In this new Q&A series, we’re taking you inside the kitchen to learn more about the chefs preparing some of the most extraordinary dishes in our favorite West Hollywood restaurants.
“I think that the food scene at the moment is really amazing. People are interested in where the chef is from, how they learned to cook, and the journey they’ve been through to get to their restaurants.” – Chef Louis Tikaram of E.P. & L.P.
E.P. is an Asian eating house with Thai roots that incorporates Chinese, Fijian and Vietnamese flavors, blending them with the freshest California produce. The perfect menu to dine family style and explore all the classic flavors of southeast Asia. The L.P. rooftop bar serves Asian-inspired street food and hand-crafted cocktails with the best views of the Hollywood Hills and Los Angeles.
Chef Louis Tikaram is known for creating dishes with big flavors while putting a modern spin on traditional dishes. He grew up in Australia but was able to explore his Fijian and Chinese heritage through cooking. We talked to Chef Louis about what has inspired his cooking from childhood memories to living in Los Angeles.
What is unique about the restaurant & the dishes you serve?
E.P. is really unique because we serve traditional southeast Asian cuisine in a modern setting. You can have a really great recipe, like the vegetable curry, that you can have with a really great glass of wine or a really cool take on a cocktail. We’re bringing the modern flavors of southeast Asia into a really cool environment.
How did you end up in West Hollywood?
I like to say that I didn’t find West Hollywood–West Hollywood really found me. When we opened, I didn’t understand the magnitude of how well my cuisine fit the clientele in West Hollywood, where I brought a ton of vegetarian and vegan options to the menu, with really minimal gluten, dairy, and added sugars. I always knew West Hollywood was focused around good quality food and healthy living, and that was really a draw to West Hollywood for us.
What’s your earliest memory of cooking?
My earliest memory of cooking was with my grandmother in Fiji probably when I was about 6 or 7. I used to pick the coconuts and scrape them and hand squeeze the coconut cream that we used to make Kokoda with–which is on the menu at E.P. at the moment.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a chef?
Definitely not long after I cooked with grandma and I learned a few more dishes. I saw the look on people’s faces when we used to put out dinner and everything we’ve been prepping through the day, and the appreciation and the wow factor… That’s when I really fell in love and wanted to cook and open a restaurant.
What’s your specialty dish?
Well, some say I’m the king of curry. I think it’s definitely all the handmade curry paste and the spices. The results are just incomparable when making a curry from scratch and serving it in the restaurant. I definitely think my curries are the standout on the menu.
It’s your off day and you’re feeling lazy, what do you prepare at home?
With my wife and daughter, we love dumplings. Whenever we go out to the San Gabriel Valley, we buy frozen dumplings just to snack on. When we’ve been out all day or we’ve been at the beach and we‘ve just gone home, we just put the steamer on the stove and we have them with some steamed broccoli or some vegetables.
What dish would you like to add to your restaurant’s menu?
Another dish that my Fijian-Chinese grandma used to always cook is Yuba, which is actually the beautiful skin that comes off the top of the tofu. It has a really amazing texture, it’s almost like a pasta noodle texture. I really want to try to incorporate it to a dish on the menu–A perfect kind of spring item that is fresh and very healthy. It’s a great protein substitute for vegans and vegetarians. I think I would have a lot of fun with that.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?
I definitely love working in gardens, but not necessarily with vegetables. I have a big succulent garden at home. Maybe [I would be] like a landscaper or florist because I love being outdoors.
What would you say is the importance of food in our culture?
I think that now we have so much more awareness of people’s stories, where they’re from, and what culture they’re from. Basically–helping tell stories of people’s lives through food. I think that the food scene at the moment is really amazing. People are interested in where the chef is from, how they learned to cook, and the journey they’ve been through to get to their restaurants. I really think that it’s thanks to the customer for encouraging us to tell our stories. It’s a great moment for chefs to tell their stories and really show it on their menus.
How has being in California shaped your food sourcing practices?
Being in California and having the richness of the produce that I serve in the restaurant has been a really important journey for me. I just love to promote produce like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, galangal, turmeric, brussels sprouts and kale. Using the produce that’s grown here has definitely shaped my menu so I to try to promote these ingredients as much as possible.
E.P. & L.P. Eating House and Rooftop
603 La Cienega Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069