I am a huge fan of Asian food and especially sushi, so I was thrilled to accept and invitation to dine at Takami in Downtown Los Angeles this past week.
What a place. Located at the top of a tall high rise on Wilshire Boulevard, Takami has 360 degree views of the city with windows that are half open at the top so the air is coming in while you are dining. The atmosphere is sophisticated and inviting with deep comfortable booth tables and a beautiful robata bar.
Robata, which are small skewers of grilled meats, fish and vegetables, is a delicious appetizer that is served here with a variety of delectable sauces. We ordered scallops, shitake mushrooms and eggplant for our Robata choices and they came cooked perfectly and well seasoned. I have tried this Japanese specialty in other restaurants but found it rather bland. At Takami this was not the case and I would highly recommend this dish.
We then ordered the following; garden roll, albacore lemon roll and spicy tuna on crispy rice. All three items came beautifully garnished and on white serving dishes. This was a lovely presentation and the food itself was wonderful.
The rolls were both seasoned well with abundant fish and vegetables and the portions were generous. The spicy tuna was perched on top of a small rice cake that was lightly fried and the combination was ideal. Crisp sesame flavor, spicy chilled tuna and jalapeno garnish which added that tiny bit of heat at the end of the bite.
The service was professional, warm and well trained. The waiter took the time to explain each item and recommended his personal favorites. It was difficult to decide what to choose as the menu is extensive and appealing.
The place was fairly crowded for a Tuesday night and, from the looks of it, gets more of a happening late night scene as evening approaches.
Across the hall is another establishment owned by the same group called Elevate. This was not open when we were there as it is a late night club with appetizers and cocktails. This was described as a hot club where dancing under the stars is one of the highlights.
I would love to return to Takami for another meal and this time with a few more people to try a wider range of items.
Standing for burgers
On another completely different note I would like to say the new Father’s Office in Culver City is open and doing booming business.
If you don’t know about F.O. as it is known to locals, it’s the best burger to be had in a bar atmosphere anywhere in L.A.
The original F.O. is on Montana and 11th Street and is a small, crowded bar with an amazing selection of beers on tap as well as some terrific local wines. The place is charming but you need to arrive early to insure a chance at sitting down as they have an absurd “first come first serve” rule when it comes to getting a table.
We discovered it years ago and have enjoyed many a burger and brew there. The highlight is the burgers as the menu has little else. They come as is — no substitutes — with arugula, caramelized onions, blue cheese and an aioli sauce on the side. No ketchup to be found.
The actual burger is thick and juicy and as close to homemade as one could find in the outside world. It comes with a large handful of thin crunchy fries that go perfectly with the aioli sauce.
So this is the deal; you get there and push into the bar, order a beer or glass of wine, a burger and maybe their roasted beet salad (which is large and very well done).
They give you a number and then you spend the next 15 minutes hovering over tables that look like they might be almost done. The second someone moves to leave you pounce. This is the way it works at both the original and the latest expanded version of F.O.
So recently we went there at prime time about 8 p.m. and found ourselves starving and wishing we didn’t have to go through this painful process before sitting down to enjoy our meal.
There were four of us so we branched out and stood right next to four different tables waiting to get lucky. You have to be aggressive lest the other vultures will nab your spot, so the nice ones finish last.
It took us about 15 minutes to finally slide into seats and as usual the wait was worth it. The same menu and the same non-service abides in the new location with three times the amount of room.
I most definitely recommend Father’s Office but wish they would grow up and get the staff they need to accommodate us hungry souls.
Amanda Cushman is a culinary educator who has cooked professionally for 25 years. She teaches privately for groups of two to 20 students. She has developed hundreds of recipes for cookbooks as well as food magazines and Web sites. She can be reached email@example.com.