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Most interesting food in LA... In town one night

I will be in LA for one night in April and want to have an excellent dining experience to celebrate my anniversary (it doesn't have to be a romantic place). I am open to any style of food so long as it is the best that can be had. I like the idea of a lengthy tasting menu, I like the idea of molecular gastronomy, but again, I'm open to anything. I wanted to make it into ludobites, but all reservations are full. Otherwise, I considered Bazaar, but I've read some pretty mediocre reviews. I have read some great things about the tasting menu at Spago, but Spago doesn't seem very original, almost cliche.

Thanks for any suggestions

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Spago
176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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  1. Try to get reservations at Urasawa... however, you may be too late for this place. I would also consider going to Providence as well. I've never had their tasting menu but have read detailed descriptions about their tasting menu and it sounds amazing... I'm sure you can find the posts here on Chowhound. I'm not sure if Water Grill does a tasting menu but I've enjoyed the food there are a few occasions. I'm sure you can call in advance. Personally, I don't think you could go wrong at Spago either... cliche or not.

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    Water Grill
    544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

    Spago
    176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

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

    1. If your budget allows for it ($350+ per person), perhaps you can experience the sushi kaiseki at Urasawa, in Beverly Hills. It is an omakase tasting menu (Chef Hiro-san's choice, usually 35 to 40 small courses).

      And indeed, many Chowhounds in L.A. will agree that is absolutely the best that can be had. My last meal there (in March) consisted of 36 flawless courses, and lasted 5.5 hours.

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

      3 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        This won’t be my best write-up of Urasawa. The meal was perfect, but I was having such a good time that my notes are horrible with sketchy, and probably inaccurate details. Obviously, I will have to let the photos tell most of the story.

        Seasonality is the key to dining at Urasawa. To get the best of Urasawa, if you can afford it, would be to go at least 4 times a year – winter, spring, summer, fall.

        As best as I can reconstruct from my notes, a slice of toro had been “stuffed” with monkfish liver, held together with a slice of turnip from Kyoto, then topped with scallion and gold leaf, yuzu dressing

        Goma tofu, Kyoto-style. Tofu made from sesame seeds, stuffed with Uni, spring vegetables on the side. The tofu was topped with freshly grated wasabi and gold leaf.
        Saucing was a light dashi seasoned with shoyu and mirin. I love this dish

        Spring vegetables – Fiddlehead, Bamboo, Okra and Salmon rolled around Japanese Mountain Root, Dried fish eggs, Sweet miso

        Sashimi served in a hand carved ice bowl. The ice bowl is never re-used; Hiro carves a fresh one for each person. The Sashimi consisted of Toro, Kanpachi, Shima Aji (Amberjack) and Uni placed in a manila clam shell. The wasabi is freshly grated, Hiro’s soy sauce is made by him and the gorgeous flower again defined the beautiful seasonality of this dish.

        Hiro and I then started talking about uni – this is definitely interactive dining. I mentioned that I loved the Hokkaido uni that Corey Lee served us at French laundry. He said he had some but didn’t want to serve it as it didn’t look “pretty”, but tasted perfectly. Of course, I said I’ll eat it.

        Beef Tartare from Northern Japan with Russian caviar, Red Pickle radish – superb
        Red Snapper ‘Bundle” steamed with sake. The red snapper was placed on hot stones and sake mushi was added. The steaming process cooks the dish evenly and produces an incredibly moist and succulent dish. Dipping sauce of ponzu with radish was provided.

        Spring Vegetable Tempura

        Hoba Yaki – On a giant Hoba Leaf were fresh shrimp, beef and ???? sitting in a puree of Kyoto miso sauce that is made by mixing egg yolk with sweet miso. The dish was being lightly roasted in the Hoba leaf for a couple of minutes over the coals on the brazier. Unbelievable and the sauce was perfect just by itself.

        Shabu, Shabu
        Kobe, Foie Gras and Hotaru Ika/Firefly squid
        Thank goodness we didn’t have to cook it – we had help and the foie takes the longest to cook. After you have consumed each ingredient, you are given a soup spoon to enjoy the broth.

        Now sushi is presented. Hiro is still using 180 grains of rice per each sushi. John didn’t get a photo of each and every piece of sushi so this is not a complete array of what we were served. I was also not on the ball and didn’t write down each piece. I will try to the best of my ability identify each piece, but I can’t vouch for my accuracy.

        Toro
        Aji
        Red Snapper
        Grilled Shitake Mushroom
        Maguro
        Squid
        Uni
        Kohada
        Needlefish
        Giant Clam
        Toro
        Tamago

        What a perfect restaurant, what a perfect evening, what perfect cuisine and what a master chef.

        Pics here:
        http://lizziee.wordpress.com/2010/04/...

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

        Shima
        1432 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

        Goma Restaurant
        5358 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036

        Yaki's
        464 W Huntington Dr, Monrovia, CA 91016

        Kanpachi
        1425 W Artesia Blvd Ste 27, Gardena, CA 90248

      2. If interesting is what you want, I don't think Water Grill, Providence or Urasawa qualify. Maybe Urasawa... otherwise these are exceptional restaurants but "most interesting??" I think you can get something comparable in any major city. My vote is for Jitlada. Definitely not romantic, but high on the interesting list.

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        Water Grill
        544 South Grand, Los Angeles, CA 90071

        Jitlada
        5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

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

        1 Reply
        1. re: cls

          I had never heard of Urasawa, but I just read a few reviews and it sounds amazing. But, I do think that $350/person is a bit steep. Would be perfect, except the price.
          In reading those reviews there were a few suggestions, as far as sushi goes, for Mori or Sushi zo.

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

        2. i would say spago. i know that it "seems" cliche - but it is truly amazing. it has the most pleasant service, and the variety of styles is broad. french, japanese, californian, italian, etc. it's like puck can do everything perfectly. it's just an overall wonderful experience.

          i have been to bazaar and was impressed by the innovation, but felt that the overall taste was lackluster. it was cool - but not something i would want to do again and i felt overcharged. i never feel that way at spago.

          i have been to urasawa as well - and it is an amazing and special and one of a kind experience. but - if you're into something other than japanese food, i really find it limited. it's a great experience and great fun, and a lifetime memory - but i'm not sure it's worth the $$.

          someplace i have not been - but want to go is XIV - which has a 36 course tasting menu for $250 . . . or at least it did:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/635323

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          XIV
          8117 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

          1. Urasawa is a fabulous dining experience.

            But if want interesting, then Saam would be my choice.