Hinoki and the Bird | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Hinoki and the Bird

photo by Anne Fishbein

Hinoki and the Bird is not the only restaurant on this list to have lost its chef in the past year. In fact, Hinoki managed to lose two chefs: Founder David Myers parted ways with the restaurant back in June; his protégé, Kuniko Yagi, stepped away in December. But thus far the Century City hot spot seems to be functioning as it did before the upheaval, which is to say as one of the most beautiful and exciting restaurants in town. The outdoor dining area is still a simply magical place to eat, leafy and enclosed and forestlike in its intimacy. Myers’ and Yagi’s menu is still intact, and the Japanese-inflected small plates and grilled proteins showcase the beauty of austerity: Grilled mushrooms have only sea salt and lime to adorn their woodsy flavor. The hinoki-scented cod is still one of the most decadent pieces of fish available anywhere, its slick, sweet fat enrobed in the wood smoke from the piece of hinoki that comes atop it, still smoldering from live fire. Much has been made of the cocktail program here, and the drinks are fantastic. What is lesser known is that Hinoki boasts one of the best wine lists in town as well.—Besha Rodell