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Ink.: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

I'm not sure what you do when you get up in the morning. I tend to check the online reservation page at Michael Voltaggio's restaurant Ink., in case it lets me know that a four-top might be available at 9:45 p.m. on a Tuesday 23 days from now. I'm not sure there's an L.A. restaurant quite so hard to get into at the moment, unless you count the Westside robata restaurant where you need a letter of recommendation from a regular, probably written in Japanese, but Ink. is at least democratic. Tables go to the persistent and the lucky, not to the boldface names. And when you manage to get into the place, the dim blackness of the dining room — formerly Tulipe, Jozu and the sushi bar Hamasaku — flickers like something from a James Turrell installation, a restaurant ready to swallow you whole.

Voltaggio is famously an advocate of modernist cuisine, as driven by technique and nifty tools as by ingredients, and overall by the imperative of originality. Courses, although seemingly designed for a single diner, are small and meant to be shared. You can decide for yourself whether you are transfixed by cigars of Dungeness crab wrapped in micro-thin sheets of toast; emulsified beef tartare garnished with sea beans and liquid-nitrogen-zapped horseradish cream; or seaweed mashed potatoes. Twirls of spaghetti made from julienne squid, an old izakaya trick, are served with ink-black hazelnut paste and strands of spaghetti squash. In keeping with the restaurant's theme, there is probably more black-splotched food here than anywhere on Earth. If you're in the neighborhood, you may want to check out Ink.Sack, Voltaggio's sandwich shop up the street, where you can experience for yourself what the miracles of modern science can do for pork rinds, bánh mì and cold fried chicken sandwiches. 8360 Melrose Ave., L.A. (323) 651-5866, mvink.com. Sun., Wed.-Thurs., 6-11 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 6 p.m.-mid. Full bar. Valet parking. AE, MC, V. Modernist.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
The Google Map

The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

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miles
ink.

8360 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90069

323-651-5866

www.mvink.com


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