When you talk about landmarks The Formosa Café is one of the biggest brightest stars still around in Hollywood. It has an old Hollywood charm that is just little by little being replaced by uneventful ultra modern cuisine. I say this because we still have this sparkling gem, and it’s a really fun spot, give it a new test drive; you will be more then surprised.
The first thing I can tell you is that Chef Brian Husky has revamped the menu, so when you think of the Formosa Café don’t just think about the cocktails, which by the way are legendary. Think about the delicious new menu, it’s affordable, inventive, and fantastic.
Here’s what I tried:
Brussels Sprouts, caramelized shallots, sake, and tamari soy. They open them up and cook them crispy, but without losing any flavor, really great.
Chopped Salad, butter lettuce, shitake, tomato, avocado, crispy wonton, yuzu mustard vinaigrette. The mushrooms and the wontons make this salad really terrific, its got an Asian feel to it, which makes it all the more appetizing.
Crispy Spring Roll Wrap, shrimp, pork belly, butter lettuce, chili garlic nauc cham. Done Vietnamese style with the lettuce on the side to wrap these darling gems, how could you go wrong?
Formosa Burger, 6oz. special blend, caramelized onion, white cheddar, kimchi aioli, arugula. The caramelized onions add a nice sweet fragrance while the kimchi aioli gives it a bit of heat.
Fried Rice, kimchi, beef, shitaki mushroom, fried egg. Chef Brian did his own take with a Peruvian flair. It really hit the spot.
Handcut Fries, Kennebec potato, togarashi, furikake. Big thick potatoes make this a must have dish,
Korean BBQ brisket, Asian slaw, caramelized onion, queso panela. The brisket is so tender and has a great sweet BBQ flavor. The slaw and caramelized onion add a wonderful treat to this innovative taco.
Salmon Tempura Special, really fresh fish makes this taco very special.
Shrimp tempura, avocado, jalapeno yuzu, crema. Nice and light but with a pinch of jalapeno it adds a nice twist.
Formosa Mai Tai (circa 1940): Light rum, pineapple, OJ, Amaretto, Dark Rum Float, Shaken and served over ice. What a delicious treat, From now on, I will crave this drink forever!
Moscow Mule: Vodka, Lime, Ginger Beer, shaken and served over ice. Not my go to cocktail, but I always feel like I have to try this everytime. It was good, but still don’t get it.
Formosa Champagne Cocktail: Cognac, Champagne, Sugar, and Bitters, served in a flute. This is a girlie cocktail, meant for a night out with your gal pals.
Tommy’s Margarita: Silver Tequila, Lime, Agave, shaken and served over ice. I am always down for a good Margarita, and this one was nicely blended.
There are lots of stories that lead to The Formosa Café being haunted; I am here to tell you it is. Vince, who is the 3rd generation owner, says, “yes it’s haunted, and the main visitor is my grandfather Lem.” Who pretty much died right after his shift here at The Formosa. He complained about chest pains and his worker said lets take you to the hospital, and he said no work is over soon will go after we close. Well he made it to the hospital right after the restaurant closed but sadly he died very soon after his arrival. Joseph the mixologist says he has also seen his iPod shuffle dial go lower when the music is too loud, he says that is happening from Vince’s father who never liked loud music when he was alive. The back train car, which is very famous, is the place where workers feel the most uncomfortable. My waitress Katie says she fears the she will see someone else in the mirror when she looks back.
This place is very historic, filled with lots of stories. You can see it in the archive of celebrity black and white photos which hang on the walls. They in themselves are worth the trip. And now that the food has made a comeback, the real winner here is you! Everything that you find at The Formosa Café is really, really good.
Of late, there have been so many Hollywood Landmarks that have been torn down like Chasen’s,The Old Spaghetti Factory, The Brown Derby, Nickodell’s and list goes on and on. In other words, you never know what the future may hold for this historic restaurant, so next time your looking for an old piece of Hollywood, start with the Mai Tai and move onto the springs rolls. You can be adventurous here, try a few more menu items and you will be glad you did.
The Formosa Cafe
7156 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA. 90046