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help! hip/fun japanese to treat a friend to?

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I'm flying out from Boston on Thursday to visit a friend for a few days. She's going through a tough time and I'd like to take her out for a great dinner. I know nothing --NOTHING-- about the LA culinary scene. We're both in our mid-20s and I'm a mega foodie, so some place that's hip (not necessarily trendy, but not stuffy, i guess?) and fun that has awesome food, service, and atmosphere would be ideal. I just want her to feel totally taken care of and relaxed for one night! As a means of comparison, restaurants I've been to and loved on the same plane as what I'm looking for are Ame in San Francisco and O Ya here in Boston. Money is not a concern. Help!

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  1. In which area of LA will you be staying?

    1 Reply
    1. re: mollyomormon

      My friend lives in the Hollywood area. I should mention also that I'd prefer to support a chef-owned restaurant, or a place not owned by one of the big restaurant groups, if possible.

    2. Daichan in studio city is one of my favorite japanese places to eat in LA. The food and service are both excellent. It's like you walked into a old ladies house in some remote area of japan. They have some sake's but I always bring a bottle of wine and pay the corkage with i think is 5 or 10 dollars.

      Daichan
      11288 Ventura Blvd
      Ste F
      Studio City, CA 91604
      (818) 980-8450

      If your out in santa monica near the promenade Musha is fun but the food is not as good as Daichan, Sasaya isn't bad either also in santa monica. They are all pretty good price wise too, Musha would be slightly more expensive then the other 2 suggestions.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Ben7643

        re: musha
        i love musha, but it should be said that i NEVER felt, 'totally taken care of and relaxed,' there and this is what the op specified.

        1. re: Ben7643

          Daichan is ok but I don't think it fits the hip/fun criteria even by my standards, and I'm the opposite of hip. It's like It's not at all an occasion place. I think Musha probably fits the bill better. Although when I read that money is not a concern, I immediately thought of Urasawa. Although that's not exactly hip either.. but it's nice and chef-owned and the food is good. And you might see a celebrity - Janet Jackson was there when I went.

          1. re: soniabegonia

            Hm I disagree. I enjoy celebrating things at Daichan it's super low key I had my last B-Day there, i think it is a fun atmosphere. I guess it depends what your looking for. I think musha's fun but in a LOUD dark romantic trendy type of way. Daichan to me is a fun person's house i've been allowed to eat in I wouldn't call it hip but i'd call it cozy and entertaining for sure. I always bring my own wine and order tons of stuff. One of my favorite spots. I agree it's not Urasawa but urasawa's gonna run around a grand with high quality sake "perpetual waitress" how much are you looking to spend?

        2. Bar Hayama in West LA. Has great food and you can either dine at the sushi bar and do omakase or you can dine at the fire pit patio which is really nice and chill. I'd recommend sitting at the sushi bar and getting taken care of by the omakase chef. His name is Ritsu. He incorporates Japanese good with a lot of other things. One time he made a sashimi dish with cheese, nuts, honey and balsamic vinaigrette. Sooooo good!!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: sumo3175

            I was at Bar Hayama a few weeks ago for dinner. It was a week night a wednesday if i remember right, the food was poor to mediocre, the sashimi was not as high quality as I would have wished it for the price. I think Bar Hayama is a waste of time. It's one of the worst meals i've had in the past 6 months. If you go for a drink and you can get a table at the window overlooking the fire pit, or if its a nice night and you sit at the fire pit then its a great place but I would suggest looking elsewhere for dinner.

          2. musha is fun. izakaya/pub food.

            1. Not knowing anything about the places in SF and Boston, I'd rec Mako in Beverly Hills. It's not far from Hollywood (which says a lot), the food is very good, and it's a pretty cool place.

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              Mako Restaurant
              225 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

              1 Reply
              1. re: bulavinaka

                Or Robata-ya, Mako's robata bar on Sawtelle. I think it has a little more of a hip atmosphere than Mako, although the food at either is great.

              2. Ame is a bit more high end fusion almost japanese/cal-cuisine. The recs you are getting are more traditional Japanese...which may not be a bad thing since that's what LA excels at. For that I would recommend omakase at Mori. Not hip and fun but serene and peaceful. It's very traditional and not on the same plane as Ame or O Ya.

                Providence has enough asian touches and you will definitely be taken care of, but it's not hip or fun either.

                If you want fun and trendy, I guess there's always Nobu or the restaurant that started it all: Matsuhisa. The latter having less of a hip/fun atmosphere than the former.

                1. If money is truly not a concern, it sound like Urasawa would be the best possible choice, if you can get a reservation there during the time of your visit. Just search the Board for any of the many rhapsodic reviews, often with pictures.

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                  Urasawa Restaurant
                  218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                  1. In Hollywood area i would say Katsuya would be a fun hip place and the food is good.

                    1. Your preference for a place that is chef-owned complicates things in LA. The really hip sushi places such as Koi or Katsuya are not really chef-owned, as far as I can tell. But if you do want really hip and fun, I would start with those two places. For chef-owned, try Urasawa or Nishimura, which aren't exactly hip but will definitely make your friend feel taken care of. Also, many of the places on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City are chef-owned, but they aren't really hip or fun -- going there would be like going to, say, Somerville (I'm assuming Somerville is still not hip these days).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: houndofmusic

                        Chaya Brasserie on Alden & Robertson blvd by Cedar's..great happy hour, get a table on the patio.

                      2. WA 310 854 7285 Not cheap but serious food in Hollywood.