3455 Overland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90034, USA
Photo by Lisa Corson, AFAR Media
n/nakaYou’ll want to block off at least three hours of your day for a meal at n/naka, Los Angeles’s temple to the elaborate, multi-course traditional Japanese feast known as kaiseki. Chef-owner Niki Nakayama—the world’s sole female kaiseki master and a James Beard semifinalist—has created an intimate, authentically Japanese space for up to 26 guests to savor one of two 13-course tasting menus. In a serene setting of minimalist, hand-built furniture, the Japanese American chef serves up a parade of vibrantly colored, elaborately plated dishes, each made with hyper-local ingredients. A typical menu begins with a modern take on sashimi and then proceeds through a series of innovative vegetarian, fish, meat, and dessert courses. One stop-you-in-your-tracks favorite: the Shiizakana (which translates to “not bound by tradition, chef’s choice”), in which spaghettini is twirled with abalone, pickled cod roe, and Burgundy truffles. At the end of the meal, chef Nakayama and sous chef Carole Iida-Nakayama emerge from the kitchen to greet each diner. Pro tip: Plan ahead. A two- to three-month waiting list means you need to be flexible with early or late dinner times.