The Wall Street Journal recently featured chef Niki Nakayama and her restaurant n/naka in a lengthy profile, claiming she may be the only female kaiseki chef in the world. She may also be the only chef in L.A. doing proper kaiseki, the formal, paced Japanese tasting menus based around the seasons. Individual dishes here are some of the most visually stunning in the city, but there’s a careful artistry to them rather than cute gimmicks. In fact, there may be no other chef around who sublimates her ego so completely to her ingredients. It’s as if Nakayama knows the secret language of the pristine vegetables and seafood she’s using, and they whisper quiet inspiration to her. The courses are divided into different ruminations: a pairing of something common with something unique; a modern interpretation of sashimi; traditional sashimi; a steamed dish; a chef’s-choice dish not bound by tradition. You’re going to have to shell out for the honor of dining here — the 13-course kaiseki costs $165 — but rest assured it will be the meal of a lifetime. —Besha Rodell

3455 S. Overland Ave., Palms, 90034. (310) 836-6252,

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