Holy Rollers | The Church Key

Dim sum dining gets a modern spin on the Sunset Strip

Dim-sum carts aren't just for dumplings anymore.

At The Church Key, an ambitious new Sunset Strip restaurant headed by XIV alum Steven Fretz, the meal starts as soon as you take a seat inside the cozy, fireplace-lit dining room.

Inspired by the cart service at San Francisco's State Bird Provisions, bowtied waiters roll by with tiny tantalizing plates of cheese-dusted pig ear "Cheetos" with guacamole mousse ($5); hamachi crudo with lap cheong ($7); beef tartare with potato chips ($8); and fluffy falafels with truffle-laced tahini ($5). A waitress in a retro stewardess getup follows shortly after, offering canned Negronis–cracked open with a church key–and nitrogen-frozen cocktail pops.

Gochujang pork belly with microgreens

Sure, it's gimmicky, but the kitchen's fundamentals are solid. Fretz's international array of larger plates, ordered from the main menu, are hearty yet nuanced. They range from supple pan-fried pierogies with apple butter to gochujang-lacquered pork belly with cashew pureé and microgreens. For a comforting dessert, there's warm sticky toffee pudding decorated with candied orange peel.

Mostly though, the night's thrill lies in those roving carts. If you're so inclined, you can amass a small smorgasbord in minutes–perfect for your impatient inner child. "We wanted guests to be able to indulge instantly," says Fretz.

At The Church Key, that's just how they roll.