The best restaurant in Culver City? Half a dozen could claw for the title. But although eco-friendliness is a hallmark of the new downtown scene, the greenest restaurant is not in doubt. You could take the entire executive board of Heal the Bay to Akasha without embarrassment — the place, fitted into the old San Gennaro space, is all recycled wood, energy-saving light fixtures, compressed-sand tiles, and waiters clad in organic cotton. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the huge wine-by-the-glass list was scrawled in organic chalk.) There are even high-tech waterless urinals in the men’s room.
The kitchen’s commitment to organic, sustainable, certified, cruelty-free ingredients goes without saying, in the bakery-café up front, as well as in the dark, multiveneered dining room, which can feel a little like the inside of a bass viol. But although self-described Chef to the Stars Akasha Richmond is probably best-known for her vegan cooking — the former caterer is the spokesperson for a brand of soymilk and writes a column for Vegetarian Times — her cooking is surprisingly sybaritic: skewered, curry-dusted grilled shrimp; short ribs braised with star anise; Coleman Natural Beef steaks with chimichurri sauce; and broccoli pizza. You can eat as low on the food chain as you like at Akasha. There are big bowls of things like mung beans and rice or quinoa and edamame at Akasha, although even those tend to be tricked out with Weiser Farms produce; the “pastrami” Reuben at lunch is made with hemp-seed tofu instead of cow belly; and the best dessert, a salty chocolate tart, comes with soymilk “whipped cream” scented with organic vanilla. Or you could just order a plate of organic-beef sliders and what are probably the best onion rings in town. Sometimes even conscious omnivores need to let their hair down. 9543 Culver Blvd., Culver City, (310) 845-1700 or www.akasharestaurant.com.