FOODGASM! OMG Dinner Party at n/naka!
One of the most amazing meals I’ve ever eaten. We did the full 13 course dinner with wine and sake pairings. Each dish was a work of art both visually and culinary! BRAVA! BRAVA!
There’s no sign, just the address, on the front of the restaurant. Located on Overland between National and Palms, they have street parking (when available) and valet parking for $7 behind the building.
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Inside, the space is clean, quiet and intimate. The focus is all about the fine food and drink.
The episodic documentary “Chef’s Table” recently released on Netflix features Chef Niki Nakayama “applying the artistic and technical notions of kaiseki to create an ever-evolving seasonal narrative within each meal.”
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Chef Niki Nakayama began her career at Takao. She previously owned Azami Sushi Cafe and Inaka, before opening n/naka four years ago.
“Through a meaningful balance of both traditional and modern techniques, Chef Niki Nakayama is committed to creating a meal that will engage your attention. It’s about enjoying the moment, the current offerings of the season, and ultimately, the food in front of you.”
Modern Kaiseki ($165 thirteen course – $85 optional wine pairing) per person
A deep exploration of traditional Kaiseki service with modern accents in technique and flavor pairings. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese multi-course meal consisting of a sequence of dishes, each often small and artistically arranged. It’s a type of art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food. It also refers to the collection of skills and techniques that allow the preparation of such meals.
There is also a vegetarian menu available for $150, but they are not vegan. Ingredients vary based on season and everything is organic and “farm to table” fresh. Each menu is planned specifically. Guests are consulted on their “Likes & Dislikes” and the menu is confirmed a few days before the reservation.
I’ve been anticipating this dinner since the reservation was confirmed. I watched the “Chef’s Table” episode on Netflix and visited the restaurant’s website. I read the numerous rave reviews and recent interviews with Chef Nakayama regarding her philosophy, style, training and success. After all the hype, I was not disappointed in the least, it was a true “foodie experience”!
The reservation was for Saturday night at 5:30pm (the early seating) and I arrived early, found street parking and waited for the rest of the party to arrive and the restaurant door to open. We were the first guests of the evening and were seated immediately and offered the beer, wine, champagne and sake list.
We chose to add the wine and sake pairings with dinner. If you choose this option, do not plan on driving! Have a designated driver or Uber, Lyft, Taxi or Limosine your way home. In addition to the wine and sake pairings, I ordered a Sapporo beer to enjoy with my food.
Sapporo beer, still water and the “Zen” rock garden centerpiece and place settings:
Philippe champagne to start the evening and toast the special occasion!
First appetizer: oyster with roe, uni, orange and foam sauce.
NOTE: Not everyone likes oysters, so a second appetizer was graciously substituted.
Second appetizer: Snow crab with roe and pea puree.
Paired with a 2013 white wine
Seasonal Appetizer course: lobster tempura with spicy aoli, smoky cod on lemon, Tazmanian sea trout sashimi, stuffed squid with crab, quail egg and squid ink.
The lobster in light tempura with the spicy aoli was “melt in your mouth” incredible. And so was the cod, sea trout and stuffed squid.
Paired with Seijuro Fujitsu cold sake.
Sashimi course: Bonita sashimi with black mustard flower and shiso paste served with a mini yuzo sake.
Soup course: Clam with radish & seaweed in clear Japanese water broth.
Paired with Alsace Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Blanc Les Princes Abbés 2012 white wine.
Sashimi course: toro belly, kampachi yellowtail with cucumber, red snapper, uni on lemon and octopus in a daikon radish slice
Paired with a really nice tasting sweet cold sake.
Cooked fish course: Delicious “grilled” Branzino with pickled daikon, ginkgo nut and cooked bamboo. I think it was blowtorched to perfection.
Paired with a tasty Hitachino Nest Beer White Ale.
Steamed course: egg, snow crab, shitake mushroom and shiso. Thicker than a soup.
Paired with Pazo Señorans Albariño 2013 white wine.
Special Pasta course: abalone, truffle & spaghetti with garlic butter cream sauce.
Paired with a Sancere 2013 white wine.
Wagyu beef (to die for) on a hot stone – cook to taste with vegetables brussel sprout, purple carrot, asparagus and a beet chip in daikon horseradish sauce and sea salt.
NOTE: I wanted a whole steak of this A+ Wagyu beef! It was superb.
Paired with a rich Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 red wine.
Sunomono course: firefly squid with cucumber, tomato and seaweed (sorry, pulled it apart before taking the pic) served with a mini yuzo sake.
Sushi course (6 pieces and soup): Toro, makata, Japanese mackerel, sweet shrimp, squid, uni and shrimp head in white miso broth.
Paired with Born Gold Junmai Daiginjo cold sake. “Gold has an elegant nose comprised of green apple, sweet rice, plum skin, and peach aromas.”
Dessert course #1: Melon sorbet with icy rose granita. Served with hot green tea in a bowl.
Dessert course #2: popcorn ice cream with cookies & cream meringue, lemon drop gelee’, chocolate covered raisin, sugared fennel and caramel sauce. Served with a different hot green tea in a cup.
Birthday Dessert (not mine): green tea pudding with whipped cream and a strawberry.
Dessert was paired with an unusual sweet/spicy Hannya cold sake (tasted like a liquer).
Sake and Wine! They have many choices both by the glass and by the bottle/carafe and the prices are not inexpensive. You can also bring your own wine. There’s a $35 corkage fee and a “limit” of one bottle per every two people in the party.
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FYI – Front page of the Beer, Wine, Champagne and Sake List:
“Without wine, even beautiful cherry blossoms have small attraction”
“As to flowers, when half open; as to sake, when a person is half tipsy”
The service was great and the courses were well timed. It’s not a large space and the restaurant is about the food and the dining experience, not the number of people served. Each dish is ART and requires attention to detail in the planning and preparation. Our multi-course dinner from start to finish timed out at about three wonderful hours.
After the meal, Chef Nakayama came to our table and thanked us for coming. She was incredibly sincere and humble when we praised her and the incredible food she created.
n/naka – 3455 Overland Ave, Palms (Los Angeles) www.n-naka.com
Reservations are absolutely required. They are currently booked until July!
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