A Buddha statue sits serenely against one wall inside Lotus, a spot that's part art venue, part restaurant, and part indoor hookah garden. Stalks of bamboo support the bar and the tables where diners grasp sushi with chopsticks or submerge thinly sliced steak, seasonal vegetables, and other morsels into Japanese Shabu-Shabu filled with boiling kelp water.
Fruity smoke drifts through the open space of the hookah garden, melding with fragrant steam from cups of hot tea. Egyptian rugs and massive cushions create an opulent, relaxing vibe for puffing away or sipping a cocktail.
Sushi Cat's chefs fully commit to the classic flavors of traditional Japanese cuisine. Working beneath a canopy of kanji-decorated umbrellas, the sushi chefs assemble more than 30 different rolls, creating familiar staples as well as inventive iterations with everything from baked lobster and green onion to beef teriyaki and yellow radish. Savory teriyaki entrées and noodle dishes round out the menu, which also features a selection of Japanese beers, sakes, and teas.
The chefs of California Roll Factory churn out more than 100 specialty sushi rolls given creative names such as the Picasso and the Some Like It Hot. The sushi-bar creations combine a huge variety of ingredients such as freshwater eel, spicy tuna, baked seafood, and avocado to fill out the broad menu. Diners can also sate their appetites with hot and cold Japanese appetizers and combo meals of tempura- and teriyaki-coated shrimp, salmon, beef, or chicken with sides of rice and miso soup.
Gonpachi fashions its menu of authentic Japanese fare and Edomae (Tokyo-style) sushi from locally sourced ingredients, as well as authentic foodstuffs purchased from Tokyo's Tsukiji Market. Gonpachi hand-pounds its soba noodles daily from buckwheat flour threshed and milled on the premises. These freshly noodled noodles can then be served chilled with a dipping sauce as seiro ($8) or in a hot broth as kake soba ($8–$9). Gonpachi in Beverly Hills also practices the slow-cooking robata-style, preparing delicacies such as Chilean sea bass ($6) and bacon-wrapped cherry tomatoes ($3) over the gentle firelight of a traditional oak-charcoal pyramid. On the other end of the cooked spectrum, sushi fans can trap spicy tuna rolls ($5) between the bamboo chopsticks in their hands or the insect pincers on their faces. Chopsticks also protect hands from the flavor explosion of the dynamite roll ($16).