Hinoki & the Bird
Kuniko Yagi and David Myers honor Japanese tradition with low-affect cooking. Fried oysters ride the surge of black garlic aioli. A shard of smoldering hinoki cedar perfumes the black cod. The kitchen makes ample use of binchotan charcoal, which burns clean and allows the flavors of ingredients to come to the fore, whether it’s that of the Scottish salmon—seared from the grill and a juicy medium rare—or of the meaty, near-sublime shiitake caps.
Hinoki & the Bird rebrands Asian fusion. The menu targets a variety of diners (a must in Century City) with “simply grilled” items as well as more experimental “inspiration” dishes. There’s something of the moment about preparations like the black cod beneath a sliver of still-smoldering Hinoki wood and the Southeast Asian-style pork served with lettuce wrappers and roasted chili sauce. Skate wing is brushed with spicy sambal and served on the bone, and the puffy bun of a brimming lobster roll is tinted black with charcoal powder. Cocktails are a priority.
The Top Ten Best New Restaurants: No. 3, January 2014
David Myers trained with Daniel Boulud and the late Charlie Trotter, and he’s championed bistro fare with his restaurant Comme Ça. But he’s always had an affinity for Japan. Together with his executive chef, the fabulous Kuniko Yagi (she of Top Chef fame), Myers set up shop in the basement of a luxe Century City apartment building to offer a high-brow izakayawithout dousing the creative spark. Slathered with miso jam and goat cheese, the rustic pumpkin toast is the perfect accompaniment to a tall draught of Allagash White beer. Crisped on the outside, the rice balls have a surprisingly luscious interior, while sambal-crusted skate wing in a grilled banana leaf has nattily dressed agents from nearby CAA going at it with their hands. The pristine smokiness of dishes like the caramelized Kurobuta pork and the hen-of-the-woods mushrooms served with lime and sea salt comes from Japan’s prized binchotancharcoal.