Eating around Century City (West LA)
I have a week long business trip in Century City in December. I won't have a car and I probably won't have much time to explore but I would certainly like to eat as much yummy food as possible while in town. I am particularly interested in:
- Excellent Japanese, I have spent time in Japan and the only decent thing where I live is Sushi/Sashimi. Street food style stuff would be great.
- Solid Mexican, again Mexican food in Europe is generally atrocious.
- Other really good ethnic food coming from Asia or Latin America in particular.
- Some nice places to take out clients.
- Interesting food shops, markets, etc.
*** One caveat, I don't eat meat (fish, dairy, and the rest are fine)
Thanks in advance.
To the OP, on Sawtelle, you will find a bunch of sushi bars, Japanese noodle shops and cheap Japanese fast food. There are no izakayas and the best of what there is is Kiriko, a sushi bar, with a few cooked dishes and which, in my opinion, has gone downhill as of late.
Sawtelle is also on the other side of the 405 from Century City. If I were staying in Century City on a tight schedule, with no access to a car, and looking for something really special and extraordinary, there is no way I would cab over to Sawtelle. Just my two cents.
No izakayas on Sawtelle? What do you call Furaibo? Also, there are several on SM Blvd right near Sawtelle, including SaSaYa. OK, maybe these aren't the best izakayas LA has to offer. Honestly, though, I can't imagine discouraging someone who craves Japanese from exploring this area, which is so close to Century City and has probably the highest concentration of Japanese food on the westside.
Hmmn, the OP said she has limited time because she is going to be in a conference from 8:00 a.m. to late in the evening, that renting a car isn't an option because she doesn't have a drivers license and that she is looking for "excellent" Japanese. I stand by my discouragement of a visit to Sawtelle. I would save the $20 plus in cab fare and put it toward a meal somewhere else.
I head over to Sawtelle from time to time because I live here and I don't always have to eat the "best." However, when I am out of town my mindset is completely different -- even if I am out of town for work, it usually feels like a mini-vacation - and I want the best. I don't think anything on Sawtelle meets that description.
really kiriko has gone downhill? i always though it was just ok, was not too impressed (and would much rather go to zo, nozawa or sasasubne), except of course for the bitter green ice cream and truffle (the mushroom kind) ice cream, does he still even serve these homemade ice creams?
also, can you say you won't eat certain foods like you can do at some omakases for teh omakase at Wakasan???
You could also just hop on the 4 or 704 buses, which run down Santa Monica Blvd. I definitely think Sawtelle is worth a trip, particularly for someone craving Japanese. I'm not sure what places otmosando has tried, but there are a LOT of places worth visiting besides Kiriko. I personally would grab some ramen at Chabuya or curry at Hurry Curry or Sawtelle Kitchen.
PS: Just do a search for Sawtelle and you will see this is one of the most walkable and chow-friendly neighborhoods on the westside.
Spacesaha, your problem is you specified Century City. As someone who both works in Century City and lives Century City adjacent, in my opinion, there is no transcendent food in the general vicinity, other than Urasawa at $400 or so per person.
I used to like Craft in Century City, but it seemed off last time I went (apparently the chef and pastry chef recently departed). Perhaps it will be improved by December in time for your visit. It is probably your best bet if you are looking for a nice, convenient place to take clients, and I absolutely love the look of the restaurant.
Other restaurants mentioned in this thread (Houston's, Pink Taco, Gulfstream, RockSugar, The Stand) are, in my opinion, typical chain restaurants with typical shopping mall quality food. Clementine is a tiny sandwich and pastry breakfast and lunch place that people rave about for reasons that I can't quite discern. I doubt anyone coming from Europe where you apparently live would find Clementine impressive.
Not far from Century City, you might investigate Torafuku on Pico Blvd. for non-sushi Japanese. I have only been for lunch and wasn't blown away, but apparently the dinner menu is completely different and the place is very popular with Japanese expats.
Nanbankan mentioned above is an okay neighborhood izakaya place, but nothing that I would get excited about coming from out of town. Sushi Masu, also mentioned above, is a just okay neighborhood sushi place, nothing special (and definitely not worth a cab ride). Sushi Sushi, also mentioned above, is better, but you said you were looking for something other than sushi and Sushi, Sushi, as its name implies, is a sushi place.
Spago, also mentioned above, is not far from Century City and it has its fans, but I have never liked it the 15 or so times I have been dragged there for business dinners. I almost never eat meat and I have always ordered fish at Spago and my entrees have never been great. At one point, I decided the problem with Spago might be that fish dishes are not up to par with the meat dishes (which I have never tried). Other than that, I don't get the restaurant, but out-of-towners love it because it has a very L.A. vibe.
I fear that if you want transcendent food meeting the criteria you specified, you are going to have to travel and travel far enough that it makes more sense economically to rent a car than to take cabs.
Search for ExileKiss's reviews on this board and you will find a lot of suggestions for good Japanese, non-sushi (none of which are anywhere near Century City). Or check out ExileKiss' blog http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/. Thi Nguyen, who both posts on this Board and reviews ethnic restaurants for the Los Angeles Times, also has many suggestions (again, none of which are in the neighborhood of Century City). You can search this board for his reviews or go the Los Angeles Times' website.
If you want to eat well in L.A., rent a car (or if money is no object, cab it to Urasawa).
I really appreciate your frank opinions. I would love to have more time to discover LA unfortunately the conference I am attending is of those 8am breakfast meetings until late into the evening things. I also don't have a driver's license but I suppose for or two nights out I should get a cab and try to go to some other more interesting neighborhoods. Perhaps I can find someone who wants to splurge with me one night and go to Urasawa ;) At any rate if you have any other suggestions for one or two other really fantastic dining experiences (perhaps one upscale and then one izakaya I would be truly grateful. Thanks!
Since you are not coming until December, you should keep an eye on this Board for reports on Craft. It's a beautiful restaurant with a vast menu and before the chef and pastry chef left, I could have happily dined there night after night. It's also the only true upscale retaurant in Century City. Perhaps by December, Craft will be back on its game.
There is no true izakaya food in quick cabbing distance from Century City. There is Nanbankan, as mentioned above, but with your busy schedule, I just don't think Nanbankan is worth what could easily be a 20 - 25 minute cab ride in traffic. Century City is east of the 405 freeway; Nanbankan is west of the 405. As someone who lives east of the 405 and used to work west of the 405, I can say that you do not want to be crossing under the 405 anytime near rush hour -- which in L.A. can last hours -- as traffic gets backed up with cars edging from both directions to get to the 405 (although one dubious benefit from the poor economy and so many people out of work is that the traffic is not quite as awful as before the crash).
A little closer to Century City (i.e.) on the "right" side of the 405) is a Japanese omakase restaurant (not really an izakaya, but not a sushi place either) called Wakasan that people seem to like. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/648439 I haven't been. However, I think it probably isn't suitable for you because it is true omakase - you don't order, you eat what you are given -- which I think could well include meat, pork and the like.
You might want to do a search on this board for Mako on Beverly Drive - the chef is Japanese and it is a fusion small plates type of place (not izakaya at all, but think fusion). Mako is a fairly quick cab ride from Century City. I only went once and was underwhelmed both by the food and the decor and it is pricey, but a lot of people on this Board absolutely love it.
Finally, you might want to do some investigation about Cut, which is a short cab ride from Century City. I haven't been, but it has gotten great reviews. It's a steakhouse, but they also have fish on the menu. When it opened, it was very hard to get into and I assume it still is. So if you are interested, you probably want to try to make a reservation well in advance. The concierge at your hotel may have some pull.
Thanks for all of the suggestions. I hope to have a day or two to explore but no more than that. As for the clients everyone is flying in for a conference so I don't think anyone will have a car but as long as the taxi ride isn't too long they will probably be amenable to traveling a bit for good food.
If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, then here is what I would suggest keeping the cab ride under 15 minutes ? (assuming rather clear traffic, which may not be the case at peak times).
Craft - Most of the other C.C. places aren't worth your time:
Mexican or "Solid Mexican"
Frida - Beverly Hills - Short cab ride.
La Serenata de Garibaldi - WLA - Specializing in Fish - a little longer cab ride:
Mariscos Chente - Mar Vista - Specializing in Fish. - WAY over 15 minute cab ride:
Urasawa - Beverly Hills - Uber-Expensive Sushi $425 + p/p.
Sushi Sushi - Beverly Hills - Much more affordable Sushi within a short cab ride, there are more to choose from:
Nanbankan - WLA - Is this the street food you're looking for ?
Mako - Beverly Hills - Short cab ride - Asian Fusion is more accurate:
PLace to take Clients:
Spago - Beverly Hills - Short cab ride.
The cab ride would be too long. How long is too long ?
if you find time - take about a mile walk west on santa monica boulevard to westwood boulevard. this is a really safe neighborhood, and i would have no qualms about walking alone at night. you can also take the number 5 blue bus and get off at olympic - but that will take about the same amount of time as a brisk walk.
about a block to the left is a great mexican place in a strip mall (eduardo's), a good place for a philly cheese steak and beer (philly west) and an indian and japanese place (sushi masu). i haven't been to the inidan or japanese place - so can't vouch, but sushi masu does get pretty good reviews. some would say that the mexican place is not traditional mexican - but has great grilled chicken and fantastic salsas--i think they have shrimp too. and they have a GREAT mushroom/spinach quesidilla. it's really yum. i've also had food just like this in mexico - so? it's tasty. if you walk a few more blocks, you'll see some persian places that you can stop for chicken or falafel or whatever.
if, instead, you go to the left upon reaching westwood blvd., you'll encounter a plethora of persian places - shops/restaurants. a lot of people like sunnin which is near the intersection. i don't care for it - but to each his own. a few blocks up is a place called attari sandwich shop that people rave about. and if you keep walking north, you'll get to westwood village which - somewhat - caters to teh ucla crowd and has lots of choices and is a fun place to walk around.
for clients - craft (avenue of the stars and constellation) or houstons or gulfstream - both in the century city mall. rocksugar is not too great.
also - if you walk east on santa monica boulevard, you'll wind up in beverly hills and there's lots to look at. the beverly hilton has a trader vics which might be fun to get a cocktail. again, this is a safe walk even at night.
i like to walk around. and even when i'm traveling for work, i can always find some time to do it.
It would be beneficial if you read through some of the newer threads which show up in this search result: http://search.chow.com/search?query=c...
Within walking distance of hotels in Century City are Craft, (for high end client dining) and the restaurants and food court of the Century City outdoor mall including Houston's, Gulfstream, Pink Taco, et al. and across the street (north side of Santa Monica Blvd.) is Clementine, which I would especially recommend to you. Also in Century City is The Stand for hot dogs and hamburgers.
After you look at the threads in the search result perhaps you can come back with some specific questions about places you see mentioned there that pique your interest.
10100 Constellation Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90067
1751 Ensley Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024
2000 Avenue of the Stars Ste 600N, Los Angeles, CA 90067
10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90067
10250 Santa Monica Blvd #220, Los Angeles, CA
One other place to check out in Century City mall is Rock Sugar, which is a pan-Asian themed restaurant. Visually interesting in the Indiana Jones / Lara Croft Tomb Raider style - and the food is not bad. Might be a place your clients would enjoy seeing if they haven't been before.
10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90067