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There’s no denying that The Hangar inside Long Beach Exchange is not only a space that has given East Long Beach some much-needed alternatives to the corporate big boys that have long dominated the food scene in the area but also marks its place as one of the city’s richest clusters of restaurants—The Kroft being no exception.

There is so much more than this little blurb that needs to be said about The Kroft’s owner, Stephen Le, a man who has entirely shifted the way he runs his business, an OC giant in the food scene when they bursted out as Anaheim’s Packing District’s most popular spot when they opened in nearly a decade ago in 2014.

What used to be a spot focusing mainly on decadent poutine, Le—during the pandemic and currently—noticed a slip in both patronage and online promotion. With a humble heart, he realized two major things: he wasn’t that happy and he wasn’t making food the way he used to enjoy.

The Kroft is rightfully known for its poutine and one of its latest iterations released this year is what owner Stephen Le calls “food that reflects what I love to eat myself.” And it’s is a genuine star: The chicken katsu curry poutine, where happily panko-covered, fried bits of chicken are slathered in a rich, brown Japanese curry after being topped on fries with melted cheese curds. Savory, slightly sweet, all flavor. It stands strong with their other array of poutines.

But don’t skip the sandwiches and burgers: The porchetta? One of the best in the city and most affordable.

The burger? Along with some other stellar items, including a great chicken parm sandwich, the burger—easily one of the best in the city—is a culmination of that effort to better himself and his business: Succulent, savory, stellar, where double Wagyu patties sit amid gooey globs of cheese, caramelized onions, wonderfully thick pickles, and sauce.

Photos and written by Brian Addison.

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