal fave oyster variety. Mmmm…SO MUCH BETTER than the oyster I just had. Given, the kumamoto wasn’t much bigger than the blue point, but it had a strong briny taste and I found myself slurping up every precious drop of the oyster liquid. The gold creek was equally good. It was the largest of the three varieties and was briny – though less so than the kunamoto – and wonderfully creamy.

(Lobster Frittata)

(AMAZING Shrimp burger patty)

After the little bivalve party, we started on our entrees. Anne got today’s special – the lobster frittata ($17.00) which was flavorful and chock full of lobster meat. I also had a bite of Moeha’s shrimp burger on brioche with fries ($15.00) and it was absolutely stellar! The shrimp patty was cooked perfectly and was amazingly moist and tender. It also had a nice spicy kick to it. As for myself, I ordered the tuna melt with fries ($15.00). This ain’t your typical deli tuna melt – it was an open face sandwich of Spanish tuna on a piece of toasted French bread, topped with a thick layer of cheese and a salad of arugula, radish and romesco. The flavor combination kicked major ass! A little bit like a pizza (the toast was spread with a sort of tomato-based sauce), a little bit like a sandwich, a little bit like a salad. Oh wow. The best thing was that the tomato sauce and the tuna juices soaked through the toast, making it soft enough to be cut apart with a knife and fork. The creamy, melted cheese melded into the small flecks of Spanish tuna and that, combined with the sweetness of the tomato sauce and the chewy texture of the sauce-drenched toast was a definite winner. The fries were great as well though not as crispy as the ones from, say, Marty D’s or The Bowery.

(Prettied-up Tuna Melt)

The Hungry Cat isn’t cheap but prices are ju
stified. The portions are huge and it is, after all, seafood…very fresh seafood. Service, however, was painstakingly slow. It took them fifteen minutes to bring our oysters to the table. Yes, RAW OYSTERS that require zilch preparation. And, after the oysters, they took another half an hour or so to bring us our entrée. It was actually a little ridiculous.
(The Raw Bar: takes 15 minutes to transport seafood from bed of ice to customer's table)

But, not wanting to end this review on a negative note, The Hungry Cat is a great joint. Food is awesome and the vibe is refined but relaxed. When you DO find the restaurant and when you DO get your food at your table, without a doubt, you’ll have a kickass time!

!! And we also saw Kyan from Queer Eye !! Oh, he’s still so sexy!! Yes, and James Franco feeding quarters into the parking meter.

FOOD: 4/5

1535 Vine Street
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 462-2155

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