“We have to visit Pine & Crane before you go” was my sister’s refrain during a recent two-week trip to visit her in Los Angeles. Her friends agree. “It’s so good,” they said of the popular “fast-casual” Taiwanese-Chinese restaurant. So, expectations were running high when midway through the holiday I found myself in the back of an Uber heading to Griffith Park Boulevard, the heart of the hipster enclave that is Silver Lake, to check out this “amazing restaurant”…
…Only to encounter a sizeable queue that guaranteed at least a half-hour wait. Thirty five minutes later, we were ushered into the intimate space, immediately presented with an intriguing menu and expected to order straight away. I was thrown; I enjoy lingering over a menu and usually change my mind half a dozen times before ordering. Instead, I let my sister guide me and we quickly settled on six small plates to share between us, and walked away with the makings of a passionfruit shandy and a Julian cider.
Ensconced on a terrazzo and wooden bench, I had barely poured my Taiwanese beer into the accompanying passionfruit concoction (the combination is sweet but perfectly so and incredibly refreshing) before our dishes started to appear in quick succession. Soon afterwards, I too was sold on Pine & Crane. The spicy dan dan noodles ($8) decorated with crushed peanuts and julienne cucumber were delicious, as was the flavourful pork wrapped in beautifully sticky buns ($8) and topped with spring onions and sesame seeds. Crispy bok choy potstickers ($6.50) and fried pork and cabbage dumplings ($6) followed, and finally we were served pork over rice ($7), with a soy-braised egg and house-made daikon pickle, and spicy shrimp wontons ($7.50) that were so tasty we ended up duking it out with our chopsticks for the last one.
Dessert was not offered, but no matter; I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and left feeling pleasantly stuffed.