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Want to try, but too overpriced?

ipsedixit Oct 25, 2006 09:36 PM

Is there a restaurant in LA that you would really like to try but find it too overpriced? And so you've never gone?

Not necessarily that the quality isn't up to par, just that the quality to price ratio makes you hesitate.

For me it might be CAPO.

You?

  1. bodie Oct 29, 2006 10:47 PM

    Spago - not so much because of price but because of the vastly different takes so many foodie friends and ChowHounds have of their meals. I realize that every diner has a different set of expectations and a different dining experience (insert aphorism/cliche here: variety is the spice of life, everyon's entitled to his opinion, you can't set foot in the same river twice) and I don't expect to enjoy any establishment with certainty. It's just that (for some reason I can't quite pin down) I just can't bring myself to spend my own money at Spago.

    1. d
      Diana Oct 27, 2006 04:32 PM

      The burger at Father' office.. Oh, it doesn't cost TOO much..but I refuse to wait in the stupid line and then experience the staff attitude, noise, and super-twit sang Yoon.

      The beer rep for the Wine House tells some terrific stories about that idiot.

      (By the way, when h's on "Good Food", you know he reads right from the beer labels, right? When he tries to wing it, he screws up so bad, brings tears to my eyes.)

      Then, yes, Urasawa. Also the brinch at Inn of the Seventh Ray, which I REALLY want to do, but my Husband says costs way too much.

      Then again, now and again, I have to Splurge.. I loved the tasting menus for Providence and Spago, and want to try more places...or even go back to those two. But now I have less free cash.

      1. PaulF Oct 27, 2006 01:44 AM

        I can't afford to eat at what feels like most restaurants reviewed on this board.

        I think one reason I read it is to live vicariously through the lives of others.

        1. m
          MareZeeDotes Oct 26, 2006 02:59 PM

          I would really love to try Urasawa but I haven't tried much Japanese cuisine so I'm worried that I won't "get" the flavors. Based on all of the rave reviews though I'm scared that if I move away from LA I'll regret not going...

          1 Reply
          1. re: MareZeeDotes
            m
            Marco Polo Oct 27, 2006 03:59 AM

            If you are interested in exploring Japanese cuisine in LA, there are lots of great places to get acquainted for a reasonable price before you scale Mt. Urasawa. Just browse this board for ideas.

            By the way, if you move to New York you can try Urasawa's mentor at MASA (which is even more expensive).

          2. y
            young_chower Oct 26, 2006 05:14 AM

            Easy... Apple Pan burgers. I don't care how good it tastes, I;m not paying $5.50 for something that won't fill me up.

            2 Replies
            1. re: young_chower
              i
              ilikefood Oct 26, 2006 09:31 PM

              young chower- Good decision. I think Apple Pan makes a good burger, worth a try if you're, like me always on the lookout for a good burger. BUT- With cheese, fries and a coke it'll set you back about $12. The decor is minimalist, counter only, diner which hasn't changed since it was built in 1947. You'll usually have to wait in the crowd for one of the few seats, then feel pressure to leave as you finish your meal. Then there's the "spend as little as possible" on plastic utensils, paper wrapping, and paper plates. Considering all of that- it's not worth it- overpriced. If you can get beyond the $6 price (although it doesn't sound like you can) and you live close by, you might consider getting a burger to go. Have them double wrap/double bag it, stop at McDonald's for fries and enjoy it at home.

              1. re: ilikefood
                m
                mc michael Oct 30, 2006 01:44 PM

                You sound like Yogi Berra: Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.

            2. g
              glutton Oct 26, 2006 03:51 AM

              How about the converse question -- what place do you refuse to eat at because it's too cheap? For me, I refuse to eat at Jack in the Box because the only way to make food that cheap is concoct a science experiment and call it food.

              1. chica Oct 26, 2006 03:12 AM

                I would choose Urasawa. But it's not entirely because of the price.

                I am willing to shell out money if I think what I get is worth the experience. I know - I hear Urasawa is worth every penny, a blowout meal - but that's the problem. I believe that at some point, when the place is giving you so much food to make up for the amount of money you're paying, it's overkill. And I'm not willing to pay more money for a boatload of exquisite sushi that will make me feel overly stuffed; I'd much rather pay any amount just a litte less than that for moderate amounts and equally excellent food.

                7 Replies
                1. re: chica
                  t
                  TomSwift Oct 26, 2006 03:50 AM

                  Chica, it is an over-the-top meal. But in our experience it's not that Urasawa-san serves so much food that you're stuffed and it's the quantity of the food that justifies the price. It's the entire dining experience. For example, if they know (or for a first-timer they will see) that you are left handed, the chopsticks are placed on the left of your place. You never have to open a door, they do it for you. If you go to the restroom, they're waiting at the door to open it for you both at your exit and upon your return, and at your seat you have a new napkin and a new hot towel. It's as if the service staff is a half a beat ahead of you as far as what you want or need. Dishes and utensils appear and are removed as if by magic while you're in a conversation. This is an exceptional experience and, yes, we've always left stuffed, but it has always been the most relaxing and pampering experience we've had in an LA restaurant.

                  1. re: TomSwift
                    chica Oct 26, 2006 05:20 AM

                    Hm...I'd much rather pay that amount for a day at a spa for that sort of service. No, I don't think the quantity plus the exquisite open-the-door/chopstick-conscious/new-utensil&dish service justifies the price.

                    If I want to have a fine foodie experience, I would, of course, also want great service -- but it does not have to be that exceptional so that it makes up a disproportionate amount of my check. If they do a great job, the better they'll see my tip at the end of the evening.

                    The Japanese do a great job in the service department. From the moment you step off the plane in Japan, you are treated well. I have had equally top notch service at places in Japan, for less a total price of a meal of course -- and it's not because Japan has worse sushi. The sushi is just as exquisite - if not better - and service just as memorable.

                    I'm glad you enjoy it, but I remain unconvinced. :)

                    1. re: chica
                      t
                      TomSwift Oct 26, 2006 05:40 AM

                      I'm not trying to convince. Only relaying our experiences. I hope you come to the ChowFiesta or other SCARF events so we can discuss.

                      1. re: TomSwift
                        chica Oct 26, 2006 05:46 AM

                        I wish I could! Time constraints make it difficult. For instance, I had planned on the Opus tasting - but the times changed! :-) Though I am looking forward to more events.

                      2. re: chica
                        m
                        miffy Oct 27, 2006 03:30 AM

                        I am glad you had a good experience in Japan- I love it as there is no TIP to think about either!

                        1. re: chica
                          w
                          WBGuy Oct 29, 2006 07:43 AM

                          Urasawa was one of my first fine dining experiences in LA. The service is excellent, what you would expect from a $250/pp establishment, but whatever... I didn't go there for the service. It's all about the food!

                          We had around a dozen unique and innovative small dishes /in addition/ to the sushi. Loved every moment of it, from the melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef/foie gras shabu shabu to the airy sweet tamago at the end.

                          We recently went to The French Laundry for their tasting menu. Their food was as marvelous and amazing as I expected. However, if I could pick only one restaurant to revisit, I would personally pick Urasawa over French Laundry.

                          As for the price... it's about 2-3x what you would pay to have good omakase sushi in the Westside. You can stuff yourself at Suzhi Zo for 2 or 3 nights, or go to Urasawa and have a really memorable evening.

                          My disappointment stems from the fact that now I can't go to places like Sona or Providence because my level of expectations have been set so high. Their tasting courses are about half the price of Urasawa, yet still I leave the place feeling unsatisfied.

                        2. re: TomSwift
                          omotosando Oct 27, 2006 04:10 AM

                          I was wondering if you had eaten at Urasawa's predecessor, Ginza Sushi-Ko, and, if so, how the two compare?

                          I haven't tried Urasawa, but went several times to Ginza Sushi-Ko over the years and always thought it was worth every penny. To me, the test of a great restaurant is whether you would spend your own money there (as opposed to a business boondoggle where someone else is footing the bill) and I almost always paid my own way at Ginza Sushi-Ko. I can't think of another high-priced L.A. restaurant at which I would be willing to shell out my own hard-earned bucks. Patina, Spago, Providence, etc. -- only if someone else is footing the bill.

                          So - how does Urasawa compare to the old Ginza Sushi-ko?

                      3. k
                        kotatsu Oct 25, 2006 10:54 PM

                        Arroyo Chop house, because I went to (the cheaper?) Parkway Grill and didn't like it.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: kotatsu
                          g
                          Griller141 Oct 26, 2006 03:53 AM

                          Not sure I entirely understand your post. Parkway Grill is overpriced and consistently performs at a mediocre, though consistent, level. Arroyo, on the other hand can be spectacular or disappointing; when the former it is probably the best restaurant east of Western. My experience has been 80% great 20% not worth it - a lot depends on where you're seated, but the food can be uneven regardless. A chance to play the lottery with dinner.

                          1. re: Griller141
                            i
                            ilikefood Oct 26, 2006 08:16 PM

                            Griller141, I respectfully disagree that Parkway Grill "is overpriced and consistently performs at a mediocre...level."
                            It is on pricey side but in my opinion the price is somewhere in the middle compared to similar restaurants trying to offer a dining experience at that level. To me PG beats most other restaurants as far as interior design/decor, atmosphere, service, quality of ingredients, preparation, presentation, and deliciousness.
                            I've eaten at Arroyo Chophouse twice, years ago, and found it too be very good and pretty pricey. What exactly accounts for the "20% not worth it" besides seating (where should we sit?)? Are there any recommendations you could make that would make it more of a sure thing than playing the lottery, or do you think it's strictly hit & miss?
                            Maybe it doesn't makes sense- me asking about this, since I disagree w/ you on PG but I am interested, and other 'Hounders may get something out of it. Anyone who likes upscale steakhouses/chophouses should def give it a try.

                            1. re: ilikefood
                              g
                              Griller141 Oct 27, 2006 01:37 AM

                              If I knew how to avoid the 20% not-so-great times, I would not have them. We have been seated in cramped quarters, once nearly on the painist's lap - ask for the Arroyo Room when making reservations. Service is usually top rate, but here have been off nights. Steaks (though curiously, not seafood in my experience) can be over and undercooked and can be of less than great quality. At around $75 per I am pretty picky about details. It's not just me, see S. Irene's reivew from the LA Times a year or so ago, and others.
                              Having said all that, I usually have a great time there and return every chance I get. 80% is good odds.
                              I'm glad you disagree about the PG. Many consider it the best in Pasadena. I still don't see the thrill - overly complicated, high priced, food that is usually bland tasting despite the thrilling descriptions; always reminds me of a watered down version of Spago.

                              1. re: Griller141
                                caitybirdie Oct 27, 2006 06:27 AM

                                i really want you to try pg at lunch. try one of the new menu stuff. when was the last time u were in? they got a new chef, and they're changing things around....

                                1. re: caitybirdie
                                  g
                                  Griller141 Oct 28, 2006 04:58 AM

                                  Thanks. Deal. It's been a while since lunch there.

                        2. k
                          kotter Oct 25, 2006 10:53 PM

                          i second Urasawa. i can't imagine sushi being worth that much. I actually went to Cut and didn't really think that it was worth the money ($420 for 2 people w/ $75 bottle of wine).

                          1. g
                            glutton Oct 25, 2006 10:43 PM

                            Urasawa. I find it hard to justify the cost, when those dollars would finance two or three meals at Sushi Zo.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: glutton
                              russkar Oct 29, 2006 02:44 PM

                              Sushi Zo is NO Urasawa!!
                              It's like comparing a Jet to a Skateboard.

                              All things considered Sushi Zo is a Ripoff for what you pay(75-pp Omakase)1 hr vs. what you get at Urasawa (250-), 4 hrs of dining heaven.

                              Urasawa isn't a Sushi Restaurant like several people assume, it's predecessor Ginza Sushi Ko(300-pp) was basically Sushi which is where some of the confusion comes from.

                              Sushi is a SMALL Portion of the entire Urasawa Meal Experience which is a Collage of Fine Japanese Treasures, Homemade delicacies(ie: Tofu, Exotic Veggie Preparations, Shabu Shabu, Kobe Steak, Dobin Mushi, Live Lobster, Live Prawns, etc.
                              I would rather go to Urasawa ONCE than Zo 20 times, including all the other Major Sushi Bars we visit 2 or 3 times a week.

                              1. re: glutton
                                Pablo Oct 30, 2006 07:19 PM

                                Well glutton, looks like you are true to your user id, sounds like you are more interested in quantity vs quality. Nothing beats the Urasawa experience. You have to come to terms that $250 is a minor amount for having one of the best meals in your whole life sitting right in front of the chef. You cannot get this at French Laundry or Masa's, you are lucky if Masa is actually making your food in NY, nevermind Keller being in the kitchen at all!

                                http://www.flickr.com/photos/64622084...

                              2. c
                                calabasas_trafalgar Oct 25, 2006 10:43 PM

                                Water Grill
                                Morton's

                                1. m
                                  Marco Polo Oct 25, 2006 10:30 PM

                                  L'ORANGERIE is the LA top restaurant I have avoided for many years because I never thought that the price would be worth it. I never let price stop me if I feel the value is there (e.g., URASAWA, PROVIDENCE or the original PATINA). I could never quite get it up for L'ORANGERIE even though I was interested in trying it.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Marco Polo
                                    mollyomormon Oct 25, 2006 10:32 PM

                                    Good choice on holding off. I definitely didn't think L'Orangerie was worth it and it wasn't even my money that paid the tab!

                                    1. re: Marco Polo
                                      a
                                      AquaW Oct 25, 2006 10:35 PM

                                      Also, the exec chef when L'Orangerie was at its best moved to La Cachette (slightly less pricey, I think.)

                                      1. re: Marco Polo
                                        b
                                        BabyLitigator Oct 26, 2006 12:06 AM

                                        L'Orangerie was like going to any of the better french restaurants in the city (albeit more traditional), with a nice space, and a 30% (about) surcharge for the privilege. I went because they were closing, and felt I paid too much. Their wine markups, however, were surprisingly reasonable.

                                        1. re: Marco Polo
                                          chica Oct 26, 2006 03:06 AM

                                          I love L'Orangerie's tasting menu. I think, however, you also pay for the ambience and exquisite service. It's too bad they're closing. :(

                                        2. m
                                          markn Oct 25, 2006 10:17 PM

                                          Providence
                                          Mastro's

                                          1. a
                                            AquaW Oct 25, 2006 09:48 PM

                                            Cut & Providence for me (I'm contemplating a glass jar to throw in $3 a week for "Providence Tasting Menu Fund" heh.)

                                            ~AquaW
                                            http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: AquaW
                                              n
                                              NAspy Oct 26, 2006 12:36 AM

                                              That's a really great idea -- it's amazing how those little amounts add up when you give up a latte or two or a movie rental and then you can go to PRovidence!

                                              1. re: NAspy
                                                a
                                                AquaW Oct 30, 2006 02:35 PM

                                                Haha, well - I just started it:

                                                http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com/2006/10/providence-fund.html

                                                The Providence "beer mug" ;

                                                )

                                                -AquaW
                                                http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

                                            2. wilafur Oct 25, 2006 09:38 PM

                                              cut for the kobe steak.

                                              capo is well worth a try though. their burrata salad and rack of lamb are DIVINE. :)

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: wilafur
                                                ipsedixit Oct 25, 2006 09:50 PM

                                                You're not missing out on much at CUT, esp. with the Kobe steak.

                                                At something like $200 for a 10-ouncer, I would much rather spend that kind of cash at Urasawa.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                  wilafur Oct 26, 2006 02:54 AM

                                                  ah yes. urasawa. so, divert money into my 401k or go to urawsawa? lol!!!

                                                  1. re: wilafur
                                                    t
                                                    TomSwift Oct 26, 2006 03:32 AM

                                                    It's tough to figure out whether you'd do the 401k or Urasawa. We were there with a large group (9, taking over the entire bar) a couple of weeks ago and the Kobe was exquisite, grilled in small strips very rare - it literally melted in my mouth. Urasawa-san cut the meat from a huge loin that must have cost in the $5-6,000 range I dislike Kobe steaks, ala Cut, too rich, but Urasawa hits home. And, as been told and retold on this board, you get your Kobe fix and "much, much more" at Urasawa. Where would you put your $250?

                                                  2. re: ipsedixit
                                                    j
                                                    jfisidore Oct 30, 2006 07:39 PM

                                                    To the point of "want to try, but too overpriced," definitely Cut. I'd love to try some American wagyu, but not for the mediocre reviews it's been getting. A restaurant like Urasawa provides an overall experience, which one could argue somehow justifies the cost. Cut just sounds like no fun — not really a foodie place, but a power-dinner temple of excess. Too Park Avenue to throw down for.

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