Humble Potato: The Day After
I’ve read some mixed reviews about Humble Potato, but nearly all of the negative ones were focused on the opening night, when the wait for food occasionally crossed the hour mark, and some of what came out of the kitchen were not ideally prepped (cold buns, unmelted cheese, etc). Fortunately, most people seemed willing to chalk it up to the overwhelming crowds that night (apparently at one point 75 people arrived at the same time) and said they would give HP a second chance in the future. I sincerely hope they do, because the meal I had the day after opening night was quite good.
I arrived just before 2 PM and parked at the lot to the north of the establishment. Several of the staff, all decked out in black Hambaga t-shirts greeted me brightly. The space was quite open, with tables lining the main wall on the left, and the half-wall separating the kitchen from the dining room. A row of stools under a counter at the front window rounded out the seating. The decor is clean yet mildly kitschy, with Japanese knicknacks and toys on shelves above the half-wall. The bathroom had some cute posters inside.
I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted, having perused the menu online the day before, so I approached the counter and placed my order for a Battle Royale (burger), Shichimi & Garlic Parmesan Fries, and HP Jasmine Iced Tea.
The iced tea came out first. Even though jasmine is mentioned in the name, the tea was a little more fragrant, almost perfumy, than I’d prefer. It also tasted slightly sweetened. Not bad at all, but not what I was expecting. If you like hot jasmine tea, you should like the iced tea. If you like more straight unsweetened black or green tea, you might want to ask for a sample first.
The burgers and fries came out in short order:
The Battle Royale (presumably named after the Japanese novel/film that has a similar premise to, but pre-dates, The Hunger Games series) is described on the menu as “Organized chaos! fresh Angus beef, ‘fried egg-splosive’, avocado, romaine, thick cut tomato, onion, Applewood smoked bacon, HP spicy sauce”.
It was quite a tall stack of food and properly messy to eat. The ingredients all tasted very fresh, and well balanced. The patty was cooked medium-medium-rare. The “filler” vegetables (lettuce, tomato, onion) did not bulk the burger up unnecessarily. The slices of avocado were generous. The bacon did not hog (sorry) the palate. The thing that tied it all together was the sauce. It just seasoned the entire burger really well, imparting a solid kick of flavor (and a milder kick of heat). Reviewing a Japanese-influenced eatery, I feel obligated to use the word umami at least once, and I’ll firmly affix that description to the sauce.
The Shichimi & Garlic Parmesan Fries, despite the name promising some bold flavors, couldn’t quite compete with the burger. The fries themselves were decent, but the seasoning was not as balanced as the burger. The idea’s definitely interesting, mixing tried-and-true parmesan and garlic with shichimi togarashi (seven flavor chili pepper).
However, I think the fries I had suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. The garlic and parmesan was not very apparent in the taste. I’m sure I’d miss the flavors if they were removed, but they got lost in the shichimi. On the other hand, I really wanted more shredded nori on the fries, but if they’re part of the shichimi mix, I could see how that might overseason the dish. The spicy dipping sauce overwhelmed the flavors in the fries, so I didn’t use much of it.
Overall I was impressed with the burger and quite happy with my meal. I would definitely come back to try some of the other items on the menu. The Koke Kokko sounds interesting; apparently the chicken is triple-ground. The curry fries (with a fried egg on top) will most likely be the next side I try there.
8321 Lincoln Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90045