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Nov 17, 2013 04:53 PM

where is n/naka's michelin star?

I'm serious. I went to n/naka with 7 ppl for a kaiseki dinner last night and I honestly think it was better than when we ate at Kikunoi last month in Kyoto, Michelin star not withstanding. 2 Vegans, 5 regular meals, and the "regular" eaters kept stealing off the vegan plates, it was all so good. When does that ever happen? It couldn't just be the yuzu sake clouding my judgement, could it...

So, I gotta ask: where is the Michelin star for N/Naka?

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  1. I believe Michelin stopped rating restaurants in Los Angeles before n/naka even opened.

    4 Replies
    1. re: love2eat

      Right. They "suspended" rating LA restaurants in 2008.

        1. re: Margaret Santa Monica

          I'm trying to figure out what that means and failing badly. Can you elaborate?

          1. re: Servorg

            the other city i recall Michelin pulling the plug on

    2. I never thought that Michelin was a good fit with the L.A. dining culture. Don't get me wrong - Our food is every bit as strong as any other major metropolitan area in the world, but in SoCal we love our casual dining too much for Michelin's formality.

      That having been said, I was an early champion of Chef Niki's cooking, even back when she was helming Azami on Melrose. n/naka would do very well within Michelin system, but the Michelin system won't do L.A. the justice it deserves.

      105 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        >>Don't get me wrong - Our food is every bit as strong as any other major metropolitan area in the world, <<

        Except NYC, SF, Paris, London (yes, London), Chicago...

        (and note that many/most of the best restaurants in the West are not in major metropolitan areas.)

        >>but in SoCal we love our casual dining too much for Michelin's formality.<<

        I'm sorry, but I've dined at multiple ** Michelin restaurants in khakis and a polo shirt and not been out of place.

        There is plenty of good, very good, and great food in L.A., but the assertion that the food is on par with the greatest in the world is just... no. At least, imo.

        1. re: whiner

          I'm sorry, but I've dined at multiple ** Michelin restaurants in khakis and a polo shirt and not been out of place.
          ** here or in Europe?

          There are many ** in Europe where you would be very out of place.

          As for great food, the distinction must be made between "great" and "fancy high end". Yes on the high end formal dining, LA lags compared to the ones you've listed. But there is a lot of great food and cuisines on the mid and low end that LA does far better than SF, NYC, Paris, London, etc.

          High end dining is only a small part of the dining pie. I've spent lots of money on a high end place only to wind up at a low end comfort place 2 hours later. I've never finished a low end comfort meal and had to go high end to be satisfied.

          1. re: Porthos

            >>There are many ** in Europe where you would be very out of place.<<

            Oh, no doubt. I would never go like that in Paris, etc. But in resorts, eg. Vila Joya in Albufeira, Portugal (one of my very favorite restaurants in the world). You can also get away without a sport coat at Manresa...

          2. re: whiner

            You're certainly entitled to your opinions, whiner.

            Maybe you misunderstood my drift - By "casual dining" I meant that many of the gems in L.A. come out of mini-malls and Mom&Pop establishments, not just pedigreed James Beard kitchens. The chicken biryani at Zam Zam Market bests any dish I've ever had at Fat Duck (yes, THE Fat Duck). Ricky's Fish Tacos was every bit as revelatory as Jean-George's lobster tartine.

            What's your definition of "best restaurant"? White linen? Wine lists deep in the Loire? 'Cuz I'm talking FOOD, not just restaurants (as Michelin would pigeonhole it).

            My assertion simply implies that Michelin isn't the end-all, be-all arbiter of food in this world.

            1. re: J.L.

              Agreed Michelin isn't end-all, be-all.

              I'm talking both just FOOD, as well as restaurants. I've not been to Zam Zam or Ricky's. I'm mean, we're all entitled to our own opinions, as you said. But I have not found food in L.A. nearly at the experiences of a few other cities. I guess it may be partially 'why' you like food?

              For me, personally, white linen and formality are non-issues. Good service, clean, appetizing decor, and a well thought out wine list, though I think are pretty nice.

            2. re: whiner

              This fascinates me. I do business in 52 countries and pay rent in three of the US cities you mentioned. I'm telling you, I eat better here than anywhere, except maybe Tokyo. I admit, there are things I love more than my LA food life, everywhere I go: I love the street food in Kuala Lumpur better. I love the dumplings in Hong Kong better. I love the green curry in Northern Thailand better. I love yuzu ramen in Tokyo better, and tofu that's the texture of mascarpone in Kyoto better. I love pasta i cece in Puglia better. I love some restaurants in Charleston, SC better. But I also eat better, day in and out, in LA, than when I am anywhere else. Maybe it's because I have to work harder to access Asian food in Paris and Chicago and London even and the part of NYC we are in? And that is what interests me most?

              1. re: Margaret Santa Monica

                "But I also eat better, day in and out, in LA, than when I am anywhere else."

                Can you start a new thread and list where you eat day in and day out in LA?

                Not because I don't believe you, but because I am insanely curious given your breadth of experience around the globe.

                I felt somewhat the same way in my limited travels, so am just really curious.

              2. re: whiner

                Oh please, LA's overall food scene easily rivals if not exceeds any of the places you've mentioned. Considering it has without much debate the best sushi, Thai, Mexican, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese in the US (and for the most part the world outside the respective countries) it is silly to suggest it falls behind all those cities.

                1. re: set0312

                  I don't think she was suggesting "it [LA] falls behind all those cities [that she mentioned]." She actually said "[she] eat[s] better here than anywhere, except maybe Tokyo." Thus her puzzlement over the absence of Michelin recognition.

                  1. re: Wayno

                    Ahh my bad I meant to reply to the person who said we fall behind SF, New York, London, Paris, Chicago, etc.

                  2. re: set0312

                    Look, I'm just trying to be the voice of reality here. Even if I give you all the above (and, by the way, I don't give you Mexican - SF, Chinese - NY, or Vietnamese - DC, NY, SF... and Thai is shaky at best), LA does not have the same: Alsatian, Provencal, Modern French, Bistro French, Tuscan, Piedmontese, Southern Italian, Moroccan, Turkish, Greek, Lebanese/Egyptian/Generic ME, Spanish, New American/CA French, Old American, molecular, Austrian, Peruvian, Fusion, Fish-dedicated, Indian, Afghani, Pizza, Nepalese, Brazilian, food as NYC or SF for that matter. And DC might be / is probably ahead in those areas, too. Whereas Chicago has become a mecca for very fine dining and molecular gastronomy. And then there is New Orleans... I didn't mention DC or NO on my original list -- I'm giving those to L.A. But the contention that L.A. food "easily rivals if not exceeds" SF... or worse, NYC or Paris? Really?!

                    We can agree to disagree. That is fine. But recognize you are in the minority opinion is polling a group of people not exclusively living in L.A. There was a thread about The Daily Show's skewering of Chicago "pizza". City pride is a powerful thing -- it has caused Chicagoans to believe that their bread and cheese casseroles with marinara on top are the best "pizzas" in the world. I think the suggestion that L.A. dining is on par with London, let alone SF, let alone NYC or Paris may be a function of the same thing. :)

                    1. re: whiner

                      Could you provide examples for how SF beats LA in Mexican, NYC wins out in Chinese and DC in Vietnamese?

                      1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                        Agreed, I don't know anybody who heads to SF for mexican food or DC for vietnamese food. That was honestly cringe-worthy to read.

                        1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                          So... you're responding to the parenthetical? I put those in parentheses for a reason. You know, I was giving you those but sharing some personal thoughts as well. That said, since you asked about my own subjective opinion:

                          After some thought, I'll give you LA is better than DC on Vietnamese.

                          SF for Mexican. I'm thinking Nopalito and Mamacita are much better than anything "high end" I've had in L.A. (Mercado, Border Grill, etc). La Tacqueria, Tacqueria Cancun are just as good as any burrito I've had in L.A. and Papalote is better. NYC for Chinese? Standards like Shun Lee Palace and Chin Chin are more to my liking than what I've tried in SGV. Quite frankly, so is Peking Duck House, to be honest. I recognize these, and just about everything else Chinese in NYC is more Americanized than some of the Cantonese stuff in SGV -- but I'm not a particular fan of Cantonese cooking.

                          Thai. I said shaky because I've never been to an L.A. Thai restaurant as good as Arun's in Chicago.

                          The other reason I mentioned these in parenthetical is distance. In Manhattan you can throw a rock from just about anywhere and hit a passable Chinese place. L.A.? Not so much. "We have good Chinese, but you have to drive the equivalent of past Westchester County to get it" isn't the same thing.

                          But all of that said, again, it was parenthetical. The point was about all cuisines that aren't from Southeastern Asia and, additionally, about ability to get to such places with ease starting from most places in the city.


                          1. re: whiner

                            >>Standards like Shun Lee Palace and Chin Chin are more to my liking than what I've tried in SGV.<<

                            >>but I'm not a particular fan of Cantonese cooking<<

                            Not to pile on but you do realize that the Shun Lees are predominantly Cantonese based cooking right?

                            It's safe to say you haven't done SGV right. A whole steamed king crab, live fish, steamed live prawns, suckling pig, roast duck, and sautéed pea leaves dinner at Elite should convince anyone that it's better than NYC's finest Chinese.

                            >> In Manhattan you can throw a rock from just about anywhere and hit a passable Chinese place. L.A.? Not so much. "We have good Chinese, but you have to drive the equivalent of past Westchester <<

                            This is not true. Westside Chinese is equivalent to what you will find for the most part in Manhattan. You can trek it out to Flushing (30-45 min trek) and still not be able to find the diversity and quality you will find with a similar 30-45 min drive to SGV. Asian cuisines overwhelmingly goes to LA. The exception being high end sushi and high end kaiseki which goes to NYC. I've lived in Baltimore/DC area, NYC, and SF for 4, 5 and 3 years respectively and dined out quite a bit in those cities.

                            Your points about cuisines other than Asian are very solid though.

                            Once again, I think the difference in perception is that you keep referring to "high end" as the measure (eg. high end Mexican, Shun Lee Palace) where some others, including myself, are referring to good and great up and down the entire spectrum of dining. In my experience the high end version loses a bit of authenticity, soul, pungency, and flavor when compared to the lower end versions of Asian cuisine. Gotta turn down the spice and fish sauce levels for some reason when a cuisine is redone to be "high end". So for me, "high end" doesn't always equal good or great. Some of the worst Asian/Fusion dishes I've had were at the hands of Wolfgang Puck and Jean Georges. Their version of whatever dish they were trying to recreate was sadly less flavorful and 3-5x the cost.

                            1. re: Porthos

                              So...everyone here agrees that besides Thai, Korean, Mexican, Chinese, and Vietnamese... LA has nothing to offer/sucks?

                              1. re: Stravinsky

                                That's deliberately inflammatory. It's not all or nothing here.

                                We're talking best of the best. LA is best of the best in those categories. I would also add Persian food to LA's win column.

                                And while LA offers great other stuff too, it's hard to call those other categories best in LA. As good as our pizza and pasta renaissance is, NYC and SF's renaissance happened several year earlier. High end I don't think anyone is going to say LA rivals NYC or even SF.

                                No one said sucks. Pretty much everyone says they love the dining options here in LA, guide be damned.

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  Of course, one thing I did find interesting was the idea that in LA we can go to a place like Baco Mercat or Alma and get out for under 100 a head.

                                  It seems trickier to do in New York.

                                  1. re: set0312

                                    Well... as one of the few non-millionaires here, I suppose I am thankful for that.

                                2. re: Stravinsky

                                  Not even sure how you could reach that conclusion based on what was written.

                                  Those listed are just cuisines that LA represents extremely well. In fact, in the majority of informed opinions LA may represent those cuisines better than any other location outside of the native region. They were low hanging fruit in the debate, so to speak.

                                  It doesn't then logically follow that the rest of what we have sucks. Based on many of your other posts, it's quite obvious you don't believe.

                                  Consider this an invitation to expound upon other elements that greater LA does as well or perhaps better than the accepted heavy-hitters (NYC, SF, NOLA, Chicago).

                                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                                    If and when I'm in NY I'll be glad to eat the pizza or when in Chicago I'll be happy to wolf down an Italian beef sandwich or up in SF I'll go out and rustle up a Mission burrito.

                                    When in LA I (which is 99.9999999999999999% of the time) I am happy to avail myself of what is made and served here. The rest of this discussion is as useless as teats on a boar hog...

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      I agree with your first sentence wholeheartedly.

                                      The second sentence is complete anathema to the purpose of the internet: to have passionate, semi-anonymous debates about minutia that doesn't truly matter. How dare you?

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        Mmmm. Teats on a boar hog. That sounds good.

                                      2. re: cacio e pepe

                                        Whiner said,

                                        "LA does not have the same: Alsatian, Provencal, Modern French, Bistro French, Tuscan, Piedmontese, Southern Italian, Moroccan, Turkish, Greek, Lebanese/Egyptian/Generic ME, Spanish, New American/CA French, Old American, molecular, Austrian, Peruvian, Fusion, Fish-dedicated, Indian, Afghani, Pizza, Nepalese, Brazilian, food as NYC or SF for that matter."

                                        No one has contested that. That's quite a few categories to be losing in, or, well, not even have a mention in.

                                        1. re: Stravinsky

                                          S/He may be right. My experience is limited in many of those cuisines but from my experience LA isn't necessarily the best for those cuisines listed.

                                          If you read carefully, it's very detailed and specific. Listing Afghani and Lebanese and deliberately not including Persian. Specifically saying southern Italian and not Italian in general.

                                          Feel free to provide examples for those cuisines you feel is better here in LA than the respective versions in SF or NYC based on your experiences in each city.

                                          Again, doesn't mean LA has nothing to offer or sucks.

                                          1. re: Porthos

                                            What I found interesting is we still for the most part have very decent examples of most of the cuisines listed. And that is not even kinda saying they are better. Because they aren't. But people do a fair number of these cuisines ok.

                                            Austrian- BierBiesl
                                            Greek- Papa Cristos
                                            Peruvian- Any of Zarate's restaurants
                                            Indian- Mayura
                                            Lebanese- I'd be curious to know if Whiner has indulged at Marouch or Mantee
                                            Fish dedicated- Really? Son of a Gun. Providence. Connie & Teds
                                            Brazilian--perhaps not
                                            Nepalese-- not sure but having spent a week in Nepal I'm not sure we are missing much other than momos

                                            I did not list any of the variants of French and Italian because I'm not well-versed enough to tackle such nuances.

                                            Regardless, my point is if you want good Peruvian. We have good Peruvian. If you want Austrian, you won't do too bad at BierBiesl.

                                            1. re: set0312

                                              Brazilian--perhaps not
                                              There is a "little Brazil" in Culver city.

                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                I thought Fogo de Chao was a Brazilian churrascaria(?)

                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                  It is. But a city can't claim to have a great Brazilian dining scene on Fogo de Chao alone :-)

                                                  Little Brasil in Culver City may help LA with that distinction but I haven't explored it enough yet in relation to the other Brazilian places in the US.

                                            2. re: Stravinsky

                                              Contest away! I chose to contest the patently absurd elements of Whiner's post.

                                              My POV was that if Whiner is so wrong about what LA does, in fact, do well, it's hard to take the other bits seriously. But feel free to make a case for high quality Peruvian or fish-dedicated restaurants in LA. It certainly can be done!

                                              1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                "Fish-dedicated" is a term I'm not familiar with... Is it used to describe a place like Providence?

                                                1. re: J.L.

                                                  I was using Whiner's term, but that's what I took it to mean. Clearly LA has no high-end fish-centric restaurants. And I guess sushi doesn't count? I dunno.

                                                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                    "Clearly LA has no high-end fish-centric restaurants."

                                                    Per J.L., Providence would qualify

                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                      Your sarcasm meter is on the fritz, sir.

                                                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                        It's been giving me trouble lately. I'm taking it in to check the alignment later today...

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          Yeah. Don't mess with our resident cantankerous curmudgeon.

                                                  2. re: J.L.

                                                    Lol I myself was very miffed by that. Providence. Son of a Gun. Connie & Teds?

                                                    Not counting places like Coni's that are clearly fish based that SF and NY cannot even fathom.

                                                    1. re: set0312

                                                      I don't think Whiner is saying they don't exist or that we don't have some good ones here. But that there may be more and even better elsewhere. There are very good Peruvian places here. But SF does have La Mar and it's hard to compete with that for "best".

                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                        what is to be gained by turning this into a city vs. city competition?

                                                        1. re: linus

                                                          That's what it was to begin with...wasn't it?

                                                2. re: Stravinsky

                                                  "That's quite a few categories to be losing in, or, well, not even have a mention in."

                                                  Only because Chinese, Japanese, etc., were listed as single categories, but the various regional French and Italian cuisines were all listed separately.

                                                  (Oops, looks like Porthos beat me to that point, but...oh well.)

                                                3. re: cacio e pepe

                                                  Well, I have to secede my knowledge of the other cities to the more experienced people.

                                                  Despite loving LA cuisine...I suppose it might be the case that SF/DC does everything we do in LA, just better.

                                                  It won't stop me from enjoying my meals at Baco Mercat. I was just surprised to see no one even attempt a defense I guess. So that makes it seems like none of the restaurants in LA are worth defending. =/

                                                  Unfortunately, I don't really know whether Baco Mercat, or the other restaurants like it in LA, can be defended against what SF/DC/Chicago/New Orleans offer. I would hope so... but as no one has given a defense that has the requisite knowledge, it doesn't look too good. =/

                                                  1. re: Stravinsky

                                                    Even if we do trail these cities now--which I really do not think we do given our superiority in so many "big" cuisines if you will. By that I mean I'd rather have the best Mexican outside Mexican than the best Nepalese or Piedmontese for that matter. And it's silly to list all of those Italian and French regions as their own cuisine in this debate and not acknowledge that LA has the best Oaxacan, Yucatan, Sinaloa, etc.

                                                    I think we are very well primed for the future. Places like Baco and Alma and Bestia and Trois Mec and n/Naka are by no means commonplace but they are becoming a standard. I find it very telling that Ari Taymor (born and raised in the Bay Area if I'm not mistaken) came to Los Angeles to build his restaurant.

                                                    Also, I find it interesting that Bon Appetit listed something absurd like 5 or 6 of the best 50 new restaurants in the country in LA--more than they gave any other city. Sure, it is just one magazine's opinion but it must count for something.

                                                    We are experiencing a surge in more formal dining that should position us well for this same debate in five years.

                                                4. re: Stravinsky

                                                  Lol I must say if we lead the world in these cuisines and suck in everything else I myself would be quite happy.

                                                  Pho in Lil' Saigon for breakfast, Guisados or Chichen Itza for lunch, then Park's BBQ (which Ludo just declared the best Korean place in America) for dinner.

                                                  1. re: set0312

                                                    Ok. Because ludo declared it. Then it must be goood ????????

                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                      Not necessarily but I do think he is a bit more qualified than you and me.

                                                      It was a little statement I found interesting. Nothing more.

                                                        1. re: set0312

                                                          Call me me crazy, but I don't think that he is more qualified than you, me, whoever posts on this board or any restaurant critic for that matter.

                                                5. re: whiner

                                                  I'm not following. You put them in parentheses because . . . they were less informed? You felt they were less important than your other points? I really am not sure here.

                                                  In that statement you very clearly state that you don't give those cuisines to LA. Now you say that the parentheses mean you do. I'm simply not understanding you on this one. Sorry.

                                                  I agree that, by and large, LA is seen as a lesser food destination than NYC, SF, and NOLA. You are right that it is the minority opinion that LA is the culinary equivalent or better than some of these other cities.

                                                  But it is by far the majority opinion that LA and it's environs have more diverse and exemplary Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, and Mexican than nearly any other city in the US. And for some of those cuisines, LA would rank second only to the native country.

                                                  It seems a little odd that you call some people out for having a clearly minority opinion on LA food, but then espouse an opinion that nearly no one who has eaten in the cities you mention shares. Again, there's a disconnect there which makes me question some of the sane things you write in your post.

                                                  Another odd one for me:
                                                  "I recognize these, and just about everything else Chinese in NYC is more Americanized than some of the Cantonese stuff in SGV -- but I'm not a particular fan of Cantonese cooking."

                                                  I'm not even sure that Cantonese is the strongest regional cooking represented in SGV. If you're not a fan of Cantonese, I think the majority of the restaurants Angelenos adore in SGV represent another region entirely.

                                                  I love SF, NYC, NOLA, etc.,. the list goes on. You can eat astoundingly well in each of those cities. I think what we see from non-Angelenos is a lack of understanding of what LA food has to offer. You can dismiss the strengths of LA if you like. But you need to recognize them first.

                                                  1. re: whiner

                                                    Yes, I was responding to parentheses but we misunderstood each other. No hard feelings. I will say that Porthos has the right perspective on this - we are probably using two different yardsticks - your focus is more on high-establishments which is fine, but I think the average Angeleno wouldn't approach Mexican or Vietnamese in that fashion. I couldn't imagine taking an out of town guest to Border Grill to demonstrate how wonderful the Mexican food in LA is.

                                                    1. re: whiner

                                                      HOLY CRAP! What have I started?!

                                                      Ok guys. Look. I live here. LA has very good food. Better than the vast vast majority of US Metropolitan areas. BUT, when comparing to the very best (imo) NYC and SF in the US, it comes up short.

                                                      It does this because at the top, it cannot compete nor tries. Providence is great. I've been there and liked it. But it isn't in the same league as Bernardin. Melisse is great. Price-no-object my favorite restaurant in LA. But SF proper, a city of only 800,000 people has about 10 Melisse-quality-or-better restaurants. Outside the city you get into Manresa, FL, Meadowood, which LA can't touch. In NYC, beyond Le Bernardin there is Daniel, Jean-Georges, Bouley, Per Se, 11 Madisson, all of which are... better. And I don't eat sushi, so I don't know, but Masa is probably decent, too.

                                                      Alternatively, if the issue is in-and-out at under $100/head, well, SF has several Michelin starred restaurants where main courses are mid twenties or less. In fact, I can name 6 seperate SF proper Italian restaurants with no main courses more than the upper twenties that I enjoy far more than Il Grano, Osteria Mozza, Valentino, Vincenzo, Scarpetta. And, one thing I enjoy about those Italian restaurants is that (except Incanto) they are all regional specific. (Also, none of those are among the best Italians in SF, but those are more money.) If Italian isn't your thing, SF has food at the same price ranging from New American to French to Moroccan. All of which are capable of ataining Michelin stars. And I think Basque should be added to that list (Piperade, though it doesn't have a star). New York is very expensive at this level of cooking, but this level of cooking hardly exists in LA to begin with. Restaurants like Esca, Blue Hill, Wallse have no L.A. counterparts and the closest things are of similar prices -- or more.

                                                      Then, you might discuss diversity. Let's say LA owns Southeast Asia and even Mexican cuisine. I disagree, but I'm just not going to re-litigate that. It just doesn't have much else. I mean, yes, of course I could drive for 45 minutes to find a restaurant that technically fits just about any generic regional cuisne. But that doesn't speak to quality or ease. In NYC or SF, most things take far less time to walk to (or combination walk/subway in NYC) than they do driving in L.A. When I lived in SF and I wanted good Afghani food I walked 4 blocks. Good Thai? 5 blocks. Good Vietnamese? 4 blocks. Good pizza? 3 blocks. Dive bar with good burgers? 3 blocks. Upscale 6 course Provencal French? 4 blocks. You get the point. That type of inundation with good food and options everywhere you look just does not exist... at all in L.A.

                                                      Look. No one is saying LA food is bad or sucks. The argument is that it isn't the number 1 food city in the world, nor in the US. But, it is ok not to be number 1.

                                                      1. re: whiner

                                                        the argument about which is the number one food city anywhere is profoundly silly. a hamster wheel.

                                                        1. re: linus

                                                          My sentiments as well. That anyone would say something is number "anything" on a completely subjective topic should just be considered trolling. I have no idea how I'm supposed to compare a slice of pizza to a fried lion fish to a foie gras terrine.

                                                          1. re: linus

                                                            Now that makes me hungry for a hamster burger. :)

                                                          2. re: whiner

                                                            " In fact, I can name 6 seperate SF proper Italian restaurants with no main courses more than the upper twenties that I enjoy far more than Il Grano, Osteria Mozza, Valentino, Vincenzo, Scarpetta."

                                                            Would be interested to know the names of these 6 places.

                                                            Shouldn't you be comparing them to Bestia, Bucato, Drago, Sotto, etc... instead though?

                                                            1. re: Stravinsky

                                                              I've been to Drago. Not the others. So, I'll put those on my to-do list.

                                                              Perbacco (Milan / Piedmont), Delfina (Tuscany), La Ciccia (Sardegna), A16 (Naples), Cotogna... I was thinking SPQR, but apparently it has gone up in price. Incanto isn't quite a suitable replacement, so make that 5. The vast majority would rank Delfina first, but when Perbacco is on, I rank it first for red meat, especially game, pasta, and wild mushrooms.

                                                              1. re: whiner

                                                                Love Cotogna, especially the porchetta. The pizza is actually better at Sotto and the pastas I like equally. You forgot Quince for SF. The highest end of them all.

                                                                Your LA Italian list is dated. Try Bestia, Sotto, Bucato, and Factory Kitchen. I would rank Perbacco far below Bestia for pasta. For meats you should try Chi Spacca (no SF equivalent as far as I know).

                                                                LA is going through an accelerated growth phase for Italian. You had a point with specifically southern Italian. But not with Italian in general.

                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                  Have you been to The Factory Kitchen yet? They're in my work hood and are open for lunch unlike Bestia.

                                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                                    Not yet. Got a report from a friend who liked it just as much as Bestia if not more. Our tastes don't always line up though so I take the with a grain of salt. Pastas look solid. Definitely in que. It was this or Marugame Monzo for dinner this weekend. Monzo won.

                                                                    Report back!

                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                      man, that place looks good. hope it's easier to get in to than bestia.

                                                                      1. re: linus

                                                                        It should be, and Valentiino's chef is at the helm, so maybe winer will dismiss it based on that ? or not.

                                                                        Anyhow, I think LA excels at more than just the areas of Mexican food and Thai food, for instance. It's at the forefront of Korean, and some of the best sushi outside of Japan is in LA, by far.

                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                          and some of the best sushi outside of Japan is in LA, by far.
                                                                          Have you tried the high end ones in NYC?

                                                                          I would still put those tops probably.

                                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                                            Shit, ok, I stand corrected.

                                                                            What's the tops in NY that's better than LA ?:

                                                                            Sushi Yasuda, Sushi Seki, Ichimura at Brushstroke, 15 East, Jewel Bako , Kuruma Zushi ?????

                                                                            Would you say all of the above are better than the ones in LA or which ones ?

                                                                            Also, I left out Sugiyama and Masa intentionally. And I thought Jewel Bako might have gone downhill as well as Kuruma which would have been the biggest game in town about 15 years ago ?????????

                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                              Probably Yasuda, 15 East, Kuruma, and might as well add Masa if someone is going to mention Urasawa for LA. Plus, Kuruma can end up being just pricy as Masa and Urasawa anyways.

                                                                      2. re: Porthos

                                                                        Pizza at Bestia last night was top notch.
                                                                        As good as Sotto.
                                                                        Actually it was all really, really good.

                                                                    2. re: Porthos

                                                                      I'll hit those you mention. I left off Quince (and Acquerello) because I was making a point about pricing. But yes, Quince is beyond extraodinary -- and Acquerello is exceptional as well. Neither are specific regional cuisine, however.

                                                                      1. re: whiner

                                                                        Neither are specific regional cuisine, however.
                                                                        Neither are Cotogna, Perbacco, and Incanto technically.

                                                                        From Perbacco's own site:

                                                                        "Perbacco’s seasonal Northern Italian menu focuses on the refined cuisine found in the Piemonte region, with a touch of Liguria and Provence"

                                                                        Incanto and Cotogna are obviously not regional specific Italian cuisine.

                                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                                          No. Agreed with your last comment. But, Perbacco is really Piedmont the same way eating at a nice restaurant in Piedmont is. I mean, "Piedmont, but with accents of two states immediately bordering" is pretty regional, don'tcha think? As noted, I didn't suggest Cotogna or Incanto were regional. (Incanto is explicitly not even fully Italian.) And I also said Incanto doesn't quite make the grade, imo.

                                                                          As I said, I'll try the restaurants you suggest. I would prefer to be surprised and re-evaluate my position as I live in LA now...

                                                                          1. re: whiner

                                                                            Piedmont with a touch of Provence? It's not even the same country. Nice try ;-) Like I said, you had a point with southern Italian. Otherwise, LA is doing okay Italian-wise. At Bestia, focus on the pasta and calamari and octopus dishes. At Sotto, the Margherita pizza and the pastas (especially the rigatoni with maitake and chicken liver).

                                                                            I personally like the handkerchief pasta at Incanto better than the 6 hour sugo at Perbacco.

                                                                            I can vouch for Sotto and Bestia. Will try Factory Kitchen myself tomorrow.

                                                                            1. re: whiner

                                                                              Ask and you shall have. Northern Italian focus at The Factory Kitchen:


                                                                        2. re: Porthos

                                                                          Does anything in LA compare to Quince?

                                                                          1. re: Stravinsky

                                                                            No. Quince is high end Cal- ltalian with a killer formal wine list. There is nothing in LA like Quince.

                                                                            That was the point I was trying to make to you in your LA/OC post.

                                                                            1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                              Cacio, n/naka is great. The chef does an amazing abalone, truffle spaghetti that is one of my favorite dishes in town. It's not unheard of for someone to request another portion after the full tasting. It's that good.

                                                                              They also have a very good wine list with plenty of Burgundy which goes very well that dish.

                                                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                                                About that spaghettini: I daresay that it it probably one of the best bites of food I've had in any restaurant.

                                                                                1. re: J.L.


                                                                                  Bad I can't just go there and grab that dish.

                                                                                  1. re: J.L.

                                                                                    Yes, it was definitely one of the high lights of my meal....

                                                                                  2. re: Porthos

                                                                                    Can't wait. It's been on the list for some time, but this thread has me itching to go. I think high-end casual (if that makes sense) is kind of my sweet spot, but I can certainly get behind the occasional spurge.

                                                                                    n/naka here I come!

                                                                                    1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                      Totally with you on high end causal and for me I prefer the mid range, and low end these days.

                                                                                      n/naka isn't too formal but is also suitable for a special occasion. Worth the splurge for sure.

                                                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                                                        The only thing detracting me from going there besides the price is the whole sitting at a table instead of a bar.

                                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                                          n/naka is not a sushi-ya, as you know...

                                                                                          Go with a friend!

                                                                                      2. re: Porthos

                                                                                        Going tonight, Porthos. Do you recommend the wine pairing or just riding with a single bottle, perhaps a champagne?

                                                                                        1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                          The somm is very good. Not sure what is offered for the pairing.

                                                                                          I personally like white burgundy, with some age if possible and would be happy drinking a bottle all night.

                                                                                          Please report back!

                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                              Didn't disappoint. Every course was special and a handful were transcendent. Hokkaido hairy crab, A5 kobe (don't know if they're really serving what little is in the US, but it was truly outstanding beef), and the abalone-cod roe-truffle pasta were standouts. Oddly, I keep thinking back to the dobin mushi. Kind of haunting in it's perfection.

                                                                                            2. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                              Oh definitely do the pairing.... They have some wonderful pairings, even a Japanese wine and of course, sakes....

                                                                                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                Earlier they focused on wines - almost all wines (maybe one sake). Now it's mostly sakes.

                                                                                                Though you can't go wrong with champagne - an elegant, all-purpose beverage.

                                                                                                1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                                  I still have yet to try... a 275 per, before any drinks and before tax, tip, gratuity, and valet (well at least i don't have to worry a bouts a valet there) is beyond out of my budget.

                                                                                                  But i shall live vicariously.

                                                                                                  1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                                    And add some OJ to that champagin and you are good to go.

                                                                                                    1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                                      When we were there in September I'd say the pairings were about half wine, half sake... They had some lovely wines from France, Italy, Japan & Germany, iirc.

                                                                                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                                        Last week - about the same mix. Used to be all wine, 1 sake.

                                                                                  3. re: whiner

                                                                                    Mexican food in SF is better than in L.A.? Enjoy your Chipotle. "Dismissed..."

                                                                                    1. re: whiner

                                                                                      "SF for Mexican. I'm thinking Nopalito and Mamacita are much better than anything "high end" I've had in L.A. (Mercado, Border Grill, etc)"

                                                                                      And that settles the question of credibility, that you think Border Grill is an high end LA Mexican restaurant.

                                                                                  4. re: whiner

                                                                                    Pretty sure there is at least one restaurant in LA that serves each ethnicity that you list......

                                                                                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                                      And more!

                                                                                      Let's not forget the Man Bites World blog of recent yore...

                                                                                      1. re: FranklinJefferson

                                                                                        And a range of ethnicity is interesting stuff. only one parameter.

                                                                                        Chefs doing new things, interesting things that occur outside of the usual formality. L.A. is a place where people can be creative and not feel a bit too anchored in the past. (in anything - architecture, music, etc.)

                                                                                        While people are arguing NY vs Chicago Pizza - California pizza moves WAY past those somewhat stodgy, basic culinary relics of the past.

                                                                                    2. re: whiner

                                                                                      You make some salient points, but you aren't doing yourself any favors when you say parenthetically:

                                                                                      "(and, by the way, I don't give you Mexican - SF, Chinese - NY, or Vietnamese - DC, NY, SF... and Thai is shaky at best)"

                                                                                      Only someone who has no idea what they are talking about would make those claims. So then no matter how solid your subsequent points, your take just can't be trusted as informed.

                                                                                      I hope you end up eating in LA and it's environs a little more. Lucky you to still have all those first experiences ahead of you. Enjoy!

                                                                                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                        Agree, that bit about Chinese or Vietnamese being better in NY or anywhere else and Thai being shaky at best (mind boggling)...really distracts from the excellent subsequent points about the diversity of non-asian cuisines found in SF and NY in significant numbers that may be lacking here in LA.

                                                                                      2. re: whiner

                                                                                        "(and, by the way, I don't give you Mexican - SF, Chinese - NY, or Vietnamese - DC, NY, SF..."

                                                                                        So that pretty much destroys any thoughts about credibility....

                                                                                2. They've got my vote.

                                                                                  Michelin says they dropped L.A. because - according to food boss Jean-Luc Naret "the people in Los Angeles are not real foodies. They are not too interested in eating well but just in who goes to which restaurant and where they sit."

                                                                                  Well, Naret is gone. Maybe they will return. I'd like to see them re-adjust their value system and understand L.A. , but I don't think that will happen. There's a level of formality that they insist on, and, well, that's Michelin. I can respect that. but if they came out with a different, hipper, younger, more contemporary guide, like a crazy uncle version of Michelin, a Michelin X - L.A. would kick some butt.

                                                                                  Guide Michelin is just hopelessly French. Their snubbing of L.A. is in such perfect character that it's almost hard to be insulted. But I think eventually it hurts them more than us.

                                                                                  33 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                    In what other city can you walk down two city blocks and get din tai fung level xlb, legit pho, serious ramen, decent sushi, fresh lotus root and daikon, good matcha, koreatown level soon tofu, japanese curry and soul sausage fried chicken? With taco and grilled cheese trucks sometimes parked by the curb? Certainly not Paris or NYC. Not Hong Kong or Singapore. Maybe Tokyo?

                                                                                    I know we're casual and I love that. I'm just tired of reading about San Fran's newest Michelin kaiseki spot...

                                                                                    Whatever. Do I sound bitter? Maybe I'm bitter!

                                                                                    1. re: Margaret Santa Monica

                                                                                      Go ahead and bitter-up!

                                                                                      It's very, very French to be chauvinistic.

                                                                                      S'il n'est pas Français, ce n'est rien!

                                                                                      1. re: Margaret Santa Monica

                                                                                        If you're referring to ROC, those XLB are hardly DTF level (and I don't even like DTF), but I understand your point....

                                                                                        1. re: ilysla

                                                                                          you know I randomly ended up at a DTF in Tokyo and I honestly thought it was worse than ROC. no way I'd say that about the DTF in Hong Kong or even Arcadia...

                                                                                          1. re: Margaret Santa Monica

                                                                                            You have to understand the passion with which those who navigate the waters of the SGV have against the west side of Los Angeles generally when it comes to XLB...

                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                              duly noted. similarly, my love of dtf is best expressed in the hours of traffic i spend on the 10 trying to get there. sometimes roc will do...!

                                                                                              1. re: Margaret Santa Monica

                                                                                                Damn the torpedoes (and the gridlock)! Gustatory satisfaction will be mine!

                                                                                              2. re: Servorg

                                                                                                At the same time, I know plenty of people on the west side who will talk themselves into whatever they have over there, since they refuse to cross the 405. As always, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

                                                                                                1. re: andytseng

                                                                                                  I don't think we deny the quality of the food in the SGV, just as we don't deny the quality of the traffic jam to get there. I just feel like that same respect doesn't come back in the other direction due to a built in bias that says no XLB on the west side could be worth eating.

                                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                    I did like ROC. There I said it.

                                                                                                    Let the food wars on XLB begin.

                                                                                                  2. re: andytseng

                                                                                                    The truth is in my mouth, and my mouth says that DTF XLBs taste way better than ROC XLBs and J&J's XLB taste better (but not exponentially better) than DTF. I'd actually be quite satisfied w/ a DTF on the west side.... I just don't think ROC fills that need.

                                                                                            2. re: Margaret Santa Monica

                                                                                              Michelin is really geared for tourists, and especially European tourists.

                                                                                              Locals and natives generally don't need a Michelin guide to figure out where to eat, or what places are noteworthy.

                                                                                              I think when Michelin pulled out of the LA market the company had determined that there wasn't a demand for the guide in LA in part because the visitors to this city didn't view LA as a dining destination.

                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit


                                                                                                On a related note, when I was FOH at an establishment included in the Michelin LA guide, I would take reservations from across the pond and nearly all parties would inquire about the dress code, especially those from the UK and France. Rarely would an Angeleno ask the same question. There is somewhat of a cultural divide in that sense and I have no doubt that influences Michelin's opinion of Los Angeles, to some degree.

                                                                                                1. re: prawn

                                                                                                  Having grown up in SoCal, it's very odd to go across the pond to places and not be able to get in because you don't "look sharp enough".

                                                                                                  I don't know how LA could ever compete with that kind of cultural entrenchment. We allow people to eat at the highest end places in shorts and flipflops if they so desire...

                                                                                                  1. re: Stravinsky

                                                                                                    Having traveled and done business in other countries, I think there is certainly more formality (attire, attitude, expectations, workplace, home, mannerisms, etiquette, etc.) which extends to all aspects of life in many places outside L.A. (Europe, Japan, etc. - even NYC), not just in the dining scene.

                                                                                                    But is more formal always better? That is a subjective question, and everyone's probably got a different answer for that. And does that formality necessarily make "city X" a better food city? I'm not so sure.

                                                                                                    1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                      I think it almost certainly does not.

                                                                                                      The more I travel, the more I like LA personally.

                                                                                                      1. re: Stravinsky

                                                                                                        Michelin, at least in the US, does not take into account dress code requirements.

                                                                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                          Not directly perhaps, they don't grade based on dress code directly anywhere. But the sort of decor that demands a certain dress code is a big part of how they rate restaurants. At least I think so... could be mistaken I suppose.

                                                                                                          1. re: Stravinsky

                                                                                                            Officially they do not, but their anonymous reviewers are human and it would be a superhuman feat to ignore how casual the LA dining scene is compared to other cities covered by Michelin.

                                                                                                            I don't think even the most disciplined reviewer could be unaffected when placed in the same dining room two nights in a row where the first night was jackets and dress shoes and the second night was designer jeans and sneakers.

                                                                                                            It's one of those 'I say I don't care...but I sorta really do' situations.

                                                                                                            1. re: Stravinsky

                                                                                                              Nope, not in the US anyway.

                                                                                                              From the Michelin guide:

                                                                                                              "The star symbols judge only what’s on the plate, meaning the quality of products, the mastering of flavors, mastering of cooking, personality of the cuisine, value for the money and the consistency of what the restaurant offers to its customers both throughout the menu and the year."


                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                I honestly have no idea how the fuck they don't love LA then. It seems like they are saying they do one thing, and doing something else entirely.

                                                                                                                1. re: Stravinsky

                                                                                                                  It's not about love. It's about money.

                                                                                                                  No one that either (1) eats or (2) visits and eats in LA cares about Michelin.

                                                                                                                  Doing a guide here would be like yelling in the wind to a group of hard of hearing people who misplaced their hearing aids.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                    Eh, what's that you say? Speak up, dammit!

                                                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                      Their product - a terrific, venerable and well respected guide to formal dining - is great.

                                                                                                                      But is it hip? No. In fact nothing about it is hip. I'm fine with that. I love everything about the fine dining experience. I like putting on a suit and my date loves getting dressed up. And then dining like kings and queens. What's not to like?

                                                                                                                      There is a coolness to that. But really, it ain't about cool. Not everything has to be cool. A vintage Mini Cooper is cool, but it isn't about luxury.

                                                                                                                      We're really hipper than Michelin. Which is not remotely hip. And I think Naret fears that - that in some way, especially Angeleno way - it's kind of irrelevant. Which is why his response was such a put-down. We could retaliate and insult the French, but we don't. Why? Because we love the French. And if they don't love us? Well, c'est la vie!

                                                                                                2. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                                  They are not too interested in eating well but just in who goes to which restaurant and where they sit."
                                                                                                  So ironic. I think the exact opposite is true. People who are into food in LA just want to eat well and don't need the gilded trappings and decor that the Michelin guide cares so much about.

                                                                                                  That's how we get to eat so well for so cheap. Advantage us.

                                                                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                    I agree.

                                                                                                    I think Naret must have been hanging with publicists, agents and a handful of producers. They're often a bit too consumed with the machinations of the Hollywood process. And they're not terribly serious about food (despite claims otherwise).

                                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                      "gilded trapping and decor" is I think a crucial part of the Michelin ratings when the supposedly anonymous critics travel around.

                                                                                                      For instance, does the floral centerpiece have enough roses ? Is it positioned properly at the exactly appropriate angel ? Are the starched tablecloths properly starched ? Is the space between tables more than ample ?

                                                                                                      These all, if I'm not mistaken, are factors in the judging criteria. So in LA, as opposed to Paris or London, there may be a serious lack of these trappings even though the food might be every bit as good as in the 3stars in Paris/London.

                                                                                                      1. re: kevin


                                                                                                        I believe the Michelin guide only gives about 1/3rd credit to the food in their ratings. The other 2/3rds are decor, and service.

                                                                                                        I find it hilarious that they would say the reason they are not rating LA is because people in LA don't care about the food when they hardly seem to ...

                                                                                                        On the other hand, there are a lot of issues with LA dining in the mainstream, such that the really big places often are only places "to be seen", and serve mediocre food.

                                                                                                        1. re: Stravinsky

                                                                                                          >> On the other hand, there are a lot of issues with LA dining in the mainstream, such that the really big places often are only places "to be seen", and serve mediocre food. <<

                                                                                                          Very true. Such is the nature of this movie town we call home, whether we like it or not. Food-wise, many of us Chowhounds simply stay away from those places.

                                                                                                          But to stop right there and give up hope for good food in this bustling, diverse metropolitan area of 5+ million denizens is, in my opinion, premature pessimism on a city which does not deserve it.

                                                                                                          1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                            Clearly. For a single individual to visit LA once, or twice and give up after being escorted to the Ivy would be one thing, but for an expert guide with a supposedly functioning staff of food writers it seems rather ridiculous.

                                                                                                            Who knows though, maybe the Michelin folks really thought going to taco trucks, and hole-in-the-wall markets was all about "being seen"...

                                                                                                    2. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                                      In much the same way, Bangkok is ignored. Very casual city with incredible food culture, but Michelin wouldn't even know where to start there. It is odd to me though that casual places like Tim Ho Wan in HK are michelin starred but they won't consider LA.

                                                                                                      1. re: set0312

                                                                                                        In a brand-conscious new-money Asia, the difference of a Michelin star could make (or break) a place.

                                                                                                        Michelin is in HK (a mercantile city-state with a long history of European influence) because there is an established following there.

                                                                                                        1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                          Actually Michelin has a strong presence in HK because it is easy for European tourists to get there.

                                                                                                          The 12+ hour flight from many European countries to the west coast (e.g. LA and SF) was one of the primary factors that Michelin pulled out of LA -- and considered doing so with SF, as well, and may still do so. (Having done that flight several times, LHR-SAN, it is quite grueling to say the least, even in the front of the cabin, and horizontal for 1/2 of the flight).

                                                                                                          U.S. cities like NYC and Chicago are a much easier jaunt for most European travelers (6 and 7 hours respectively).

                                                                                                          And let's be real for a minute here, outside of a select few European countries, Michelin does not carry the cache that it once did, or that some surmise it may still do.

                                                                                                    3. The (ir)relevance of Michelin Guide has been subject of several threads in this board. E.g.:



                                                                                                      1. Some info about dining in Japan has been split over to the Japan board at:

                                                                                                        Check it out if you're travelling to Japan (whether really or vicariously!)