Fine Dining: The New Downtown LA Meets New and Established New York City Classics

Downtown Los Angeles’ latest openings come from big names who each chose downtown as the home for their brand’s first LA outpost. Meanwhile in Manhattan, we check in on some all-time greats and the newest debute from legendary Chef Masa

NoMad Los Angeles

From the team behind 2017’s World’s #1 Restaurant – Eleven Madison Park

French architect Jacques Garcia paired low lighting and Iush furniture to emphasize the 1920s glamour of the old bank

The NoMad Los Angeles, owned by Sydell Group, has landed on 7th and Olive Street in the heart of Downtown LA. Formerly The Bank of Italy, the building has been restored to all its original glory. It’s hard not to stare at the gold and blue ceiling, reminiscent of 1920s glamour. But luckily Daniel Humm ensures the food is as noteworthy as the stunning surroundings.

The NoMad Los Angeles has the same contagious energy as the New York property. You’re transported to somewhere in Europe with the velvet furniture, dark lighting, and impressive, albeit petit, portions of food. The property calls for several visits to truly understand all that it has to offer. The Lobby offers lunch and a more casual dinner option, while the upstairs Mezzanine is the more formal dinner option. The Mezzanine features a private bar for dinner guests and their famous whole roast chicken. Start out with the “snacks” section of the menu and do not miss the lettuces with a buttermilk, herbs, and crispy baguette dip. It sounds simple, but the dip is nostalgic and better than the best chips and dip you’ve had. Pastas change with the season. A pappardelle on a recent visit was garnished with spring peas, while they opened with a rich celery root tortelloni. Both were extraordinary. Notable entrees include the roast chicken for two, although different in preparation from the New York version, as well as the broccoli and suckling pig, and confit with persimmons. Service is refined and drinks are strong. Finish with one of their large format drinks for 6-8 in The Lobby.

Inko Nito

The vision of Zuma Creator Rainer Becker

Not your ordinary soft serve, Inko Nito’s coconut soft serve is one of the city’s finest

Beef cheek with butter lettuce and spicy Korean miso

Inko Nito comes to us by way of Rainer Becker, creator of Zuma, a famous sushi restaurant with locations in London, Miami, and Istanbul. This casual Japanese restaurant is located in the center of the Arts District and offers modern robatayaki. The space was designed with energy in mind and is meant to mimic the feeling of a street market dining experience. That is, the most glamorous street market imaginable, with white oak furniture.

The large menu boasts fun twists on classic cocktails like Inko Spritz with watermelon, aperol, yuzu, and sparkling wine or the Palomita with sakura tequila, lime, pink grapefruit, and agave.

Start with the Romaine Lettuce with spicy cashew miso nut dressing, a creative spin on a salad bursting with flavors. Niigaki are similar to sushi with roasted nori and sushi rice and a unique presentation. The Cali was served with dungeness crab, avocado, wasabi tobiko, and yuzu mayo.

The robata offers many fabulous options from Beef Cheek with spicy Korean miso and butter lettuce to Lamb Shoulder Chop with wasabi shiso marinade and roasted nori yogurt. There are also a plethora of fish from the robata, like Whole Branzino with yuzu, wasabi, and jalapeño sauce and Yellowtail Collar with brown butter ponzu and lemon.

Vegetables are by no means an afterthought. Highlights include the Sweet Potato in husk with chili, nori butter, and chives or Cauliflower with garlic soy aioli and Parmesan panko.

The one and only dessert is pro­bably the main rea­son to find your way to Inko Nito sooner rather than later: The charred coconut soft serve with soy pocky sticks and Japanese granola. Supposedly the flavor will change seasonally, so do not delay.


From culinary icon ­David Chang, founder of the ­Momofuku empire

Whole plate short rib served with condiments and sides

A wall of windows opens up to an airy patio

David Chang’s first LA restaurant is in a rather unusual location in Chinatown, just a few yards from the LA River. You are likely to think you’re lost just before you arrive, but proceed, as you’ll come to a valet and some incredible, modern Korean fare. The warehouse-like space is industrial and modern, featuring high ceilings and a large outdoor patio. Start with a cocktail like the Thriller with mezcal, ginger beer, passionfruit, and cardamom or the Mule with vodka, Japanese cucumber, shiso, absinthe, and ginger.

Bing breads are at the top of the menu and a great place to start. Soft bread acts as the pillow for a variety of different toppings. Eggs and smoked roe may sound questionable, but were marvelous with chives and home­made chips. Chose from others like spicy lamb, chickpeas, or caviar with
cave-aged butter.

The noodle portion of the menu will definitely be calling your name. Macaroni and chickpea with black truffle is similar to a Chang dish at Momofuku Nishi in New York, and equally ­flavorful.

Proteins are quite enticing. Black cod in paper with noodles, daikon, and chili is easy to overlook but was the best dish of the night. The fish was delicate and served with sweet potato noodles.

The meat section will make you wish you had invited all your friends. Large format meats like the Whole Plate Short Rib serves 4-6 people and consists of bone-in APL style ribs with beef rice, shiso rice paper, and an assortment of sauces. Spicy Bo Ssäm is one of the dishes that Momofuku is known for and serves 6-8 with condiments. Reservations are a  must.

Bing breads pair well with various toppings like smoked roe and eggs

Fried butterball potatoes with seca salsa and peanuts