Try these new six restaurants infusing flavor into the California Michelin Guide dining scene.
MICHELIN Guide Inspectors spend all year on the road uncovering the best restaurants to recommend—and what they’ve found is too good to keep a secret. Whet your appetite with a sneak peek of the 2023 MICHELIN Guide California—six new additions spread across California.
Whether it’s tasting the local catch of the day from San Diego staple Mabel’s Gone Fishing to haute takes on yakiniku, the traditional Japanese technique utilized to grill meats, at Los Angeles’s Niku X, our Inspectors have rounded up a mouthwatering selection of spots not to miss. Bon appétit!
The name references the traditional style of serving a communal Korean meal, which dates back centuries to the Joseon royal court, but there’s nothing remotely old-fashioned or stuffy about a meal here. The cooking is an unapologetically contemporary take on Korean cuisine, readily incorporating ingredients like parmesan cheese and chorizo into the likes of kimchi fried rice or crispy rice cakes, fitting together seamlessly beside more classic offerings like mulhwe, a dish of raw seafood with a chilled fermented chili broth. Appropriately, the tapas-style menu is geared toward shared plates, though a starter of sweet-tangy soy lime glazed fried chicken, boasting a craggy, ultra-crunchy exterior and juicy, tender meat, is so good you’ll want to discard any idea of sharing.
Leona’s Sushi House
Some places have great ambience. Others have terrific food. Think you can’t find both in the same spot? Think again, then head to Leona’s Sushi House. This hip spot has a variety of distinctive spaces that lure creative types and beautiful people.
Chef Shigenori Fujimoto has teamed up with Frank Leon and Evan Ross on a Japanese fusion menu that never misses a beat. Dishes are often irreverent, as in rich and savory udon carbonara with paper thin smoked pork belly, creamy egg and parmigiano; and the sticky-sweet oxtail-stuffed bao is craveworthy. Seafood is impressive, whether it’s ceviche or sashimi-quality halibut bathed in a ponzu sauce vinaigrette. Chef’s specials include shimeji risotto or whole baked branzino with sake.
Nestled on the second floor of The Wilshire Grand Central, Niku X is a stunner, boasting traditional Japanese design elements and a fully open kitchen.
This is classic Yakiniku-style cooking with contemporary techniques under the watchful eye of Chef Shin Thompson. Beef is a focal point here, where certified Japanese A5 Wagyu is sustainably sourced from the group’s privately owned farm as well as from Australia, Portland and Japan. Dry-aging on site results in some of the most flavor-packed meat around. Sourcing is taken seriously, as seen in the crudo with its silky aged Ora King salmon and shima aji. Yakiniku courses are cooked over state-of-the-art robatayaki grills and may include hotate with Hokkaido uni butter and seven-day, dry-aged steelhead trout.
Selanne Steak Tavern
Once a home, this historic setting on Pacific Coast Highway now houses a winning steakhouse. Inside, a variety of settings welcome guests, ranging from the upstairs Loft, the bistro-style Wine Library, the handsome Tavern, or outside on the Veranda or Sunset Terrace. The buzzy bar is also a favorite perch for a crowd that’s both relaxed and regulars.
Steak is revered in this place and it lives up to its promise with tender, well marbled meat, but the kitchen ratchets it up with expert cooking (and dousing it in butter never hurts). Thick seared mushrooms in a Madeira reduction are a nice touch, and creamy, buttery mashed potatoes are a must, but don’t monkey around when it comes to dessert—Selanne’s monkey bread can’t be missed.
If sushi has become a bit too pricey for your pocket, you haven’t been to Sushi Yuen. This simple dining spot delivers many surprises, including a well-priced, much-loved lunch (walk-ins only). However, it’s the upscale, ultra-fresh ingredients coupled with skilled chefs that are the best surprise.
The meal kicks off with a trio of lovely vessels containing seasonal shirako; miso-marinated black cod with crunchy river crab; and a caviar-topped West Coast oyster. Gamtae seaweed cradles tuna and shiso for a memorable handroll, while the seasonal nigiri is mostly imported from Japan. Each course is a win through dessert, where a wedge of preserved persimmon and sweet crown melon over house made panna cotta is especially memorable.
Mabel’s Gone Fishing
Charm is in abundant supply at this popular gathering place, from the name and décor (both of which honor an owner’s beloved dog) to the easygoing, friendly staff. But it’s more than just window dressing that draws in the crowds. A focused menu highlights excellent local seafood with a simple-yet-satisfying approach that blends Californian and Iberian cuisine, and the results are undeniably delicious. Case in point is the crispy, meaty swordfish schnitzel, served with salsa verde and creamy tonnato sauce alongside a salad of caper berries and shaved fennel, for a winningly bright, briny combination. Raw items like oysters and simple crudos are a great way to start, and an assortment of natural wines and gin-based cocktails provide top-notch accompaniments.
Read the Spring 2023 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.
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