Kula – a Win Win
Century City, CA
Kula Sushi Bistro, located in Century City, is the first U.S. location and North American flagship restaurant from the Kura Corporation. They own 190 restaurants in Japan. In addition, Kula specializes in Japanese cuisine, and features seasonal organic and local ingredients whenever possible. A few specialty items are imported from Japan to create an authentic contemporary dining experience. The food is simple and stylish, fresh and rich in cultural tradition. An expansive list of sake, shochu and house cocktails pair perfectly with their menu, where you can order small plates or a more traditional course of dining. The entire place is elegant, with a lobby, bar, piano lounge, banquet room, dining room and smoking patio.
With “tongue in cheek humor,” I thought one could live happily ever after here.
The décor reflects an understated sophistication, with brown leather seating, as well as white on black slate floors, along with white lantern chandeliers. The restaurant invites guests to step into its tranquil Zen-like atmosphere shaped in black and white, with exquisite poles lighted from the inside. Design elements include bamboo flooring, leather seating, lots of brick, and expansive black marble in the bar and lounge. A snapshot view also features art imported by Japanese artisans. While chic in design, the overall tone of the dining room is one of casual comfort and understated sophistication.
Their bar is friendly, like a party with fun, and Ben, the bartender, has recently introduced a fabulous sake sampler. It contains four flights of Sake from different categories. Each flight includes a Junmai, one Niori, one Ginjo, and one Daiginjo. The sake sampler is $25, and complimentary “Happy Hour” snacks make it a fantastic deal.
For a bit of trivia, the history of sushi began about one thousand years ago as a method to preserve fish by packing rice around the fillets protecting them from moisture. But before the aged fish was eaten, the rice was discarded. However, combining of rice and fish was popularized by the court nobles in the Kyoto area about 300 years ago when they found out how delicious the fish tasted with the rice. So they left it on. And being that Nigiri‑sushi originated in Tokyo in the early l9th
century, that makes Japan the originator of the world’s first fast food!
The mix and match menu at Kula offers sushi, sashimi, rolls, hot plates, cold plates, and desserts. Signature dishes include the Toro Collar, their marvelous Saikyo Miso Glazed Black Cod, and luncheon Bento boxes. A typical presentation in a “Bento” could be 3-pieces of Nigiri, (Tuna, Salmon & Yellowtail) with a four piece combination of Teriyaki chicken, Black Cod, Shrimp Tempura, and an organic green salad, ($18). The fresh, authentic sushi is made with organic ingredients. In addition, genuine wasabi, tempura batter, miso paste, and Kula’s original blend of soy sauce is imported from Japan. We had a most magnificent dinner, comfortably seated on black suede chairs under hanging chandelier lanterns.
Everything was delicious, but I can’t forget their little squares of crispy rice topped with shrimp and avocado; also served with crab and avocado. Another unforgettable item was the pan grilled Salmon with lemon caper sauce, and you can mix the raw with cooked items. If you have a few people it’s fun to share a 14-piece roll for about $14, and for those looking for Chilean Sea Bass, they do a beautiful job of sautéing the fish here. This is a very unusual Japanese restaurant serving raw and cooked assorted dishes, even Filet Mignon and Saikyo Miso Grilled Beef. If you prefer to have the chef choose a five-course dinner for you, it will include 10 items and I think you will love the choices, ($65).
For those that haven’t the slightest idea about how to order; Nigiri‑sushi, is a finger‑sized piece of fish pressed onto delicately flavored rice; Maki‑sushi, is rice pressed on seaweed topped with fresh produce after the fish is rolled and cut into bite‑size pieces. There’s also Sashimi, expertly trimmed raw fish. When in Japan, chopsticks are acceptable for eating the the morsels, but true sushi aficionados use their fingers.
10351 Santa Monica Boulevard, Century City, (a smidge E. of Beverly Glen) (310) 282-8870; Lunch: Monday – Friday 11:30am-2pm; Dinner: Monday – Saturday 6pm -10pm (Fri.& Sat. until 11pm) Happy Hour: Monday-Sat. until 11:00pm; Valet Parking, Lunch: $3, Dinner $5, Entertainment on Fri & Sat. www.kulasushi.com