Meryl Streep is the lead in Mamma Mia and will play Julia Child in the forthcoming film Julie and Julia. So today I made a list of the Top 5 Mammas in LA restaurants:
5. Angeli Caffe– In terms of motherly figures in food, Evan Kleiman is one of the most positive, loving and dedicated there is. Of course there are chef/moms like Nancy Silverton, Suzanne Goin and Suzanne Tracht, but Evan’s garden-grown meals and cheery demeanor put her a notch above. I don’t know if she has kids of her own, but the way she treats guests on her show and in her restaurant make them feel welcome and loved like only a mom can.
4. Jitlada– The matriarch of Thai Town, Jazz Singsanong lovingly welcomes everyone like their her own children (a few of which also work in the restaurant). I don’t know if she even does that much cooking but she regales patrons with stories of Steven Spielberg and Jonathan Gold loving her kua kling Phat Tha Lung. Matt Groening gets name-dropped more often than the delicious phàt lûuk tàw gets ordered, but no one would ever call into question Jazz’s passion for food. She just has a little Hollywood in her, just as she brings a little southern Thailand to east Hollywood.
3. Crustacean– Helene An has been cooking in the kitchen for years. Coming through San Francisco from Vietnam she melds Chinese, French and Vietnamese influences to create superb and health-conscious dishes. Did you know that Crustacean has a secret kitchen where only family members can cook in order to secure the secrecy of their recipes? When she’s not cooking she can be found bestowing infinite thank you’s on everyone around her.
2. Osteria La Buca– The once tiny, familial location of La Buca has since expanded, but Lora Donna Cecchinato still (wo)mans the kitchen like she’s cooking at home. Her hearty pastas and best-in-LA tiramisu transport you to her home kitchen in Italy. She was wandering around the grand opening of her newly renovated restaurant in the same old t-shirt, track pants and clogs. Bless Mamma and her namesake hat.
1. Yuca’s– To me, Socorro Herrera is the original mamma in LA. For more than 15 years we’ve been ordering carne asada burritos from Yuca’s, and still reminisce about eating at those old rickety tables when we were teenagers. Not to be messed with, mamma once banned my friend from the restaurant after he accidentally flicked a piece of steak that fell from his burrito onto another diner. She yelled “You want to play, you go to the park!” Sorry mamma…