The Scariest Dishes in Los Angeles

Deep-fried silkworms at Jitlada | Photo courtesy of Jo Stougaard, MyLastBite

We dare you to try one the 15 most frightening foods in Los Angeles. Sure, some diners have more intestinal fortitude than others, but we’ve got a variety of flavorful, visual and aromatic options that will get anyone's attention.

Veal brains at Animal | Photo by Joshua Lurie


Chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo have showcased spare parts since opening this carnivore’s delight on Fairfax in 2008. They’ve kept the space on the minimalist side, choosing to focus on food instead of decor. Sweetbreads, pig ears and tongues have all been on the menu, but those cuts are all tame compared with veal brains. Creamy lobes are floured and lightly fried, yielding crispy coats. A handful of brains join apricot puree, roasted carrots and vadouvan, earthy French curry with spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.

Kale Pache at Attari Grill | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Attari Grill

Ayla Sadaghiani, husband Mike, and his mother Parvin Sadaghiani built on the success of their Persian sandwich shop by opening this adjacent grill, which adds delectable kebabs, seafood dishes, and a seriously compelling, weekend-only soup. Kale Pache involves a vivid yellow broth bobbing with lamb parts like tongue, cheek, brain and leg, which are all impeccably cooked and dusted with cinnamon. Squeeze on lime and spoon in torshi, potent house-made pickles, to deliver enough acidity to combat all that rich meat.

Stewed hasma at Elite Restaurant | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Elite Restaurant

Fang Zhen’s Cantonese restaurant is known for producing some of the best dim sum in the San Gabriel Valley, but it’s possible to order some more unusual dishes, including Stewed Hasma, which requires special order and factors into dessert. The frog fallopian tubes, which connect the amphibian’s ovaries and uterus, resemble dust bunnies. At Elite, they tout a spongy texture and bring a surprisingly bitter finish to sweet coconut milk soup.

Deep-fried silkworms at Jitlada | Photo courtesy of Jo Stougaard, MyLastBite


Jitlada has become famous for their flavorful, incendiary southern Thai food and for the breadth of a menu that far exceeds 300 dishes, allowing for options at every adventure threshold. Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong and chef/brother Suthiporn “Tui” Sungkamee devote a whole section of their menu to “adventurous bizarre foods,” including beef pizzle soup starring cuts of cow penis and Thai herbs in a spicy lime broth. By comparison, Jitlada’s deep-fried silkworms with chiles and green onions will probably come across as relatively innocuous.

Chapulines a la Mexicana at Las 7 Regiones | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Las 7 Regiones

L.A.’s Byzantine-Latino Quarter is a hotbed for Oaxacan cuisine, and Las 7 Regiones is one of the best restaurants, with a name referring to the southern Mexican state’s seven sections. The space features orange walls, red booths and flat screen TVs, and serves one of Oaxaca’s most famous culinary exports: grasshoppers. Chapulines a la Mexicana feature crispy grasshoppers stir-fried with tomato, onion and green bell pepper. A tangy finish comes partly from a squeeze of lime, and partly from the chapulines themselves. The plate comes topped with firm, fresh cut avocado and appears with warm corn tortillas to form tacos. Spoon on fire-red salsa crafted from chile de arbol for a spicy kick.

Nana taco at Metro Balderas | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Metro Balderas Restaurant

The Highland Park link in Abraham Guzman’s Mexico City-inspired mini-chain specializes in bright orange décor and weekend-only carnitas, with cuts of pork like cuerito (skin), costilla (rib) and trompa (snout) slow-cooked in a cazo. Still, the most compelling cut is nana (uterus). Cuts of porcine tubes caramelize during the cooking process and sport small openings, like meaty macaroni. The nana taco also features minced onions and cilantro, and it’s advisable to spoon on salsa. We suggest the spicy, tangy salsa verde involving tomatillo and Serrano.

Dracula's Blood Pudding | Photo courtesy of Salt & Straw

Salt & Straw - Larchmont Village

This progressive ice cream shop from Kim Malek and chef/cousin Tyler Malek expanded from Portland to L.A., starting with Larchmont Village before taking on Venice, Studio City and the Arts District in Downtown L.A. In the spirit of Halloween, Salt & Straw is once again featuring five flavors in its October Spooktacular Series, including Dracula's Blood Pudding. For this fiendish flavor, a mix of spices and cream are cooked into actual blood pudding. Offering a hint of chicken liver, the result promises to "make you squirm with delight."

Chicken feet at Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant

Sea Harbour opened in Rosemead in 2002, building upon the chain’s initial success in China and then Vancouver in 1999. The sprawling space has white clothed tables and is best known for premium dim sum. They also deliver what may be the San Gabriel Valley’s best plate of chicken feet, which are, let’s face it, bony chicken claws. Vinegar-dressed chicken feet address a core complaint with chicken feet adverse people, the limp texture of braised skin. At Sea Harbour, feet arrive cool, with firm, tangy skin.

Anticuchos at Takatis | Photo by Joshua Lurie


Elart Coello and sister Sonia are best known for producing wood-fired chicken in their Van Nuys strip mall location, but they also produce other Peruvian specialties. For instance, anticuchos are marinated, skewered beef hearts, which Takatis plates on a bed of lettuce with potato chunks and a hominy cob, which are both native to the Andes. The tender beef has plenty of flavor after getting grilled, but you should still squeeze on house chile sauces: rocoto, aji amarillo, and aji, a green sauce starring green chile and huacatay.

Zombie at Tiki No | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Tiki No

The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows in cable television history. Honor the show’s gruesome stars by ordering a Zombie at this tiki hut with a cocktail menu that was revamped by vaunted bartenders Damian Windsor and Jason Bran. The space includes a tiki head logo with glowing red eyes flanked by huge torches, a fireplace framed by "volcanic rock," thatched roof hut decor and glowing blowfish lanterns. Tiki No’s Zombie comes in a ceramic tiki statue glass and combines three rums: DonQ Añejo, Appleton V/X and high-proof El Dorado 151 to finish. The deceptively strong drink also includes grapefruit and lime juices, and a fun garnish that combines a pink cocktail umbrella and plastic palm tree toothpick spearing cherry and orange slice. This Don the Beachcomber drink dates to the 1930s and as the story goes, was “originally concocted by Donn to help a hungover customer get through a business meeting, the man returned several days later to complain that he had been turned into a zombie for his entire trip."

Shuto at Torihei | Photo by Joshua Lurie


This restaurant from Masataka Hirai and Masakuzu Sasaki in a Torrance strip mall specializes in yakitori and Kyoto-style oden. However, the dishes run far deeper (and more intense), including Shuto, salted and fermented bonito intestines, chewy, rosy and powerfully funky, served on squares of cream cheese to help tame the intensity. If you crave oceanic innards, Torihei also serves Broiled Squid Legs Wrapped in Foil, with firm tentacles swimming in a murky brown sauce of squid guts, sake and spices.

Stinky tofu at Uncle Yu's Indian Theme Restaurant | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Uncle Yu's Indian Theme Restaurant

Su Yu Feng Yu and husband Wen Tiung Yu modeled their kitschy Taiwanese restaurant after a Taipei pub of the same name. “Sautéed odorous tofu,” aka stinky tofu announces its arrival with a nose-stinging aroma. Luckily, the crumble, tossed with breadcrumbs and scallions, tastes better than it smells. Spoon the tofu over white rice to limit the odorous effects.

Live octopus at Wassada | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Wassada Restaurant

At select Koreatown restaurants, “live” octopi squirm on plates as some people attempt to snatch the silky-outside, crunchy-inside tentacles while their tablemates look on in horror. At Ki Tae Kim’s high value seafood restaurant, the octopus is not actually “alive,” but nerves are still firing after the creature is cut, mimicking reanimation. The tentacles arrive still squirming, clinging to the plate and lettuce, served with salted sesame dipping sauce, which brings tentacles to a frenzy. Chew thoroughly, as the suction cups can have been known to cling to the mouth and throat.