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Michael L.'s Profile

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Dinner in Beverly Hills

Mako isn't exactly new...newer places would include LA Food Show, The Cabbage Patch, the restaurants at the Montage Hotel, the Luau, Katsu Sushi, Joss and M Cafe de Chaya...Allora Cucina was just opened by the Drago brothers...and not sure if Trilussa's replacement Villa Blanca has opened yet, but if it has, that would be THE newest!

Apr 27, 2009
Michael L. in Los Angeles Area

Aphrodisiac Closed?

I just wrote a brief review of a test dinner last night at Kula...see previous post titled "Kula -- A Sushi Bistro"

Nov 29, 2007
Michael L. in Los Angeles Area

KULA -- A Sushi Bistro

Went to a "test dinner" last night at a new place called KULA. It's located in Century City, in the former space that was most recently Aphrodisiac and before that Lunaria. The restaurant is scheduled to open on Saturday, Dec. 1st...dinner only, at first.

Of course, it's always difficult to judge a new restaurant when it's in its "shakedown" phase, but my initial impression was extremely positive. First of all, the interior decor is very classy, with elaborate stone walls and a clean, elegant design. It reminded me of Tokyo's Imperial Hotel, with its Frank Lloyd Wright influence. We sat in an extremely comfortable large, white leather booth that allowed us to see everyone who entered, without being conspicuous.

We got off to a bit of a slow start, as the host did not immediately greet us upon entering (probably since they're still gettting their signals straight). However, once we were seated, we put ourselves in the hands of a totally pro waiter named Randy, who previously worked at Spago, The Ivy and The Palm, among other places. He couldn't have been nicer or more attentive, and within minutes we were toasting each other with the delicious house sake and Champagne.

That night's menu was a bit limited, since it was a test dinner...the full menu looks quite intriguing, with a wide range of options, from traditional sushi to exotic tofu dishes. We were particularly impressed by Kula's commitment to organic sources for many of its ingredients. For example, the sweet-tasting organic soy sauce was sublime when mixed with fresh wasabi, providing a high-quality kick to the traditional rolls and sushi offerings.

We started with some edamame, but in all honesty, it was the only miscue in our meal. Perhaps it was just me, but I tend to like my edamame salty and hot (the better to fuel my Champagne consumption!), and this version was lukewarm and lacking salt. Perhaps that was because it was just the second night they were opened, so I'll chalk it up to an opening oversight.

But after that, things kicked into high gear. My wife really enjoyed a creative corn and miso soup, while I started with a tofu salad that featured a rocking fresh wasabi dressing that totally blew me away! The tofu itself was silky soft, not firm, and had an addictive, subtle tang. Not your father's tofu!

Our waiter also tempted us with another appetizer, this one featuring a creamier tofu that was topped by a single perfect shrimp and black caviar....yummmmm!

Then we moved on to soft shell crab tempura, which was hot and tasty, hitting all the right notes. And though California Roll has become a total cliche these days, Kula's was a revelation, made with plenty of real crab and artfully presented on a beautiful rectangular platter...it reminded us why the California Roll became so popular in the first place. They really nailed that, along with an extremely flavorful Caterpillar Roll.

Then we had a traditional salmon teriyaki, which doesn't seem that adventurous, but this was the quintessential version. It was a HUGE piece of fresh salmon, perfectly cooked, along with al dente asparagus, fresh spinach and mushrooms. It was VERY filling and I predict they will eventually decide to trim the portion sizes, because we were totally stuffed!

Dessert was green tea creme brulee and a large coconut cheesecake with fresh berries in mango sauce. Man, that cheesecake was intense! I was reluctant to finish it because it was sooooo good, I didn't want it to end!

I suspect that once the restaurant gets up and running, they will probably want to bring in a jazz combo or other music in the bar area, which is quite large and seems the perfect place for after-work cocktails if you are in the Century City area. After being in so many loud L.A. restaurants, Kula seemed compatively tranquil. Great for conversation, but perhaps needing a little music to boost the ambient energy level.

All in all, they seem like they're off to a good start. I'm looking forward to going back and ordering off the full menu next month.

Nov 29, 2007
Michael L. in Los Angeles Area

Help! Need a place to impress visiting New York friend in 2 hours!!

Oh, almost forgot...Spago is also within walking distance, and while not as "hot" as Cut, it stills bedazzles visitors...

Jan 24, 2007
Michael L. in Los Angeles Area

Help! Need a place to impress visiting New York friend in 2 hours!!

Unique to LA and within walking distance or 5-minute drive from Beverly Wilshire Hotel (no longer a Regent, but a Four Seasons hotel):

1) Mako
2) Sushi Sushi on S. Beverly (authentic Tokyo-quality sushi)
3) Polo Lounge
4) Kate Mantilini
5) Urusawa (maybe they have a cancellation? It's right across the street)

Good luck! Let us know where you end up!

Jan 24, 2007
Michael L. in Los Angeles Area

Roppongi Choices?

Misogui-gawa is a French kaiseki style restaurant in Kyoto, located at Sanjo-sagaru, Pontocho, north of the playground; phone 075-221-2270 to make reservation with Chief Attendant Ms. Haruko Tanaka. We had an amazing lunch there in October, everything was top notch quality, as good as meals we've had at Taillevant and Lucas-Carton in Paris...it's more expensive at dinner, but whenever you go, I'd advise you to forget about the price, indulge in a bottle of great Champagne and prepare to be astonished.

Jan 09, 2007
Michael L. in Japan

Best Phillly Cheese Steak Ever?

While attending a book signing in Westwood, I stumbled upon the Best Philly Cheese Steak Ever! It's at a place called South Street, located right next to the Broxton Parking Garage (2 hours free parking before 6 pm in Westwood...it's a miracle!) Anyway, South Street apparently uses bread dough shipped directly from Philadelphia and then "finished" in its ovens here...and WOW! It's spectacular...fresh/yeasty, soft and pleasantly chewy at the same time! On top of that, the beef in the sandwich is high-quality rib-eye, topped with a tasty blend of real cheese (not "cheez")...as a bonus, there are some truly tasty hot peppers and an addictive thin red hot sauce available to spice things up. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it...and I just finished lunch! Can't wait to go back and work my way through their other menu items, which include various Italian ices and a plethora of Philadelphia dessert specialties. According to their brochure, South Street also has a Burbank location...now all they need to is open a mid-Wilshire place so I can go on my lunch hour...then I will be a happy (and chubby!) camper! Has anyone else discovered South Street? What's the consensus? Or is there another Philly Cheese Steak place I need to try that comes close to South Street's amazing quality?

Nov 21, 2006
Michael L. in Los Angeles Area

Best Burger in LA?

So...I was initially skeptical, but went to 25 Degrees in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for lunch this afternoon and had a truly quintessential world-class burger...sirloin, cooked red-ish/pink rare, definitely juicy...topped with Neal's Yard Cheddar, shiitake mushroom and crisp bacon...fresh lettuce/tomato/dill pickle slices on the side...wrapped in white butcher paper, the better to soak up the juices...with a plethora of fries on the side. A tad expensive ($9 for the basic burger, the toppings brought it to $12.50), but definitely worth it, especially considering we quickly snagged a cozy booth and had prompt, courteous service.

Nov 04, 2006
Michael L. in Los Angeles Area

Issui Opening In Old Cinch Location

Didn't get into the story of Umenohana with her...we were too busy scarfing down Chu-Toro and Asahi!!!

Oct 19, 2006
Michael L. in Los Angeles Area

Issui Opening In Old Cinch Location

Just got back from an amazing trip to Japan, where I overheard some LA restaurant gossip in, of all places, a jammed Tokyo sushi bar!

Apparently, a beautiful Japanese woman is planning to open a tofu/sushi bar called Issui in the old Cinch restaurant space between 15th and 16th Street in Santa Monica. Heard her say she is planning a soft opening in early December and hopes to bring an authentic tofu dining experience to Southern California.

Sounds interesting!

Oct 18, 2006
Michael L. in Los Angeles Area

Roppongi Choices?

Just got back from our trip to Tokyo...had an amazing time! In Roppongi, we ended up eating at Inakaya, which was a LOT of fun, although somewhat overpriced (6400 Yen for mushrooms? Okay, even though they were matsutake, that's still a lot!)

Of all the places we went, we most enjoyed Sushi Dai in the Tsukiji Market, Ten Ichi for Tempura and Gonpachi for casual...but it was in Kyoto that we had our best meals: Tofujaya for tofu kaiseki, Mishima-tei (unreal sukiyaki!) and by far the most amazing, Misogui-gawa (on Pontocho), which was comparable to a state-of-the-art three-star Michelin establishment...our lunch at Misogui-gawa was rivaled only by a similarly spectacular one at Taillevent last year.

Thanks for all your suggestions!

Oct 18, 2006
Michael L. in Japan

Roppongi Choices?

We will be in Tokyo next week and have already booked several suggestions recommended on this board. But we still have not decided on our Sunday night dinner in Roppongi. We are trying to decide between Chinese Cafe Eight, Hainan Jeefan and Inakaya. I understand the first two are less expensive than Inakaya, but a Japanese friend of ours has raved about Inakaya, but hasn't been in awhile. We'd appreciate some feedback on these three suggestions or alternate choices.

Also, has anyone heard of Misogui-gawa in Kyoto? We have a lunch reservation there, but would like some feedback from someone who's been. We've also heard good things abuot Hyotei in Kyoto. If we had to decide between the two, which do you think would be better?

Thanks!

Sep 29, 2006
Michael L. in Japan

Anyone Been To Machete?

I'm going to a concert at a Hollywood Club called Safari Sam's...and they have a restaurant there called Machete...wondering if anyone has tried it out and if so, what you thought of it?

Jul 28, 2006
Michael L. in Los Angeles Area