If you happened to be the director of culinary research for a large chain of upscale Japanese restaurants, do you think you might be a little obsessed with omakase? That's certainly the case for David Lespron. Lespron is responsible for helping to create and implement the menus for Katsuya, which has branches all over Los Angeles, as well as in Las Vegas, Miami and the United Arab Emirates (with more soon to come in Qatar, Dubai and Bahrain). Luckily for Lespron (and Katsuya), the chef lives in Los Angeles, which is home to some of the best Japanese food in the world outside of Japan. It's also home to numerous takes on the idea of omakase that are less traditional than the usual Japanese tasting menu, and Lespron takes full advantage. Here are his picks for the best omakase and omakase-like meals in Los Angeles.
6. Tempura Endo
“Chef Koichi's temple to Kyoto-style tempura is one of the only reasons I justify heading into Beverly Hills. Live Santa Barbara spot prawns are in season. Right now. Go.” 9777 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 274-2201, beverlyhills-endo.com.
“[Chef] Aitor [Lozanois] is using beautiful product with Japanese precision at the SLS tasting room. Twenty-two courses of surprising Spanish snacks and wines is the perfect way to end a day.” 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 246-5545, thebazaar.com.
4. Boiling Crab
“A few drinks at HMS Bounty with friends gets us through the hourlong wait at Boiling Crab. All the seafood is good there. Get the crawfish when they are in season and live.” 3377 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 115, Koreatown; (213) 389-2722, theboilingcrab.com.
“Intense expression of kaiseki by the chef [Niki] Nakayama. Some things you just have to experience in L.A. This is one of them.” 3455 S. Overland Ave., Palms; (310) 836-6252, n-naka.com.
“The whole culinary team at Providence cares, and it shows. Under the guidance of chef Michael [Cimarusti], seafood is prepared in fun and surprising ways. Execution is just perfect.” 5955 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; (323) 460-4170, providencela.com.
1. Q Sushi
“Hiro-san is the man. Edo-style sushi technique crafted for over 25 years is mesmerizing to watch. The flavor is unparalleled. His rice is perfect.” 521 W. Seventh St., downtown; (213) 225-6285, qsushila.com.