Hinoki & The Bird
10 Century Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Dining date: 7/12/13
Hinoki & The Bird was one of the most notable LA restaurant openings in the first half of the year. The restaurant represents David Myers’ first new foray into the city in a while, joining French brasserie Comme Ca. My lone experiences with Myers’ restaurants have been somewhat lackluster (Sona, Pizzeria Ortica), but I’ve heard generally positive reviews of Hinoki & The Bird. It’s been high on my list of restaurants to try for a some time, and a surprise birthday dinner is what finally brought me in.
The open kitchen and bar flank the main dining room, while a large patio provides additional seating. We were seated outside on the loud (energetic?), dark patio.
The large, varied menu shows off Myers’ and Executive Chef Kuniko Yagi’s strongly Japanese-influenced cuisine. Between the six of us, we were able to sample quite a bit of the menu starting with the smaller plates.
1/2 dozen oysters, pear mignonette
marinated tuna, lemongrass salad
snapper, grapefruit, lime leaf
A trio of light fish plates were our first dishes. The oysters were as expected – cool, briny and slightly sweet. The tuna and snapper were pretty similar, both incorporating a little citrus and a little texture.
beef tartare, pickled jalapeno, parmigiano
Beef tartare was next, served with a crusty grilled bread. I really enjoyed the smoky, charred flavor of the bread which unfortunately overpowered the actual tartare.
coconut-curried mussels, sausage, cauliflower
hinoki scented black cod, sweet potato, pistachio
A duo of seafood preparations was next, highlighted by a black cod with the smoky aroma of a burning ember (presumably hinoki, a variety of cypress tree). These were both good; my preference was probably for the black cod accompanied by the sweetness of sweet potato and the earthiness of mushrooms.
chili crab toast, spicy cucumber, coriander
lobster roll, green curry, thai basil
Next, these two shellfish dishes are some of the restaurant’s most notable. The chili crab toast was a bit too sweet for me, though I enjoyed the lobster roll with a subtle thai basil flavor. Not as extraordinary as what I’ve been hearing, but a good lobster roll.
We moved on to the larger main plates. Whereas the smaller plates were seafood-centric, our ordering moved more carnivorous at this point.
miso marinated skirt steak
apple marinated short rib
wagyu strip loin
I sampled pieces of the chicken and salmon and ordered the wagyu as my main dish. The salmon displayed a miso scent as expected, though was overcooked; on the opposite end of the spectrum, the chicken was surprisingly moist with a sweet tamarind glaze. The strip loin was pretty tasty, with a great balance of meat-to-fat and showing off a nice beefy flavor. Bitter greens countered the richness of the steak.
We ordered a number of sides, the standout of which was the squash. Lightly fried (I think without a batter), these were so juicy and flavorful with subtle heat from chili.
vietnamese coffee “snow cone,” nata de coco, condensed milk
We also ordered mochi and the devil’s food cake, but I opted for this dessert. It was very light and refreshing, not too sweet, and with a good coffee flavor.
Hinoki & The Bird was a meal of ups and downs. Nothing was particularly outstanding, but nothing was bad either – most of the food fell in the ‘pretty good’ range. It’s a fairly pricey restaurant; while it’s got a nice decor and is in an affluent neighborhood, I think I expected a little more in terms of food. Though for what it’s worth, I thought service was excellent.