Culver City/Palms | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Culver City/Palms

Bucato

photo by Anne Fishbein

Chef Evan Funke’s Bucato remains a must-visit for those of us passionate about the things Italian cooks manage to do with flour and water. His focaccia will teach you the wonders of buoyancy in bread; his pastas will transport you directly from Culver City to Sicily. In the mood for warming ragu? Funke has you covered, offering versions made from hen, duck and pork, each with its own mellow pleasures and perfect pasta accompaniment. The patio seating, which looks out over the Helms Bakery promenade, is one of the most convivial spots to lunch or brunch in town (for the latter, do not miss the porchetta hash), and the wine list is a true delight.—Besha Rodell

Lukshon

photo by Anne Fishbein

After picking up visitors coming into LAX on midday flights, my plan of attack of late on introducing them to the pleasures of L.A. has been to plonk them down for lunch on the patio of Lukshon in Culver City’s Helms Bakery complex. There I treat them to Sang Yoon’s tiny, perfect lobster roll “bánh mì” with papaya slaw and pig ear terrine, his sticky Chinese eggplant with sambal and fennel raita, his Hawaiian butterfish with lime, herbs and coconut, his intense dandan noodles with Sichuan peppercorns and peanuts. If we’re in celebration mode, we’ll order from the stellar wine list, or perhaps try an exotic tea from the best-sourced tea list in town. No restaurant is a better ambassador for the kind of exciting, bright, modern Asian cooking at which L.A. excels these days, and the downright sexy dining room lets visitors know they’re not in Kansas anymore. Then I sit back and beam with pride at all Lukshon — and Los Angeles — has to offer.— Besha Rodell

n/naka

photo by Anne Fishbein

When you’re in the realm of ultra-expensive meals, the ones that hit well over three figures before you’ve even considered a glass of wine let alone tax and tip, it can be hard to discern true value. Of course, it depends what’s important to you: Luxurious surroundings? Obsequious service? If your main interest is in food, in particular gorgeously plated, highly fussed over, brightly seasonal, modern Japanese cuisine, we recommend n/naka, the quiet Palms kaiseki restaurant run by Niki Nakayama. Nakayama says she may be the only female kaiseki chef in the world — kaiseki being the formal, multicourse, seasonal style of Japanese dining. Regardless of whether she is unique in that regard, her restaurant and food (much of it grown in the restaurant’s garden) are certainly singular in Los Angeles. The 13 courses will take you through different aspects of the season, be it a “modern interpretation of sashimi” composed of Japanese scallop with bell pepper gelee, golden kiwi and dill, or her “chef’s choice dish,” which is usually a stunning spaghettini with shaved black abalone, pickled cod roe and Burgundian truffles. The quiet room and humble service have a calming effect, allowing you to fully concentrate on the meal before you. As a way to blow a couple hundred bucks, you could do a lot worse.— Besha Rodell

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