The moment you enter Little Jewel of New Orleans you are transported to the heart of Louisiana. Housed in an original 1870’s era building in the heart of Chinatown, the space is a combination market and southern deli offering some of the best Creole cooking in Los Angeles. While new to the block, Little Jewel feels like it has been a neighborhood staple for years. From the quirky artwork that adorns the walls to the awesome collection of classic jazz and soul that emanates from the sound system, the space feels casual, welcoming and unpretentious.
The market component offers essential items, but also includes an awesome selection of hard to find New Orleans, Louisiana and regionally southern products and brands including Zapps Potato Chips, Community Coffee, and Café Du Monde among others. For those looking to whip up a Louisiana inspired meal, the market at Little Jewel is a must visit for all the right ingredients. For the real action, however, you have to try the food, which does not disappoint.
Ordering is an informal affair, handled at a cash register that is bookended by a warmer with fresh hot dogs and pre-packaged southern treats (think moon pies and similar sweets). The menu, which is equally simple, includes Parish Fair Sandwiches, 10” Po’Boys with a variety of southern fillings such as fried oysters, fried shrimp, fried catfish and more, a small selection of hot plates, salads and desserts. Daily specials are also available and can include gumbo, classic jambalaya or other items. While fried shrimp Po’Boys are a favorite of mine, I decided to try two less common offerings: The Irish Channel Roast Beef Po’Boy and the Chaurice (Creole Hot Sausage) with Swiss. Both were amazing!
The roast beef is messy, requires a fork and knife, and is delicious. Slow cooked in an electric oven for 12 hours, it melts in your mouth and the debris that tops it off really makes it something special. A note about the bread: it’s shipped directly from New Orleans and makes all the difference in the world. I will never eat a Po’Boy on the hard French rolls that pass for French bread at other southern establishments in L.A. ever again. The Churice Po’Boy, which I tried next, was my all time favorite. In case you don’t know (I didn’t), Chaurice is a Creole take on Spanish Chorizo. It’s a pork sausage seasoned with green onions, garlic and other veggies, is slightly spicy and difficult to find in L.A. Served with Swiss cheese, mayo and some Louisiana hot sauce on great French bread, it’s a must try. The flavor of the Chaurice is distinct, yet mild when compared to other sausages such as Andouille. The added spice, however, makes it outstanding. Although the Po’Boys are filling, I had to make room for dessert, specifically the chocolate bread pudding with whiskey sauce.
I’m usually pretty lukewarm on bread pudding. It can be soggy or just bland, but the chocolate bread pudding at Little Jewel is criminally good. Even if you’re stuffed, you’ll find room for it. The texture is perfect and the sauce has a great bite to it that only whisky can provide. Quite simply, if you’re eating bread pudding sans whiskey sauce, you’re eating soggy bread in a pan. Needless to say, there wasn’t a crumb or drop of the bread pudding left after I got my hands on it.
Little Jewel really is a neighborhood gem (pun intended). It’s another welcome addition to Chinatown and joins a slew of new businesses and development in the area that includes Roy Choi’s Chego, the new Jia Apartments and the upcoming Blossom Plaza, but is completely unique in what it offers Downtown and L.A. in general. If you have a craving for some southern comfort food, take a trip to Chinatown and get your fix at Little Jewel. You won’t regret it.
All images below by Brigham Yen
Now for the prepared food…