10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 9/25/16
I’ve dined in Per Se’s dining room once, but this was my first time dining at the restaurant’s lounge, called the Salon. In the Salon, right outside the main dining room, the restaurant offers an a la carte version of that day’s tasting menu. Desserts are also offered a la carte, as well as a dessert tasting menu priced at $70 for 5 courses. I picked out a few items from the evening’s menu – one appetizer, a fish, a meat and a dessert.
The Salon offers the same view as the main dining room.
9 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019
Dining date: 9/24/16
This was my first time dining at The Modern, which just re-opened a day prior after a full kitchen remodel. The restaurant’s been abuzz in the last year, as one of the most prominent NYC restaurants to move away from tipping (they call it “hospitality-included”), a pricing model that many others are contemplating. The restaurant also garnered two Michelin stars in the 2016 guide, an elevation from its previous one-star status over the past few years.
The current dining room menu offers four courses for $158 and a $208 eight-course tasting (the bar serves a more casual a la carte menu). I went with the four-courser after having a late lunch at Xi’an Famous Foods earlier in the day.
9669 S Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Dining date: 8/6/16
Yazawa is a chain of restaurants based in Japan specializing in Japanese wagyu beef. The restaurant group has locations in Singapore and Milan in addition to Japan, but this is their first in America. As the server described it to us, what differentiates Yazawa is that they are also a distributor of wagyu cattle; they butcher their own beef in-house and are not required to freeze their meat before serving.
As a result, Yazawa serves the largest variety of wagyu I have seen in America. They have some domestic beef varieties too, as well as some chicken and pork cuts all grilled up at the table. A handful of appetizers and side dishes, many of them featuring wagyu, are available too.
You can order a la carte, but there are a few levels of omakase available between $100 and $160. We went with the second tier omakase ($120), adding a few a la carte dishes to round out the meal.
408 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 9/6/16
Baco Mercat has been open for almost five years now and still seems to be going pretty strong. It’s been over three years since my last visit; a friend visiting from out of town wanted to dine here, leading to this latest meal.
111 N Los Robles Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101
Dining date: 8/28/16 and 9/1/16
Alexander’s Steakhouse opened in Pasadena last year, the first SoCal location for the Bay Area-based chain. It’s a highly regarded steakhouse; the original Cupertino location garnered a Michelin star for three years (2011-2013). I’ve been to the San Francisco location once to celebrate a birthday, but this would be my first two visits to the Pasadena location.
The concept is a traditional steakhouse with a lot of Japanese influences. There’s plenty of beef options, domestic and international, with a full suite of appetizers, side dishes and other steak accompaniments. Dishes like an uni tamago and udon mac and cheese really show off the Japanese flair.
815 S Hill St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining date: 7/14/16
Shibumi opened in June on a quiet block of downtown LA. It’s pretty unassuming from the outside; I walked right past it at first, but it’s a gorgeous spot once you walk in through the door. The restaurant is long and narrow with a very long bar on the left side (apparently 400 year old wood). Much of the action is here, while tables make up the other side of the restaurant for a more intimate setting.
David Schlosser is the chef, a man who has spent time at a number of notable restaurants including Urasawa in LA and Kikunoi Honten, a three-star kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto. Here, Schlosser brings his experience to Kappo-style dining. There is no sushi on the short menu (although there’s definitely raw fish), focused on raw/cold plates and a section featuring hot fried and grilled foods. Everything is served in small plates meant to be shared. We ordered a bunch of things off the menu, trying quite a bit of what was on there.