Restaurant: Hinoki & the Bird
Location: 10 West Century Drive, Los Angeles, Ca, 90067
Date: January 26, 2013
Cuisine: Modern American Tapas
Rating: Excellent new cutting edge LA/Asian
Hinoki & the Bird comes from the David Myers Group, which once included flagship Sona. On opening, I was blown away by that restaurant, and it seems to have been LA’s last great hooray in the full on formal dining sector. Hinoki as much more casual, serving what is mostly modern California small plates with Asian influences. The chef here is Kuniko Yagi, one of Myer’s proteges and a Japanese native.
From my cellar, Parker 93, “This estate’s Corton-Bressandes is a wine I search out in vintages with good ripeness. It is never huge, muscular, or a blockbuster but can often be sultry, seductive, detailed, and simply lovely. A recently tasted 1990, while at least three years from maturity, was fabulous. The 1996 displays sweet red cherry and Asian spice aromatics as well as a gorgeously refined character filled with candied and delineated cherries. This elegant, sexy, and feminine offering is medium-to-full-bodied, silky-textured, and possesses a long and refreshing finish.”
Kale, cripsy and raw, curried almonds, pecorino, red wine vinaigrette. Light and crispy, but certainly not the night’s most exciting dish.
Pumpkin toast, miso jam, goat cheese. Very yummy, with a sweet, crunchy, and tangy combo.
Scallops, grapefruit, lime leaf. A really nice treatment of scallop crudo.
Beef tartare, pickled jalapeno, parmigiano. I love me a good beef tartare, and this was in the Franco-Italian style I approve of.
Marinated tuna, lemongrass salad. Also very good, with interesting tang.
Lobster roll, green curry, thai basil. I adore the original New England version, and this was certainly a great Lobster Roll. Yum. Yum.
Hinoki scented black cod, sweet potato, pistachio.
Sambal skate wing. The sauce felt very Thai, and livened up the already tasty skate.
Drunken duck breast. This felt a tad tough.
Braised lamb, tiny potatoes, cumin seed.
Grilled winter mushrooms, sea salt, lime .
Organic grilled white rice. Simple, but delicious, with a great texture.
Chocolate-praline, malt sponge cake, milk chocolate jelly, cocoa nib. Tasty, and a lot like the Ink and Red Medicine equivalents.
Zephyr cake, namelaka, yuzu, arare. Light and citrusy.
Despite the peculiar name, Hinoki and the Bird is a very welcome addition to the West Side. This is a very modern restaurant, very much in the current LA Zeitgeist. It’s a little reminiscent of Ink. The traditional sort of fine dining, ala Sona or even Melisse seems to be on the outs. While I regret this, I don’t mind at all the trend toward small plates (tapas) as I adore tasting a lot of dishes in a meal. It’s actually gotten to the point where any “normal” appetizer/entree menu is inherently boring. Hinoki also adds to these very American trends a good dose of Asian flavor – which is in itself very LA. I hope this is a place that evolves its menu, and very much look forward to returning.