Friday, May 7, 2010

Libra by the Pound-A Popular Brazilian Style Service Weighs In on the Culver City Scene+ Dinner for 2 Giveaway

On April 15th, I attended a hosted blogger event at the New Culver City Brazilian restaurant, Libra by the Pound. The restaurant is owned by Marcelo Ahn, who also owns the churrascaria, M Grill. Marcelo is part of the very active Korean-Brazilian restaurateurs here in Los Angeles.

This makes two restaurants in this style, the por kilo(by the kilo) service that is found about every six blocks or so in EVERY city in Brazil. This is where many Brazilians spend their afternoons, a break from the hectic trading day at the BOVESPA, or a saturday mid-day fueling before hitting the bars later on in Vila Madalena, Sao Paulo.

The clever disguise of Libra, the Portuguese word for pound, reflects our unyielding resistance to the metric system. The food here is weighed and you pay by the pound for the salad bar only, or a higher price for the salad bar plus Brazilian barbeque.

But, this isn't a churrascaria.The por kilo is one of the fine Brazilian buffet sorts where one can have fresh, and delicious home cooking. Brazilians have much more regard and pride in their various buffet styles, so buffets are a good thing when it come to Brazilian restaurants.

The recipes for Libra by the Pound are from Sao Paulo native, Carolina Teich. Carolina graduated from the Pasadena branch of the Cordon Bleu in 1990, and worked at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey, and M Grill before Libra.

There is a recipe for a dish on the hallway for the restrooms titled feijao tropeiro, trooper's beans, a definitive dish in the cuisine of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. A tribute to her favorite regional Brazilian cuisine. I asked her is there was a particular por kilo that she modeled Libra after and she described a Minas Gerais style por kilo in Sao Paulo."Do you mean A Mineira?", I grinned."Yes!"

There are nearly 40 hot and cold items in the salad bar to choose from and a selection of 5 meats from the Brazilian barbeque.

Some staples to be found at every por kilo are beans, rice, cheese bread, and fried bananas. The cheese bread was very soft and tasty, just make sure to move it on that line before it cools and begins to harden.

And, whatever you do, don't pass over the beans and rice as fluff, they are the mark of a good Brazilian chef, and a perfect pairing with your churrasco. Fortunately, Carolina knows her beans and rice.

There are usually a gaggle of these various mayo salads, pronounced mai-yo-NAY-zee in Portuguese. Caro makes a more California version of this dish, lighter, and all you need is one. But, I won't protest if she throws in a few more. No one comes back to the table without one of these in Brazil.

The classic hearts of palm salad is a refreshing remedy for homesick Brazilians.

At the barbeque station you can choose from 5 meats including picanha(sirloin cap), Brazilian sauage, and garlic chicken. I enjoyed my sausage and the picanha, but had my eye on Liz's garlic chicken. Luckily, her husband was too stuffed to finish it off. It turned out to be my favorite, tender chicken, with enough garlic and juiciness to receive a nod of approval.

Remember, Brazilian meats are to be eaten with condiments, so grab some vinagrette, chimichurri, or yucca flour. Yucca flour is a poular table condiment in Brazil. This is the manioc meal that's used to make farofa. Dine the Brazilian way and sprinkle the yucca flour on your beans, the sauced dishes, and even your on your meats.

My full plate and a Brazilian Guarana soda came to a little over $12, a great deal for the Culver City area. This is a place to stop before catching a movie on the weekends, and a quick and delicious lunch for the local business crowd.

From salads, to Asian dishes, an acknowlegement of Carolina's Korean heritage, to hot items, the requisite Italian plates that represent their influence on Sao Paulo's cuisine, to churrasco, to the simple comfort of beans and rice, Libra has it all. Feijao tropeiro wasn't there that night, but I'm hoping I'll come across it one of these times.

Libra by the Pound offers freshness, with natural ingredients at a reasonable price. Keep an eye out for the occasional specialties Carolina might be throwing in the mix, too. You just might be noshing on a rare plate that you will only find here in the homes of Los Angeles Brazilians. This restaurant is an excellent addition to the Culver City dining scene, and marks the entry of yet another fine Brazilian restaurant to the ever expanding gallery of eateries in LA's Little Brazil.

Libra by the Pound
3833 Main Street
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 202-1300

Win a complimentary dinner for two at Libra!!!

You can enter two ways.

1. Leave a comment and tell me where's the coolest place you'd like to perform a samba dance and why to work up an appetite for this free dinner for 2.(Please leave your email so that I can contact you.

2. Tweet: I would samba dance(your coolest location) to win Dinner for 2 at Libra by the Pound via @streetgourmetla

Please note that if you do tweet the contest, you have to comment back and let me know that you did so, so that I can keep track of it. If you don’t let me know that you tweeted I might not see that you entered.

Contest ends Monday, May 14 at 11:59 AM, PST just in time for the weekend. A winner will be randomly chosen from all entries. Boa Sorte!That's Portuguese for good luck.


Anonymous said...

As a starving graduate student living in a fairly small city on the east coast for the next five years, I truly miss living/eating in Los Angeles and all the food the city offers! I'll be back in a couple of weeks and some Brazilian fare would be a nice way to wake up my dormant taste buds for a summer of culinary outings all over LA.

Unknown said...

i'm in the hood, so this could be added to the roster of local joints.
i'd like to perform the horizontal samba as often and in as many places as possible.

streetgourmetla said...

Alright anonoymous, you are entered.

David, awesome, I just need an e-mail.

Anonymous said...

I am a Brazilian and would love to try this place! I would love to see how it compares to some places back home!

Matt said...

i would samba on top of the hollywood sign to let everyone know the greatness of Libra by the pound...if that doesn't work up an appetite for some choice cuts and fresh veggies, i don't know what will.

LAwonders said...

i would samba on the runway of LAX and direct the passengers over to Libra by the pound..buckle up, it's going to be a great meal!!

Anonymous said...

Would love to samba at a dance club with great authentic decorations . Would have to have a caparena to quench my thirst.

streetgourmetla said...

Alright keep 'em coming, contest ends tomorrow night at midnight. SOme lucky devils will be dining at Libra very soon.

Anonymous said...

I tweeted an extra entry for me plz. @_jennalee.

Anonymous said...

I would like to Samba on the fictional boca del cielo beach from Y tu Mama Tambien...

mrmrjesse at hot mail

Anonymous said...

did you guys get a winner??

streetgourmetla said..., it's YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I e-mailed you and asked for a name to give to the restaurant.I'll resend.

streetgourmetla said...

Congratulations to Jennalee Infanto for making me snicker with the samba on the runway at LAX. You and a person of your choosing are going to Libra!!

Thanks to all who participated in this contest, I loved all your sambas. Vertical samba guy, wish you would've left an e-mail. Hope to do more of these in the future.