Lazy Ox Canteen, Los Angeles

lazy ox canteen

2009 is the year of the Ox, which in Asian cultures, is a symbol of prosperity through fortitude and hard work. If all goes well, the oxymoronic but catchy Lazy Ox Canteen which just open in Little Tokyo will be prosperous through the hard work and fortitude of Chef Josef Centeno (above, center) and partner Michael Cardenas. We moved to LA just as Lot 1 was getting good press but before we could even try a baco (taco-pizza-gyro hybrid), he left as a consultant to several restaurants, leavng Lot 1 in his wake. Known for his diverse tastes and cooking style, a coworker and I stopped by to try Chef Centeno’s lastest venture.

Within walking distance from the Japanese Town metro stop, we took the subway downtown and easily found the restaurant. There’s a nice patio seating about 20 and inside was an open space filled with warm wood tones, cement floors, and metal duct work which rounded out the industrial chic look. A small bar is to your left as well as an open kitchen with stone oven in full view.

lazy ox canteen

The menu is quite eclectic and diverse. No baco or suckling pig that we had hoped, but plenty of items that piqued our interests. Immediately after our orders, we were served some Peruvian cancha–roasted corn which was nicely accented with lime salt. We were able to taste a few different beers before choosing one of the 12 draft beers on tap. There’s also a selection of esoteric wines, bottled beer, sake, and shochu as well.

lazy ox canteen

Despite being opening night, the service was spot on. Our dishes arrived hot and timely. We started out with the cod brandade fritters with yuzu aioli. This was non greasy and crispy on the outside and the salted cod was tasty and flavorful. Warm and comforting. Could have eaten 5 more of these.

lazy ox canteen

Our second starter, which ranged from $5-10 or so was the Khlii (Morrocon styled beef jerky) served on a brioche with fried egg and salsa verde. Very interesting flavors. The khlii had a nice cumin flavor.

lazy ox canteen

We decide to go family style and had more small plates, which ranged from $8-18 or so. The charred octopus with pickled shallots, corona beans, garlic rapansi, and calamansi vinaigrette was our next dish. The octopus was tender and flavorful–but we just wished we had more of the grilled/charred flavor which would have made it even more spectacular.

lazy ox canteen

Next came the merguez with licorice pear, black garlic and tomatillo. Slightly spicy and packed with flavor, the merguez paired really well with the flavorful black garlic and acid of the tomatillo. We’ve never had black garlic before, but it was tasty and not overly pungent. Our favorite of the night–even though the size of the merguez can be easily finished with a bite if shared–or two if you keep it to yourself. Size does matter in this case.

lazy ox canteen

Many of their organic produce is grown specifically for the Lazy Ox Canteen by Mountain Sage Farms in Temecula. We tried the butter nut squash with Okinawan brown sugar as a side for our entree. It was a nice complement to the richness of our entree.

lazy ox canteen

Finally, we shared an entree (all are mid to low $20’s) the braised beef peleron (pot roast) with cream of wheat, kumquats and red wine. Delectable and fork tender. The sweet and sour kumquats worked perfectly with the richness of the beef.

Considering this was opening night, we left very impressed with the solid quality of the food, service, and atmosphere. Chef Centeno plans to change the menu frequently with daily blackboard specials and even weekly family style meals. With his strong history in LA and possible reintroduction of his baco as well as visions of possible of suckling pig in the stone oven, we’re sure to visit again.

Lazy Ox Canteen
241 S. San Pedro
Los Angeles
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12 Responses to “Lazy Ox Canteen, Los Angeles”

  1. 1

    Ju (The Little Teochew) — December 18, 2009 @ 10:34 am

    Wow, the food looks so good! Yum yum yummy! Glad you had a good meal there πŸ™‚

  2. 2

    The Domestic Diva — December 18, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

    OMG, I can't wait to try this place (once I'm back from holiday travel)! One of my fav farmers market suppliers is a server there and is dying for me to come! And wow, your photos are amazing! How do you get such great pictures??


  3. 3

    Ravenous Couple — December 18, 2009 @ 5:24 pm

    Ju: can't wait to see what else will be on the menu in the future..

    Jen: Have fun and safe travels! Aside from having a fast lens…my trick is to steal a bunch of candle sconces…putting it around the food–it was like we were having a seance around the food!

  4. 4

    Gastronomer — December 18, 2009 @ 6:37 pm

    I love it when RC reviews restaurants! From your words, I like the vibe at Lazy Ox quite a bit. I've never encountered a lazy ox, fyi πŸ˜‰

  5. 5

    Ravenous Couple — December 18, 2009 @ 6:45 pm

    yes, we do eat out… πŸ™‚

  6. 6

    bokehbunny — December 18, 2009 @ 7:22 pm

    Man, I missed opening night! I'm so jealous. I had other appointments, and they couldn't accommodate my party of 12 for my bf's bday today (friday 2nd day of opening) I'm definitely looking fwd to trying their plates. Thanks for the heads up and pictures on their flavors =)

  7. 7

    Bianca @southbay rants n raves — December 18, 2009 @ 8:22 pm

    It's always a good sign when the service is spot on on opening night!! Nice review!

  8. 8

    Anonymous — December 19, 2009 @ 12:39 am

    I love your pics! Just curious, I have the same camera (Xsi) what lens/settings are you using when you eat out at restaurants? thanks so much! πŸ™‚


  9. 9

    Ravenous Couple — December 19, 2009 @ 12:47 am

    bokehbunny: Have fun tonight and happy bday to the boo!

    bianca: Thanks! Really enjoyed the fact that they are very open to giving tastes for all the beers..

    Yang: I have a 30mm prime f1.4 lens. at restaurants, I bump up the iso all the way to 1600 and open up the aperture fully. Very narrow depth of field, but most of the time i'm forced to do that since it's so dim. Also, try requesting extra candles at your table. Changing the white balance to indoor/tungsten might help.

  10. 10

    Anonymous — December 19, 2009 @ 7:36 pm

    I will def have to look into a 30mm bc I have to take a step back with the 50mm (kinda embarrassing to do that while fine dining!). Thank you so much for the detailed tips! happy holidays!

    Yang πŸ™‚

  11. 11

    Fresh Local and Best — December 19, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

    The dishes are quite intriguing! I'm impressed that the restaurant sources from Mountain Sage Farms, which speaks well of the quality of ingredients. The braised beef is stunning and the grilled octopus would have been something I totally would have loved.

  12. 12

    thomasenaalicea — December 20, 2009 @ 9:05 am


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