By Jill Weinlein, 1/31/2013
You never know who you will see while walking into Currywurst across from the CBS Studios. Sometimes talent from one of the CBS shows come over to this casual dining spot. Dustin Hoffman recently came in and ordered a smoked apple sage sausage. He liked it so much, he ordered another one. The staff is friendly, and the service is quick. One can get a meal for under $10 in less than 5 minutes.
I met with the founder of Currywurst, the personable Kai Loebach. Growing up in Wuppertal, Germany, Kai completed his culinary training in his country. “We have one day of class and 6 days of hands-on experience in Germany,” Kai said. His first job in the U.S. was at the Century Plaza Hotel when Kai was 22 years old. Later, he opened his own catering business. He has catered some of the most elite parties in L.A. for over 25 years. Two years ago, he opened the authentic Currywurst restaurant, offering authentic German food at a low-price point.
The most popular dish is Currywurst with French fries. Don’t be afraid of the word “curry”, it’s just the name of the most popular fast-food dish in Germany. It doesn’t taste like the curries you find in Thai and Indian restaurants. The curry powder is sprinkled onto the housemade ketchup and mixed with mustard to create a light gravy. If you don’t like curry, you can order a sausage without the curry powder.
Germans visiting Los Angeles light up with excitement when they drive by and see the words “Currywurst”. In their country, there is a Currywurst on every street. “It’s a traditional dish in Germany,” Kai said. “What In-n-Out Burger is to Americans, Currywurst is in Germany.”
Many order a dish of currywurst after a night of drinking at the Hofbrauhaus. “It’s a sobering up dish,” he said. “In Germany, they don’t eat Currywurst with a bun. I introduced the bun, because the customers kept asking for one to soak up the sauce and tear off to put some sliced sausage inside.”
The bread is part French and sweet roll. It’s not brittle or flakey. It has an ideal roll.
The quality of the food at Currywurst Los Angeles is better than you get in Germany, Kai claims, and he’s a self-proclaimed perfectionist. The place is extremely clean; Kai trains his staff to constantly clean inside and out. When I approached the restaurant one of the employees was washing the front windows.
When Currywurst opened, customers asked if there were any vegetarian or vegan dishes, all Kai could offer was French fries and sauerkraut. He realized he needed to create or find a vegan sausage. After tasting three to four dozen vegan sausages, Kai finally found the right one for Currywurst. His vegan sausage has no corn or soy products, because Kai is not a fan of GMO foods. Instead, he selected a wheat vegan sausage. Kai’s are prepared with smoked apple with sage and Mexican chipotle. “We sell a lot,” he said.
Mikel Lewis, one of the original employees since Currywurst opened on Aug. 28, 2011, brought a vegan sausage for me to try. It’s good, but I prefer the juicy Bockwurst.
A local German butcher makes all of the sausages with no nitrites, no additives and no preservatives. The ketchup Kai makes is organic with no high fructose corn syrup.
This is also the only place in Los Angeles that offers spaghetti ice cream. “Every Italian ice parlor in Germany serves this dish,” Kai said. In some cities, spaghetti ice cream is on every corner.
It arrives looking like a bowl of spaghetti for $4.50. Vanilla ice cream runs through a machine to look like spaghetti noodles. Fresh strawberries. purchased from a local farmers market, make the sauce look like spaghetti sauce. Toasted panko breadcrumbs are placed on top to give the dessert a crunchy texture and white chocolate shavings are the substitute for Parmesan cheese. It’s delicious!
A great way to try Currywurst is to get a family value pack to go. Order 5 sausages, 5 bread rolls, housemade mustard and BBQ sauce. It’s served with fresh made potato chips and a choice of two sides: sauerkraut, sautéed onions or white cabbage krausalat for only $28.54. Opens Tues.-Sun.at 11 a.m. closed Mon. Street parking available and in the nearby Wells Fargo parking lot in the evening. $ 109 N. Fairfax Ave. (323)413-2627.