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Scene Setter: Mooi in Echo Park

June 7, 2010 |  4:19 pm

Victual voyeurism reaches staggering heights at Mooi, the new raw and vegan restaurant that opened two weeks ago in Echo Park's historic Jensen's Rec Center. Order a plate of orange jackfruit chicken over rice and within seconds of the dish's arrival, you'll feel eyes on you. Lots of them.

A diner or two might even approach and ask what you're eating. Five or six others, having taken in the contents of your plate with more than a glancing curiosity will then train the cold digital eye of a camera or iPhone on their own meals.

This almost ceremonial observation isn't of a creepy "Eyes Wide Shut" variety, it's more along the lines of a spirited, communal spectator sport. It's happening because what chef and owner Stephen Hauptfuhr is turning out of the curtained back kitchen is rather astonishing. Especially to the many people in the room who know what kind of work goes into creating balanced, flavorful raw food.

To read the rest of Jessica Gelt's story and see a tasty photo gallery, click here.

Photo: Jalapeno peppers stuffed with smoked paprika nut-cheese and crispy eggplant bacon are served at Mooi, a new vegan/raw restaurant in Echo Park. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times.