Dining at The Century Plaza Hotel
#1-Patio – #2 Sushi Bar with Tanaka – #3 Sushi
Bravo for an evening of dining at the Century Plaza Hotel surrounded in lushly simple friendly décor, spaciously comfortable, with large booths and beautifully upholstered banquettes. The tables are smartly set with crisp linens and candlelight bouncing off pale green glass settings. Everything is part of an accompaniment to something else, such as plates that complement the foods, and waiters in black aprons, adding drama to the reddish tan and beige blended room. There’s also a feeling of motion from forced air aimed at moveable objects causing them to sway. One divider is made up of slowly moving cuts of bamboo on long strings; and the center of the room’s ceiling sports a laminated pale green back lighted glass with rice-paper that suggests grass blowing in the wind.
The big surprise is their spiffy Sushi Bar with Master Sushi Chef Tanaka doing lunch. The customary menu is headed by the great Executive Chef Manfred Lassahn. One can have sushi as a starter, at lunch time or a side dish along with the regular menu. Moreover, the sushi bar is open daily for lunch only.
It took a while to get used to eating raw fish in our country, but the history of sushi began one thousand years ago as a method of preserving fish by packing rice around the fillets, protecting them from moisture. Before the aged fish was eaten, the rice was discarded. About 300 years ago the court nobles in Kyoto found out how good the combination of the rice and fish tasted together, and the rest is history. Sushi Chefs are in great demand, especially if they become "Masters." An "Itamae" Sushi Chef must first be an apprentice, (to learn by observing). The first two years are spent washing utensils; then three years of cutting and cleaning fish for the chef; also learning to cook rice to perfection. Three months are devoted to making sushi, and finally three years as a journeyman sushi chef. It totals eight‑years of training, the same amount of time to become a doctor! But for all folks that might be afraid to eat Sushi, this information should give you confidence.
I decided to try an all-sushi menu, and noticed that the prices vary according to how many pieces you wish to have. The most popular styles are Sashimi, which has no rice; and Sushi/Nigri, raw fish placed on the rice. But I suggest you order a sampler to start, and tell your service person exactly what kind of fish appeals to you. I especially enjoyed the "spicy tuna cone," and anything made with crab and avocado is perfect for newcomers. In addition, the combinations are excellent, such as the Vegetarian Hand Roll. Some of the popular fish used for sushi is Blue Fin Tuna, (the most expensive and fattiest tuna). This is where "toro" comes from; the belly part of the fish. Big Eye Tuna is less expensive and less fatty. Yellow Fin Tuna is the most widely used in sushi bars and least fatty. You might as well go all the way and have "Sake" with your meal. Just as in any wine, there are many flavors and textures to choose from, and the menu is self-explanatory.
If you ever need a place for an important event, this is it. I was there for Mother's Day and I didn't know where to look first. The food is all over the room with a long list of magnificent choices, from Chef Manfred Lassahn "standouts." There were tables of breakfast gems, fabulous meats with savory sides, and unbelievable emphasis on salads. The sweets were inspirational, with cobblers, bread pudding, cakes, house-made pies, and small scaled pastries! The fashionable seafood included oysters, shrimp, and house smoked salmon.
I remember other times when I dined on curried cauliflower-apple soup, vegetable dumplings, crab cakes, Porcini crusted scallops, and fried calamari. Favorites from the Sea featured Fettuccini Pomodoro, with jumbo prawns; also Lemon Risotto a'la prawns, mussels, and scallops. If you favor Scallops, theirs are tactfully combined with Fuji apples. Other popular dishes are Pecan crusted Halibut; grilled Atlantic salmon; and Seabass, in a citrus relish.
But Mother's Day was unbelievable with ladies high-heeled shoes made of chocolate, and Chef Manfred had it displayed. In the past I dined on the Free Range Roasted chicken, Prime Ribeye Steak; and the Fennel Crusted Veal Chop was popular along with Roasted Lamb Rack; and Prime Filet Mignon, with marvelous complements.
Vegetarians might enjoy the grilled Farmers Market vegetables and organic brown rice. My evenings at the Century Plaza has always been special. So take someone to appreciate your “savoir vivre.” This is a winner for power lunching!
Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, 2025 Ave of The Stars, Century City, LA; (310) 551-3334. Major credit cards accepted. Validated parking.