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How to Discover the Secret Little Tokyo of Beverly Hills

By Carole Dixon

Jul 25, 2016

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Tempura Endo

Courtesy of Tempura Endo

Tempura Endo

A small but lively Japanese scene is thriving in the glitzy city.

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In an area known for over-the-top luxury goods and high-end celebrity designer clothing—that is, Rodeo Drive—there’s a secret Little Tokyo blooming, where the materialistic shell of Beverly Hills is undercut by calming tea rituals and a Zen atmosphere. Here, seven spots pioneering the 90210’s newest scene.

1. Tempura Endo
This new, intimate omakase-style spot (a Kyoto transplant) offers everything from scallops with truffle and caviar to Wagyu beef rolled in the chef’s special flour-and-white-wine mixture and then fried. The seven- to nine-course tasting menu with a tea ceremony afterward will set you back between $150–$280 per person, but it’s worth it for a full tour of the only gourmet tempura spot in town. Tempura Endo also offers a more budget-friendly à la carte menu after 9 p.m., or you could stop in just for a drink (and maybe rub shoulders with Gwyneth Paltrow, who’s a big fan).

2. Salon Kazumi
A few shops away from Tempura Endo, colorist Kazumi Morton—also originally from Kyoto—has just opened a Zen haircare studio where she practices (and teaches) Japanese hair-straightening methods and a unique extensions process that few in the country are certified to administer. She’s also the person behind Root Vanish, a handy color-correcting brush for touch-ups on the go that has a cult following. The salon is also a go-to spot for products from Japan’s best-selling haircare brand, Milbon.

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3. Tomoko Spa
Completely under the radar, Tomoko Spa will make you feel like you’re at a ryokan in Japan—right down to the no-shoes policy, hushed tones, and deep wooden soaking tubs. The spa’s staff pours tea from a traditional Japanese teapot in the waiting room, and you’ll continue to have tea before, during, and after your treatment. Try the full-body hot stone and sake massage, which will leave you relaxed and your skin silky smooth. As a bonus, every treatment begins with a complimentary foot soak/massage and ends with a mochi (rice cake) snack.


4. The American Tea Room
The American Tea Room—we know, not very Japanese-sounding, but hear us out—will reopen this September with an premium selection of teas and crockery from Japan. Tea ware includes everything from a copper Akagane Japanese kettle and a mini Japanese hammered-steel teapot to an unvarnished cherry bark tea caddy or a Katasuki artisan tetsubin kettle created by a certified, expert-level iron artist. The teas you’ll want to steep in these work-of-art vessels include Yame Gyokuro green tea (the tearoom’s best seller), which pairs well with sweets. Another must-try: the Hekisui ceremonial matcha tea. Usually reserved for the Japanese Emperor himself, the tea is impossible to come by in the United States—except here, the only tea retailer in the nation to carry it. For an everyday brew, grab a Genmaicha organic green tea—its richness makes it perfect for such unconventional pairings as Margherita pizza.

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5. Urasawa
At about $395 per person without sake, Urasawa (on Rodeo Drive in the Rodeo Collection), is the top sushi ticket in town. Inside the minimalist space, chef Hiroyuki Urasawa slices prize Tokyo toro (tuna belly) with precision for 30-course meals that usually include fish flown in from Japan, caviar, and gold flakes.

6. Nozawa Bar
This secret dining room for sushi aficionados in the know is hidden behind the bustling front room of Sugarfish. Reservations are only accepted online, and, with a meager eight seats, it’s a tough reservation to score. Expect 22 courses, including New Zealand snapper, East Coast halibut fin, and Santa Barbara uni, plus premium sake.

7. Cut
Located inside the Beverly Wilshire hotel, Wolfgang Puck’s sleek steakhouse recently celebrated 10 years. This carefully curated menu also offers a special Japanese pure Wagyu beef experience: the Miyazaki Prefecture rib-eye steak. The restaurant has further upped the ante with a new “International Series” that will highlight different beef-producing regions all over the world, including Japan, this fall. 

>>Next: A Chef’s Epic Eating (and Relaxing) Tour of Japan

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