In L.A., coastal dishes are as culturally diverse as the city itself. The following dining experiences reflect inspirations from the world’s most exotic seas.
By Roger Grody
Peruvian cuisine is suddenly trendy, with prominent Lima chefs flocking to America to show off their game. The country’s bountiful Pacific coastline has something to do with its appeal. In L.A., you can sample perfect Peruvian ceviches at Mo-Chica (Mercado la Paloma, 3655 S. Grand Ave., downtown, 213.747.2141).
The Caspian Sea is the source of one of the world’s most prized culinary indulgences. Although it no longer imports beluga caviar due to dwindling supply, Petrossian (321 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, 310.271.6300) offers a full menu laced with premium caviar from around the world, including some excellent sustainable domestic options.
In Spain’s Basque region, along the chilly Bay of Biscay, tapas are referred to as pintxos. Bar Pintxo (109 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, 310.458.2012) is acclaimed L.A. chef Joe Miller’s interpretation of a casual San Sebastian eatery, allowing guests to enjoy authentic Spanish dishes just steps from the Pacific Coast.
Chinatown and the San Gabriel Valley are filled with elaborate Hong Kong-style seafood palaces that present a taste of the South China Sea. A perennial fave, Empress Pavilion (988 N. Hill St., downtown, 213.617.9898) offers great dim sum by day, giant crabs and shark fin soup by night. For high-end designer dim sum and a spectacular view, head to Wolfgang Puck’s new WP24 (Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, 900 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown, 213.743.8824) at downtown’s glitzy Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles.
In a previous era, the Gulf of Tonkin was a sea of misery. But now, half a century later, Vietnam is a popular tourist destination. A contemporary take on its beguiling cuisine is offered at the perennially trendy Crustacean (9646 Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310.205.8990).
No island nation is more renowned for its seafood than Japan, and in L.A. the country’s ocean-oriented cuisine is practically on every street corner. It is exquisitely represented at exclusive Urusawa (218 N. Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, 310.247.8939), a once-in-a-lifetime sushi splurge, while the Izaka-ya by Katsuya (8420 W. 3rd St., L.A., 323.782.9536; 1133 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach, 310.796.1888), a pub concept from one of the city’s top Japanese chefs, is designed to be a regular hangout.