DINING : 10 ‘must try’ restaurants in Los Angeles

MATSUHISA

This is where it all started, this tiny little restaurant on La Cienega. Chef Nobuyaki Matsuhisa opened Matsuhisa in 1987 creating a unique japanese cuisine with a south American touch. Hence, yellowtail shashimi with jalapenos which is one of his signature dishes. Black cod with miso is a definite must try, as is the spicy tuna salad and rock shrimp tempura. Even though Chef Nobuyaki recently opened a more glamorous Nobu further up the street, I think that Matsuhisa is still a definite must try. In this small and tiny space I have literally rubbed elbows with stars like Penelope Cruz, Nicholas Cage and even Karl Lagerfeld.

129 La Cienega Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211-2206
(310) 659-9639

CECCONI’S

This classic Italian restaurants sitting at the  corner of Melrose and Robertson is the latest import from London. Within its lavish decor of long button back sofas and leather chairs with a mayfair feel, you might find yourself blinded by the bling of the ladies who lunch there, eavesdrop on some hot-shot producer’s meeting or stare at an upcoming hollywood star enjoying a bowl of salad. The best place to enjoy their various pasta dishes would be at the huge terrace where you can enjoy the breeze and the LA sun with your meal. The food’s good, the decor impressive and the prices are reasonable. Definitely a ‘must try’.

8764 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 432-2000

CRUSTACEAN

This is usually the first restaurant I visit on my trips to LA. You will feel like you are walking on water as soon as you enter this restaurant decorated in French vietnamese colonial style. A serpentine aquarium filled with colorful fish will be at your feet as you walk through the bar area towards the main dining room which is always packed no matter what day of the week it is. Make sure you try their roasted cracked crabs with the secret recipe sauce, a sauce the owners of the restaurant- the An family guard strictly by creating a separate kitchen within their main kitchen in which only family members are allowed to enter. Don’t forget to order their delicious garlic noodles as a side dish.

9646 Santa Monica Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-4402
(310) 205-8990

CUT

 

For quite some time after it first opened  in 2006, it was almost impossible to get a table on short notice at this latest Wolfgang Puck endeavor. At first I didn’t know what to make of this steakhouse. The black eames chairs that surround the tables give the restaurant a sort of office feel that seemed rather odd. You could swivel around in your seat if you wanted to. Their soundtrack of old school rock tracks such as Led Zeppelin, Boston or the Rolling Stones also seemed rather out-of-place. But after not too much contemplating, I realized that it’s always a good idea to be unique and distinct in a town like Los Angeles. That, and a deliciously huge Wagyu steak accompanied by some yukon gold potato puree and tempura onion rings make this a definite ‘must try’ LA restaurant. Oh and don’t forget to try the bone marrow flan as appetizer.

Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire
9500 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills,, CA 90212
(310) 275-5200
 

THE IVY

I simply love the rustic decor of this famous LA establishment. On weekends, the paparazzi camps out behind its white picket fence, trying to get a shot of some hollywood celebrity chewing away on Ivy’s delicious crab cakes. If you are not a celebrity or some hollywood hot-shot, then just brush away the snobby attitude of their hosts and waiters and grab yourself a seat on one of their flowery sofas, preferably on the patio. From your seat, while eating your own set of delicious crab cakes and maybe some lobster linguini, look around and see how many stars you can spot. If there aren’t any, then just sit back, relax, enjoy the food and a little LA sunshine.

2869 South Robertson Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90034-2439
(310) 776-7070

URASAWA

Man, was I happy to find this rough jewel of a restaurant neatly tucked away behind the glitzy walls of Rodeo Drive. You don’t immediately get the 350$ a head vibe when you enter its simple doors into a basic maple wood sushi bar that seats about 10 people. It is only when chef Hiro Urasawa starts working his magic hands and prepares indescribably delicious courses of toro, uni, egg custard and shabu-shabu with foie gras and scallops served on 300 year old table wares that you start to get the picture. Part of the dining experience is watching Hiro-san (yes we have become regulars and now address him on a first name basis) prepare these lovely dishes using spices flown in directly from Japan with such precision and expertise that sometimes you feel bad having to dig in and ruin his masterpiece. Not only do you have to dig in deep into your pockets for a Urusawa experience, you also have to allocate about 3 hours to finish its many courses. But I guess the sake Hiro-san’s mom just brought in from Tokyo will definitely make time fly.

 218 North Rodeo Drive Beverly Hills,
CA 90210
(310) 247-8939
 
WOO LAE OAK

After a few days of travelling, my Asian tummy always cries out for some rice.  The perfect restaurant to fulfill this need would be Korean restaurant Woo Lae Oak, conveniently located on La Cienega, opposite of Matsuhisa. You will always find a table within this huge restaurant of granite tables and smokeless barbeque grills. I would always start with a delicious serving of fried glass noodles called jap chae accompanied with a seafood pancake called Pa Jun. Then for the main course a serving of Bulgogi and Kalbi meat freshly barbecued on our table. You will also notice that the waiters at this outpost are always extremely good-looking, probably actors-in-waiting, and they never jot down your order on paper but always get it right. Good looking AND smart. :)

170 North La Cienega Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 652-4187

MADEO

 

 

This cosy little restaurant located below street level on Beverly boulevard is one of the best places to eat Italian in Los Angeles. The private and cosy ambiance of the place makes it a favorite for celebrities hoping to grab a quiet home-made style meal. On my first visit to Madeo I bumped into Lionel Richie and  Forest Whitaker sitting on separate tables. The Truffle pasta and spaghetti bottarga are to die for. So are their pizzas and steaks.

8897 Beverly Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90048
(310) 859-0242

MR CHOW

 

Now this is another famous star-spotting hangout in La La Land. Celebrities and Hollywood movers and shakers are very often spotted entering or leaving this establishment on N Camden Drive. Before we go any further, you might want to prepare yourself for  probably the most expensive Chinese meal you’ve ever had. This is what Mr Chow is all about. The food I must say is worth it. We always ask the waiter to pick out  their most popular dishes and even tough it might be a bit pricy,  it never fails. I guess you have to pay a little extra for the bustling energy and vibe this place always exudes. Definitely a fun place to sample expensive chinese.

344 North Camden Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210-5112
(310) 278-9911

KOI

A few years ago when Koi first opened its doors and became the ‘it’ place to dine in Hollywood, I’ve had quite a few fights with their snobby hostesses who treat their guests with no respect whatsoever. Now, things have cooled down, other ‘it’ places have emerged and the hostesses at Koi have actually grown a genuine smile on their faces. Now, i can finally enjoy their Japanese inspired cuisine with a Californian touch in peace. The crispy rice spicy tuna is definitely a ‘must try’. Ask the waiter to point out their signature dishes. You can never go wrong with that.

730 N La Cienega Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 659-9449

One thought on “DINING : 10 ‘must try’ restaurants in Los Angeles

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s