Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 4), we'll be counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.
58: Spaghettini with Abalone, Pickled Cod Roe and Truffles at n/naka.
A meal at n/naka, by its very nature, is full of surprises. A parade of traditional kaiseki courses travels from an unseen kitchen into a zen-like dining room. It's a bit different from the traditional sushi bar view that's often the norm at high-end Japanese restaurants, but having your plates of picturesque sashimi appear almost out of thin air is pretty darn cool.
At some point in the meal there will likely be a course that involves pasta — chef Niki Nakayama has a special affinity for pasta-making, apparently. If you're lucky enough to come when summer truffles are in season, you might get a dish of thin, swirling spaghetti noodles threaded with razor-thin slices of Monterey baby abalone and tinted with the slightest red hue of briny pickled cod roe. Truffles are shaved over the top and perfume the surrounding airspace with a heady aroma. The pasta is the perfect fusion of Japanese refinement and comforting Italian soulfulness.
Is it a bit strange to dream about pasta after leaving a restaurant known for its wisps of o-toro dotted with caviar and homemade ponzu? Sure, but that's the most fascinating part of a meal at n/naka.
Check out the rest of our 100 of our favorite dishes. Suggestion? Write us a comment.
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