Friday, January 30, 2015

Serenity Now

Step out of Beverly Hills into Tokyo's top sake pub

Let's face it: Katana and Geisha House are sceney and overpriced.

For your next date or an occasion when you're just looking to unwind, seek out the authentic Japanese izakaya-style (sake pub) experience at the recently opened Gonpachi.

This Tokyo-based import on Restaurant Row offers a stunning setting evoking a Japanese home.

The sushi and small plates can be satisfying, if unexceptional. Tonight, that's not what matters most; you're here for the trip.

Prepare for a transformation as soon as you step inside. The second floor tables overlook a lantern-strewn interior courtyard and sushi bar, while the first floor opens out onto a blossoming Zen garden. Land one of the coveted patio tables for unmatched outdoor summer dining.

Take a chance on adventurous fare like hot and cold appetizers (lotus root), or play it safe with soba noodles and skewered items from the sumiyaki barbecue grill. While you order a sake sampler off the mile-long list, the traditional Japanese music lends an air of tranquility to the sizable space.

After quickly shedding the day's burdens, you'll be left to ponder how unlikely it is to feel so serene in the site formerly occupied by the always frenetic Ed Debevic’s.

134 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills (310) 659-8887 is just a splash page; use
2 (out of 4)  Noise: 2 (out of 4)
Scene: diverse crowd, including many Asian diners
Best Bets: sake tasting sampler; minced chicken and duck skewers; Japanese-style egg omelet; soba noodles
Nearby: The Lodge Steakhouse; El Carmen; Koi; Republic Restaurant & Lounge
Insider Tips: Reserve a private Zen Room for groups of 6-10.

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