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First Bite: Small World

Is it a restaurant? Is it a lounge? Is it a place to pose by the bar in a pair of artfully ripped Rogans, nursing a glass of Viognier and a skewer of vegetable shashlik while you wait for prime time at Shag? Will you ever find the actual squid for all the fried batter in the Mangalore calamari? Tiger Lily is the latest in a long, long series of Hollywood small-plates restaurants whose dramatic design perhaps outweighs the cuisine. In this case, a dramatic cavern, lit like a seraglio scene at the L.A. Opera, where it is possible to dine on the amusing snack foods of all Asian nations, from Indian samosas to Sri Lankan vegetarian curry plates, fermented-bean-flavored osso buco to tempura soft-shell crab, spring rolls to tandoori skewers, goat-cheese wontons to sweet sausage sandwiches supposedly inspired by Macao. The owner, Sumant Parda, has been at East India Grill for half of forever, and his chef, Edward Brik, has a long résum?é that includes Spago; the sleek, approachable, oversweet dishes are what Californians have grown to expect from pan-Asian cuisine.

Tiger Lily, 1739 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz, (323) 661-5900.

—Jonathan Gold