Hamasaku is a Westside strip-mall sushi joint, its designation as such not lost on the many regulars who have gone for a particular sushi experience for a number of years. There’s a menu full of celebrity rolls – that is, name-saken sushi rolls with ingredient combinations made up by celebrities – and it is this menu on which Hamasaku has built its reputation. Until recently, that is. Now, you’ll have to specially ask for the celebrity roll menu should you want to order off it.
While I caught a peek of the new Marina del Rey restaurant’s interior and fare through one of the Best New Chef reunion dinners brought to Paiche by Food GPS (Portland’s Naomi Pomeroy was guest chef), last night was the first time I got a real taste of Ricardo Zarate’s new menu, taking center stage, thanks to a lucky invite to Friends & Family night.
It’s curious that Pingtung is called an “Eat-in Market,” the “market” designation perhaps being a way of propping up the Asian goods that lie on overhead (to me) shelves along the sides of the deep-drawn cafe. Though I have a few guilty snack pleasures such as Yan Yan, Shrimp Chips, that clear, Japanese soda with the swingy little ball, Calpico and the like, I’d make the trek to 99 Ranch, Mitsuwa or Zion if I wanted to go Asian grocery shopping. (I’m trying to cut down on the snacks, much less MSG-laden ones, anyway.)
With amaro cocktails being really popular right now – and with good reason – you can count on there being one to three of them on the menu of any semi-serious bar program. But I can’t think of any other bar that even compares to how Julian Cox’s program at Sotto has really advanced the cocktail classification in Los Angeles.
I first visited the space owned by Bill Didonna and Charles Kelly when it was Allston Yacht Club. Since then, the space had taken a 180 degree turn away from its incarnation as a casual, neighborhood spot. Though there’s no warmth lacking from the feel that emanated throughout Allston’s dining room, it has evolved to the kind of environment that encourages diners’ curiosity for new things.
If you’re like, really, way into local beer but Orange County still seems like a schlep (yes, we’re lazy Angelenos), you’ll want to make it over to Steingarten on the Westside for some tap takeover action by one of our favorites, The Bruery.
Try all of these on for size:
There’s a trace amount of apprehension I try to temper when I find myself dining in oversized spaces. The fear stems from the likelihood of spending time and money dining in a space that is less likely to feel personalized – whether in terms of physical sense of space and/or the quality of service enjoyed during the meal.
With all the different places I eat at from week to week – or more accurately, day to day – I can’t help but take note of the restaurant trends that follow the seasons. Of course, depending on your tastes, this could either be a welcomed opportunity or a temporary annoyance. (Though if you’ve never fallen for the Brussels sprouts or cupcake crazes, then you’re pretty much screwed since it doesn’t seem like either of them will be going anywhere, anytime soon.)
Recently, I came upon a few meals in a row where there was grapefruit in at least one dish. Since grapefruits are in season, and thus tasting especially fantastic right now, I had a fun time seeing and tasting what everyone did with the ingredient. And it’s not just in salads, anymore (though Tortilla Republic does a good job of it in their Ensalada de la Casa).
It was the acidic component in a sophisticated deli-style trout salad (Sadie Kitchen & Lounge). A complement to Vartan Abgaryan’s fantastic octopus-fennel salad as well as the shining star (along with Passion Fruit) in Matt Biancaniello’s Italian Greyhoud (Cliff’s Edge).
I ended up conducting the bulk of my really fun research time at Michael Voltaggio‘s Ink – thanks to both he and Gabriella Mlynarczykx - the latter of whom ended up with 5 pounds of grapefruit behind her bar, while the citrus abundance became inspiration for the former. Truth be told, Ink was the perfect site to explore the utmost creativity in both the kitchen and behind the stick with that singular ingredient. And the night before I conducted more fun research at Ink, Michael had actually just added a dish meant to be a riff on the dressed sashimi appetizer you’ve most likely seen at every Japanese restaurant. But this was, oh, so inspired.
The Hudson has been at the center of many a West Hollywood scene. So when they shuttered over the new year for 3 weeks to renovate their interior, they had in mind to update the feel of the place – without doing so much as to disrupt the reasons their patrons have become regulars. What you’ll feel immediately when you walk in is the added height – 8 feet, to be exact – and a now-exposed, beautiful A-frame ceiling.
It’s always a good time to visit The Spare Room inside the Roosevelt, but in case you needed a better reason to visit on a Monday, they’ve got one. League Nights by Caliche Rum at this first-rate hotel bar give Naomi Schimek good reason to come up with some fantastic cocktails, and she runs the gamut with her cocktail menu that goes 4 deep.