There is the classic Chinois model of fusion cuisine, which is to say Asian flavors and techniques introduced within the context of European cuisine. There is the Matsuhisa model, which introduces Western flavors into Japanese structures. And then there is whatever Charlie Nagase is up to at Hokusai, which includes grated jack cheese sprinkled over sashimi, stewed Kobe beef cheeks, wagyu beef sushi, and foie gras with eggplant. The operative model at Hokusai, an elegant lounge tucked into the former fur vault that used to house the Continental, is the omakase dinner, an elaborate, expensive menu of small dishes that bounce all over the Pacific like culinary pachinko balls, accompanied by a sake from the extensive list. Most of the customers, however, seem to treat the restaurant as a Koi without the velvet rope, a comfortable place to stop by for a soft-shell-crab roll and a cucumber martini or two before they hit the clubs. 8400 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (323) 782-9718.

—Jonathan Gold

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