3455 Overland Avenue
Los Angeles, 90034
Origins: N/Naka is named after chef and owner Niki Nakayama, who opened the 26-seat modern Zen nook last April. A graduate of the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, Nakayama worked with sushi masters at Takao and Mori Sushi before running Azami Sushi on Melrose Avenue for eight years. She studied the art of kaiseki, or the highly ritualized multicourse meal characterized by detailed presentations and subtle flavors, at a hot spring inn in northern Japan. To ensure that she has a steady supply of rare Japanese vegetables such as chirimi kabocha, she partnered with Farmscape to grow her own in urban raised-bed gardens.
On the menu: The multicourse meals cost $110 for a nine-course menu and $165 for 13 courses. Wine pairings from the restaurant’s 480-bottle cellar and 17 sakes cost an additional $55 a person. “We try to create a menu that has a good flow,” Nakayama said. She’ll even try to accommodate vegans and vegetarians. But fussy eaters shouldn’t ask her to cut a piece of sushi in half or substitute too many ingredients. “When things get altered, it might change the whole feeling of the dish and the sensation of it,” she said.
Signature dishes: Pasta with a Japanese base, such as spaghetti in abalone liver sauce with garlic, truffles and mentaiko cod roe.
Spotted celebrities: Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson and Shirley Manson, the lead singer of Garbage.