Solid Fusion at a Premium - Chef David Chang's Majordomo Arrives in L.A. [Thoughts + Pics]

Update 2:

We were really excited to try the Roasted Duck Rice that some folks were talking about, so we headed off to Majordomo for a revisit.

Cultured Butter and Honey Bing:

One of our favorite flavor variations on the Bing Bread appetizer, we noticed something was off when we tried to spread some of the Cultured Butter onto the Bing and noticed… it wasn’t melting. :angry: We then picked up the Bing and noticed it was lukewarm / cold. :cry:

We waved to our server and pointed out the problem, asking if he could have the kitchen give us an actual freshly made / hot Bing Bread instead. He offered no apology and simply said, “I’ll go check.” And left. :expressionless:

After about 10 minutes he finally shows up again with a replacement Bing (which was piping hot), but with no apology and no replacement of our Cultured Butter (we spread a big chunk of it onto the lukewarm / cold Bing from earlier). We ended up scraping it off and applying to the new Bing Bread but our server clearly didn’t notice nor care.

Pork Neck and Spicy Pineapple Bing:

This was a better experience with freshly made Bing, piping hot. The actual Pork Neck and Pineapple was the kitchen’s attempt at a pseudo-Al Pastor preparation, except it’s just not as satisfying as a great Leo’s Al Pastor Taco fresh carved from the trompo.

Sugar Snap Peas (Lemon Vinaigrette, Horseradish):

I was really excited to see the Sugar Snap Peas with Horseradish added back on the menu. They were one of the highlights of Majordomo during its opening weeks and my and @PorkyBelly’s favorite (along with a few other dishes). :wink: Sadly these were just OK:

It lacked the spark, the vibrant burst of flavor that made the Grand Opening version so great. It was fine, but it felt like a facsimile of the OG version; just less zesty, less exciting. :frowning: Perhaps it was the kitchen staff this evening?

Stuffed Peppers (Benton’s Sack Sausage, Buttermilk):

One look at the dark greyish hue and you can tell that this was oil-saturated and fried poorly. :frowning: Taking a bite, it was greasy, but the inside Sausage mixture was flavorful and tasty.

Roasted Duck Crispy Rice (Foie Gras, Citrus, Dates):

(Note: This visit was just as the Foie Gras ban was put in place.)

Their Roasted Duck Crispy Rice appeared and we couldn’t wait!

This turned out to be surprisingly boring and one note. :sob: The Roasted Duck was cooked a medium rare (as seen in the pics), the Duck Skin was not crispy at all (flabby). There was clearly a nice “socarrat” / crispy, crunchy Rice (that was fantastic!), but the Duck Broth they poured in and flavors were mainly just salty, a rather straightforward poultry flavor and not that good. :cry:

We were devastated because this was talked about so much.

I’m chalking it up to an off night from the kitchen (and perhaps their Chef de Cuisine was out?). After all, so many dishes this evening were flawed: The Bing arrived cold. The Stuffed Peppers were definitely fried wrong and oil saturated / greasy, and this Duck Rice dish felt like it should’ve been great, but the Broth was really salty that they poured in, and the flavors were just basic / one note.

Sadly the Foie Gras couldn’t save it: It just added more Fat and heaviness and made the entire dish feel really excessive. I couldn’t finish 1 bowl of this. :frowning:

Another visit:

On this visit, we noticed Majordomo replaced the phenomenal Benton’s Reserve Ham with something new called “Lady Edison Ham.”

Lady Edison Ham + Bing:

Taking a bite… salty, an unappetizing funkiness and more one note than Benton’s Reserve Ham. And it was more expensive ($21 vs. $17 for Benton’s). :sob:

When we asked the server, she replied back saying that the kitchen staff felt the Lady Edison Ham was a superior product with better taste, so they swapped it. Uhm… :expressionless:

Egg and Smoked Roe + Bing:

Much better! Their Egg and Smoked Roe was as delicious as before, and the Bing Bread arrived piping hot, freshly off the griddle. :blush:

Cultured Butter + Honey + Black Truffle + Bing:

They featured their amazing Cultured Butter and Honey with Black Truffle on this visit, and it was as phenomenal as it sounded! :heart: Incredible deep Black Truffle flavor, mixed with the Cultured Butter and Honey on top of a toasty, hot Bing Bread. 2nd favorite dish of the evening. :blush:

Mafaldine (Dungeness Crab, Bread Crumbs, Lemon):

This was a huge disappointment. It felt like Majordomo’s staff was trying to bite off of Republique’s phenomenal Malfadine Pasta with Lobster, but using Crab instead. In terms of execution (slightly overcooked Pasta), flavor (oceanic, salt), and overall enjoyment, Chef Walter Manzke’s Mafaldine at Republique blows this away. Completely. It’s not even close.

And it’s not even that they use Dungeness Crab (which I actually like more than Lobster). The Dungeness Crab used here tasted muted, dull and like it was not fresh-cooked to order (which makes sense for most restaurants that are busy, it’s easier for them to pre-cook a bunch of Crab ahead of time, and refrigerate / use when necessary).

But when you charge $40(!) for this Pasta, it better be freshly made (which it wasn’t). Cotogna (Michelin 3 Star Quince’s sister restaurant) served an absolutely STUNNING Taglierini Neri Dungeness Crab Pasta, where they cook Dungeness Crabs fresh to order, de-shell it and put it into the Pasta, and the taste was night and day! Cotogna’s fresh Dungeness Crab Pasta was one of the greatest Pasta dishes we had that year(!), and Majordomo’s? Total disappointment. :frowning_face:

(Special) Uni Spaghetti:

They were featuring a special this evening, serving an Uni Spaghetti (which I adore usually!), so this was a must order.

Ruined by Bad Uni. :sob:

The Uni used here was like bad sewage ocean water, having that long, unpleasant aftertaste that only old Uni (Sea Urchin) can impart. It was so disappointing. :cry:

Fried Romanesco (Fish Sauce Vinaigrette, Red Onion, Cilantro):

This was tasty, perfect balance of umami, savory and sweet with a nice pungent Fish Sauce accenting the Romanesco. :slight_smile:

Whole Plate Short Rib (Smoked Bone-In APL-Style Ribs. Served with Beef Rice, Shiso, Rice Paper, Ssamjang & Condiments):

Thankfully the evening was salvaged by their Whole Plate Short Ribs, Smoked APL-Style. Visually impressive, carved tableside, the whole dish is almost theatrical, but rightfully so for how good they are.

Taking a bite… As smoky, tender, luscious, decadent and gloriously awesome as before! :heart: :blush: :heart:

One minor quibble: The server who carves it matters. We noticed that the cuts were HUGE this time, compared to our last time we had it. In fact, we saw the server who carved our Whole Plate Ribs from last time, carving for another table, and their slices came out half the size of ours (so more individual pieces, smaller bites). This was still mouth-wateringly delicious, but definitely a bit thicker (still very tender even with larger pieces).

The one flaw with this dish are the mediocre Kimchi:

They are adequate at best, but pales in comparison to similar Kimchi found at many of the mom-and-pop Korean restaurants around K-Town just minutes away. :frowning: The basic Napa Kimchi lacks any of the depth of flavor of fresh or long fermented Kimchi. It’s like it was made by staff that doesn’t understand the soul of making great Kimchi (@JeetKuneBao and others could probably taste the difference immediately).

But even with that weakness, the Whole Plate Short Ribs are still awesome, and you can gnaw on the Beef Rib Bones if you so desire. :wink: :sweat_smile:

Beef Fat Rice:

And the server takes back some of the Whole Plate Rib meat and Beef Fat to make a Beef Fat Rice, as usual. :open_mouth: :smile:

Despite adding in a bunch of Lemon Zest and Horseradish, this is still a very decadent finishing course. It has incredible lush flavors (it’s pure Beef Fat and some meat), but it’s very rich. :heart: :sweat_smile:
As delicious as the flavors were, I couldn’t finish 1 bowl of the Rice (that’s how rich and fatty it is). But the few bites I had were still so satisfying. :blush:

Brunch Visit:

Majordomo has recently started their Brunch program, so we wanted to see how it compared with their Dinner menu.

During our 1st visit for Brunch, they laid out an impressive looking display of Seafood on ice. Sadly, since then, it has been removed on subsequent visits. :frowning:

Bloody Mary (Aylesbury Duck Vodka, Tomato, Kimchi, Ssamjang, Smoked Short Rib Fat, Sesame):

Yes, that is not a typo, apparently the bartenders decided to use their Smoked Short Rib Fat in their Bloody Mary! :open_mouth: :sweat:

I couldn’t really taste it (thankfully), but even without it, this was just an average Bloody Mary at best. Overwhelmed by Kimchi and Ssamjang Sauce flavors (I guess they’re trying to channel a “Korean” vibe?), this was just very spicy and tasted like you were sipping Liquid Kimchi mixed with a version of Gochujang Sauce with Vodka… :nauseated_face:

Oysters (Half Dozen) (Meyer Lemon Ponzu):

Majordomo’s Oyster menu addition reflects one of the primary problems I have with Majordomo in general. While Chef David Chang might have wowed New Yorkers years ago with his Momofuku restaurants, and “introducing” Korean and Asian flavors to a particular group of New York restaurant goers, L.A. of 2019 is a much different place.

If Chef Chang is going to be offering Oysters at Majordomo, he and the staff have to realize that L.A. has a strong Oyster and Fresh Seafood game. Majordomo offers only 1 type of Oyster - Beausoleils (New Brunswick).

It is served with only 1 type of condiment already pre-added onto the Oysters, a Meyer Lemon Ponzu Vinaigrette. Which is completely one note and boring: Savory-sour flavor dominates every single Oyster, overpowering each one. :sob:

They serve the Oysters with No Utensils, No Other Choices for Condiments (No Mignonette, etc.). There was also a piece of shell (from poor shucking) in 2 of the Oysters.

Suffice to say it is hamfisted, clumsy, and an absolute joke (I don’t use this term lightly) compared to Chef Michael Cimarusti’s Connie & Ted’s (and pretty much every single other decent restaurant in L.A. offering fresh Oysters).

Seafood Cocktail (Shrimp, Mussels, Kanpachi, Kimchi, Avocado, Saltines):

This was the best dish we had on this 1st Brunch visit: The Shrimp, Mussels and Kanpachi were all fresh-tasting, and the Kimchi flavoring worked (instead of the usual Ceviche flavorings). However, about halfway through this dish, my palate grew tired of the Kimchi flavor. Because that’s all there was: Kimchi and its tart spiciness.

Compared to Ceviche, it lacks the brightness, the zing of citrus, the fragrant heat from fresh Chilies, zestiness from Onions, etc.

Kimchi Bok Choy & Pear:

This tasted like Fresh Bok Choy slathered in a basic Kimchi seasoning. The Bok Choy was not fermented (at all), and was very crisp and raw(!). :expressionless:

Double Fried Chicken Served Two Ways (With Pickles, Bing Rolls & Condiments):

With our love for Fried Chicken and the search for greatness, we had to order this version to see what it was like compared to other Fried Chicken offerings around L.A.

Majordomo offers 2 types of Fried Chicken (served on the same plate), we started with the plain, Non-Spicy Fried Chicken:

First, looking at the outer batter already tells you what you might be in for. It is a thick, barely crunchy batter, that’s rather oily.

Looking at a cross-section (above) and you can see the unrendered Chicken Fat and Skin underneath the crust. :frowning: :nauseated_face:

This was just awful Fried Chicken! Avoid at all costs (@TheCookie @Ns1 and others). :frowning:

The Spicy Fried Chicken didn’t fare any better: Sort of the staff’s homage to Korean Fried Chicken, with a sticky, spicy sauce coating each bite, it resulted in soggy Fried Chicken that had some immediate heat, but was again, pretty poorly fried. :sob: Awful.

Their condiments didn’t help (made it worse). :frowning:

The best part of this dish was their Bing Roll: Basically they took their Bing Bread, and made a Dinner Roll version out of it, baking it fresh to order, so it arrived piping hot. It was quite tasty, but considering this dish was $35 for less than half a Chicken it’s terrible QPR. The worst in the city.

(Note: They have since removed the Large $50 version. Brunch only features this smaller version.)

We were so disappointed with this, we drove off and revisited 77 Kentucky in K-Town, and Kyochon, and both of those Korean Fried Chicken offerings were far better than Majordomo’s version, and at a fraction of the price.

2nd Brunch Visit:

We were hoping Brunch might improve, so we stopped in again for another Brunch Visit.

First thing to note is that they’ve removed a bunch of items from the OG Brunch Menu, and added some Dinner items instead.

Gone is the $95 Caviar (which feels out of place). The Seafood Boil is removed as well. All of the “Large” versions of the protein dishes are gone.

They’ve added the Dinner menu’s Stuffed Peppers, Peas, Fried Skate Rice, and Bing, except sadly, you’re forced to order it as a “Bing Board” only for $32, featuring 3 of their flavors in a large board format.

Sugar Snap Peas (Lemon Vinaigrette, Horseradish):

Sadly, this was just like our previous visit: They have changed the recipe, or the Chefs on Brunch and our previous visit couldn’t properly execute the OG version during the Grand Opening period. This was fine, but it lacked that last bit of “punch” and extra flavor twist to elevate this to greatness. Instead, it tasted merely of Sugar Snap Peas and Horseradish.

Jumeokbap (Shrimp, Spicy Mayo, Cucumber, Sesame):

First, we were so excited to see them add back their Jumeokbap! This homely Korean dish was one of the highlights of Majordomo during its Grand Opening period. Essentially you get a big bowl of Steamed Rice and various ingredients and you mix it all up yourself (they provide a plastic glove) and you make your own Rice Balls. :slight_smile:

Apparently they said this will be for Brunch Only.

Sadly, like the Sugar Snap Peas, the current staff screwed this up! :frowning: They messed with the formula: They added Shrimp and Spicy Mayo (way too much Spicy Mayo), removed the Avocado and Pickled Radish, and what you’re left with is this vaguely “Crazy Roll / Sushi” shell of its former self. :sob: It’s fine, but it’s not the amazing, delicious simplicity of the OG Grand Opening version. At this point @JeetKuneBao’s recommended Jumeokbap specialist in K-Town (which is far simpler and more homely) is better than Majordomo’s version. :frowning:

Grilled Whole Striped Bass (Sichuan Black Bean Sauce, Ginger Scallion, Ssam):

The best thing on the Brunch menu by far would have to be their Grilled Striped Bass. It arrives in a visually stunning presentation, the whole Striped Bass Fish splayed out.

It is nicely cooked on the inside, with the Striped Bass meat being flaky and moist, and lightly smoky. :slight_smile:

However, it’s not as good as Chef Wes Avila’s amazing Wood Fired Grilled Whole Fish special he’s running at Guerrilla Tacos right now, as the Fish Skin here at Majordomo is rather flabby in parts and chewy (inedible).

Also the Condiments are starting to show a pattern here. These condiments are basically 2 of the offerings from the mediocre ~$100+ Hainan Chicken Rice (Whole Boiled Chicken) dish Chef Chang serves during Dinner. The Sichuan Black Bean Sauce was already overpowering the Chicken at night, and here with an even lighter, more delicate Striped Bass? It totally overpowers the Fish. :frowning:

The Ginger Scallion Sauce is fine, but it feels a bit out of place, like a poor man’s (or ignorant representation) of Hong Kong Steamed Fish (using Green Onions, Ginger and Special Fish Soy Sauce), but only here it’s basically their Hainan Chicken Sauce reused for Brunch. :expressionless:

The last one is a Fish Sauce (rather basic), and they even threw on some Vietnamese Herbs on top. It’s like some weird amalgamation of wanna-be Chinese and/or Vietnamese with an American Grilled Fish sensibility thrown in for good measure.

Grilled Dduk Galbi (Lemon Rice, Kimchi Egg, Condiments):

I thought the Oysters was the most obtuse, hamfisted representation of Chef David Chang and his staff’s cooking at Majordomo, but their Dduk Galbi might be an even better example:

This is their take on Middle Eastern Kabobs mixed with Korean ingredients, sort of, using ground up Galbi (Beef Short Rib used in Korean BBQ).

It looks delicious, but the actual flavor of the Kabob? Salty, basic, pseudo-watered-down “Middle Eastern-ish” spice blend.

But the worst part are the Condiments (above): They offer a Lemon Garlic Yogurt-based Sauce (perhaps their take on Labneh, except it’s not as good), and a Serrano Chili Sauce mixed with Oil (like a Chinese Ginger Scallion Sauce). And they have their Korean-esque Lettuce Wraps, Kimchi, and a Bing Bread as well.

If you stick with just 1 flavor, the Grilled Kabob meat is OK: The Grilled Kabob Meat with the Garlic Yogurt is decent (but lacking the punch from better versions around town). But accidentally add the Galbi Kabob with the Garlic Yogurt and Kimchi on a Bing?


And you get disaster! :nauseated_face: It was just gross.

It’s like the kitchen staff is just running amok, thinking they’ll throw some Kimchi! and Yogurt Sauce! and a Bing! and Lettuce Wraps used for traditional Korean dishes! and a Middle Eastern-ish Ground Kabob (using Galbi) on top of Lemon Rice!

It feels like there’s no careful thinking behind the composition of this dish other than trying to throw a bunch of things together and see if they can fool the L.A. natives into thinking this is something “new” and “hip” and “innovative” (and sadly they have for some).

Another Visit:

Fried Cauliflower (Fish Sauce Vinaigrette, Red Onion, Cilantro):

Very good. Like the Romanesco version, the Fried Cauliflower works perfectly with with this punch of savory-sweet Fish Sauce and Onions. :slight_smile:

Lady Edison Ham + Bing:

We wanted to give this another try. It’s even worse than before: The Lady Edison Ham on this evening has a distinct barnyard funk in every bite. :nauseated_face: It is really unpleasant. :frowning:

There’s no way someone in the kitchen could think this was better than their Benton Reserve Ham from their OG menu (which was outstanding).

Duck Liver Mousse + Bing:

Delicious! Thanks to @PorkyBelly for the recommendation, this was creamy, satisfying and I love the Fruit Jelly side, like a decadent PB&J in a way. :wink:

Smoked Lamb Crispy Rice (Asparagus, Peas, Ramps):

The replacement for the Roasted Duck Crispy Rice, the new dish is Smoked Lamb with Crispy Rice. This was more enjoyable for us than the Roasted Duck (but note that our 1 time trying the Roasted Duck Crispy Rice was a disappointment).

The Smoked Lamb had more depth of flavor, very smoky, tender morsels of Lamb, but it felt like the portion of the Lamb might’ve been a little bit less. However, it was quite tasty, albeit a touch salty.

The English Peas and Asparagus helped to liven things up. :slight_smile: Definitely worth a try.

Fried Skate (Rice, Chili Sauce, Egg):

Their Fried Skate was very crispy-crunchy and moist. The Rice wasn’t really a “Fried Rice” and was very moist, but together with the Fried Skate it worked well. :slight_smile:

Service was really mixed during these last 5 visits: On some visits, we had good service with our water and drinks refilled, and plates were cleaned and removed. On other visits (3 of them), service was borderline awful: No refills on our water. Our server checked in on us only twice after taking our order, and we had to try and flag down busboys / other servers to get plates cleaned or extra napkins.

When we ate the Striped Bass (with bones and bits on our plate getting full), we had our server literally stop by, look at our plates and us, and drop off a side dish and proceed to leave. We had to quickly call out to her and ask if she could please give us new plates. Just oblivious.

Majordomo feels like it’s regressed in some ways. There are still standouts like the Bing Bread (when it’s hot), with Cultured Butter or with Roe, (but the switch from Benton’s Reserve Ham to Lady Edison Ham is a total downgrade,) and their amazing Whole Plate Short Ribs smoked APL Style are still a must order and one of the best bites we’ve had this year! :slight_smile:

But you have major misses like the Mafaldine Pasta (mediocre at best compared to Republique and other Pasta maestros), the disastrous Uni Spaghetti, not to mention their overpriced, bad interpretations of “Galbi Jjim” (Boneless Chuck Short Rib), the “Hainan Chicken Rice” (Boiled Whole Chicken) that will cost you $100, and then you get to their mediocre Brunch:

Awful Fried Chicken, one note Oysters, a downgraded Jumeokbap, forgettable Grilled Dduk Galbi “Kabobs” that have a too many disparate condiments that can lead to gross results (do not mix certain condiments together or you may regret it), and you have to wonder what’s going on for this menu. (@TheCookie you were asking about Brunch? I would recommend many other places over this.)

Majordomo can still provide some great dinners if you choose wisely. I love their Cultured Butter and Bing, their Egg Roe and Bing are still wonderful as well. Certain vegetable side dishes are still solid, and of course their APL Smoked Whole Plate Short Ribs will rock your world. But stray from the hits? And you could end up with an overpriced, mediocre meal.

1725 Naud St.
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
Tel: (323) 545-4880