j

Jwsel's Profile

Title Last Reply

LA Restaurateurs Think the $15 Minimum Wage Hike Spells Doom for the Industry

I'm not understanding the complaints from those owners. They seem to be saying that waitstaff and FOH people already earn more than $15 in base pay, so what is the problem? If they get tips on top of that, they will earn more than the BOH people who will now get at least $15. How many BOH employees per restaurant are there who are making under $15 per hour at places like Republique, Terrine, or AKASHA? Even if it were 10 people per restaurant who are now making $15 instead of $10 and they actually work 40 hours per week (many probably work less), you're talking $500 per week difference.

May 22, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

n/naka

I should have mentioned the reservation situation in my post. We were told they are booked through mid-July.

Even before Chef's Table, weekend seats were difficult. I thought I was crazy for booking on March (March 20, to be exact), but even with two months advance, only the 5:30 and late seating were available.

May 18, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

n/naka

A report from my birthday dinner last night. The dinner was possibly the best meal I've ever had. With one small exception, every dish was exquisite. I feared that the meal would not live up to expectations raised by the long wait since we booked (in March) and the Chef's Table profile on Chef Nakayama. Thankfully, the meal exceeded those expectations.

Here is a summary of the meal.

We arrived just before 5:30 and waited a few minutes for the restaurant to open. We were seated immediately.

First course: Oyster with salmon roe, uni, and kumquat or snow crab with salmon roe and pea puree. During my call with the restaurant last week to discuss dietary restrictions, I mentioned that one member of our party does not eat red meat and that I had received a request to not have oysters. I was asked if I liked oysters and when I said I did, I was told: "You will get oysters." (Actually, two of us had oysters and the others had the snow crab.) The oyster was a perfect opening bite, a nice interplay of textures and flavors. I had a bite of the snow crab, which was very delicate and enhanced by a subtle pea puree.

I should add that we split two wine pairings between four people, which worked perfectly for us. We did not have very heavy drinkers so individual win pairings would have been far too much. But splitting the pairings allowed us to experience the pairings. The pairings included sparkling wine to begin, followed by wine, sake, and even ale with the ensuing courses.

Second course: Seasonal Appetizer consisting of four items: (1) lobster tempura with spicy aoili; (2) grilled cod with miso sauce; (3) Tazmanian sea trout sashimi; and (4) stuffed squid with crab, quail egg and squid ink. This was a beautiful plate and each item elicited raves. The tempura lobster was fried in a light, crunchy batter that did not take away from the lobster flavor. The cod was wonderfully carmelized, sweet and smoky. The sea trout sashimi was buttery and tender. And the squid was fun, as you were supposed to mix the yolk from the quail egg into the squid ink to create a sauce for the squid. This was paired with a Spanish white wine, a 2013 Martinsancho Verdejo.

Third course: Bonito sashimi with black mustard flower and shiso paste. I've had bonito sushi a few times, but it was never this tender and flavorful. This was paired with a cold sake that, despite my general dislike for sake, I enjoyed.

Fourth course: Clam with ginger, carrot, and seaweed in a clear broth. Wow. This was earthy and flavorful. It was served with an Alsatian white wine that, on first sip, I thought was too sweet and did not like. But it paired perfectly with the earthy soup.

Fifth course: Toro, oyster, kampachi with cucumber, red snapper, octopus on watermelon radish. For the people who did not eat oyster, they received uni (though my mom gave me a share of hers). All of the sashimi was delicious. The toro was by far the best I've ever had. Again, this was paired with a cold sake, though I did not like the sake as much as the previous one.

Sixth course: Grilled branzino with pickled daikon, ginkgo nut and bamboo. Wow. This fish was just amazing. Sweet and carmelized that contrasted with the daikon, which brought a small spiciness to the dish. The bamboo was a revelation, tender with the texture and flavor of a perfectly cooked artichoke. The fish was paired with a Hitachino Nest White Ale, a wheat beer that may have been the smoothest, mildest beer I've ever tasted.

Seventh course: Snow crab chawanmushi with shitaki mushroom and shiso leaf. The custard had a thin layer of sauce or broth on the top. The flavors were mild and subtle, a nice change from the stronger flavors of the prior dish. The wine pairing -- a Pazo Senorans Albarino -- was probably the only miss of the night for me.

Eighth course: Spaghetti with abalone, cod roe, and truffle. Utterly ridiculous. I remember this dish -- n/naka's signature dish -- from my first visit several years ago and it was still phenomenal. It amazes me that a pasta at a Japenese restaurant could be better than any I've ever had at a top Italian restaurant. From the first scene of the truffle and garlic to the last bit, nobody wanted this dish to end. Paired with a 2013 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre, which was dry with some floral notes and fit well with the pasta.

Ninth course: A5 wagyu served on a hot rock with vegetables -- cauliflower, beet, cauliflower, mashed potato puree, and a beet chip -- and daikon horseradish and sea salt. Another incredible dish. I don't know what to say other than this was perfect. The wine pairing was a complex Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2013 Alamos, that I absolutely loved.

Tenth course: Firefly sunomono (cucumber and seaweed) with tomato and a mini yuzo sake. This was an interesting and challenging dish. I really liked the tiny squid, which had an almost-livery taste. The yuzo sake served with the dish was refreshing and tasted like a wonderful lemonade. I could have drank several more cups of it.

Eleventh course: Sushi -- six types served in pairs. Toro and whitefish, Spanish makerel and sweet shrimp, uni and octopus. After the sweet shrimp, we received a clear miso both with some of the shrimp head in it. I know I'm repeating myself, but every piece of sushi was fantastic. The octopus deserves special mention. I don't know how it was so tender. Only once before, at Kiriko, did I have octopus that was tender like this. Paired with another sake, which everyone else liked.

Twelfth course: Melon sorbet with rose granita. This was the only dish that I did not love. Not because of the taste. The sorbet was intensely flavorful. The sorbet was just a little too cold and icy, making it hard to eat. This was served with a hot macha.

Thirteenth course: Malted meringue with popcorn ice cream, homemade chocolate-covered raisin, lemon drop, and caramel sauce. This made me giddy. The popcorn was buttery and the meringue was crispy and melt-in-your-mouth. The lemon drop was particularly exceptional. This was paired with a Hannya sweet chili plum wine that was wonderfully sweet and spicy.

Extra dessert - green tea pot de creme. For my birthday, I received a special dish. This was subtle and creamy.

Overall, it was a spectacular meal. Multiple courses elicited "oh my god" reactions. The plating was exquisite (photos can be viewed on my brother's blog: https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/...). Service was impeccable and, when Chef Nakayama came to the table, she was remarkably self-effacing and modest.

n/naka

Not surprising. Even before the Netflix show, it was hard to get reservations. I booked dinner for tonight on Open Table nearly two months ago, and, even then, I only had a choice of 5:30 pm or after 9 pm.

May 16, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Great sushi between calabasas and burbank

Monday is going to be difficult. I would have recommended Sushi Ichiban Kan in Woodland Hills and Sushi Iki in Tarzana, but both are closed on Mondays,

May 13, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Meat-centric dinner with friend from out of town anywhere between Bev Hills and DTLA

How about Korean Barbecue. Genwa in Beverly Hills (on restaurant row on La Cienega) has good meat, great banchan, and is quiet enough for conversation. It's definitely something different from a typical steakhouse. (The Genwa in Miracle Mile is busier and may not be the best in terms of noise and ambience.)

Parks in Koreatown is know for top-end meat, but I can't speak to whether it will be good for conversation.

May 11, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Ms. Shanghai Rose-Murphy is taking over the SFV with all-day, everyday, dim sum

I got takeout dim sum from Shanghai Rose a few weeks ago for a group of friends. Yes, the price is crazy compared to San Gabriel Valley, but the dim sum really was excellent. The dumplings with shirmp and scallop, which we got in steamed and fried varieties, all had very large chunks of shellfish in them and were excellent. The har gow were huge. The small soup dumplings didn't have as much juice in them as other places, but were still very tasty. Egg tart and egg yolk buns also were quite good, as were the spareribs and baked pork bao (though they could be too sweet for some people). Selection isn't going to compare with many of the better SGV places, but the quality is surprisingly good for a SFV or Westside dim sum spot.

May 06, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Up-to-date recs for Saddle Peak Lodge

I haven't been recently, but Saddle Peak has always been known for its game. They usually have elk on the menu, which I have always thought excellent. I know they changed their menu, but I believe they still have a wild game trio. That also is usually quite good.

Special Occasion Restaurant?

Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel Air is a great special occasion restaurant.

Apr 24, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Special Occasion Restaurant?

To add to nosh's questions, "fancy" really means different things to different people. So perhaps you could elaborate on how much you are looking to spend per person, and does that include wine or other alcohol?

Apr 24, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Shake Shack is coming

I only had SS one time in New York, but thought the burger was one of the best fast food burgers I've ever had. It was far superior to In N Out.

Whether I would go to SS here, I'm not sure. I recently discovered Eat That Burger in North Hollywood, which has great burgers for far less than SS, and good shakes too.

Apr 23, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Korean BBQ in Koreatown for boisterous group of 15?

That's the night I'm going to n/naka. I made the reservation a month ago -- and had a choice between 5:30 and 9:30. No, it's not too early.

Apr 20, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Anything interesting in San Fernando Valley?

West of Laurel Canyon is the fairly new Shanghai Rose for Chinese and dim sum daily. It's run by the people who had opened Green Village in Sherman Oaks, but sold it. Previously, they owned restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley.

We got take out dim sum last weekend and, to my surprise, everything was delicious. The seafood dim sums -- crispy shrimp roll, har gow, and steamed scallop roll -- were especially good, with large chunks of shrimp and scallop in every roll. It was the best dim sum I've had outside of the San Gabriel Valley. We also really liked the egg custard and spareribs with black bean sauce.

The downside is that it is far more expensive than going to the San Gabriel Valley or even A&W in Northridge. A lot of the items are in the $6 to $7 range. But if you're craving dim sum and don't want to trek out to Monterey Park, Alhambra or Rosemead, it is a pretty good alternative.

Apr 18, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area
1

n/naka

Thanks. I think we've worked it out. Brother who doesn't eat fish and vegetables is not going to attend. Everyone else is going to go with the dishes, though I probably will ask for no oysters to accommodate my mom's strong dislike for them (plus the other members of my family don't like them either). As much as I like oysters, that's a concession I can make.

Apr 13, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

n/naka

This thread makes me happy.

I haven't been to n/naka since shortly after it opened (mid-2011, I think), but have a reservation for my birthday next month and very excited.

My only concern has to do with my family members who include some very picky eaters. One brother hates fish and vegetables (He is going to have to suck it up). Another loves sushi and sashimi, but doesn't really like cooked fish. And my parents are hesitant about trying new things, avoiding things like uni and octopus. Conversely, I am extremely adventurous and will eat anything they serve.

When I made the reservation, I pointed out that the menu is kaiseki and heavily fish/shellfish oriented. Everyone assured me that is fine, but I also don't want anyone to complain or sulk if the menu isn't to their liking. (That happened at Providence one year.) At the same time, I don't want to miss the opportunity to go and think, if they just accept the menu, they actually will really enjoy it. I know the restaurant will call and ask about dietary restrictions before we go, but any suggestions on how to handle this case?

Apr 12, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Planning an eating trip, need some input (Japanese, Korean, fine dining, Taiwanese, regional Chinese, Vietnamese, coffee, raw oysters etc)

Is the kaya spread you're looking for: http://www.amazon.com/Srikaya-Coconut...

Apr 11, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area
1

Teriyaki Fries - used to be in the valley

You might consider seeing if Picka Rico in Van Nuys will make them. It is a Thai/Mexican place that does a curry nacho fries (so so) and terriyaki beef tacos (quite tasty), among more traditional Thai and Mexican dishes.

Apr 11, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Great place for lunch place in Burbank?

For adventurous, I prefer North Hollywood to Sherman Oaks and Studio City. North Hollywood has great Thai options -- Sri Siam (Vanowen/Coldwater) and Krua Thai (Sherman Way/Ethel) are my two personal favorites. Sri Siam has some top-notch Northern Thai dishes like crispy rice salad, o-lua, and crispy fish or softshell crab with Thai herbs. Krua Thai has the best pad thai in the city (get the pad thai krua thai, which is unlike most of what you see).

There is a fairly new place -- The Drunken Crab -- which is modeled after Boiling Crab and sells your items by the pound. I like the shrimp or the mussels with the cajun sauce (pay for the additional potato and sausage).

If you are in the area late, go to the Tacos La Fonda truck, which parks at Vanowen and Vineland. Tortillas hechos de manos and excellent meats.

During daytime hours, El Taco Llama on Sherman Way, near Lankershim, is one of the better taquerias. For the truly adventurous, go to Van Nuys. In the strip mall on the corner of Vanowen and Vesper is Birrieria Mexico, which has phenomenal birria (roast and stewed goat) and barbacoa (roast beef), served with tortillas hechos de manos, plus a salsa bar that includes a habanero salsa that will set your hair on fire.

In Studio City, Sattdown, a Jamaican restaurant, has phenomenal jerk chicken, great curry goat, and a nice oxtails dish.

Apr 01, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area
1

Lunch for 15+ near Wilshire and La Cienega

Genwa is better than Gyu-Kaku (and just across the street). It could run high depending on how much meat people order. On the other hand, the banchan is included in the price, so I find it a good value. You could probably work out a menu of meats, japchae, bimbimbap, etc. in advance.

Some of the banchan is spicy, but plenty are not. I've taken people there who cannot take any spice and they have loved it.

Of course, you also could go to The Stinking Rose -- for the best steak in the city. (No, that never gets old.)

Mar 17, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area
1

Need help recalling restaurant (1978 photo).

Deleted. Looks like it's just a stock exterior shot.

Mar 12, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

PIZZA DELIVERY CHARGES

Barone's doesn't deliver.

Mar 11, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

visiting LA from SF

None of those four places are accessible from Koreatown without a car or uber/taxi. Perhaps one of the places in Little Tokyo would be more convenient.

Mar 08, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Falafel in West Valley

The website for Cal Mediterranen Grill is http://falafeliciouscatering.com/Cali... and has a logo for "Falafelicious" at the top. Is that the same as the one you went to?

Mar 08, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Falafel in West Valley

Did Falafelicious take over Amer's/Cal Mediterranean Grill in Encino?
I drove by and saw a sign that indicated new management and said "falafelicious" but wasn't sure if that was a name change.

Mar 07, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Mariachi music

Every time I've been to Guelaguetza at Olympic and Normandie on a Sunday, they have had mariachi performers. But Oaxacan may not be the type of Mexican food you are looking for. (I also would verify with the restaurant that they have a band the day you go, since it is not on their calendar.)

Mar 07, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

L.A. Dish of the Month, March 2015 -- SEAFOOD SANDWICHES

I was one day early, but had the Little Jewel po' boy yesterday. That was a great sandwich. The shrimp was fried perfectly -- not greasy and not overcooked. The batter had a slight spicy kick to it that helped avoid it being overpowered by the rest of the sandwich fillings. And it was filling. My friend and I thought we would split a shrimp po' boy and a roast beef po' boy. We ate the shrimp first and never unwrapped the roast beef.

Molecular/ Modern Cuisine in LA or Malibu

The single-best molecular gastronomy meal I've had in Los Angeles was at the former chef's table at AnQi in Costa Mesa. The chef at the time, Ryan Carson, is at The Munchery and has done a pop-up restaurant, Prive. You might want to contact him via Facebook to see if he could cater an event.

Feb 28, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

L.A. Dish of the Month, February 2015 -- BURGERS

Sorry, no pictures, but I had a great burger yesterday from Eat That Burger in North Hollywood (ordered via delivery). I got a Double Bacon Cheeseburger with grilled onions and guacamole. The meat was cooked a perfect medium rare and had good flavor. It wasn't a very thick patty, but not super-thin either. The combo with fries and a coke, plus $0.50 for the onions and $1.25 for the guacamole, came to $9.74. The burger alone would have been $4.99 and the combo, without extras, would have been $6.99.

This will definitely be a regular place I stop or order from.

Feb 26, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Best place for fun graduation dinner near ucla

You're responding to a three-year old post. They probably celebrated the graduation already.

Feb 25, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area

Where to eat INSIDE LAX

That isn't completely true. A few terminals are linked via tunnel -- not a pleasant walk -- but you can sometimes go to a terminal with better food options. I believe terminal 6, which is horrid, can access terminal 5, which has Lemonade, Loteria, and some other superior options.

Feb 16, 2015
Jwsel in Los Angeles Area