Almost imperceptibly, downtown’s always demure Q has managed to turn one year old this month. The slim, wood-lined eatery garnered a nod from Bon Appetit as one of America’s 50 best new restaurants, and is considered the standard bearer for quality Edo-style sushi, but chef Hiroyuki Naruke remains as soft-spoken as ever.
Sitting in his quiet, well-lit Financial District restaurant before another night of coursing out $165 omakase meals to waiting diners, Hiro-san talked with Eater about his newfound appreciation for Los Angeles, and why serving only what he wants is so important.
Last we checked in on the strip malls of Koreatown, there were unfortunately named pizza places, spicy fried chicken wings and a Thai spot with a bus parked inside. This time, we’ve headed south of Wilshire to a strip mall brimming with fresh fish, ramen and perhaps the shadiest dining establishment that’s ever been Strip Mall Ratted on.
Just north of the intersection at Western and Eighth, where Pollo a La Brasa spits Peruvian fire onto its roast chickens, there’s a strip mall where live fish swim precariously close to your table. It is a strip mall where a man from Bangladesh makes Japanese ramen, and where a corner storefront has been serving only one dish, seven hours a day, for 17 years. This is what the strip mall life is like in Koreatown.
Los Angeles is a big city, with endless strip mall dining options. So far, we’ve covered mega-sites like the nine stop strip mall on Vine in Hollywood, and a small Marina del Rey mall with big, saucy meatballs, but the city extends far beyond those borders. This week offers a glimpse of a low slung strip mall, just off the main drag (if such a thing exists) in Northridge, deep in the heart of the San Fernando Valley.
Strip malls come in all shapes and sizes; some can even be a little scary. That’s certainly not the case at Crescent Heights Plaza, the West Hollywood strip mall that comes complete with its own valet. The space, which abuts the soon-to-be-open Connie & Ted’s, is actually quite nice. There’s lots of parking, and all of the attached restaurants have entrances that abut right onto the street. There are no hidden Mexican spots found tucked away, just some hip sushi, non-buffet Indian dining and one of L.A.’s most well-known Russian restaurants.
In the land of strip malls, Koreatown in king. There are stacks upon stacks of tiny one-off eateries that dot the landscape around Western Avenue as it cruises towards Wilshire Blvd., an untold number that speaks to just how well K-towners must eat. More often than not, these are the sorts of places that eschew websites, only accept cash and rely on word of mouth or a strong set of eyes to discover. It’s strip mall dining heaven in Koreatown, starting with the bustling corner strip spot along Western and 3rd Street known as Western Village.