Opened in June 2017, Abbot Kinney’s new kid on the block comes from Gjelina and Gjusta’s James Beard-nominated chef, Travis Lett. There’s no sign, but the dark rustic design, with charred wood and glass, backless chairs, communal tables, bar/window seating, and narrow indoor/outdoor space—just a couple blocks from Gjelina—will clue you in. It may seem surprising that Lett, a hip surfer looking guy who grew up in New Jersey, would open an izakaya restaurant. Unbeknownst to most, the restaurant was nearly a decade in the making, and in that time Lett spent extensive time in Japan learning specifics about the ingredients, history, and preparation of Japanese cuisine. He also brought in Gjelina alum Pedro Akino (who spent 15 years in Japanese kitchens) as chef de cuisine, and sous chef Erika Aoki, who lived in Japan until her mid-20s.
Almost every ingredient that can be made from scratch is just that, including natto (fermented beans), red bean miso, cabbage kimchee, ramen noodles, and tonkotsu broth. The drinks list includes a choice selection of beer, shochu, sake, and wine. Following in the footsteps of the traditional izakaya pub, there’s good drinks, creative eats, and music playing— and the beach is only a couple of blocks away. No reservations, so plan accordingly.
SUGGESTED EATS: Peads & Barnetts pork bone shio ramen; eggplant with walnuts and miso; salad with sea vegetables; Lone Mountain beef tataki; shiitake gyoza; sautéed okra; robata grill skewers, Erica’s pickle plate.