Where to find great breakfast in Los Angeles

My first introduction to Brunost, a brown cheese popular in Norway, was through my good friend Jo Stougaard in the summer of 2019. She had recently returned from a Viking cruise through Northern Europe. And she couldn’t stop raving about the brown cheese.

She tried it on waffles during a home visit to Stavanger, Norway, and then continued eating brown cheese throughout her trip. It was offered as a topping at the waffle station on the ship in the form of curled cheese cones. She described it as tasting like both cheddar and caramel and called it “crazy great.”

When we spotted brown cheese toast on the breakfast menu at the new Little Fish in Echo Park, we didn’t hesitate.

Brown cheese toast and fish mash at Little Fish

“That’s definitely what we get the most questions about,” says Niki Vahle, co-owner of Little Fish. “You don’t get a lot of information from something just called brown cheese toast.”

The brown cheese toast is a thick, toasted slice of Bub and Grandma’s bread with a generous dollop of good butter, thick curls of brown Ski Queen cheese and a pinch of Maldon salt.

When Vahle and his partner Anna Sonenshein came up with a breakfast menu for their new restaurant, they focused on the foods they like to eat at home. The two founded Little Fish as a pop-up in their Echo Park home in 2021 and recently opened a brick-and-mortar store nearby, at Dada Market on Sunset Boulevard.

“The toast accurately reflects our mood of low and high,” says Sonenshein. “We use really nice bread and basically the Norwegian equivalent of American Kraft cheese, another product we love.”

Fish porridge is on the breakfast menu at Little Fish in Echo Park.

(Jenn Harris/Los Angeles Times)

Ski Queen’s curls are luscious and rich with the nutty notes of brown butter that accompany good caramel. It sinks into the warm bread and mostly holds its shape like a chocolate chip about to melt. It is sweet, but not as sweet as you would expect from a cheese with the color and flavor of caramel.

The toast was the ideal opening event for a bowl of fish porridge.

“I would say that rice porridge and different types of rice porridge are the number one foods made in our house,” says Sonenshein.

It’s also a great way to use up any leftover striped bass from the restaurant’s popular fried fish sandwich. (Imagine a chef’s filet-o-fish on steroids.) The bones are grilled and used to make a broth with kombu, ginger and scallions for the mash. Isolated pieces of perch bob around like little treasures in the rice porridge. The rice is mild, soothing, and feels like it could heal anything. On top there is a six-minute egg that oozes appropriately, a ball of spring onions, pickled shiitake mushrooms and a spoonful of chili crisp. If that’s not a reason to get out of bed, I don’t know what is.

The restaurant also happens to be in a well-stocked Superette, and there’s a coffee program from Phil Kim, who also makes the beautiful ceramic mugs for your latte. If you stop by around 10:30 a.m., you can order breakfast and then enjoy one of the fried fish sandwiches at 11:00 a.m

Taiwanese breakfast sandwiches at Fatty Mart

The Taiwanese breakfast sandwich from Fatty Mart in Mar Vista.

(Jenn Harris/Los Angeles Times)

Any day that starts at David Kuo’s Fatty Mart is a good day, especially for someone who is often preoccupied with where to find snacks, chili sauce, and tomorrow’s dinner. Superette Mar Vista is a wonderland of prepared foods, condiments and snacks. Breakfast is served all day long.

Kuo says his Taiwanese breakfast sandwich is the best-selling item on his entire menu. That’s high praise for a selection that includes pizza, banh mi sandwiches, bulgolgi plates and breakfast burritos.

There’s not much to distract my attention from a good breakfast burrito. The portability, variety of fillings, and a warm flour tortilla make it a forever treat. But the breakfast sandwich at Fatty Mart is my current packaged food obsession.

“It’s a tribute to all the dishes I ate as a child,” says Kuo, whose restaurant Little Fatty Taiwanese is just around the corner from the market. “We have a beef bun at Little Fatty that is very popular. So why not make it a breakfast product?”

The wrap is a spring onion pancake that is fried until just golden brown around the edges and still pliable. It’s flaky and crispy, with layers you can peel away. Kuo spreads a fiery pink chili mayonnaise made from Lao Gan Ma chili crisp. In a sea of ​​chili sauces, it’s the most familiar chili crisp, with crunchy fried onions and a dry, roasted spiciness.

The eggs are fluffy and scrambled, refined with a dash of sweet and salty hoisin sauce. And the wrap is studded with Taiwanese sausage slices, pickled mustard, raw cucumber slices, scallions and cilantro.

As someone who doesn’t typically eat breakfast at expected breakfast times, the ability to get a Taiwanese breakfast sandwich at 1:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., or even 7:45 p.m. is infinitely comforting.

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