As enchanting and rapturous as the kind of Japanese fairytale its name evokes, Hinoki & the Bird opened a few weeks ago in Century City. It’s the baby of chef David Myers (Comme Ã‡a and the late great Sona) and Kuniko Yagi of recent Top Chef fame. Located just down the street from the “Death Star” that houses CAA, Hinoki & the Bird has a style that you would expect of a hip Downtown or Venice restaurant, and not of staid and corporate-y Century City. Hinoki is a Japanese cedar tree and reclaimed wood is used extensively in the clean and modern interior. Seating is either in a beautiful enclosed patio or inside, sandwiched between the frenetic energy of an open kitchen and an impressively stocked bar.
Cocktails, such as the Gordon’s Cup (gin, muddled lime, cucumber, Szechuan pepper and salt) or the Griffith Park Swizzle (bourbon, mint, lime, bitters and absinthe), are a must. The food is Asian-inspired California cuisine. Almost everything I’ve eaten there so far has been excellent. Some of my favorites are the Beef Tartare with Pickled Jalapeno and Parmigiano, the Chili Crab Toast with Spicy Cucumbers and Coriander (pictured above) and the Salt & Pepper Marinated Calamari. Their Kale “Crispy and Raw” with Curried Almonds, Pecorino and Red Wine Vinaigrette is a delicious mix of colors and textures and one of the best kale salads I have ever eaten. I also love the Caramel Braised Pork Belly with Radish and Mustard Greens and the Miso Marinated Skirt Steak.
The desserts are incredible too, especially the Miso Mochi Rice Cream with Butterscotch and Togarashi and the Evo Parfait with Olive Oil Sable, Winter Citrus and Cinnamon Meringue. This is not surprising. After all, great fairytales always have happy endings.
Hinoki & the Bird is located at 10 Century Dr., Los Angeles (in Century City).