Jonathan Gold Champions N/Naka in Palms

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Niki Nakayama Photo: N/Naka

Kaiseki savant Niki Nakayama finally gets the credit she deserves from The Big Man, as Jonathan Gold rejoices over an "unforgettable dining experience" at N/Naka in Palms. Citing the rise of artistic, seasonal tasting menus in L.A., he writes, "It is hard to find a serious kitchen in town now whose menu does not change each week according to the whims of the farmers markets...does not include the occasional wisp of raw fish or wash of ponzu...whose chef does not adjust his or her plating to reflect the cycles of nature," pointing to this trend as an antidote to our over-saturated field of gastro-pubs. At N/Naka, the critic finds the "sheer level of cooking in this modest bungalow eclipses what you find in grand dining rooms whose chefs appear in national magazines....[where] it is occasionally difficult to ascertain whether the most impressive bit of a dish is the chewy slab of Japanese halibut fin or the thimble-sized cucumber used as garnish."

After Gold's brother Mark, president of Heal the Bay, possesses his computer to mention that the chef "cook[s] with way more bluefin tuna than any conscientious chef ever should," he notes that despite its triple digit price, the person he brought to dinner came back just three nights later. [LAT; Related]