Anthony Bourdain just doesn’t know how to keep a secret. In September of 2012, the celebrity chef and host of The Travel Channel’s No Reservations tweeted about his “thrilling meal” at the secret restaurant, Totoraku. By then, however, the exclusive restaurant, hidden behind a sign for a previous eatery closed long ago, had already gained quite a following. But not for the owners' lack of trying. Knocking on the locked door only grants entry if you've snagged a reservation, which is a feat in itself—the restaurant's brown awning displays the wrong phone number. If you do get inside for a meal, expect a parade of dishes that form what LA Magazine dubbed “one of the most interesting meals in the world.” A multitude of courses comprise the feast, which revolves mostly around an assortment of meats—beef rib eye, Korean-style steak tartare, beef tongue—that arrive at the table raw. Following the presentation of meats, a grill burning with binchotan, Japanese charcoal made of oak, arrives to cook each morsel.
From the bustling streets of Times Square to the equally vivacious streets of Hong Kong, people walk around with smiles after enjoying the japanese barbecue cuisine at Gyu-Kaku. The restaurant has more than 700 locations worldwide, each rooted in the belief that some of the strongest bonds between friends are forged at the dinner table. Groups dine on a huge variety of Japanese dishes, from popular meat and veggie dishes such as Harami Skirt Steak, Kalbi Short Rib, and Mushroom Medley - to unique Japanese-American appetizers such as the Spicy Tuna Volcano, Pork Gyoza Dumplings, and Chicken Karaage. The real excitement takes place around individual grills, however, where diners can barbecue their own slabs of filet mignon, grilled ahi tuna, or chicken with basil sauce until they are ideally tender or encircled by on-duty firemen.
Inside Edge Salon, aestheticians at Farah Kay works toward beauty goals with a wide range of elixirs, equipment, and an array of facials. The Stay Young noninvasive face-lift system, for example, encourages collagen production by targeting cells with a nanocurrent that matches the cell's natural electrical charge. When techs aren't pampering visages, they prune unwanted hairs with waxing, sugaring, and threading and tint lashes and brows.
Located on the corner of National Boulevard and Rose Avenue in Palms, Simpang Asia serves up street-style Indonesian cuisine, made from scratch with fresh ingredients. In contrast to its strip mall exterior, the inside is sleek with warm colors and modern décor. No visit is complete without sampling a traditional Nasi (rice) dish, one of the most popular items being the Bungkus (wrap), a medley of chicken curry, beef rendang, chili relish egg, coconut braised potato and light vegetable curry, all wrapped up in a banana leaf. Vegetarians can enjoy the Sayur (vegetable) version of the Bungkus, which substitutes tofu curry and garlic braised tempeh for the meat. A wide selection of Indonesian ice drinks, smoothies and boba help cool the palate and complement the spicy dishes. Simpang Asia also owns and operates the market next door, so make sure to check out the revamped store for take-home treats.
Ricardo's El Ranchito welcomes its guests into a festive atmosphere full of frosty margaritas and colorful Mexican cuisine. To set the tone, murals detailing Mexican history and paintings of lush tropical plants cover the walls, forming a thematic backdrop during mealtimes. South-of-the-border specialties include red snapper, burritos the size of small pillows, and piping hot pozole soup. In the kitchen, chefs also forge toasty corn tortillas by hand, marinate pork carnitas in lemon, and whip up savory grilled beef fajitas.
Niki Nakayama was born and bred in LA, but the three years she spent in Japan are what defined her as a chef. That period of traveling and tasting included a stint at a Japanese inn owned by her relatives, where Niki learned the art of kaseiki. A Japanese tradition, kaseiki involves riding the changing waves of Mother Nature’s bounty by using whatever ingredients are in season and preparing them in their most natural states. With her newfound knowledge, Niki returned to her hometown and opened n/naka. In service of kaseiki principles, most of the seasonal produce Niki uses comes straight from the restaurant’s own organic garden. She sculpts the colorful veggies into masterpieces that look as good as they taste—three slices of live scallop overlap intricately in their own lily-white shell, salmon-pink Tasmanian sea trout bears a moss-like crust of kombu and chives, and assorted sashimi sprout garden-like with sprigs of lettuce and slices of lemon. Her customers always have a chance to sample the menu’s full range—Niki serves seafood-centric dishes across 9, 10, or 13 courses rather than offering them a la carte. Matched with the proper wine or sake, the multicourse meals form a symphony of delicate flavors.