Stop what you are doing and get in your car and travel to Currywurst. They have always been the best and will always be the very best place to eat authentic German Sausages. It does not get better than this. I have covered this place before and now I am covering them again. They have decided to bring the Doughnut Dog into this world. How this isn’t the greatest food on the planet I have no idea. It blows me away that there isn’t a line out the door. All I can think is that they are located in the heart of a jewish community might be holding them back. I can say enough good things about this place I just hope that with enough time the word will spread. I sit down with Kai Loebach the owner of Currywurst to find out what kind of crazy he is serving at his sausage palace.
MEAT ME: Explain to me the doughnut dog?
Kai Loebach: The doughnut dog is a Long John Doughnut that is not glazed or sugary. It’s a plain doughnut with plain all beef Vienna hotdog. That’s important it is not a sausage it is a hotdog.
MEAT ME: Hotdog?
Kai Loebach: Hotdog! Hence the name Doughnut Dog! It is topped with your choice of either sauerkraut, grilled onions, or home made mustard.
MEAT ME: What to do you recommend?
Kai Loebach: It depends on what kind of a person you are…
MEAT ME: I am an onion’s kind-of-a-person.
Kai Loebach: ONIONS? I love the onions and our mustard. It is a great combination, because doughnut has that soft feeling and the hotdog has that nice snap to it. We also serve it with a pickle.
MEAT ME: Really, a hotdog with a pickle?
Kai Loebach: Yup! A hotdog with a PICKLE!!! A quarter of a pickle, it is really nice quality. There are very few places in LA that actually sell Vienna hotdog’s cause they cost almost twice as much as my all natural sausages. It’s crazy!
MEAT ME: What do you mean my “All Natural”? What does that mean?
Kai Loebach: It means that there are no preservatives in the sausages. There are no color additives. It is just the meat and spices. That’s it. Natural casings, there are no artificial casings. The chicken sausages do not have pork casings they have collagen casings. As an Orthodox Jew you could be eating that sausage and not have to repent after that. It’s “Jew Proof”.
MEAT ME: It should say that outside. Being in a Jewish neighborhood, they have a right to know.
Kai Loebach: We have had a few guys sit outside and it is so funny when you see a really religious Jewish person (the ones with the payis’s) sitting outside of a German sausage place, where most of the food is pork. It is like, come on, do you really know where you are sitting? Umm… we don’t decimate against anybody.
We also have the Vegan sausages, which are the smoked apple and sage, and Mexican Chipotle. I don’t want to fool Vegans and say we cook the vegan sausages and the pork sausages on the same grill. The Vegan sausages are being cooked in a cast iron skillet that is just off to the side of the grill and we never have anything else in it. I think that is a very important point.
Spaghetti ice cream is a really typical German desert that I grew up with. When I moved here I thought… Actually my first year here I didn’t even think about it. It was so far removed, but when we opened Currywurst I thought, well anybody can do apple strudel. Everybody was doing it so we wanted to separate ourselves from the ordinary folks. So I decided to do something that I grew up with and that was also really authentic. The Spaghetti ice cream is vanilla ice cream put through a special German hand press machine. There is no motor so there is some elbow grease going into it as well. It comes out looking like spaghetti and we top it with fresh strawberry sauce and white chocolate shavings. It looks like a plate of spaghetti marinara. Excellent.
MEAT ME: You also added a burger it looks like?
Kai Loebach: Yes the burger is an all Angus Beef 6 oz burger, which is a really nice substantial size. It’s presented on a brioche bun and it comes with cheddar cheese, garlic aioli, onions and tomatoes and served with a side of greens. You can also have it with french fries. It’s a great product.
MEAT ME: Why did you decide to introduce the burger?
Kai Loebach: It’s AMERICA. We live here. If this place were existing in Germany that menu would be reduced to 1 sausage and that’s it. If you go into a place like this in Germany you order Currywurst. They don’t even offer you the sausage with a bun. It’s like you sell currywurst you get currywurst. It’s one sausage.
In America you have to have options. People come in here, knowing we still serve several different options, but still feel we have a very limited menu. It’s not like they are eating 6 different items while they are here, so why are they saying it’s limited when they are only ordering one item anyways? That’s what you come in here for. When we introduced the burger we thought it was something that was easy to handle, it is such an American staple and I thought it would be good, and it has been really successful.
MEAT ME: Do they serve burgers in Germany the same way that they might serve them here?
Kai Loebach: Not in the same way they do here. Yes, they server burgers in Germany but as a lunch item called “Frikadellen”, is a larger burger patty that includes some soaked bread, eggs, spices, usually a little ketchup and mustard a lot like meat loaf. It’s a patty that you eat with mustard for lunch. That is very typical next to the Currywurst, but when they eat a burger it is nothing outrageous like we have here where people get very inventive. In German they have adapted to that American standard where you get a sort of wonder bread type of a bun that you get at any type of a burger fast food place. It’s just a simple patty with cheese and may be mayo and ketchup and that’s it. So people don’t usually go all out.
MEAT ME: So since we last met the biggest issue was translating what Currywurst was. How is that going?
Kai Loebach: Terrible. Look there is nobody in there that is the problem. People just haven’t gotten it. We had a great spot on KTLA 5, and I was amazed by how much airtime they gave us. They gave us 15 minutes of airtime on a Friday morning between 6 and 8 in the morning. That’s huge. It was for the introduction of the Doughnut Dog, but when people come in here and they read Currywurst as non-German or non traveled American you really have no idea what it is; if it is the name of the restaurant or if it is the name of the dish. They really have no idea what it is. People are just like, what is it? They have never had it and most people say they will try it because they don’t know what it is.
When we say Currywurst is the name of this really great dish and they try it and it’s great, but how do I get the people in here thinking they can also get as sausage on a bun that has nothing to do with curry, and that doesn’t like curry. That is still a pretty big challenge and until we educate people here… That’s what it is.
MEAT ME: Well aside from that, how is everything else going? Are your cookies doing really well?
Kai Loebach: The cookies are doing well. We sell a lot to catering. My regular catering business is doing really well. That is the reason why this place is still open. I am not making any money I am loosing money every month, but I am looking at this project as sending my kid to college. You pay a lot of money for the education but you don’t know what comes out of it.
I am going to stick it out for 5 years and it proves to break even or make a little profit we got to continue. If after 5 years I fail to get the word out about it there is no reason for me to continue.
MEAT ME: So what would you tell someone who hasn’t been here, why they should come here?
Kai Loebach: It is a very unique product, even though it falls under the category of “fast food” or “street food” the quality is so much higher. The French fries, beef and sausages are of the most amazing quality. They have no preservatives; it is a very clean product. Plus, it’s an authentic German experience. If you don’t have the money to travel to Germany, our experience is the closest thing to it.
MEAT ME: So people coming from Germany?
Kai Loebach: Yes, a lot. The tour buses go by and I sit outside I can see the pupils going large, “Oh my God, look… There’s Currywurst.” People come back to eat. We have a few hostels’ down the street the Banana Boat Hotel, a lot of German kids stay there and when they are walking down to the grove they see; they are like “Oh my God”, and they are taking pictures of it.
MEAT ME: I see you had to move your sign (sausage crossing)?
Kai Loebach: Yes after 2 years the city finally said, you can’t do it. It is still very visible. So it is one step away from being illegal.
MEAT ME: So today I ordered the Bockwurst, correct?
Kai Loebach: Yes, you got the Bockwurst (pork/veal) which is sliced Bockwurst with curry ketchup and curry powder. That is authentic as it gets. Then you had the Bürgermeister, which is a burger on a Brioche bun with tomatoes, onions, and cheese. Then you had the Doughnut Dog, which is a Long John doughnut which is plain and not sweetened with an all beef Vienna hotdog, caramelized onions, the house mustard and a pickle. Then you had the spaghetti ice cream. Which is vanilla ice cream thrust through a machine to make it look like spaghetti topped with fresh strawberry sauce and white chocolate shavings.
People this food is amazing. Aside from actually going to Germany, it doesn’t get any more authentic than Currywurst of Los Angeles. Please come out, treat yourself, and enjoy a luxury you might not have the chance of enjoying unless this unique establishment gets the well deserved business that it needs to survive.