Hinoki & The Bird, Restaurant, Century City, Los Angeles, USA
Yes, there are good, nice and interesting restaurants in Los Angeles. Most of the better places which I know are conceptually offering rather fusions of different cuisines, pretty modern and experimental combinations. It is somehow funny that you can experience much more radicalism testing restaurants than discussing philosophical or political themes with people from Los Angeles. Either restaurants are just real American – most of them then are better steak houses and very much meat driven – or they are young, inspired and of course trend following: if a steak could be green, those places would be the first ones offering it.
Hinoki & The Bird is a kind of typical place for mid age people who consider being younger than they are. It isn’t a top restaurant and you miss “the” special person as I for instance I don’t know anything about the chef (which by the way is a shame that you even cannot find anything about her / him at their homepage!).
The presentation and offer of the restaurant is serious, very well-balanced and honestly good but not outstanding. The chefs combine Californian, Japanese and selected European styles. Every ingredient is really very fresh. Although you could consider some of the selection would be heavy – due to the meat or sauce – it comes rather light.
The portions are not too huge which allows you to risk or test even perhaps two more appetizers or as the restaurant calls it “Fun bites” – I actually like this name. Some of those are rather exotic: “Lemongrass lamb sausage, hoja santa, chili-lime sauce” or “Pumpkin toast, miso jam, goat cheese”, some of them are a bit more typical as “Fried oysters, black garlic aioil” which I tried the last time I went there. I liked it!
Among main courses you can choose just between “inspirations” or grilled stuff (either fish or meat).
Colorado Lamb Lion
The wine selection is decent but fits to the restaurant – the Zinfandel by glass (I missed to ask for the name) was actually pretty tasty.
Something I really like about this place are the waiters. They don’t suck up, they haven’t taste all meals, they simply sometimes admit that they don’t know everything about the food which is offered. They return to kitchen and will find it out for you: this is really very personable. Of course it’s a place without any formality nevertheless you are treated good as a guest as you indeed pay not too less for those smaller portions.
There is one dish which stays in a way for the whole restaurant! It’s called “Ice cream Sandwich” (Ice cream sandwich, chocolate chiffon, cocoa shortbread, caramel milk chocolate crunch). It comes packed in a Sandwich paper and box – really a very nice presentation.
The paper is stamped or burned with the insignia of the restaurant. But not only the decoration of it was perfect. It was so delicious that my friend Mimi Steinbauer who ordered “Strawberry mochi, prosecco, lemon” finished with my sandwich.
The location is very hidden. As a foreigner you would never find this place. Approaching it by car – as almost all places in Los Angeles – there is only the light sign (see above pic). All looks a bit secret. When you then enter the room it is really friendly, a lot of light wood, modern interior and a big backside terrace.
Again and as usual for American places: the whole restaurant – even at the terrace – is unfortunately much too loud.
Make a reservation upon you go there and a freshly updated navigation system otherwise you will not find it. This said the webpage of the restaurant is pretty nice but also full of reasonable information about the location and food. Here you go: http://hinokiandthebird.com/