Tag Archives: inglewood

Leftovers: Toni’s Soul Burger and Otis Jackson’s Soul Dog

All-American soul power for theĀ L.A. Times:


PHOTO by LUIS SINCO / L.A. TIMES

For every restaurant whose menu reads like a doctoral thesis on globalization, there are those that still consider a kind of insular Americana the noblest pursuit. These are the dens of hard-line pit masters and down-home confectioners, restaurants where the American culinary heritage provides incubation for innovation.

At the similarly minded but altogether unaffiliated Toni’s Soul Burgers in Inglewood and Otis Jackson’s Soul Dog in North Hollywood, that American ingenuity takes the form of a double dose of comfort: hybridized hamburgers and hot dogs fused with soul food.

Toni Malone’s towering burgers may be the most ambitious in all of Los Angeles. Yet there are no contrivances here: no custom-ground meat blends, no willful denial of ketchup and no flavors fortified by what might otherwise amount to a chemistry experiment. Instead, the restaurant’s signature burger is a tender, hand-formed turkey patty, a crispy lattice of turkey bacon, a firmly fried egg, a single slice of cheese, sweet mashed yams and wilted collard greens on a gently toasted sesame-seed bun. It’s a triumph of maximalism, a burger in expert balance despite its seeming overabundance of ingredients.

Each soul burger is constructed in a tiny storefront so close to Hollywood Park that you can nearly hear hooves hitting dirt. What scarce space there is has been decorated with framed photos of soul and R&B legends, a nod to Malone’s own powerful voice. Neighborhood kids and young families crowd in for takeout while Malone, earnest and effervescent, explains the intricacies of her burgers to those here for the first time.

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Leftovers: Mutiara Food & Market

Finding halal highlights of Burmese and Malaysian cooking in Inglewood for the L.A. Times:


PHOTO by ANNE CUSACK / L.A. TIMES

The Koranic art at Mutiara Food & Market is rattling against the wall, its filigreed details shaken by the groans of a jet passing overhead. When the plane travels out of sight, Mutiara fills with a consuming quiet. The Inglewood restaurant and market is a subdued place, but its unassuming setting belies its rich and varied Burmese and Malaysian cooking.

Mutiara concentrates mostly on the halal highlights of Islamic Burmese cuisine, a hearty cast of curries and kebabs more closely resembling those of India and Pakistan than Myanmar. They’re the dishes of owner Myo Aung’s personal history. His recipes re-create his Myanmar, paeans to the Islamic traditions of both his family and home. (Outside the kitchen, Aung performs a similar service as an imam, leading prayers and instructing the teachings of the Koran.)

Mutiara isn’t his first restaurant venture. Aung used to own Jasmine Market in Culver City but sold it about two years ago and opened Mutiara. Similarities to the former restaurant remain, but Mutiara has a deeper, more complex menu.

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