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.
At Kah Asian Restaurant & Lounge, Chef Vit Suttichanond blends Thai, Japanese, and Chinese flavors into pan-regional cuisine that Easy Reader News has praised for its presentation and its approachable flavor combinations. Familiar Thai curries and noodle dishes fill most of the menu, although wok-fried orders of kung pao chicken and meaty fried rice lend distinctly Chinese touches as well. The sushi chefs also breathe new life into sushi-bar staples with inventive aesthetic details, such as the crimson slivers that explode from the center of the dynamite roll.
Sconce-lit walls and exposed ceiling beams surround the dining room's gleaming wooden tables. Separated by a line of high-backed booths, the lounge area's backlit bar brims with potent spirits and a collection of bottled sakes that diners can knock over in hopes of winning an enormous stuffed animal.
Gasser Lounge's tap masters sling craft brews and signature cocktails within a sleek, low-lit hangout that emanates rock-'n'-roll vibes with tables made from tires, red-leather booths, and shrines to Johnny Cash. A Harley V-twin-engine beer tap combines the spirit of the open road with the joviality of sipping on a lively libation more effectively than a stationary-bike-powered wine press, pouring Gasser's house draft, Bitchin' Brew ($3) as well as microbrew favorites including Lagunitas IPA and Mama's Little Yella Pils ($5).
Founded in 1936, Trader Vic's restaurants have been serving up tiki-style drinks for decades—they even claim to have invented the mai tai in 1944. Inside the Trader Vic's at LA Live, lush decorations whisk guests to an island retreat—carved tikis, stools trimmed in bamboo, and plush booths upholstered in green fan out beneath hanging canoes and other Polynesian-influenced decor. As eyes drink it all in, chefs immerse taste buds in a menu that fuses Hawaiian, Chinese, and other exotic flavors. They stir-fry char siu pork, sear Hawaiian tuna in a pink-peppercorn-sesame crust, and braise mu shu pulled duck with hoisin sauce. The restaurant also serves more than 90 tiki cocktails.
Inside the Torrance Marriott, chefs toss together farm-fresh ingredients to create flatbreads, sandwiches, and well-balanced entrees that complement a wine list of more than 40 different vintages. A two-story water feature gives meals a soothing backdrop for thoughtful conversations or raucous celebrations in anticipation for a new quarterly budget report. Outside, flickering flames from the fire pit cast a glow on the zen garden's orange-cushioned lounge chairs beneath the clear Southern California sky.
Studio Restaurant and Lounge is equal parts food and festivity. Here, filet mignon sandwiches and country-fried chicken are regularly served to the beat of drums, the strum of guitars, or the stylings of resident and guest DJs. Red and green light drenches the crowd on the dance floor as well as diners digging in to burgers and bacon macaroni ‘n’ cheese. Studio Restaurant and Lounge also entertains its guests with football nights and speed-knitting tournaments.
Rusty's Rhythm Club's founder, the hyperqualified Rusty Frank, took to dancing at the tender age of 6, and has been light-tripping professionally since her college days. Since then, she has been inducted into the California Swing Dance Hall of Fame and has performed in locations from the Hollywood Bowl to Disneyland and other worldwide locales. Rusty is joined in instruction by her effusive teachers, who bear multitudinous dancing awards as well as an actual portal to 1920s-1940s America.
They impart the dancing skills of the 1940s at both Rusty's Rhythm Club, a weekly swing dance emporium, and Lindy by the Sea beginning-class series, a dance school for all experience levels. Rusty's Rhythm Club sharpens soles with an all-ages dance fest accompanied by the tunes and Prohibition-era conversational topics of live bands in the air-conditioned Westchester Elks Lodge in Playa del Rey.