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LA - what would blow you away if you've been everywhere

e
Eujeanie May 17, 2008 04:09 PM

We're invited to a wedding for a business associate of my husband. They are young, VERY rich, very LA (she's in television, he's a multimillionaire at 40)...we're not going to get them a toaster.

We were thinking a GC to a super fab LA restaurant. I'm sure they've already been to it (whatever it is), but oh well. I know they like Sushi, so we were thinking Nobu (we don't eat Sushi, plus we're old, so we don't even know if that's still "in" or not).

They live in Toluca Lake but will probably travel anywhere within reason.

What restaurant GC would you be impressed with if you opened it? And what amount would you feel would completely cover the meal?

  1. mollyomormon May 17, 2008 04:16 PM

    I think the standard answer here would be Urasawa. I've not been, but I think the gift certificate would have to be for at least $700 to cover the cost of the meal and drinks.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mollyomormon
      d
      dtud May 17, 2008 04:27 PM

      agree - this is the only place in la that would even make a dent of an impression on these two (based on your description/industry/wealth). and for $700/800 - you could probably give them something much more thoughtful that would last longer than a meal. i think urasawa is amazing, but for a wedding gift? not sure.

      1. re: dtud
        h
        Hobsons Choice Jun 2, 2008 09:48 PM

        Agreed... Urasawa on Rodeo Drive. Nothing else compares.... But you would need at least $800 to cover the meal if they drink. Less if they don't.

    2. g
      glutton May 17, 2008 04:28 PM

      Three or four hundred bucks at Providence would guarantee a great meal, especially if they like fish. It's not sushi, but it's still something special.

      Nobu still gets high marks from the trendy crowd, but I don't think their food is considered cutting edge any longer.

      1 Reply
      1. re: glutton
        n
        Nicole May 17, 2008 09:10 PM

        I agree, I think Providence is the best choice. Providence is certainly do-able for $400 (or less) but I would make it for $500 if that's affordable for you. And by the way, a $400-$500 gift is by no means cheap by L.A. standards! You are definitely being very generous. And while we are not richie riches like your couple, we would certainly appreciate such a gift. (An engraved toaster or something like that wouldn't appeal to us at all...to be honest, we hated most of the gifts we got that weren't on the registry...clutter that I've been gradually throwing out as my guilt lessens...I would MUCH prefer a nice restaurant experience to a lasting gift that is not on the registry.)

      2. n
        nosh May 17, 2008 04:35 PM

        A year (?) or so back there was discussion on the L.A. board of a "secret" beef restaurant, I believe on Pico, that was multi-course, expensive, and exclusive. No name on the door, invitation only -- that sort of thing. I don't recall all of the details but if I had to guess I'd say that a likely poster or commenter was russkar. Probably doesn't help much, as I do remember that the reviewer was thrilled to be given the chef/owner's card at the end of the meal with an offer to call and come back... But hey, if you can figure out a connection, this may be the kind of "in" that would make a special gift.

        4 Replies
        1. re: nosh
          kevin h May 17, 2008 05:09 PM

          Totoraku is the name. A secret no more: http://www.yelp.com/biz/totoraku-los-...

          1. re: nosh
            f
            fooddude37 May 19, 2008 12:45 PM

            It's a secret no more, but still requires invite only. Amazingly, I have a hookup and I still haven't gone. The custom is to bring an impressive bottle of wine to the chef and if he likes you, you get reinvited and then you're in for good. My friend who is "initiated" said that one of his dining partners (who is a wine buyer) brought a $300 bottle of wine and was embarrassed once he saw what other people were bringing the chef.

            1. re: fooddude37
              g
              glutton May 19, 2008 12:56 PM

              Where I come from, they call this a "scam," not a restaurant.

              1. re: glutton
                f
                fooddude37 May 21, 2008 07:54 PM

                Well then I guess there's a lot of scams at high end Tokyo restaurants. This isn't the only restaurant like this.

          2. m
            Mel Gee May 17, 2008 05:09 PM

            Why not a limo well-stocked with champagne and other treats and a progressive dinner with a few friends at their favorite restaurants? It would be expensive, no doubt, but memorable.

            1. e
              Eujeanie May 17, 2008 05:26 PM

              OK, I guess I've had my comeuppance. First of all, THEY are multimillionaires, not us. And getting them a GC to a place you can't get into? Not gonna happen.

              So, rephrasing my question...what would you get an LA couple who has everything, likes to go out to eat, maybe in the $400 - 500 range (is that really cheap in LA? It's a more than generous wedding gift anywhere else).

              Hoping for a little more down to earth suggestions - I know I said "blow you away" in my title but I had no idea the winds blew so strongly in LA!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Eujeanie
                The Chowhound Team May 23, 2008 12:21 PM

                Folks, we had to remove some posts about gift ideas unrelated to food. This board's narow purpose is to find declioiusness in the L.A. region, so please keep your suggestions coming about local sources of great chow.

              2. j
                josephnl May 17, 2008 05:36 PM

                Don't mean to bust your balloon, but I really think that for a wedding gift, I would be much more likely to want to receive something more lasting than a fabulous meal...especially if I could afford to eat anywhere I wanted. Give it some thought, but at least consider something meaningful to them (which certainly need not be expensive), but will make them remember you and their wedding when they look at it many years later. For people who have (or can afford) anything, I truly think they will appreciate something that required thought and has some sentiment or meaning, rather than something expensive and evanescent.

                Sorry!

                1 Reply
                1. re: josephnl
                  monku May 17, 2008 06:38 PM

                  I'm with you....they probably "been there-done that" kind of people and a restaurant gift certificate would almost be kind of tacky.

                  From an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, an engraved toaster would be more unique and memorable than a gift certificate.

                  It should be unique and being expensive isn't a prerequisite. Something they wouldn't do or get for themselves?

                  The good thing...its a write off.

                2. s
                  Sgee May 17, 2008 06:29 PM

                  urasawa and definitely not nobu.

                  1. g
                    glutton May 17, 2008 06:32 PM

                    You might be able to arrange a special dinner in the cheese cave underneath the Beverly Hills Cheese Store. They host catered meals there, so that might be worth an inquiry. Not many people have done this, so it might be a unique meal for the couple. The price is negotiable.

                    1. OCEllen May 17, 2008 06:35 PM

                      Can't imagine giving a 'meal' however wonderful and exotic ....find a small, perhaps, but beautiful 'thing' that reflects both you and them and your hopes for their life together!

                      1. g
                        glutton May 17, 2008 06:45 PM

                        C'mon folks, she wants to give them a meal, so let's do the 'houndish thing and help her out. I, for one, would have loved to be given a great meal as a wedding gift. I was the guy, after all, who wanted to register for an entire wheel of 36-month aged Parmesan cheese.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: glutton
                          Frommtron May 17, 2008 09:31 PM

                          That's why you, my friend, are a genius.

                          1. re: glutton
                            Maxmillion May 19, 2008 01:15 PM

                            Or, even better, a wheel of Beaufort which I recently learned is made from the milk of 40 cows and imho tastes more sublime than aged gruyere.

                            Artisan Cheese Gallery in Studio City imports this ambrosia, as does Bev Hills Cheese Store. Call first.

                            1. re: Maxmillion
                              b
                              b0ardkn0t May 21, 2008 09:32 PM

                              I don't think the number of cows milked is necessarily an indication of how fine a cheese is, but it does mean there was at least a two thirds of a day of milking labor by several people, and then another day of making it. (although from 100 cows milked by hand not machine that would be impressive--though still not an indicator of fine cheese--just the labor wow.)

                              1. re: b0ardkn0t
                                Maxmillion May 30, 2008 09:51 PM

                                sure, point taken -- I just thought it was an interesting fact. It *is* a large wheel of cheese, but about the same as a decent parmagiano...

                          2. e
                            Eujeanie May 17, 2008 06:45 PM

                            Good ideas - keep them coming - I have to go out now. thanks everyone, will check back tomorrow.

                            Remember, these are not close friends, but they are business associates/ friends (my husband is retired and does consulting for the groom's company) - and no, we would not write the gift off.

                            They are also into wine but not sure if that is a correct avenue to explore either.

                            If they were a typical 25 year old couple getting married we would have no problem - but they have EVERYTHING.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Eujeanie
                              b
                              bulavinaka May 17, 2008 06:55 PM

                              Man, if they enjoy wine, then I would guess they're into cheese, charcuterie, and just about anything else the BH Cheese Store would offer. Glutton's response sounds like a natural. Wines are also a nice gift if they're into it. Of course, they could probably buy just about any wine they'd want, but the trick is to get them wine that they probably don't know about and would enjoy and appreciate some time down the line. Assuming they have some sort of cellar or room, I am sure that their frequent visits to it would constantly remind them of the bottle(s) you so thoughtfully picked for them. Most well-reputed wine shops have staff that live wine. Many of them learn more about wine in a month than most (at least me) will learn in a lifetime. I'd consider using their services in picking something truly nice that they could cellar for at least a few years, and maybe another pick(s) for Glutton's suggestion... just a thought...

                              1. re: bulavinaka
                                a
                                archer May 19, 2008 01:43 PM

                                I would suggest getting a special wine or 2 (?) that matures in 5 or 10 years so that they can open it on one of those anniversaries. Maybe w/ 2 beautiful crystal glasses to go w/ it. (I know, not a food response).

                              2. re: Eujeanie
                                monku May 17, 2008 08:59 PM

                                Nothing wrong, illegal or tacky about writing off a gift to a business associate. They won't know or care. It's business.

                                If they're registered that gets you off the hook from the standpoint that you aren't really close friends where you might be expected to "perform".

                                Here's a couple ideas if they're into wine:
                                Get them a $300-$400 bottle of wine.
                                Or
                                Many wineries will customize bottles of wine with your (their name) name on it...you could get them a case of "personalized" wine...depending on the price of the wine a few cases. They could drink it or give it as gifts when they go to someones place and I'm sure they'll save several for themelves for a keepsake.

                                1. re: monku
                                  omotosando May 21, 2008 08:19 PM

                                  True, nothing wrong with writing it off as a business expense, except that the IRS allows a maximum of $25 per gift recipient. Even if this were considered two recipients, that leaves a $50 write off. Unfortunately, you can't get too far with an "impressive" meal for two for $50.

                                  By the way, I think a gift certificate for a restaurant is very risky, unless you are absolutely sure of the couple's tastes, since it forces them to go the restaurant you selected. I would be insulted if someone gave me a gift certificate to Nobu - I consider it junk food for people who know nothing about true Japanese cuisine. I'd be very, very careful unless you truly know the couple's tastes, although I agree that you can't go wrong with Urasawa (which is outside your budget).

                                  1. re: omotosando
                                    omotosando May 22, 2008 08:23 AM

                                    In fact, yesterday's L.A. Times proves exactly why a restaurant gift certificate is risky. The Times' estaurant reviewer gives Nobu one star, slams it for "commercialism and repetition", seafood "just a a notch above mediocre", "gummy" rice and poor quality nori. As I said, better absolutely know someone's tastes before you start handing out restaurant gift certificates, lest your gift get "regifted" to an underling.

                                    1. re: omotosando
                                      e
                                      Eujeanie May 22, 2008 09:32 AM

                                      And that's why I asked this question on a foodie board - we're older, don't eat Sushi, yet we've heard the name "Nobu" in very positive contexts - obviously whatever we have heard was wrong. Did it used to be a good place in its original cities but the brand is just too diluted?

                                      I *do* know their tastes run to sushi. And steak...but the only place he goes to in LA is Mastro's. So we were hoping to get them a gc to someplace they hadn't been.

                                      1. re: Eujeanie
                                        Servorg May 22, 2008 09:53 AM

                                        Just be aware that most of the time posters on the LA Board do nothing but excoriate the LA Times for not knowing good food, or bad even if it reared up and bit them on their editorial ass.

                                        1. re: Eujeanie
                                          Frommtron May 22, 2008 12:53 PM

                                          Well, if they haven't tried Cut then that's the one. And if they have tried cut and still prefer Mastro's then I'm at a loss regarding steakhouses.

                                2. Sam Fujisaka May 17, 2008 07:25 PM

                                  1. A gourmet picnic at a pre-arranged spot! You do the blanket, basket, food, wines--$250. If your guys can talk to their guys, add in a rollar coaster ride (arranged to bypass any lines and waiting).

                                  2. An engraved ("congrats on the wedding plus date plus etc" type of stuff) on a 50s garage sale toaster.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                    westsidegal May 25, 2008 08:31 PM

                                    the picnic idea, if it was given to me, would be a burden, not a gift.
                                    the whole idea that i'd have to show up at a given spot on a given day, would be burdensome, not to mention that i don't like picnics nor the food that is generally served at picnics.

                                    1. re: westsidegal
                                      Sam Fujisaka May 26, 2008 11:04 AM

                                      Good thing you let me know. I was just about to send you a picnic.

                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                        westsidegal May 26, 2008 12:54 PM

                                        :-)

                                  2. c
                                    creamy May 17, 2008 07:46 PM

                                    Why not give them a multi-course meal at an ethnic place? For $500, an awesome Turkish, German, Indian, Brazilian, Lebanese, or Thai restaurant can put on an amazing spectacle for two. The restaurant can thrown in live music and/or dancers (if the place has a license), and unique decorations. This would certainly be memorable, unique, unexpected and blow them away.

                                    1. c
                                      carter May 17, 2008 09:21 PM

                                      Don't know if they like Mexican food or not, but if so, a gift certificate to Babita in San Gabriel would definitely be something they would remember. The food is fabulous, will NEVER remind you of any Mexican restaurant you have ever been to(meaning Torito, Coyote, etal), and the food is the equivalent of Frontera Grill in Chicago. Give them a great bottle of red wine to take with them, and they will never forget the experience, and would NEVER think of going here on their own.
                                      Babita Mexicuisine
                                      1823 S. San Gabriel Blvd.,
                                      San Gabriel, Ca
                                      626.288.7265

                                      1. Frommtron May 17, 2008 09:28 PM

                                        WOW! Absolutely shocked that people are discouraging this wonderful gift idea, especially on this board. My wife and I recieved two very generous gifts just like the OP is suggesting for our wedding and they are amongst the most treasured gifts we recieved. Experiences, oddly enough, can sometimes be more lasting and memorable than a physical object, especially for people who are not wanting for money.

                                        I would say to stick with your idea. I love the idea of Providence and I think Urasawa is out of your (very generous) prce range. I would also suggest possibly a restaurant where they are honeymooning. You'll have to do some research but it will be very memorable and much appreciated, I think. It was for us at least when some very close friends covered our meal at Le Bernadin while we were on our honeymoon. We'll never forget their generosity and their thoughtfulness.

                                        1. e
                                          exilekiss May 17, 2008 09:44 PM

                                          Hey Eujeanie,

                                          I think your gift idea is perfectly fine.

                                          And as you stated, for a couple that has "everything," the argument that an engraved toaster would be more meaningful could be moot as well (if they can afford anything and have all the kitchen / dining room / furniture / bed room, etc., etc.-related items they need, then giving them a non-meal gift would be the same thing).

                                          Of course most of us are biased here - Food Lovers congregate here (^_~) - but I would 2nd the vote for either Urasawa or Providence.

                                          Urasawa truly is a very special night out / experience. One of the top chefs in the world, preparing only the finest ingredients flown into LA from around the world just for his clientele that evening; Chef Urasawa is there solely to prepare the finest meal, just for you (one of 10 people that entire evening). A great experience! But as others have pointed out, it'd have to be ~$800 to cover 2 people for the evening (including tax / tip).

                                          Providence is also a nice place out, within your budget ($400-500).

                                          Good luck~

                                          1. b
                                            brandygirl May 17, 2008 10:21 PM

                                            First, I think a gift card to a nice restaurant or a great bottle of wine is a fine idea for the couple-who-has-everything. After all, with people who are rich, there's not much you can buy them that they can't buy themselves. But that's not the point of a gift. The point is to give them something meaningful, something they will use and enjoy. I used to work for a very, very wealthy man in the entertainment business, and I know he would very much appreciate a fine meal or wine as a gift.

                                            If you want to buy wine, there are a few wine stores in L.A. that are known for great wines and can make recommendations and probably wrap and deliver it for you. Here are a few places in the valley that are known for good selections of wine:

                                            The Flask in Studio City, (818) 761-5373, www.flaskfinewines.com
                                            Duke of Bourbon in Canoga Park, (818) 341-1234, dukeofbourbon.com
                                            Woodland Hills Wines in Woodland Hills, (800) 678-9463, whwineco.com
                                            Liquid Wine and Spirits in Chatsworth, (818) 709-5019, www.liquidpartyworks.com

                                            As for restaurants, there are many where the couple could enjoy a wonderful meal within your price range, including your original idea of Nobu.

                                            Melisse in Santa Monica (310) 395-0881, www.melisse.com
                                            Providence for seafood, (323) 460-4170, www.providencela.com
                                            any of the Nobu Matsuhisa restaurants, www.nobumatsuhisa.com
                                            Spago or Cut (Wolfgang Puck's steakhouse), www.wolfgangpuck.com
                                            You could search this board for many more ideas.

                                            Some good restaurants here are in the top hotels in L.A., so another idea might be a gift card to one of the hotels. You can check with the hotels to see if they sell cards to the restaurants separately or if the gift card is good for either a night at the hotel, the restaurants, or spa treatments. A few hotels with nice restaurants include:
                                            The Langham, Pasadena (formerly Ritz Carlton), (the restaurant earned a Michelin star
                                            ) (626) 568-3900, pasadena.langhamhotels.com
                                            The Beverly Hills Hotel (The Polo Lounge is an institution for those in entertainment)
                                            (310) 276-2251
                                            The Peninsula Hotel (310) 551-2888, http://beverlyhills.peninsula.com
                                            The Four Seasons Hotel, (310) 273-2222, http://www.fourseasons.com/losangeles
                                            The Hotel Bel Air (the restaurant gets mixed reviews, but it is gorgeous
                                            ) (310) 472-1211

                                            1. SauceSupreme May 18, 2008 11:20 AM

                                              I think that in addition to a fine meal, you also want to give them a memorable experience to match the food. So one thing to keep in mind when looking into restaurants is to ask if there's a Chef's Table, preferably right in the kitchen.

                                              Of course, a trip to Urasawa fits that as well. :D

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: SauceSupreme
                                                Frommtron May 18, 2008 06:58 PM

                                                Chef's Table is a GREAT suggestion.

                                              2. e
                                                Eujeanie May 18, 2008 11:27 AM

                                                I've gotten some good ideas here, thanks. I *do* think the GC is a good idea - especially to someplace unique. They have been very generous to us on a lot of levels, and I know they like unique things.

                                                We are tossing around different ideas but I thought THIS board would be a good place to get any restaurant ideas, so thanks.

                                                1. Hughlipton May 18, 2008 11:29 AM

                                                  Saddle Peak Lodge. They may have already been but I think it is always a treat to go there. Try to get seated on the patio if it's warm enough but for sure on the first floor. Go early and have drinks and watch the sunset in the "wilderness". Love their elk dinner.

                                                  1. J.L. May 18, 2008 04:00 PM

                                                    The only restaurant that would fit your criteria would be Urasawa. Costs average around $400-$450 per person, including alcohol.

                                                    If they love authentic Spanish ham, then reserve a Jamon Jabugo Pata Negra ($1200 per leg), to be imported into the U.S. for the 1st time next year.

                                                    OR, you could get them a really nice bottle (or bottles) of wine, if they appreciate fine wine. Chateau D'Yquem, or Romanee-Conti, for example....

                                                    Providence, Melisse, all are solid restaurants, but nothing that special.

                                                    Not in L.A., but The French Laundry in Yountville (Napa Valley) is always a great 3-Michelin Star experience.

                                                    If you know where the couple will be honeymooning, you can contact the resort to add on a spa treatment, or offer to pay for a special excursion or activity while they are vacationing there.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: J.L.
                                                      Frommtron May 18, 2008 07:10 PM

                                                      The OP has set a budget of $400-500 total so Urasawa, even if they were to write it off as a business expense, is out and they've said as much. Surely the couple will appreciate the gift of a $500 meal at one of the top LA restaurants so we should be compiling a list of the greats instead of dissuading them from the idea or telling them they need to double their already generous budget.

                                                      There are amazing and memorable meals to be had at:

                                                      Providence
                                                      Sona
                                                      Bastide
                                                      Melisse
                                                      The Belvedere at the Peninsula Hotel
                                                      Saddle Peak Lodge (and include a great bottle of wine)
                                                      Ortolan
                                                      Patina (might include some tickets to a Disney Hall concert, too)
                                                      Etc.

                                                      I don't know a ton of people who are loaded but the few I do would not think twice using a GC.

                                                    2. d
                                                      dtud May 18, 2008 04:48 PM

                                                      would people this wealthy even want to use a gift certificate? i know folks that won't use one that aren't even multimillionaires b/c they think it looks tacky.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: dtud
                                                        SauceSupreme May 18, 2008 04:52 PM

                                                        Hence the reason why you want to get them a reservation at someplace memorable, cost-be-damned.

                                                        1. re: dtud
                                                          J.L. May 18, 2008 05:53 PM

                                                          This is meant to be a wedding gift, but business gifts can be quite lavish (and tax-deductible!)! If the lines were to "blur", given that the person giving is also a business associate, then costs can become less prohibitive.

                                                          1. re: dtud
                                                            j
                                                            josephnl May 18, 2008 09:49 PM

                                                            I totally agree with you. A gift certificate is the equivalent of giving money, but with restricted options for use, and I can't understand why would anyone think that giving money to very wealthy people is a good idea. As I stated before, I think that something of very modest cost, but with much meaning and which is not evanescent, is far more appropriate... especially for persons who can afford to buy most anything themselves.

                                                            1. re: josephnl
                                                              SauceSupreme May 18, 2008 11:18 PM

                                                              The OP has already responded that a gift certificate is *among* the things she's thinking of giving, and is on CH looking for a restaurant *should* that be her choice.

                                                              1. re: SauceSupreme
                                                                e
                                                                Eujeanie May 19, 2008 12:06 PM

                                                                Thanks everyone for trying to understand. It is a very tricky social situation, isn't it?

                                                                My husband is actually going there this week for his infrequent consulting gig so he's going to talk to a couple of the other people who are invited to the wedding and try to ferret out what they will be doing. Our situation is unique because he only works for him on a very limited basis, but he has been VERY generous to us in the past (I don't care whether he writes it off or not, that's the way of the world, some people have all the money in the world and are quite stingy. He is not).

                                                                I thought of the GC because they DO like to go out to eat - and if we can find someplace unique that they might not have been to, I think that's a very thoughtful gift. I love getting restaurant GC's. I never say "oh, it's just like cash". If it's to either my favorite restaurant or one that's unique and would be fun to try, why not.

                                                                1. re: Eujeanie
                                                                  Maxmillion May 19, 2008 01:27 PM

                                                                  I think the trick is to choose a restaurant that they haven't been to (see if you can suss that out somehow) and possibly one that has a lot of recent buzz to it.

                                                                  I thought the food at BLT on Sunset (old Le Dome space) was superb, esp the braised beef, but very rich. Lively scene but not too noisy. I spotted Govind Armstrong dining there (it was a Sun eve and with his magnificent dreds, he's hard to miss).

                                                                  I would like to second some of the recs, namely Sona over Providence and also Ortolan. Ortolan is quite a romantic space (providing you are seated in the leather booths under the chandeliers) and Eme's cuisine is sublime. About $4-500 should cover a multi-course (degustation) meal plus good wine for two.

                                                          2. r
                                                            rameniac May 21, 2008 08:58 PM

                                                            if they've got the money to go eat at whatever fancy place they want, why not go the complete opposite route? i'm not suggesting mcdonald's, but treat them to an unpretentious, inexpensive, but unforgettably tasty and unique experience that they simply would never have known about otherwise.

                                                            yakitori bincho. the end.=)

                                                            1. k
                                                              krntourist May 22, 2008 03:00 PM

                                                              What about trying to get a reservation at the upcoming Ramsay @ The London. Of course, no guarantees of "blow you away"-ness, but they've certainly never been there. No idea how hard it would be to get a reservation, or what the cost would be.. just thought I'd throw my hat in as well.

                                                              Awesome gift idea, though. I'm sure they'll appreciate the thought that went into it.

                                                              8 Replies
                                                              1. re: krntourist
                                                                p
                                                                prainer May 22, 2008 10:08 PM

                                                                went to a lunch tasting at Gordon Ramsay at the London this week and was totally underwhelmed - I dont get how this type of experience will fly in LA - its way too formal in design for SoCal - not to mention that my friend and I cracked up when our server brought our entree - the portion was so small that we wanted to get a burrito as soon as we left - Thanks for the laughs Gordon. You should take some notes from Puck and Batali.

                                                                1. re: prainer
                                                                  e
                                                                  Eujeanie May 23, 2008 09:00 AM

                                                                  My husband talked to his right hand man and HE doesn't know what to get them, either. He did say (and I didn't know this since I've only met them a few times and it was always in restaurants) that his fiancee does NOT cook.

                                                                  Now let me just throw this out...I know that most of you are anti-Nobu, and I'm sure you have good personal reasons for that. These people are not really "foodies", but they do like to go out a lot, and they do love sushi. Besides living in LA, they have a house/business in Dallas, and make numerous trips to Las Vegas and Hawaii. I looked at the Nobu menu, and I don't know anything about sushi, but it seems like it might be quite difficult to spend $400 in one sitting (I guess it depends on what wine you order) - am I wrong here? Each "thing" was only $8-$10...anyway, my point is, if we get them a Nobu GC, it works like a gift card from a store - you keep using it until it is gone. So they might get a couple of meals out of it, in different places. And if you CAN end up spending $400 in one sitting, well that's ok, too.

                                                                  I really appreciate all the responses, and I'm not 100 percent sure we're going to do this (it was one of a couple of ideas I had), but I really like the fact that they will be able to use it in so many places, rather than just one restaurant which may be impossible to get into with their busy schedules and crazy reservation policies.

                                                                  Nobu also has several cookbooks, and although she doesn't cook, I have many cookbooks which are really works of art more than anything useful (I love my French Laundry cookbook, even though I've never made anything from it). I think putting the GC inside the cookbook would make a very nice presentation.

                                                                  I think it's "personal" because it would be something useful based on their location (several), and something we know they like (sushi).

                                                                  So I need to seriously know - why is Nobu so "bad", or is it just someplace everyone loves to hate?

                                                                  1. re: Eujeanie
                                                                    r
                                                                    rameniac May 23, 2008 09:47 AM

                                                                    i honestly haven't been there, but judging by this board, i can see why this wouldn't be the place to get a hearty nobu recommendation. matsuhisa (chef nobu's original place) was the groundbreaking sushi restaurant that innovated "fusion" style sushi. chowhounds tend to be purists, and a lot of us (me included) have a strong preference for more ostensibly "traditional" and "authentic" types of food. that and the fact that nobu has commercialized his operation so much since his success (with branches, books, sauces sold in stores), and that the vast majority of fusion sushi restaurants have copied his style to the point where you can eat horrendous versions of similar food at shopping malls across the country probably turn a lot of people off to what objectively can't be all that bad of a restaurant. i'm guessing nobu is simply not our thing more often than not, but give us urasawa, mori, and sushi zo and we'll likely go nuts over "traditional" sushi experiences.

                                                                    that said, another option just popped up into my head. have you thought of giving them an in-home (in their home) dinner event catered by a top chef?

                                                                    i don't know if alain giraud (bastide, the peninsula) is still doing it since he's set to open his new restaurant, but not long ago he would be do these things where he would come cook a full on amazing meal for you at your home. even if he's not doing that any more, i'm sure there are other chefs out there who are.

                                                                    1. re: rameniac
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                                                                      Eujeanie May 23, 2008 10:28 AM

                                                                      Funny you should mention the in-home thing. For Christmas the other guy I was talking about (his COO) got he and his fiancee in-home cooking lessons from some LA chef (she had been saying she WISHED she knew how to cook), so in a way that would almost be too similar (or would it?). Interesting idea...

                                                                      When I say they are "not foodies" I will tell you that every time we have been out with them (and my husband has been many more alone on business than with me), it has always been to NOT one of a kind restaurants - Mastro's, Del Frisco's, Roy's, House of Blues (he's a Foundation member) and numerous non-descript places near the offices (always sushi, steak or Italian).

                                                                      1. re: Eujeanie
                                                                        b
                                                                        bulavinaka May 23, 2008 10:59 AM

                                                                        Cut (steaks), Sushi Zo (sushi), and Valentino (Italian). Sounds like he enjoys good food and would appreciate great food. Maybe he just doesn't have the time to pursue it or maybe he just needs a nudge into that realm - he obviously hasn't taken the opportunity to jump on to Chowhound. No doubt he can easily afford any and all of the likes of these three places - maybe you can welcome him to this world...

                                                                        I did read an article in the LA Times "Food" section a few years back about many of the city's more known chefs doing meals in the homes of those who wanted that level of service. You could try calling around to see if this would work. As long as your husband's friend has an appropriate kitchen space, it would open this opportunity.

                                                                    2. re: Eujeanie
                                                                      a
                                                                      archer May 23, 2008 12:06 PM

                                                                      Since they clearly dine out a lot & much of it is also business dining, maybe the most romantic idea would be to give them an elaborate basket of goodies to enjoy @ home (the chef idea is great, but I suspect way more than $400). But you could put together an expensive, wonderful wine w/ elegant glasses, unusual cheeses, caviar, maybe some great charcouterie, etc., add candles & perhaps a jazz CD which they could enjoy at home for a relaxed, romantic newlywed evening. There are several gourmet stores in L.A. which could help you put this all together. Beverly Hills Cheese Shop or Artisan Cheese Shop in Studio City might be good places to start. I would go to a speciality wine shop for advice on the wine. Other hounds might have ideas for one-stop shopping for this sort of thing.

                                                                      1. re: Eujeanie
                                                                        Sam Fujisaka May 23, 2008 03:23 PM

                                                                        Eugeanie, so, your guys talked to their guys.

                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka
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                                                                          Eujeanie May 23, 2008 03:47 PM

                                                                          Yeah, it was like, so LA. Except I don't know if you've ever been to Mastro's but I found it (remember I'm old and uncool) pitch dark and loud as can be, so I have no recollection of that night at all (lots of wine was involved, too).

                                                                          Oh, forget the honeymoon - they're going to Thailand.

                                                                  2. n
                                                                    nosh May 23, 2008 12:27 PM

                                                                    After following the thread to this point I'd recommend the gift certificate for Cut.

                                                                    Urasawa is out of your price range. You seem to want to do Nobu, so go ahead, especially if it could be a general GC that could be utilized at the new jewel in Beverly Hills or up in Malibu or out during their travels to NYC or Vegas. (I don't know if the GC is site-specific, or whether you want it to be.) But while Puck's headliners keep getting better, more cutting edge, and unique (Spago, Chinois, Granita and Eureka, Spago BH, Cut) the Nobu signature is becoming more like an expensive chain.

                                                                    A gift certificate in the range you are considering not only pays for a meal at Cut, but leaves room for them to splurge where they'd choose -- a few ounces of the kobe, a great bottle of wine, maybe the wagyu, and they could taste the bone marrow flan that everyone waxes heavenly about. It is relatively new, in the heart of a great BH hotel, has architectural interest, and Puck's service is always topnotch.

                                                                    There is something about a superior steakhouse. Normally, I hate spending that kind of my own money on a la carte entrees with relatively simple food that I can grill to my own tastes myself at home for a lot less money. But it does make a great splurge, and I really enjoy eating steak!

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: nosh
                                                                      b
                                                                      bulavinaka May 23, 2008 01:17 PM

                                                                      This might help...

                                                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/520214

                                                                      1. re: nosh
                                                                        Frommtron May 23, 2008 02:11 PM

                                                                        Given all of the parameters and the OPs response to the feedback offered here, I'd say Cut is the perfect choice. Good call here and thoughful explanation offered by nosh.

                                                                        1. re: Frommtron
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                                                                          Eujeanie May 23, 2008 03:23 PM

                                                                          I think CUT sounds great. I'm staying at Palazzo in July and I'm figuring out how to fit the LV one into our itinerary. BUT...and here's the big BUT...he goes to Mastro's all the time because they KNOW him there. We walked in the door and EVERYONE came over to greet us. But CUT might get him out of his comfort zone - not sure if that's good or bad. My husband is coming home today so I'll see if he got any hints - I talked to him last night and the COO guy just had some ideas that cost thousands, and we're not going to do that (don't want to say what because they're not food related).

                                                                          The other thought I had was to find out where they are going on their honeymoon and maybe pick a place there - a one time, clearly defined meal. Hope my husband found that out.

                                                                          I'll keep everyone posted since you've been all so nice to give your time with your replies.

                                                                      2. Sam Fujisaka May 23, 2008 03:21 PM

                                                                        Aren't there any Japanese food places in LA? If they like sushi, they might like some good, high class but more home cooking based Japanese food.

                                                                        1. e
                                                                          exilekiss May 23, 2008 11:55 PM

                                                                          Hi Eujeanie,

                                                                          Based on your newest feedback and clarification to us, here are some more points to consider:

                                                                          1. Your quote: "I will tell you that every time we have been out with them (and my husband has been many more alone on business than with me), it has always been to NOT one of a kind restaurants - Mastro's, Del Frisco's, Roy's, House of Blues" (Eujeanie)

                                                                          I think this is a blessing in disguise: If they love food (and especially Sushi and Steak), and yet mainly know/go to the above type Chains, giving them a GC and introducing them to a one-of-a-kind, even better quality restaurant would be pretty nice, in my humble opinion.

                                                                          Given that, I also think CUT would be wonderful. It's unique, very classy and something different that they don't seem to frequent.

                                                                          2. Nobu: You're asking why Nobu is so bad / sucks? Nobu is purely for the scene. I've been very disappointed at Nobu's - Average-quality Fish (tendon/gristle in many pieces), extremely oversauced / too "fussy" Fusion dishes where the flavors don't combine well together; and being in a restaurant with the majority of the people wanting to see and be seen. We averaged ~$200-240 per person each visit and I felt it was a HUGE waste of money and time.

                                                                          There are so many better quality Sushi restaurants in L.A., I sincerely implore you not to waste your money on this restaurant; but ultimately, it's your call.

                                                                          Especially since they love Sushi, giving them the gift of LA's truly Best Sushi restaurants (which it sounds like they mainly go to expensive chains) would be a great eye-opener and something unique in their life.

                                                                          Just something to consider. :) Good luck.

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: exilekiss
                                                                            J.L. May 24, 2008 01:37 PM

                                                                            At this point in the discourse, I feel the need to defend Nobu's flagship establishment Matsuhisa on La Cienega...

                                                                            Yes, Nobu's other outposts have become "all scene, all the time", but from a food standpoint, I've truly enjoyed some SPECTACULAR meals at flagship Matsuhisa.

                                                                            As long as one goes into Matsuhisa with fusion (and not traditional sushi) in mind, the meal can still be a revelation. This holds true especially in the private room, where deep corporate accounts can buy some outstanding experiences. My first Japanese grade A5 beef in L.A. was in this room a few years back (it was probably contraband then).

                                                                            Consistency also matters. In my 45+ visits to flagship Matsuhisa, I've had some so-so meals, but NEVER a bad one.

                                                                            1. re: J.L.
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                                                                              exilekiss May 24, 2008 02:59 PM

                                                                              Hi J.L.,

                                                                              Well said. Don't get me wrong, I was only talking about *Nobu*, not Matsuhisa. (^_~)

                                                                              1. re: J.L.
                                                                                omotosando May 25, 2008 01:03 PM

                                                                                I can't say I have been to Matsuhisa 45 times, since I will only go if I am dragged by someone else and they are paying (I don't consider it worthy of my own money). I have never had a spectacular meal there - almost everything has been mediocre and it is one of the ugliest restaurants in town. I actually find the food and the aesthetic to be the antithesis of a true Japanese dining experience. I remember running into a Japanese expatriate at another Japanese who told me that when his Japanese mother has a hankering for American food, she likes to go to Matsuhisa. That about sums it up for me.

                                                                                1. re: omotosando
                                                                                  Frommtron May 25, 2008 02:00 PM

                                                                                  I think one of the first things that J.L. mentions in his post is that one must enter Matsuhisa with the notion that one is eating fusion food. Given the intentions of the chef, it is quite unfair to judge it based on a true Japanese dining experience. While mediocre food is mediocre food, if one is not one for fusion then one may never think highly of a place like Matsuhisa, no matter how well the restaurant may execute their design.

                                                                            2. s
                                                                              spacestationvegas May 24, 2008 02:21 AM

                                                                              Going with someone else's idea of a picnic, what about tickets to the hollywood bowl, bottle of wine, and a gc for a fabulous hollywood bowl picnic? Many restaurants around town to great take out meals specifically for the bowl. To me, that sounds like the perfect LA night out.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: spacestationvegas
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                                                                                Bite Me May 24, 2008 01:00 PM

                                                                                Doesn't Patina cater to the box seats at the Hollwood Bowl? Then, if you get them great box seats, they can order their dinner and wine while there. That is a good idea, though, you'd have to know when they were available to attend and their taste in music.

                                                                              2. b
                                                                                Bite Me May 24, 2008 12:57 PM

                                                                                I personally would be impressed dollar-wise and menu-wise with Cut, Craft, Spago, the Grill, any of those types of places. My husband got one last year for his birthday, to Musso & Frank's in Hollywood, where we used to go when we lived on that side of town, and we still haven't used it (his birthday was last August), but we will. We loved the restaurant selection because it's a really fun old Hollywood place to go and the amount was NOT the issue - it was $47 for his age last year and we thought that was also a lot of fun! It was not intended to cover the cost of the meal and drinks and we thought it was creative and thoughtful. We would have felt very uncomfortable it it had been a serious amount of $$. THat won't work for a wedding gift, though. (Why not buy them something off their registry? Or, if they didn't register, something from Geary's on Beverly Drive in BH, which is easily returnable.) Let us know what you decide!!

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Bite Me
                                                                                  westsidegal May 25, 2008 08:34 PM

                                                                                  of the restaurants on your list, i'd vote for either spago or the grill on the ally.

                                                                                  no matter what their tastes might be, those two restaurants have broad enough menus so that they could easily find plenty of food to their liking.

                                                                                2. f
                                                                                  fdb May 25, 2008 08:49 PM

                                                                                  Eujeanie...by all means give them the GC to Nobu if you are so inclined. You know them better than any one of us. I know, from experience with my out-of-this-world-wealthy clients, they would prefer not to have any more crystal wine glasses because they must already have dozens. I know they would not want to have a picnic basket because it's too much work for the wife (you mention she doesn't like to cook). They don't care for another bottle of '82 Ch. Lafite because they have cases in their cellar. My young and wealthy (and not-so-foodie) clients enjoy going out to chic and hip places such as Nobu. I'm sure yours will, too.

                                                                                  1. m
                                                                                    Mr Grub May 26, 2008 10:55 AM

                                                                                    The Grubs recently rec’d a gift card for $250 to Cut. The card covered 2 apps, 2 top steaks (not Kobe), 1 dessert, coffee & a lovely, under-$100 bottle of wine. For another $100, $200, or $300 you can upgrade the mains & wines substantially.

                                                                                    Cut is the premier to-be-seen venue for your bus assocs' age & industry. The food is soaring & memorable, service impeccable, & room is sweeping & surprisingly quiet. Cannot-miss choice.

                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Mr Grub
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                                                                                      gordita May 26, 2008 12:48 PM

                                                                                      Good Lord, this is like a feeding frenzy. After looking at the above responses I'll throw my two cents in. Loved the idea given of doing a bottle of expensive champange and somesort of platter whereever they are honeymooning. What a great thing to walk into your room with that waiting after traveling. Plus, points for orginality.
                                                                                      Other winner was box seats at the Hollywood bowl with dinner. Great night out in L.A.
                                                                                      Remember Chows, even if they are indeed gazillionaires, it deosn't mean they have good taste. This could be a case of pearls before swine...

                                                                                      1. re: gordita
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                                                                                        Eujeanie May 26, 2008 03:19 PM

                                                                                        Feel free to continue talking amongst yourselves...I AM getting much good advice.

                                                                                        We're still waiting on info about going in with the other couple on the (non food) gift so haven't made any decisions yet.

                                                                                        Trust me, they are not boors, they just don't care for super fancy food or the time it takes to cook it. They are extremely nice, have been very generous to us, and have entertained me lavishly when I've had the good fortune to accompany my husband on his business trips. Not just spending money that they have anyway, but little things...for example, so I wouldn't have to drive on strange roads, they had limos take us EVERYWHERE for the 3 days I was there. They didn't do that for anyone else (my husband doesn't drive). Who else would have even thought to do that?

                                                                                        Anyway, I do check in here occasionally and I do like reading the responses. And just so you know...they are registered, with some quite mundane stuff. As a last resort I can always fall back on that, but because they've been so nice to us I really wanted to be a little more creative (and I know many of you don't think GC's are creative, and that's fine, but we'd be providing them with a new experience. To me, since every time I have ever been with them has been out at a restaurant, that is the environment in which I "know" them, and therefore I feel a kinship, an affinity, with providing them with a meal, an extension of the times we've been together. I know that doesn't make much sense, but to me it makes more sense than buying them a platter off their registry.

                                                                                        So keep the ideas coming.

                                                                                    2. p
                                                                                      pinpei May 26, 2008 04:21 PM

                                                                                      I would vote for Bastide. The seven course meal with wine pairings is $190/person. So, $380 plus the 18% gratuity they include on the bill puts you at about $450. Leave on the extra $50 for bottled water and cocktails.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: pinpei
                                                                                        J.L. Jun 1, 2008 09:14 PM

                                                                                        Bastide is overrated (in its current state). Just had a very, very mediocre meal there one week ago. I forgot about it already until this post reminded me of it.

                                                                                        1. re: J.L.
                                                                                          Frommtron Jun 1, 2008 10:20 PM

                                                                                          That's too bad since Manzke had really turned that ship around. I had a wonderful meal there 2.5 months ago. It's seems that place is cursed with turmoil.

                                                                                          Considereing the recent upheaval though, I hope that the meal you had was a result of just that and they get their act together. I've had some memorable meals there.

                                                                                          1. re: Frommtron
                                                                                            J.L. Jun 1, 2008 10:35 PM

                                                                                            Agree about the tumultuous soap opera that is Bastide these days. I too look forward to better meals there in the future.

                                                                                      2. welam97 May 31, 2008 04:38 PM

                                                                                        You seemed to suggest that you and your husband might be going in on a gift with another couple. if they were planning on spending anywhere close to the amount of money you are, then you could get them a gift certificate to Urasawa. $400 - 500 each would definitely cover the cost of the meal...

                                                                                        1. m
                                                                                          mssreatalot May 31, 2008 05:28 PM

                                                                                          Wow, who knew you'd hit a such a vein of opinions and suggestions?
                                                                                          I'll offer one more. Shinbucho. It's a 30-year-old sushi restaurant on
                                                                                          Beverly Blvd. Near Silverlake. It is small, it's urban and it is magnificent.
                                                                                          Shigei is a masterful chef and his technique is beyond reproach. His wine
                                                                                          list has the best selection of vintage Bordeaux's in the city, bar
                                                                                          none. A completely unique experience in sushi/wine paring. This
                                                                                          is NOT Nobu or Urasawa. It is not fancy. It is not trendy. It is not
                                                                                          populated with hipsters or starlets or hollywood wannabees. It
                                                                                          is an adventure. And, if one embraces and respects Shigei,
                                                                                          he will open his cellar and his talents and your friends will not be
                                                                                          disappointed.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: mssreatalot
                                                                                            J.L. Jun 1, 2008 09:19 PM

                                                                                            Shigei-san's cellar is world-class. I wish more Hounds would frequent this place.

                                                                                          2. s
                                                                                            Simon Jun 2, 2008 02:14 AM

                                                                                            personally, i like the idea of restaurant GC (and have given that in the past) but only for people whom i know extremely well...with less close friends, you run the risk that it's something they'll never use because the place is out of neighborhood or not their favorite, etc...some other thoughts:

                                                                                            -- the BH Cheese cave idea is intriguing

                                                                                            -- i wouldn't make it for any restaurant that's far away (e.g. San Gabriel) because it raises the chance of it going unused...

                                                                                            -- not Nobu!...mediocre sushi...a standard business lunch place they've prob been to dozens of times...and a Nobu GC might indeed come off as a bit tacky...

                                                                                            Given all the caveats and pitfalls, i'd recommend this: get them a 300 or 400 dollar bottle of wine...go to a top store and have them help you select something staggeringly good...or, even better, a 400 dollar bottle of armagnac (or a 250 bottle with two great snifters)...it's a lovely gift: they can either drink themselves or wow someone in the future by bringing it to a dinner party...

                                                                                            1. b
                                                                                              burbankfoodie Jun 2, 2008 09:56 AM

                                                                                              I really like the idea of the Hollywood Bowl and a great bottle of wine/champagne. We've bought gift certificates for people and you don't have to have a date. The other plus is they can use it at the bowl or at the Disney Music hall - for any date and I believe any one of the one-off rock-type concerts.

                                                                                              If not that, then perhaps find out where they are staying. I'm guessing some fabulous Thai resort. Have a spectacular breakfast delivered to them the first morning of their honeymoon (including of course a nice bottle of champagne).

                                                                                              The nice thing about these options (esp the second one) is that there is definitely thought into the gift rather than just spending money.

                                                                                              1. t
                                                                                                The Sauce Jun 8, 2008 06:44 PM

                                                                                                I skipped through a lot of this thread as there were so many responses, so my apologies if this was mentioned already, but what about a private dinner at their home? There are some, not all but some, chefs in town who will do this. Just a suggestion.

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