1/03/2013 01:54:00 PM

Best Thing We Ate: Alma's Tofu and Seaweed Beignets

We were one of those people who had to warm up to tofu. The squishy, flavorless soy product just wasn't always in our grindhouse. But once we started eating and exploring all the various ways chefs use it (the first time we had Morihiro Onodera's silky fresh tofu at Mori Sushi will forever be a milestone), we absolutely adore it. So it's no surprise that our eyes gravitated to the tofu and seaweed beignets at Alma restaurant in Downtown LA (one of the hottest newcomers of 2012) on a recent visit. There's a lot to love about this place: the clean lines and minimalist decor, the young guns running the show, but especially chef Ari Taymor's fresh take on California cuisine.

The menu's small so our eyes (and taste buds) of course wanted everything, but these light little tofu fritters were a perfect way to kick off a wonderful dinner. The dab of yuzo kosho aïoli was just enough, and we loved the plating on a ceramic tile. The young chef has a light touch with his ingredients, so there's subtle yet full-impact flavors. It was a toss up between these and the cornmeal-crusted oysters served in lettuce cups for the winning bites of the night, but these won out by a speck of nori. PS: While it's always fun to take your own beer or wine to a restaurant, Alma is slated to get it's license any day now.

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