Dinner at Davenport’s in Encino

Dinner at Davenport’s in Encino

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Wednesday night we went for dinner at Davenport’s in Encino. We wanted to try a neighborhood restaurant we had never been to before. They opened last year in the space formerly occupied by Dupar’s and John L. Groats on Ventura Boulevard west of Woodley Avenue. And so, on a cold winter weekday evening we made a reservation for 7:15pm.

Parking is in the rear and the lot was full. There was a line at the host station, located just inside the front door and the restaurant was packed at the sushi bar, long bar, bar dining  area and dining room. The outdoor patio was empty because it was “effing” cold and there was a nice wind blowing through the courtyard that even the outdoor heaters couldn’t warm. We know this because the reservation was made for “Outside”, even though we didn’t ask for the patio. When we asked to sit inside, the hostess seating us said there was an hour wait for a table and we almost left and went somewhere else…

Instead we went inside and found the manager and explained the situation. He was very understanding and they found a nice table in the corner of the dining room for us in a very short time. BRAVO! 

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The restaurant is divided into different spaces as mentioned above: there’s a sushi bar, long bar, bar dining area and formal dining room/private party space where we were seated. the interior is very nice, albeit a little crowded when the place is packed. If you’ve followed my Blog you know there are more than 20 sushi restaurants in the neighborhood, so a restaurant with a sushi bar (and raw oyster bar) is nothing new and the prices for sushi and sashimi were higher than most. They were offering a combination sashimi and oyster plate for $42 when we offered the specials by our friendly waiter.

We decided not to have sushi or oysters, knowing that we were going to have a big meal and instead just started with their tasty cornbread and bread & butter. They have some nice appetizers but again we didn’t order any know the entrees were large. We did share an $11 Caesar salad, but ended up giving it to another member of our party because they added kale (WE HATE KALE) without mention of it on the menu.

We had the BBQ baby back ribs ($29 for a full rack) and they were delicious! Fall off the bone and cooked really well. The BBQ sauce was tasty and we substituted sautéed asparagus for cole slaw. The fries were tasty, but they weren’t served hot enough. We ate a few of the ribs at dinner and took the rest home and ate them with hot (reheated) fries for lunch the next day, and the ribs were delicious the day after too!

Or party also tried the lobster roll, lobster (Cobb) salad and the ribeye steak. We also tried a glass of red and a glass of white wine, which were both excellent choices. And everything they served us was very well prepared, visually appealing, very tasty and super quality food! We tasted the brownie sundae dessert which was shared by our party, and it was wonderful but we were full and didn’t want dessert.

NOTE: We LOVE dessert and the brownie sundae was good, but the meal service had taken a long time and we were tired of sitting, a little claustrophobic, and really ready to go before we even ordered dessert.

The service was good, just a little slow because it was slammed, crowded and the layout of the restaurant makes it harder to serve. We never had to wait very long for our waiter,  and he did an excellent job tending to our requests.

On The Menu: BBQ Baby Back Ribs with fries and sautéed asparagus, cornbread, bread & butter, Caesar salad, Lobster Roll, Lobster Cobb Salad, Brownie sundae and a coke

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All in all, it was a very nice dinner to celebrate the end of Hannukah and the Winter Solstice (see our previous Blog Posts) and we left happy, full and with leftovers in hand. It was a good dining experience at a restaurant we had never been to before, and we would definitely return for another meal.

Davenport’s16120 Ventura Blvd, Encino 91436 (at Woodley Av)
http://www.davenportsrestaurant.com

All photos copyright 2017 JoshWillTravel

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Pretty Christmas Tree at Davenport’s!

 



 

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FOODGASM! OMG Dinner Party at n/naka!

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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N/Naka - 3455 Overland Ave, in Palms (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

n/naka – 3455 Overland Ave, Palms, L.A. (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Inside, the space is clean, quiet and intimate. The focus is all about the fine food and drink.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

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.”

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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.”

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n/naka’s Sous Chef and Chef Niki Nakayama prepare fresh uni.

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:

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Philippe champagne to start the evening and toast the special occasion!

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

First appetizer: oyster with roe, uni, orange and foam sauce.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: Not everyone likes oysters, so a second appetizer was graciously substituted.

Second appetizer: Snow crab with roe and pea puree.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with a 2013 white wine

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

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.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

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.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with Seijuro Fujitsu cold sake.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Sashimi course: Bonita sashimi with black mustard flower and shiso paste served with a mini yuzo sake.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Soup course: Clam with radish & seaweed in clear Japanese water broth.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with Alsace Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Blanc Les Princes Abbés 2012 white wine.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Sashimi course: toro belly, kampachi yellowtail with cucumber, red snapper, uni on lemon and octopus in a daikon radish slice

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with a really nice tasting sweet cold sake.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Cooked fish course: Delicious “grilled” Branzino with pickled daikon, ginkgo nut and cooked bamboo. I think it was blowtorched to perfection.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with a tasty Hitachino Nest Beer White Ale.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Steamed course: egg, snow crab, shitake mushroom and shiso. Thicker than a soup.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with Pazo Señorans Albariño 2013 white wine.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Special Pasta course: abalone, truffle & spaghetti with garlic butter cream sauce.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with a Sancere 2013 white wine.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

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.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: I wanted a whole steak of this A+ Wagyu beef! It was superb.

Paired with a rich Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 red wine.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Sunomono course: firefly squid with cucumber, tomato and seaweed (sorry, pulled it apart before taking the pic) served with a mini yuzo sake.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Sushi course (6 pieces and soup): Toro, makata, Japanese mackerel, sweet shrimp, squid, uni and shrimp head in white miso broth.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! Makata and Toro (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! Japanese Mackerel and Sweet Shrimp (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka!  Squid and Uni (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! Shrimp head in white miso soup (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Paired with Born Gold Junmai Daiginjo cold sake. “Gold has an elegant nose comprised of green apple, sweet rice, plum skin, and peach aromas.”

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dessert course #1: Melon sorbet with icy rose granita. Served with hot green tea in a bowl.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

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.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Birthday Dessert (not mine): green tea pudding with whipped cream and a strawberry.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dessert was paired with an unusual sweet/spicy Hannya cold sake (tasted like a liquer).

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

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.

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! Wine and Sake (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! Wine and Sake (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

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FYI – Front page of the Beer, Wine, Champagne and Sake List:

“Without wine, even beautiful cherry blossoms have small attraction”

Dinner Party at N/Naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner Party at n/naka! (copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel)

“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.

BRAVA! BRAVA!

n/naka's Chef Niki Nakayama

n/naka’s Chef Niki Nakayama

n/naka3455 Overland Ave, Palms (Los Angeles)  www.n-naka.com

Reservations are absolutely required. They are currently booked until July!

 

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