Zo (Los Angeles, CA)

Zo
334 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 3/7/14

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I’ve only visited Cheviot Hills’ Sushi Zo a couple of times, but both times I’ve concluded that it was a top-tier sushi place in Los Angeles. So, I was very excited to hear chef Keizo Seki was opening up a downtown location in the Medallion Apartments at 4th & Main. While downtown (particularly Little Tokyo) has a few good sushi spots, I wouldn’t say there is anything really special. There are, of course, some good deals (Sushi Gen) but no destination sushiyas where I feel it’s worthwhile for someone to drive in from outside of greater downtown. Zo is really the first high caliber omakase-only, sushi-dedicated restaurant to open in downtown LA (Q Sushi opened up nearby shortly thereafter and is also cut from the same cloth).

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While Zo opened in September, my first visit was just earlier this month – way overdue. The omakase menu runs in the mid-$100 range for around 25-30 courses (it varies depending on what is available).

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The Factory Kitchen (Los Angeles, CA)

The Factory Kitchen
1300 Factory Pl Ste 101
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 2/25/14

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The Factory Kitchen, opened four months ago, is one of the newer entrants to the still-hot downtown food scene, particularly the Arts District. It joins Drago Centro, Bestia and Maccheroni Republic as Italian restaurants to open up in the area in the last couple of years.

The Factory Kitchen has a strong LA Italian pedigree with front of the house Matteo Ferdinandi (CUT, Drago Centro) and chef Angelo Auriana (Valentino) partnering up on the restaurant. Generally, reviews have been positive early on. A lot of people have been comparing this restaurant to neighborhood darling Bestia; given I’m such a huge fan of Bestia, a visit here was definitely in order. There are a number of similarities between The Factory Kitchen and Bestia including they (obviously) both serve Italian fare and share a similar price point, but they are distinctly different in menu and vibe.

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Bestia (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

Bestia
2121 7th Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Dining date: 8/17/13, 11/8/13, 1/3/14

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Bestia has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants in the city with its delicious Italian food. I’m not the only one that’s visited regularly as the restaurant seems to be packed night-in and night-out for those stopping in for Ori Menashe’s food, wife Genevieve’s desserts, or Julian Cox’s cocktails. Maybe even all three.

I’ve dined at Bestia every couple of months; my first post covered my first three meals while this one recaps my last three visits. Each time, we’ve ordered a mix of ‘old’ favorites and new ones, slowly making our way through the ever-changing seasonal menu.

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Terroni Downtown (Los Angeles, CA)

Terroni Downtown LA
802 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Dining date: 11/16/13

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Terroni has been on my list of restaurants to try for some time now. I first tried a sampling of the restaurant at The Taste 2011, where they were making a selection of their pastas fresh on the spot. The Toronto-based chain has had a location opened on Beverly in mid-city for a number of years, but recently opened up in a huge space downtown.

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My visit to Terroni was unplanned. Initially, we were planning to visit new ‘Chinese gastropub’ Peking Tavern but found it closed for a private party. Terroni shares the same building so it was an easy choice for an alternative stop. Given it was noon on a weekend, Terroni was serving up their brunch menu. I don’t like eating brunch as my first visit to a restaurant, but they still offered their extensive full menu (a long list of appetizers, salads, pastas and pizzas).

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The Spice Table (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

The Spice Table
114 S Central Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Dining date: 12/14/13

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The Spice Table opened about two and a half years ago and quickly made its mark on the city being named one of the city’s best new restaurants by a handful of publications. Its most notable accolade was when chef Bryant Ng was named a 2012 Best New Chef by Food & Wine, propelling him and the restaurant into national awareness. While the restaurant still feels relatively new, it will be meeting a sad and unique demise at the end of the year to pave the way for a new metro station.

I revisited the restaurant one last time to sample Ng’s fiery Southeast Asian flavors. Influences from all around Asia can be found on The Spice Table’s menu, as well as a small but well-curated craft beer list (and wines!) featuring local brewers.

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Akiko’s Restaurant (San Francisco, CA)

Akiko’s Restaurant
431 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108
Dining date: 12/2/13

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I’ve always found San Francisco to have a surprisingly lackluster Japanese food scene, made very noticeable once I moved to Los Angeles. Comparing some of the most oft-eaten Japanese foods like sushi and ramen – SF hasn’t really had any noteworthy standouts. However, I do think it’s been catching up in recent years.

One example is Akiko’s, a restaurant that’s been around for almost 20 years but just underwent an ownership and chef change. My mom’s been following the restaurant closely ever since a stellar Michael Bauer review in September. The food’s more serious and passionate now and features a pretty extensive menu. Typically I feel like the jack-of-all-trades Japanese restaurants lack focus on any one particular item but Akiko’s seems to be able to handle it. Fried foods, grilled foods, noodles, rice bowls and a vast sushi/sashimi selection make up the menu. My mom went with the a la carte option while my dad and I opted for the omakase priced in an $80-100 range (with a few supplements). The $10 corkage was pretty sweet.

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