For this installment of “Artist Eats,” we asked West to share his favorite place to eat. West is a Los-Angeles based abstract painter. He was born and raised in New York City, and has spent the last three years living in Los Angeles. He is a subway graffiti pioneer, a lifelong martial artist and an avid cook. When he’s not listening to old mixtapes of The World Famous Supreme Team Show, he can usually be found eating good food somewhere.
Continue reading for his answer.
“If I died tomorrow, I could honestly say that I’ve eaten well,” West says. “I’ve had meals at some of the best restaurants in the world—particularly in my hometown of New York City. From Omakase with chef Masa himself, to the savory fried chicken at M&G Diner on 125th Street. I can appreciate the flavors of a dish served from the immaculate kitchen at Per Se, as much as I can the salt & pepper squid at 22 Mott Street, or a good Pastrami sandwich from Katz’s.
Since I’ve lived in L.A., the question always comes up from my friends and family: ‘What do you miss about NY?’ My answer is always the same: ‘The food.’
Now, I have had some amazing food here, and I’m the first to brag about what’s good in L.A. I briefly considered writing about the pizza at Gjelina, or the linguini and clams at Son of a Gun, or perhaps the chicken at The Prince. In fact, two nights ago I had a first—excellent Jamaican food in L.A.! Oxtails, rice & peas, and cabbage to be exact, with a fresh carrot/ginger juice at Wi Jammin on Pico.
However, I wanted to take this opportunity to write about my true love, Flor De Mayo on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It’s not fancy or sophisticated, but it holds a special place in my heart. When I travel back to N.Y. I actually plan my flights on making it from JFK in a cab to drop of my bags and get there before the kitchen closes. I usually don’t have time to see all my friends on short trips, so typically I invite everyone to meet there and when we do, it’s straight chaos and mayhem!
I have been going to Flor De Mayo for as long as I can remember. There are a string of classic Cuban-Chinese restaurants in New York (La Dinastia, La Caridad, etc.), which are cheap, fast, coffee shop-type places. But this is a Chinese-Peruvian spot where you can get Aji de Gallina, and Chow Gai Ding on the same menu. They are also famous for their knock-you-on-your-ass drink called the ‘Nutcracker.’
Their Pollo a la Brasa is consistently exceptional, and the stand out is the lo-fi national dish of Peru Lomo Saltado. This dish is a mix of South American and Asian influences—strip sirloin, tomatoes, red onions, soy sauce, and french fries stir fried. I order it with green rice that has cilantro, corn, peas, and carrots. Along with the Pollo a la Brasa, yellow rice, black beans, maduro (sweet fried plantains), and an avocado salad—you’re good.
When I first came to L.A., I was directed to Mario’s, Don Felix, and other Peruvian unmentionables. Unfortunately, there is no comparison. If you get to fiending, as I occasionally do, and you find yourself in Manhattan, do yourself a solid and get to Flor de Mayo. You can pay me back later.”
Flor de Mayo
New York, NY 10025
Photo of West and daughter by Stefan Kocev. Food photos by BlusterOneFC.