Editor's note:There's no denying that Los Angeles is a salad town. But hidden among these leafy clones are some standouts that give roughage a good name. Our new Los Angeles correspondent Katie Robbins will be reporting on salads each week—the kinds that are bright, exciting, filling, and go beyond a few sad flecks of iceberg. Take it away, Katie! —The Mgmt.
I recently stumbled upon the grilled green cabbage salad with piquillo peppers, capers, and shrimp ($15) at the Lazy Ox Canteen, chef Josef Centeno's stylish Little Tokyo gastropub. While by night the Ox is packed with cool kids jostling for microbrews and one of the city's better burgers, by day it's a tranquil spot for a casual lunch—which happens to be when the cabbage salad is on the menu.
The dish that arrived was colorful, if not beautiful—a mass heaped high on the plate of pale green cabbage, pink shrimp, and coral pickled onions, with flecks of red piquillo peppers and green Italian parsley sprinkled throughout. The cabbage had seen some serious grilling, turning it into a tangle of textures; so as the center core maintained its integrity, the middle of the leaves had become softly pliant and the outer tips were charred black. The humble vegetable was so darn well cooked that I would have gladly eaten a plate of just cabbage.
But, of course, there were other treats to be found, supporting players to the cabbage's star turn. Tart red onions contributed a nice zing, as did piquant capers and spicy, sweet piquillos. The vinaigrette was a spot-on blend of acid and oil.
Then there were the shrimp. Usually when tackling a salad, I am judicious with the protein, trying to ration it throughout the meal, lest I get stuck just lettuce. However, here there were plenty of crustaceans to go around (explaining the salad's high price) and though the shrimp added good funky fishiness, they were slightly over-charred and under seasoned.
By the end of lunch, I actually found myself wishing that the shrimp left on my plate were instead more cabbage, a fantasy I never thought I'd have.