By: Julia Harris
It’s common knowledge that LA restaurants, clubs, and lounges fall off after about 6 months. If they’re lucky. It would be easy to think the same about Hinoki and the Bird as another flash-in-the-pan L.A. hot spot. It is a pseudo Japanese-inspired, small-plates restaurant that caters to the cocktails-after-work crowd. But while Hinoki is a perfectly good spot to imbibe cocktails and eat yummy desserts, when you stop to notice the ambiance at the bird, it's hard not to want to keep the place a secret, so that you can have it all to yourself.
The chef who currently runs Comme Ça, has come up with what is an LA hot spot through and through. It's a trendy, stylish restaurant/bar without the pretentious, top-of-the-Hollywood-status-sphere air.
You feel as though you’ve discovered the rabbit hole after the triumph of locating the restaurant, which is under a luxury condo tower on a road off of Avenue of the Stars that no GPS can find (literally, my in-car GPS, Garmin, google maps, and Siri could not find it). The door doesn’t look like a door, and if you don’t know where to push, after the valet has left with your car, you stand staring at what looks like a solid door. Once inside, you stand on a platform that looks out over the dining room, with seating tucked between the bar and a glowing-with-tiny-candles, open kitchen.
My friend and I sat at the bar, and the calm and friendly (and cute) bar tenders are ready to help with the menu, and assist you with selecting a drink you’ll love. The menu is broken up into categories: raw bar, fun bites, simply grilled, inspiration, and vegetables and grains (there’s also a separate dessert menu). We both had two rounds (because one was just not enough) of the Gordon’s Cup (Gin, muddled lime, cucumber, Szechuan pepper, salt). Believe me, I don’t like anything but vodka, but with this drink you won’t be able to tell the difference.
There are so many things here I'd classify as must-try dishes, enough that you'll have to return a few times in order to eat them all (and you should return – it’s hard not to want to). We didn’t have the lobster roll, but we hear it’s a must try. The miso mochi, butterscotch, togarashi on the dessert menu is a must try, as is the Cotton cheesecake, rhubarb, raspberry cream, strawberry yogurt ice cream. Desserts are very small, so order a couple. Drinks are pricey, but worth it.
The room feels lively, like you're in the place everyone wants to be, and casual in the most relaxed way. Bottom line: it’s a must try, and you’ll want to go back. But shhhhh – don’t tell anyone.
HINOKI AND THE BIRD | 10 Century Drive, Century City Full bar | Valet parking, $9.50 for dinner.
Julia works in the legal department of a major studio. She enjoys eating, drinking, and eating and drinking at the same time. Due to her love of all things food she is constantly looking for amazing new restaurants and bars in the greater Los Angeles area so that she can force her friends to go out with her and pretend that we’re all big shots.
She is a member of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, the Los Angeles Bar Association, and the Love Justine fan club.