Happy Friday guys and dolls!!  We’re back with a brand new edition of Food Porn Friday!

I know you guys have been hounding me on Facebook and the blog but we haven’t gone anywhere! Just been on a little hiatus to bring you fresh new content!
First up- the hautest ticket in town:

n/naka

Entry facade

If you don’t know who or what I’m talking about, n/naka is Chef Niki Nakayama’s namesake restaurant featured on Netflix’s highly rated series “Chef’s Table”.

 Although I have never caught the episode or series myself, their reputation precedes the spotlight with local foodies clamoring for a reservation up to 6 months out!  For the record, it took myself and le hubs 4 months before we *almost* gave up on the online reservation system and opted to personally email the establishment with our request.  We got so lucky as they were able to oblige and off we went to celebrate le hub’s birthday with 13 courses of culinary delights!

Let’s dig right in shall we?

n/naka Restaurant

Modern and minimal interior

The Vibe

Intimate, modern, Japanese minimalist.

 

 It’s an extremely quiet, small, upscale space made even more formal by the fact that you can barely hear the conversations of the tables surrounding you.  Which is great for a nice romantic dinner for two, but for myself and le hubs, notsomuch.
We tend to get louder as the sake flows through our system so it’s safe to say, we only ordered a small carafe, lol. Dress code is dressy casual as I wore dark denim with a nice knit and le hubs copied my attire.  Most other patrons were definitely dressier, men in sport jackets and ladies in cocktail dresses.  But LA dressy is always a little casual in my book.

On The Menu

Chef Nakayama is renowned for her modern kaiseki style of cooking.  A mix of traditional Japanese culinary art form that highlights seasonal ingredients and presents them in a way that’s fresh, focused, and organic without seeming too forced.  You feel like she’s plucked these elements straight from their natural habitats and presented them as an artist’s self-portrait.
You can tell SO much about a chef by the way they handle their medium.
1st: Saki Zuke |  SANTA BARBARA MUSSEL, STURGEON CAVIAR, POTATO PUREE, SHISO OIL
Excellent starter, light yuzu flavor, the fried onions linger on your palate.

2nd: Zensai |  (SEASONAL INGREDIENTS PRESENTED AS AN APPETIZER) |  TEMPURA MAITAKE AND ENOKI, SNOW CRAB WITH KANI MISO AND TRUFFLE, OCTOPUS WASABI, AUSTRALIAN BLUE SHRIMP, PICKLED APPLE
 Excellent assortment of flavors that completely exceeded my expectations. Each element so artfully crafted you are literally bowled over by the presentation.  Not yo’ mama’s tempura especially when dipped in the curried sea salt provided. Very impressive.
3rd: Modern
Zukuri | (MODERN INTERPRETATION OF SASHIMI) | MACKEREL, BELL PEPPER JELLY, NORI SAUCE, BEET PUREE
BEAUTIFULLY plated sushi in a modern and fresh new presentation style. Love the artful strokes and all the gorgeous color!
  

4th: Owan | “Still Water” | DOBIN MUSHI WITH SEABASS, MITSUBA, MATSUTAKE

Sadly, the soup wasn’t hot enough but I do understand that having it too hot might overcook the fish. So I’m sure there was a reason for the temperature gauge.  LOVED the presentation in a teapot! So very Japanese… Light and refreshing.
5th: Otsukuri | (TRADITIONAL SASHIMI) |  SEASONAL FISH

 ORGASMIC!!!

Perfectly pale pink, equal parts fatty and muscle-ly Wild Hamachi: Incredibly fragrant yet mild Sheep’s head: Very mild and might be the first time I’ve had this anywhere Squid: Beautifully buoyant! Texture akin to coconut jelly Spiny lobster: I’m allergic but took a Zyrtec before the meal- delish and SO worth it!

6th: Yakimono /Agemono | (GRILLED / FRIED DISH) |   UNAGI, FOIE GRAS, SHIITAKE MUSHROOM WITH BALSAMIC SOY SAUCE GLAZE

 INCREDIBLE!  The sweetness of the soy flavors and tartness of the strawberry bring out robust flavors of the eel and foie. I’m familiar with a strawberry, balsalmic, foie combo having had it at many tastings but the addition of the eel made this dish spectacular and so memorable.  Must try eel and foie together guys! A marriage made in culinary heaven!

7th: Mushimono | (STEAMED DISH) | BLACK COD, OGO SEAWEED, CAULIFLOWER AND SATOIMO PUREE, GINGER GARLIC SAUCE, MATCHA
The broth was a bit too salty for the delicate fish. But I loved the addition of the seaweed for a slight crunch.
8th: Shiizakana | (NOT BOUND BY TRADITION, THE CHEF’S CHOICE DISH) | SPAGHETTINI WITH ABALONE, MENTAIKO SAUCE, TRUFFLES, SANTA BARBRA UNI, NORI, EGG
OMG so FRIGGIN BOMBBBBBBB!!!
The spaghettini was cooked perfectly al dente and love that they threw in a little masago for texture. The black abalone was fresh to death with a slight crunch at every bite.
9th: Niku | (MEAT / FISH COURSE) | JAPAN MIYAZAKI WAGYU BEEF A5

 I mean c’mon guys. It’s grade A5 wagyu. From Japan. ‘Nuff said.

10th: Sunomono | KUMAMOTO OYSTER

 Very refreshing with the yuzu citrus flavors.  I like how she used the oyster and shot as a palate cleanser as opposed to an appetizer. Makes perfect sense before the sushi portion of the meal.

11th: Shokuji/ Sushi | SEASONAL FISH | MISO SOUP

SCALLOP AND UNI
FRIED ONION MISO SOUP
Snapper and black cod: Rice has too much vinegar and was a bit mealy, broke apart when I dived in with my chopsticks.
Seared tuna and Toro: Never a fan of seared sushi but this piece of tuna was raw enough for my preference.
LOVED the Toro and uni, both from Santa Barbara where they run wild.
12th: Dessert | PEAR SORBET
13th: Dessert | RASPBERRY VANILLA CAKE, CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM, VANILLA ORANGE GLAZE, CHOCOLATE WAFER
A little bitter, a little sweet, a little tart, a little rich, a little taste of everything to end a beautifully well balanced meal.

Know Before You Go

It was pretty difficult getting a reservation simply from their online system so best if you email them directly.  Le hubs had been trying to get us in for months and it wasn’t until I emailed n/naka with our sob story that we were able to snag a coveted Saturday night table just in time for his birthday.
Street parking is free and plentiful since they’re located in a residential neighborhood.
Be prepared to shell out an average $300pp for this tasting meal with alcohol guys. We typically never order the tasting menu with pairings since a few sips of various wines will have me zonked out for the remainder of the meal.  But if you’re in the mood to splurge- definitely get the pairings.
Wine Pairings: $95pp | Sake Pairings:$105pp | Corkage fee: $35 per bottle | 1 bottle per 2 guests
They boast an in-house sommelier who sat with us for a good 10 minutes to decipher the bottle of sake that would pair best with our entire tasting menu.  Now that’s A+ service!

 n/naka

 3455 Overland Ave | Los Angeles | CA 90034 | (310) 836-6252

The Verdict

I spied between 8-10 servers rounding the 3 small rooms for this 52 person capacity space. Impeccable service- they don’t miss a Beat. Water refills, cold sake on the spot, they even keep your carafe on ice in the back so you don’t have to reach for it table side. I’m not quite sure if most guests prefer it this way since they can’t gauge how much alcohol they have remaining but I’m guessing it’s to keep the floor as minimal as possible.
Celebrating le hub’s birthday | With Chef Nakayama

Overall, excellent meal made even more so by the incredibly attentive staff and super friendly knowledgeable servers.  They even lined up as we exited the dining space and politely bowed while wishing us a safe drive back to Orange County. 

Has any restaurant in LA ever done that for you?
Hope you’ll get a chance to visit them soon guys!
If you’ve been,what did you think?

Bon Appétit mes amis!

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27 Comments

  1. La Bijoux Bella | by mia Reply

    I truly love Japanese cuisine … that's all I ate whenever I am back in France. Strange habit hah? 🙂
    I love to try this Restaurante one day, the presentation of food is certainly eye catching. I just love beautiful food art! 🙂
    Merci for sharing Mademoiselle Julie. Have yourself a fabulous weekend.

    ❤LA BIJOUX BELLA❤ | BY MIA | A Creative Lifestyle Blog

  2. This food is so pornographic it should be X-rated. I don't even feel as if you were taking photos of beautiful food, I feel as if you took photos of abstract art. Abstract art that you happened to eat. And OMG tell me about LA's ridiculous "dressy-casual" uniform. Sorry. I just got annoyed with it when I was living there. I had all these outfits with big hats and flouncy skirts–which basically made me look like a clown among all the denim shorts and ugg boots combo. So therefore I moved to New York. That is the sole reason. In any case, you look beautiful, and this restaurant sounds like a dream. I love the idea of authentic Japanese food– if only they did it kosher.

    https://cynicalduchess.blogspot.com

    • I think n/naka's become an LA institution at this point, she's always changing things up! Def stop in when you have the chance babe!

  3. n/naka has been on my LA dining bucket list forever!! The experience looks absolutely incredible! I watched the episode of Chef's Table and totally fell in love. Yes, a splurge, but looks totally worth it. Hopefully for a special occasion soon : ).

    xx, Amy
    http://www.theluxilook.com

  4. After months of trying we’ve finally scored a birthday reservation there as well, looking forward to eating there, especially after reading your post!

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