n/naka (Los Angeles, CA) (3)

n/naka
3455 Overland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Dining date: 2/18/15

exterior

I recently revisited West LA’s n/naka. To me, it’s still one of the more unique meals in LA. It’s Niki Nakayama’s modernized interpretation of a kaiseki meal – hyper seasonal, local, intricate food following a traditional progression. LA’s full of great Japanese cuisine but even in the high-end space, it’s primarily sushi-based. n/naka’s multi-course small-plate meal and focus on service really find a great blend between Japanese cuisine/sensibilities and Western ‘fine dining.’

The modern kaiseki runs $165 with a vegetarian option for $150 – both are thirteen courses.

wines

sea urchin & oyster

sea urchin & oyster

The meal began with this spoonful filled with oyster, craime fraiche and sea urchin. A refreshing little starter full of flavor.

lobster tempura, seared duck breast, blue crab roll, and housemade tofu

lobster tempura, seared duck breast, blue crab roll, and housemade tofu

The lobster was great, lightly fried and sweet with a bright aioli. Tender duck breast was also a highlight too, but each of these were good.

diver scallop with pomelo

diver scallop with pomelo

Here, thin slices of diver scallop were paired with bright pomelo.

sea trout in white miso

sea trout in white miso

We moved further into the savory territory with this warm white miso soup. A fatty piece of trout sat in the middle, adding some rich bites.

bluefin, toro, amberjack, halibut, octopus sashimi

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the sashimi plate; this was a good selection of fish.

fried branzino

fried branzino

Crispy fried branzino was next. Nice bites, though I thought the fish was borderline overcooked.

snow crab & sea urchin chawanmushi

snow crab & sea urchin chawanmushi

This was a treat, a delicious chawanmushi with flavors of the sea – snow crab at the base and a luscious sliver of sea urchin on top.

mentaiko pasta with abalone and black truffle

mentaiko pasta with abalone and black truffle

Another highlight – this pasta had a perfect chew with strong garlic flavor. Still, the abalone and truffle flavors came through making for some great bites.

a5 wagyu from matsuzaka with seasonal vegetables

a5 wagyu from matsuzaka with seasonal vegetables

a5 wagyu from matsuzaka with seasonal vegetables

The A5 wagyu was expectantly rich, luscious, fatty. A nice crust provided some depth and texture while brussels sprouts, asparagus, and cauliflower countered the richness.

We next moved into the sushi courses. All were predictably strong, with my favorite pairing being the sweet shrimp and sea urchin. Both were excellent examples of the shellfish.

goldeneye snapper & marinated tuna
whitefish & fatty tuna

whitefish & fatty tuna

sweet shrimp & sea urchin

sweet shrimp and sea urchin

orange & pomelo sorbet, matcha tea

orange & pomelo sorbet, matcha tea

This was a refreshing pre-dessert full of fruit flavor. I really like ending meals with a bowl of bitter matcha just like we did here.

pistachio cookie with meringue ice cream

pistachio cookie with meringue ice cream

Our last course was this one – crispy pistachio cookie and a nice meringue ice cream. Not too sweet.

The meal at n/naka was a good one. Service was strong and food was generally well-executed. Still a unique meal for LA and a great special occasion spot.


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