Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants


Photo from Beacon website

So recently, Jonathan Gold came out with his list of "99 Essential L.A. Restaurants." You do not understand how much I love lists. I love them so much. I love to read them, and I love to make them, and I love to read them and then make my own lists based off of the lists I read. Lists are the joy of my life. And so are restaurants. So a list of restaurants is pretty much the best birthday present Mr. Gold could have given me. Thank you, honey!

I am now determined to eat at all of these restaurants--within reason. I won't go out to the San Gabriel Valley or Whittier because ... I just won't. Not unless I have to, and if I do I'll come back and refer to the list at that time. And I'm not going to go to Geisha House, because ... I just won't. The reasons should be obvious. I can't imagine why I would have to, so I'm not even going to consider that scenario.

Of course, many of them I have eaten at already. But now that they have a special new status of "essential," I will have to try to eat at them again.

I got started on day 2 of my birthday week when my in-laws took me out to Beacon, in Culver City. There are no pictures, unfortunately, because I felt like it would be kind of rude to be snapping pictures of food throughout my birthday dinner from my parents-in-law.

We arrived a little bit early and sat at the bar, where we got to try a peach-infused sake. I have never seen an infused sake before. it was really good. It took the flavor of the peach really well and didn't seem to alter it much.

We started with the avocado salad with Tokyo negi (on onion, kind of like a leek), cilantro and sesame seeds. The combo of avocado and sesame seeds with the cilantro and fresh greens was really delicious and perfect for a summer day. There was maybe a bit more dressing than I would have liked and the last bits of greens were drowning in it. All in all though, this was a very flavorful salad with some interesting greens, which I think included shiso leaf, as well as the cilantro and some cress.

We also had chicken skewers with shiso and ume paste. These were so good--the citrus of the shiso leaf blended so well with the tang and salt of the ume paste and the little cubes of chicken were juicy and moist.

For my main course I had grilled hangar steak, medium rare, with wasabi relish and scallion-ginger potato salad. The hangar steak was perfectly cooked, all dark pink and tender, and even though my fork got taken away with the salad plate, I was able to eat it easily with chopsticks. The wasabi relish was great. I have never had fresh wasabi before--only the bright green paste. I forgot that the relish was wasabi until I took a big bite of it, but luckily for me it had a gentler kick than an accidental dollop of the paste. I would have liked to have some form of cooked potatoes with the steak rather than cold potato salad. The steak was so full of flavor that the potatos seemed kind of mushy and bland in comparison and I think it would have been better to have mashed potatoes that could soak up the extra sauce from the steak, which was in abundance, or roasted potatoes with herbs whose flavor could hold up to the wasabi. I didn't even taste the ginger on the potatoes, although I did taste the scallions.

During the meal I also tried their other infused sake--a kumquat infusion. It was very nice ... the fruitiness wasn't as distinctive as with the peach, and it tasted almost like a sweet white wine.

For dessert I had a lychee ice with lychees, raspberries and basil. I have to say I honestly did not notice basil in this, which is kind of too bad. The ice was very good though ... it tasted just like a frozen lychee. I wish there had been more sorbet, though, and less actual lychees. Or even just the ice with the raspberries and basil. As it was, there was too much fruit and I couldn't finish it.

All in all it was a nice meal. The appetizers were fantastic, as was the steak. The atmosphere was tranquil, although I will warn that if you go when the sun starts to set, I would ask for a table in back or outside, because we were sitting near the front of the restaurant and at the end of the meal, the sun was shining directly in my eyes from the entrance windows. I had to squish my husband over to the side for a few minutes.

Our waiter was fantastic (and cute--sorry, J., I can't help to notice things like that. He had pretty blue eyes, what can I say?) and gave very charming service from the bar all the way throughout the meal. The bus man/server was also very attentive and would keep an eye on your progress in order to know exactly when to sweep your plate away. He was really good at the non-verbal communication too. I never had to work to catch his eye, which I am always extremely grateful for.

3280 Helms Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 838-7500


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