Examiner.com Article – Pasta Pop Up @ 320 Wine Lounge


Chef Joe Youkhan`s Tasting Spoon


September 8, 2013

If you are a regular reader of my column, you know that I am a BIG fan of Chef Joe Youkhan. After meeting him for an interview at the OC Foodie Fest 2011, this talented chef has made gigantic waves in the Orange County food scene over the last two years starting with his Foie Gras Slider and Roasted Bone Marrow. What amazes me the most is that all of the food is created in a customized food truck. In June 2013, 3Twenty Wine Lounge hosted Chef Joe Youkhan’s Pasta Pop-up to show Los Angeles County what he is made of. The wine lounge is very cozy with some sidewalk seating for people-watching and interior seating for a more intimate experience. Edgar Poureshagh, ‘Court of Masters’ Sommelier and Owner, is always around when you have questions about the wine and what pairs best with your dish. The kitchen at 3Twenty Wine Lounge is small, but when you work in a food truck, you make it work. Chef Joe definitely worked it. Let’s take a look at these phenomenal dishes:

Our starters were paired with Marotti Campi Brut Rose from Marche, Italy. It is made from the Lacrima grape varietal. It was light-bodied, with strawberry notes, and rosy aroma. The bubbles were a refreshing palate cleanser before bites.

Arancini alla Bolognese were 3 crispy risotto balls stuffed with braised short rib ragu, provolone cheese, and San Marzano marinara sauce. These were also featured on Eat St. They were huge, enough to be on entrée on their own. The outside was a perfect deep, golden brown and crispy. The interior was like hitting the jackpot – al dente risotto, melt-in-your-mouth braised short rib ragu, and gooey cheese. Amazing as always! Thumbs up, way up!

Bruschetta Trio was Organic Chicken Liver with Crispy Pancetta, Heirloom Tomato Tapenade with Buffalo Mozzarella, and Gorgonzola Dolce with White Gold Honey. This trio describes Chef Joe completely – umami flavor combinations and fresh seasonal ingredients. The chicken liver rocked the house and I can only just imagine what it could be like if he could still use foie gras! The flavors were on point and made me want more, but I knew I had much more to taste! The tomato tapenade tasted like fresh picked, sweet tomatoes but very Italian in flavor. I can image sitting in a patio in Tuscany nibbling on this and sipping a glass of wine while watching the sunset. The gorgonzola dolce was creamy and the sharp flavor of the cheese balanced out with the honey. Never would I have thought to put those ingredients together and it was perfect! Thumbs up, way up!

Caledonia Blue Prawns “Scampi” was served over fresh house made squid ink spaghetti and garlic-herb breadcrumbs. This was absolutely fabulous! The shrimp were cooked to perfection leaving the shells and head on for us more adventurous diners. I ate everything except for the eyeballs. The “miso” or mustard of the shrimp was creamy, buttery, and sweet. The spaghetti was cooked al dente with the “scampi” sauce clinging to the pasta to dear life. Perfectly executed! Thumbs up, way up!

Black Summer Truffle Tagliatelle was wonderful. It reminded me of my time in Milan last year and Black Truffle was on every restaurant menu. Before that trip, I was on the fence about truffles. Afterwards, I was enamored with this prized mushroom. When I saw it on the Chef Joe’s menu, I knew I had to get it. The tagliatelle was cooked al dente and well-sauced, but was slightly overbearing. Chef Joe brought the black truffle to the forefront and made the flavor explode. I swear, I almost cried! Thumbs up, way up!

Colorado Lamb & Cremini Mushroom Meatballs were served with house made gnocchi, crispy pancetta, and watercress pimenton (paprika) aioli. Chef Joe makes meatballs just like grandma with a twist. The lamb and mushrooms worked really well together, kept all of the juices inside so it just burst with flavor in your mouth. He really showed his talents for pasta-making and the gnocchi is no exception. Gnocchi is tricky and if not done right, it just tasted like a doughy ball. But, Chef Joe’s were perfect gnocchi pillows of goodness and paired well with the lamb. Thumbs up, way up!

A big thank you to 3Twenty Wine Lounge for hosting the event! Can’t wait to see when the next pop-up is! Check out Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon’s website to see where to find him next or have him cater your next private event!

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars

Décor: 4 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars

Upcoming Events:

  • Friday, September 13 from 11:30am to 1:30pm, 8961 Research Dr, Irvine, CA

For more information:
Chef Joe Youkhan’s Tasting Spoon
Trucking around Orange County

3Twenty Wine Lounge
320 S La Brea Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036