Jason Park’s connection to culinary ingenuity began before he was even born. His grandmother, a native Korean, began experimenting with blending Japanese and Korean cooking styles after she studied in Japan. She passed on her techniques and recipes to her daughter, who did the same to a young Jason.
From a young age, Jason showed his affinity for gourmet food by dutifully watching international cooking shows and sounding a trumpet whenever he bit into a perfectly salted popcorn. During college at UCLA, he dabbled in biology and psychology before returning to his true passion for cooking. After spending the next few years honing his skills in the kitchens of restaurants in Los Angeles and Osaka, he opened the doors of his own establishment as the executive chef.
At Maru, Jason draws on his grandmother’s principles of culinary fusion as he blends the flavors and textures of French and Japanese fare. He assembles dishes that range from Mediterranean risotto to sushi rolls using an ever-changing assemblage of seasonal ingredients, which he hand-selects each week at the Santa Monica farmers' market. He also has fresh fish flown in overnight from Japan’s seafood markets.
To complement Maru's continent-spanning dishes, sommeliers assemble balanced lists of local California wines, imported French blends, and Japanese sakes.
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 Bacon-wrapped Asparagus - to unique Japanese-American appetizers such as the Spicy Tuna Volcano, Wasabi Crunchy Shrimp, and Ahi Tuna Poke. The real excitement takes place around individual grills, however, where diners can barbecue their own slabs of filet mignon, ahi tuna, or chicken with chili mayo until they are ideally tender or encircled by on-duty firemen.
Culture 22 stocks its carnivore-pleasing menu with porterhouses, bacon-topped burgers, and seafood. Peppercorn-crusted 12-ounce new york steak au poivre bathes in a cognac sauce, and a dozen oysters paired with inventive dipping sauces from the raw bar set taste buds out to sea. The signature New Mexican–style green-chile burger imbues a half-pound of beef with piquant Southwestern flavors, accompanied by french fries that, like wooden boards in a martial-arts studio, are hand-cut. As diners divvy up jumbo cocktail shrimp, servers ferry cocktails and beer to ebony four-top tables set aglow by chandelier and candle lighting.
White is the traditional color of an artist's canvas. At Zushi Restaurant, however, the canvases come in shades of aquamarine, cobalt, watermelon, and lemon yellow. It's onto this colorful collection of dinnerware that chefs plate sushi in startling shades and variations, with garnishes such as orchids, orange slices, and wasabi "leaves" completing each still life. The rolls themselves range from simple to elaborate. The standard list includes sushi with a single element, such as quail egg, scallops, or sweet shrimp. By nature a minimalist art form, Zushi's sashimi nevertheless demonstrates inventiveness with the lemon tako—alternating layers of octopus and lemon, accompanied by a blossom-shaped dish of sesame oil for dipping.
It's with the more complex rolls that Zushi's chefs really flex their creative muscles. The addition of heat to the preparation of baked and tempura maki adds contrasting textures and temperatures to the table. The deep-fried california roll sports a cloak of crispy batter. The warm outer layers of the baked barbecue beef roll mask the cool fresh tuna at its core. Heat is also prominent, twice, in the spicy barbecue pork, or once in the shrimp teppan yaki. House saki—served hot or cold—can extinguish or augment the fire in one's mouth, accordingly.
Zono Sushi's fish-savvy chefs please palates with their diverse menu of sushi, bento boxes, and Japanese entrees. Layering finely sliced fish across tender rice and papery sheets of seaweed, chefs array their 33 signature sushi rolls on sleek modern stoneware. Lunchtime bento boxes boast teriyakied meats or sushi and sides of rice, salad, and miso soup, brought safely to tables under the protection of flavorful packing peanuts.