Question: I’m going on a first date and thought you might have a few good suggestions. I am open to checking out anywhere, really.
—Katrina, Los Angeles
Answer: For a first date, you probably couldn’t do better than Hungry Cat in the Sunset + Vine complex. The seafood — crab cakes, monkfish, sole, the best lobster rolls — is wonderful and gently priced; the small wine list is so left-of-center that even the most ardent wine bore will be silenced yet be guaranteed of something delicious to drink; and the dining room is both intimate and loud enough to paper over awkward silences. If things are going really badly, the restrooms adjoin a passageway through which it is possible to make a quick and invisible escape. Also, you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she eats an oyster.
Or you could go a completely different direction and visit GR/Eats, the new little café opened by the owners of Giant Robot magazine. The curry shrimp may be a bit under-seasoned, the spring rolls under-conceived and the seared sashimi-grade tuna salad is probably not going to put neighboring Sasabune out of business, but the asparagus-rich fried rice is decent, real Japanese home cooking; the densely packed hamburgers are made with good beef; and the mango-garnished fish tacos are pretty good. The music kind of rocks. And the Ai Yamaguchi mural, scattered on carved-wood panels mounted throughout the dining room, is breathtaking if disturbing, a Superflat masterpiece worthy of any museum in the world. If you’re about to fall in love with an otaku boy, sometimes it’s better to learn about those things early on. The Hungry Cat, 1535 N. Vine St., Hollywood, (323) 462-2155. GR/Eats, 2050 Sawtelle Ave., West Los Angeles, (310) 478-3242.
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