3455 S. Overland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Thurs, 08/20/2015, 7:30pm reservation
N/naka is one of those restaurants that you rarely come across often. I waited two months for a reservation to finally be able to try this restaurant all thanks to Chef's Table. It's a special place that truly transcends Japanese cuisine at its finest. The restaurant is constructed around the idea of kaiseki, a Japanese culinary art that presents ingredients in the freshest and most natural form.
Chef Niki Nakayama has a gift of transporting us on a Japanese culinary adventure by exhibiting kaiseki with both traditional and modern techniques. The chef, who once worked under Takao Izumida of Takao and Masa Sato whilst in Japan, is able to bring a tasting menu that exposes us to the art of the kaiseki practice. Not only are the ingredients fresh, but she handpicks everything everyday.
N/naka can be easily missed; no signs...just a plain, gray building. The interior is simple and casual with clean lines. The ambiance makes you feel comfortable with décor that isn't over the top. A row of elegant chairs line a countertop for guests to sit, relax and sip on some bubbly while waiting for their tables.
|The bar area
|A glass of bubbly to welcome you!
And the food...well...see for yourself!
|A CLOSER LOOK AT COURSE 1 WITHOUT THE SOUP
|A closer look at the duck and the jellyfish
|A closer look at the tuna and the lobster
|A closer look at this dish
|Look at all this soup!
|And my crab got stuck in the spout :(
|THE COOKED STUFF CHEF MADE ON THE FLY FOR OUR FRIEND. THAT SHRIMP WAS SOOO GOOD...SMOKEY WITH A NICE CHAR ON IT!
|And it was all gone....
|COURSE 7: MUSHIMONO (STEAMED/FRIED): Fried sea bass. This was delicious. It had a sweet and sour flavor and the eggplant that came with the dish was nicely cooked. It was a good dish overall.
|A closer look at the pasta
|COURSE 10: SUNOMONO: Maguro, Japanese cucumber, Wakame, Yuzu Sake. This is a dish to cleanse the palate. It was fresh and light and the yuzu sake...oh man! Don't get me started on that. I could drink that forever....
|Ever seen tempura fried uni? Now you have! Although our friend was disappointed that she couldn't eat anymore raw foods, she said this stayed creamy and fresh.
|A closer look at the granita
|I wanted some chocolate and voila! It was in front of me!
Overall, N/naka is a breath of fresh air. I have not tasted something this fresh and unique in a very long time, especially in Los Angeles. The intricate details and respect that Chef Nakayama has for the ingredients can be seen in each course. How she comes up with the pairing of each ingredient is truly inconceivable. And if you've been here before, she takes note of it so you wouldn't have the same menu twice.
Beyond the food, the service is impeccable. They unequivocally care about their customers and their experiences at N/naka. One of our friends ended up having an unknown allergic reaction to one of the dishes (possibly from raw shellfish) and the servers constantly catered to her, making sure she was ok. Additionally, Chef Nakayama changed up the menu for her on the fly to prevent any additional reactions from occurring.
N/naka is a masterpiece and in my opinion, would probably consider it one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. This place isn't cheap ($185/pp) but I would eat at this place again in a heartbeat...that is if I'm lucky enough to secure a reservation. Thanks Chef Niki for an amazing meal!
Notable dishes: Spaghettini with Abalone and the Sashimi