Maison Akira: Tour de Fusion 

A blast from our Franco-Japanese past

Thursday, Jul 15 2010

Dear Mr. Gold:

Are there still restaurants serving French-Japanese food in Los Angeles, along the lines of the defunct Grill Lyon, C'est Fan Fan or Café Blanc? Besides the Chayas, of course. And I know about Chinois.


Location Info

Related Stories

  • David Lebovitz's Latest

    David Lebovitz has the kind of life any foodist would aspire to. Ten years ago, after a long career in the kitchen at San Francisco's Chez Panisse, he up and moved to Paris. And now, with one of the top food blogs on the web and a pile of books under his belt,...
  • Petit Trois Opens

    Petit Trois, the long-awaited space next door to Trois Mec, will open tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. Owned and operated by the Trois Mec team — Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo — Petit Trois aims to offer  Bar a la Carte, described as the traditional French bar experience.  "I...
  • Natasha Leggero: London! Paris! Costco!

    @ Upright Citizens Brigade Theater
  • Surprise! Americans Drink More Wine Than the French

    Congratulations America! We're officially bigger winos than the French. According to the Organization of Vine and Wine, the U.S. became the biggest internal market in the world, volume-wise, as of 2013. We won this coveted title by consuming 29.1 million hectoliters (mhl) of wine - not including vermouth or special wines,...
  • Milkfarm

    If your idea of the four food groups is cheese, charcuterie, bread and wine, Milkfarm in Eagle Rock is set to become your new grocery shopping central.  Leah Park Fierro, formerly head cheesemonger/manager of the Cheese Store in Silver Lake, opened the cheese-and-charcuterie haven April 7, inspired by the little specialty shops...

Dear Kevin:

It wasn't so long ago that Japanese-French restaurants roamed the L.A. streets like desperados of cuisine, No. 10 cans of chestnut puree in their holsters and dozens of snails in their boots. I remember one meal at the late Le Petit Chaya that involved seven versions of beurre blanc in a row, and if I'd ordered the more elaborate tasting menu, I have no doubt there would have been 10. Scallops in lobster sauce, lamb in puff pastry, sea-urchin gratins — there was no end to the stuff. Japanese-French cooking may have been the emblematic style of the pre-Spago '80s — even Ken Frank, as pure a French cook as there has ever been in Los Angeles, drew as much inspiration from local sushi bars as he did from Paris. You could have spent an entire evening at the late, lamented Sona and never be sure whether you were eating a Japanese meal influenced by French cooking or French cooking smacked by Japan. Japanese-French cooking, which is to say French cooking filtered through a rather austere Japanese sensibility, is embedded deep in the DNA of Los Angeles cuisine.

So you can, as you imply, taste French-Japanese food at any of the Chayas (I've been liking Chaya Downtown lately), or at Shiro in South Pasadena (the catfish is still epic), or at Orris down on Sawtelle, which combines the groove of an izakaya with farmers-market produce and an evolved California palate. Ishi's Grill was my favorite of the '80s Japanese-French restaurants, and the chef's influence lives on at Sawtelle Kitchen, although you won't find a lot of that Madonna-era flavor at the moment. Restaurant 2117 is swell. Beacon, still the best of the new-century fusion restaurants, is a wonderful place to explore the marriage of European technique and Japanese flavors.

But what you're looking for, I suspect, is expressed most clearly at Maison Akira in Pasadena, where the Japanese chef, trained under Joel Robuchon, specializes in takes on classic French dishes presented in the Japanese fashion, where you can find your rack of lamb with potatoes mousseline, miso-marinated Chilean sea bass and Troisgros-style 10-second salmon with sorrel, but also modern tuna–foie gras napoleons with pineapple, a salad of Japanese tomatoes with shimeji mushrooms and grilled foie gras with stewed daikon. Dessert souffles? Flourless chocolate cake? Tarte tatin? Of course. A blast from the past seen through rose-colored glasses.

MAISON AKIRA: 713 E. Green St., Pasadena. (626) 796-9501.

Related Content

Related Locations

Now Trending