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Review

Jakob Layman

Found Oyster

$$$$
Written by
Jakob Layman

We’re going to get this out of the way: We wish we weren’t telling you about Found Oyster. If we had any choice, we’d keep it all to ourselves. Every time we drive by, we’re honestly a little jealous of the people inside, like Gollum when he sees Frodo with The Ring. Unfortunately, it’s our job to tell you about spots like this. So here it goes: Found is special - the rare kind of place that, in addition to serving near-perfect food, also makes you feel uniquely and personally welcome. It will probably become your favorite restaurant in the city. We know it’s ours.

Found is a parking space-sized oasis on that eerily quiet section of Fountain right across from the blue Scientology Center. It’s tiny inside - just 26 seats, most of them at the bar. There’s a disco ball dangling above your head, and an ice chest filled with shellfish that’s so close, you’re tempted to reach across the bar and start shucking. Despite the name, it’s less like an oyster shack and more like an intimate Parisian wine bar - French and Spanish bottles line the shelves, alongside trinkets and cookbooks. It’s the kind of place Hemingway would’ve wandered into and decided, “Know what? I’m never going back to the U.S.” You’ll feel that way too, except about East Hollywood.

Every single person who walks in is greeted by Joe, the tireless, enigmatic oyster shucker/server/secret GM. He’ll come out from behind the bar and introduce himself, tell you when a seat might be available, and offer you a Coors or a glass of wine while you wait. When you do you sit, you won’t want to waste any time (especially after seeing so many plates of oysters go by) - so your first order of business is the chalkboard menu for the raw bar.

Most of the year, one of those options will be Little Namskaket oysters from Orleans, MA. Order them. They’re from Joe’s family farm - he’ll tell you, right around the time he tells you about his parents’ recent extended vacation in Florida - and they’re tiny, sweet, salty, and about as clean-tasting oysters as you’ll ever have. Order twice as many as you think you’ll want, and be ready to drink the accompanying jalapeño and cilantro-heavy mignonette (“Mom’s,” according to Joe) on its own. The littleneck clams on the half shell - usually from Maine - are also good, and topped with a hit of ponzu. They sometimes have scallops, too, or a can’t-miss uni service that involves soy salt and fresh-ground wasabi.

Jakob Layman

But if you think what they serve from the raw bar is good, the rest of the menu is going to blow your mind. The very best dishes meld fantastic Southern and New England flavors, like a clam cake made with hushpuppy batter, then topped with bacon-fat tartar sauce and trout roe, or chicken-fried oysters that are flash-fried to keep the briny oyster goodness inside, and served with an umami-heavy mayo. But there’s also a NY strip that’s cooked perfectly and served with a dollop of butter and some endives. It’s a fantastic, more substantial (if somewhat random) option. And your first time here will not be complete without the lobster roll, a brilliant, messy bisque/roll mashup that’s cayenne-heavy and loaded with tail meat.

There’s a rotating selection of off-menu specials you should ask about, too. The steamers frites are straight out of a Cape Cod clambake (maybe on Skaket Beach, by Joe’s family oyster farm). If they have it, you need to order this massive bowl of steamed soft-shell clams and fries. The fantastic razor clams a la plancha, broiled with an entire clove’s worth of garlic and some sumac, are sort of out of left field, but totally worth your time. And then there’s the Caesar schnitzel, which is only available on Sundays - it’s a pork cutlet pounded thin, fried, then piled with Caesar chop salad and white anchovies. We’re not kidding when we say we’ve planned entire weekends around coming here to eat it.

Even though there are 25 other people dining alongside you, a meal at Found still feels like it was curated specifically for you. The service is personal and comfortable, and there’s not even the slightest hint of pretension. They’ll tell you to pair your oysters with Coors, the person serving most of your dishes is actually the chef, and the shuckers sing along to Tom Petty - when they’re not fending off “You should meet my daughter!” requests from oyster-loving moms at the bar (which is an actual thing we witnessed happen on one visit).

So while we’re sad we have to share Found, it’s good to know that the next time we’re in here, there’ll be people driving past who are jealous of us. Knowing that will make those Little Namskakets taste even sweeter.

Jakob Layman

Food Rundown

Jakob Layman
Raw Bar

It’s tough to fill up on oysters, so go crazy here. Whether your options include Cape Cod’s Little Namskakets, the similar Wellfleets, or the fatter, brinier Grassy Bars from Morro Bay (which taste a lot more like East Coast oysters than most West Coast ones do). Get as many as your wallet allows, plus a few littlenecks.

Jakob Layman
Chicken-Fried Oysters

Don’t be afraid to load these suckers up with the accompanying mayo made from sake lees (the leftovers from fermenting rice), which somehow, brings out even more of their oyster-y goodness. Add a hit of hot sauce to round it all out.

Broiled Oysters

If you’re starting to think this is oyster overload, we don’t have anything in common. These ones are served broiled with a fantastic, sweet, peppery, blood-red Espelette butter. You don’t want to miss this.

Jakob Layman
Clam Cake

Possibly our favorite thing here. It’s basically a clam and hushpuppy pancake, and we’re here for it. You will be, too.

Jakob Layman
Lobster Roll

By combining lobster bisque with a lobster roll, this has all the creaminess of bisque without the oppressive, buttery heaviness. It’s a bit small for $28, but if you want a lobster roll, this will not disappoint you in any way.

Jakob Layman
Wedge Salad

Believe it or not, of all the great things on this menu, this is the one we order every single time we’re here. It’s a perfect wedge.

Jakob Layman
Buttermilk Panna Cotta

You’re going to be too full for a huge dessert, so it’s a good thing that this little $7 panna cotta is the only dessert here. It’s f*cking good, though, with the perfect balance of sweet cream, tangy buttermilk, and a seasonal fruit like Meyer lemon or blood orange.

Caesar Schnitzel

We don’t get the Sunday Scaries because of having to go back to work - we get them because as soon as we’re finished with this schnitzel, it’ll be a whole week until we can have this Sunday exclusive again.

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