Itoh Dining by NOBU
1300-64 Gōra, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-ken 250-0408, Japan
Dining date: 10/30/16
Hakone is a very scenic and quiet place in the Japanese countryside known for its onsen hot springs. It’s so quiet and quaint that there aren’t a whole lot of dining options in the area. We wanted to avoid the hotel restaurant and ending up opting for this place. It had high potential for being a tourist trap given its association with Nobu Matsuhisa and its ranking as the #1 restaurant in the area per TripAdvisor but we chose it nonetheless. And we were glad we did.
The restaurant is a teppanyaki spot, where chefs cook up the food right in front of you on the flattop. The specialty here is wagyu beef, of course, and the restaurant offers a couple of different varieties in both set menu form and a la carte. We opted for two set menus offering A4 beef, plus an a la carte dish of the top shelf Kobe beef.
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.
9200 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Dining date: 7/11/16
Boa Steakhouse is part of the Innovative Dining Group, the Socal-based group that includes concepts like Sushi Roku and Katana. There’s three locations of Boa including this one in West Hollywood, Santa Monica and, of all places, Abu Dhabi. I’ve been to this location of Boa once before for a birthday party and had a good meal. Since it was a large party during that visit, everyone had to order off a set menu. This time, we had free reign to order whatever we wanted off the full menu.
Most of the restaurant’s seating is out on its beautiful and expansive patio. It’s a really nice setting on warm evening.
6476 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
Dining date: 7/2/16
There’s plenty of good restaurants in the Napa Valley, but for me a trip just doesn’t feel complete without a stop at a Thomas Keller establishment. There would be no French Laundry on this brief trip, but a stop here at the more casual Ad Hoc was in order. The restaurant serves a 4-course fixed menu for $52, although there’s regularly a supplemental dish offered as well. Since the menu isn’t published until the morning of the meal, it’s a little bit of a crapshoot depending on what you’re looking for. We lucked out this time as this evening’s menu featured steak – a ribeye to be exact.
425 Washington Blvd
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Dining date: 4/1/16
Charcoal Venice (though technically I think it may be in Marina Del Rey) opened at the end of last year, a modern meat-centric concept from chef Josiah Citrin. Citrin is most notable for fine dining Melisse which is still going strong after 15+ years. The vibe here is much more casual and approachable, anchored around its flame-grilled meats.
Charcoal Venice is more than just beef and potatoes, though it has plenty of that. Two of its most notable dishes are a baked cabbage and a half of a duck. We ordered both of these, as well as a sampling of other items throughout the menu.
The Arthur J
903 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 1/24/16
The Arthur J is the latest restaurant from chef David LeFevre, who has opened quite the portfolio of concepts in Manhattan Beach. His first two restaurants, M.B. Post and Fishing with Dynamite, have both been big successes – this newest one is a steakhouse.
I stopped in during dineLA restaurant week. The Arthur J offered two appetizers, a steak, a topping, a sauce/butter, a side, and a dessert for $95pp. The options for each course looked pretty great, so it was an opportune time to try the place out.