Ask Mr. Gold: Where to Eat Bugs in L.A.
Anne Fishbein the invisible restaurant critic
Dear Mr. Gold:
From what I read, raising insects is far easier on the planet than raising livestock. If I were in the mood to kill two bugs with one stone, where would I go to eat bugs in L.A.?
Twenty-five years ago, there was an actual snail ranch in the Inland Empire, and a nearby bistro that specialized in snail dishes. I know snails aren't insects, but it would have been nice to have been able to tell you to dine there. Snails are not unknown at local French restaurants - Laurent Quenioux of Bistro LQ seems especially fond of preparing them (also ant eggs, in season), and there are good ones at Waterloo & City - but they seem to be on the wane.
Looking for spicy Korean silkworm-cocoon soup? Mok Maru Jong on Western has it, although their specialty is probably jokkbal, steamed pigs' feet. When people talk about insect cuisine in Los Angeles, the discussion always comes down to Typhoon, which has an actual insect section on the menu, often including things like fried scorpions on shrimp toast, and fried Thai worms with ginger and peanuts. Bugs are making inroads into the cocktail universe - at Rivera, there is mezcal cocktail called Donaji, served in glasses rimmed with grasshopper salt, and another drink dusted with crushed agave worms. But Oaxacan cooks have a way of toasting grasshoppers so that they taste better than French fries - light, crunchy and tasting a bit like pumpkin seeds. I especially like the chapulines with chile at Guelaguetza: super-spicy, perfect for easing down a cold beer, and delicious, except for that occasional bead of goo that lingers inside one bug out of ten. Floss when you get home - those antennae can be tenacious.