Nashville hot chicken, ramen, and more coming to Long Beach Exchange next year • Long Beach Post

After one of its largest tenants, Orchard Supply, closed up shop this year, the massive retail complex known as the Long Beach Exchange has not been shy about amping up its tenant roster, announcing new businesses from Portola Coffee and SusieCakes to the Grilled Cheese Bar and Chef Thomas Ortega’s second restaurant.


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Amid those culinary offerings, the retail complex has announced four new additions. Two of those—fish taco chain Wahoo’s and L.A.-based Silverlake Ramen—are extensions of existing brands while the other two—Plancha Latin Kitchen and Jay Bird’s Nashville Hot Chicken—are two original concepts.

Let’s start with the warmest welcome in the announcement: A joint dedicated to Nashville hot chicken is finally coming to Long Beach.

While we wait for The Kroft and Grilled Cheese Bar to open, In-N-Out begins serving at massive retail and food complex Long Beach Exchange

The region’s most proper introduction to this fiery piece of fried chicken came by the way of Howlin’ Ray’s, a tiny-but-mighty bird shop tucked inside a mini-mall in DTLA’s Chinatown. With a line wait that rarely if ever dips under 45 minutes thanks to its cult-like following, this restaurant is the closest thing you can score to the joint that invented Nashville hot chicken, the famed Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack.

What Prince’s created—and, by extension, what Howlin’ created for a West Coast crowd—is an oddly addicting piece of incredibly spicy fried chicken that shouldn’t be addicting.

Prince’s and Howlin’ both offer six levels of heat, and if one ventures into anything beyond mild, let alone their most intense heat, you’ll find that it is a heat that doesn’t just make beads of sweat push themselves out onto your forehead. You’ll find that it’s a heat that doesn’t just make your lips intensely tingle. This is a heat that will linger with you, sometimes for days. (My Dude and I have made the mistake—twice, mind you—of mowing through an extra hot Howlin’ Ray sandwich and it was with us for three days after. Three days, no joke, and many a bathroom trips.)

No one should ever want to experience this repeatedly but, make no question, one ends up returning over and over. And that leaves Jay Bird’s Nashville Hot Chicken living up to a standard that no other place in the region has succeeded in getting to except Howlin’.

Your guide to Long Beach’s ramen revolution

The other original spot, Plancha Latin Kitchen, is still developing its Latin-centric menu. According to the restaurant’s PR representative, Jordan Kruk, the place will be serving up “everything from arepas, Cubanos, and empanadas as well as build your own bowls, plates and salads using ingredients like ropa vieja, citrus-marinated chicken, fish, chipotle-rubbed cauliflower, Peruvian ají sauce, soyrizo with potatoes, chayote stew, shrimp mojo de ajo—all either braised or cooked on a traditional plancha grill. Plancha’s menu is designed to be vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free friendly.”

And we all know Wahoo’s.

So that leaves Silverlake Ramen, joining Long Beach’s quickly-growing ramen scene.

The brainchild of owner Jitaek Lim and Japanese-born ramen chef Thomas Aono, Silverlake Ramen has built up a faithful following that offers the best ramen in Silverlake (hands down) and some of the best in the Angeleno landscape, including getting up there with joints like Daikokuya and Shin Sen Gumi. It even prompted them to open up another location on York Boulevard (Ramen of York) and a straight to-go spot next door to the original Silverlake Ramen.

In other words, it’s a welcomed addition.

Long Beach Exchange is located at 3991 N. Lakewood Blvd.

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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