The menu at the freshly opened Jonah’s Kitchen is as worldly, flavorful, and authentic as the Chef behind it.
The restaurant features Latin dishes crafted with a California healthy mindset and woven with Caribbean and Asian flavors. It reflects Chef Jonah Johnson’s experiences traveling the world as a celebrated private chef and his obsession with traditional wood fire cooking techniques.
This fondness began at the age of ten when he was captivated by the wood fire barbecue methods of his Southern father. Johnson’s first foray into cooking was helping his dad prepare for barbecue competitions. A few years later he was setting up his own food booths at local fairs.
“Since then I’ve always been most interested in cooking over wood fire and all of the beautiful cultures and their methods of cooking with wood fire,” said Johnson. “The cooks and chefs that inspired me most were pitmasters, gauchos and great chefs like Francis Malman of Patagonia.”
Johnson’s fascination with different cultures’ traditional cooking styles also began in his youth as he grew up spending time in Mexico, Jamaica and Los Angeles. This taste for travel and ethic food never left him and went on to cook for celebrity clients, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, in hotels around the world.
“I would meet all the chefs that were working in the hotels and we would trade recipes. They would teach me how to make a really great chimichurri and I would teach them how to make a Southern style barbecue sauce,” said Johnson.
Jonah’s Kitchen is the crystallization of Johnson’s life experiences and culinary expertise. Its dishes incorporate flavors from Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Peru, Italy, Korea, Eastern Europe and more.
“My restaurant is not intended to be any kind of fusion or clever thought out dishes no one has ever experienced,” said Johnson. “It is simply the food that I love and the flavors that I grew up with in a very culturally diverse Los Angeles and through my travels around the world.”
The aesthetic is inspired by the airy beachy restaurants of Tulum and intends to create a casual atmosphere welcoming for families, dates, or friends grabbing a drink at the tiki bar.
Menu highlights include the Yucatan pork — which is rubbed with achiote paste and orange juice, wrapped in banana leaves and slow cooked for 16 hours — and the Texas black angus brisket — which is smoked for 14 hours until it resembles “meat butter.”
The restaurant is also focused on health-conscious dishes as Johnson has worked extensively with nutritionists and is devoted to sourcing the highest quality ingredients.
“I tell my people when you go to the farmers market look for something that looks unbelievable and they’ll bring me some of the best looking tomatoes or squash or brussel sprouts and that’ll be the chef’s choice for the day,” said Johnson.
Although he has years of culinary experience, Johnson is always learning and looking for new techniques and flavors to bring to his dishes.
His favorite textbook is the streets of Los Angeles, but he will rarely be spotted at high-end or trendy restaurants. Instead, Johnson always searches for the heart of authentic ethnic cooking, whether that’s in the depths of Korea Town or the markets of Little Bangladesh.
He is also a big fan of home cooked meals and is constantly hosting friends and family to enjoy food prepared in his outdoor fire pits and brick oven.
Johnson’s at-home al-fresco kitchen was the inspiration for Jonah’s Kitchen and he says he looks forward to welcoming the neighborhood into his world.
Jonah’s Kitchen is located at 2518 Wilshire Blvd and is open from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.