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The Daily Dish Going Off the Menu

Graham Elliot and Alex Thomopoulos Find a Hidden Tiki Party, Nosh on Fresh Uni in Going Off the Menu

The chefs explore L.A.'s underground South Pacific-inspired eats.

By Maggie Shi

When chef Graham Elliot sets out to find the very best underground food in a sprawling city like Los Angeles, you know it's going to be good. In episode 4 of Going Off the Menu, the Top Chef judge heads out with chef Alex Thomopoulos in search of the best off-the-radar South Pacific-inspired eats.

First up is L.A.'s Smorgasburg, a lively open-air weekly market showcasing dozens of diverse food vendors serving up everything from grilled lobster to Peruvian tacos to Hawaiian shave ice. But Graham and Alex have their sights set on one stand—Shrimp Daddy, helmed by June Qaan. Her signature dish? Hawaiian-style garlic butter shrimp, served in a fresh pineapple boat.

"It tastes like you're in Hawaii," Alex enthused as she dug into her boat.

Next, the two head to the beach in search of the freshest uni in town—literally. Diver Matt, aka @venicebeachbum, harvests sea urchin from the ocean, then hosts super casual, impromptu uni parties right on the beach. Graham and Alex arrive just in time: Matt cracks open a fresh urchin shell and digs out the sweet, briny meat. He serves it in a simple hand roll with nothing more than nori, rice, and some slices of avocado.

Diver Matt prepares a fresh uni nori roll

"People like the farmers' market, farm to table. This is like sea to table, right out of that water," Graham said, gesturing to the crashing waves.

"I love that nori is so simple, light, clean, it really accents that natural sweet flavor of the uni," he added after biting into his roll.

To top things off, Graham and Alex stop by an over-the-top pop-up tiki party called Coconut Club, complete with flaming drinks, Polynesian-inspired eats, flowered leis, and live entertainment. The two drink a tequila-based cocktail out of a fiery pineapple, feast on coffee-crusted steak skewers, and participate in a tiki "ritual," complete with singing and joined hands.

"You introduced me to a world I never knew existed in L.A.," Alex said as she toasted Graham.’s digital series Going Off the Menu takes viewers on an exclusive culinary adventure as host Graham Elliot uncovers the most delicious offerings within Los Angeles’ underground food scene. From a secret supper club serving smuggled cheeses to an eight-course liquid dinner, join Lance Bass, Cheryl Burke, Reza Farahan, and more as they give fans the secrets to unlock these extraordinary food experiences.

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