One way you know you’re an adult is that you develop a strange desire to host dinner parties. Preferably in the backyard of the home you (want to) own, complete with string lights, artfully decorated picnic tables, and complicated salads. A dinner party that says to your friends “I’ve got my life together, as you can see from this four-layer cake I made.” But until you do, in fact, get your life together, there’s Wolfdown.
This vaguely Asian-inspired spot in Silver Lake is inside a raised bungalow house overlooking Rowena Avenue in Silver Lake, and it’s design-magazine beautiful. The inside feels like the nicest open-plan kitchen you’ve ever seen, with a bar that could double as a kitchen counter in a Diane Keaton movie. But Wolfdown’s side patio is the true star. This is a place to come with a group of friends, order a lot of wine, eat a bunch of food, and celebrate successes such as doing the dishes in your sink after two days, not three.
More than anything you put in your mouth, a meal at Wolfdown is all about that backyard dinner party vibe. But the menu is (like every other restaurant in Los Angeles at the moment) designed for sharing, and the general Asian theme comes out in things like brussels sprouts with chilli oil, a giant chicken and shrimp dumpling, and ramen-ish noodles (plus a very-not-Asian patatas bravas thrown in there too). You’ll pass the good-sized plates of food around the table and talk about how good everything tastes, but you probably won’t remember much about it the next day.
Which, in the end, actually doesn’t matter. You’re not here for a life-changing meal - you’re here to hang out with your friends in a place that has better seating options than the four mismatched chairs in your apartment. You’ll have a good dinner at Wolfdown (especially if you order the Korean Fried Chicken) and if you live in the area, you’ll come back again. Or maybe just move in and start telling everyone you live here. It’s the adult thing to do.
A soup is an odd thing to serve at a restaurant where they go out of their way to tell you that dishes are served family-style. Sure, it’s a big bowl of soup, but when there’s four of you clanging spoons and leaning over one bowl, things get weird. The onion-y, creamy soup itself is fine, but not worth the general awkwardness.
These are some good sprouts, mostly due to the presence of crispy chicken skin.
Our favorite dishes at Wolfdown are the ones that are a little weird, like this creamy coconut rice served with oil-cured vegetables. Which seems to just be a fancy way to say pickled vegetables. It’s a lot to eat as a dish on it’s own - the flavors can meld together, and the serving is pretty giant - but it’s good as a shared side for the table.
Note the singular - this is a single giant, gingery chicken and shrimp dumpling with a lot of green things on top. This is one of the better things here.
With a mayo to squid ratio that leans heavily in the mayo’s favor, you’ll probably be into this, as long as you get a bit of everything on your fork. It’s a solid way to start.
Do not leave Wolfdown without getting the huge plate of the crunchy, sticky fried chicken. You get a choice of spicy chili or soy honey butter to cover your chicken, and you definitely should go for the chili.
It could be the huge blob of spiky meringue, it could be the chocolate cookie underneath, but it’s probably the sour yuzu sherbet in the middle. Save room.