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9 LA And OC Restaurants Get Stars In Michelin's 2021 California Guide

A plate of food from Pasta Bar; they are three small items on a white plate.
One of the dishes at Pasta|Bar in Encino.
(Liam Brown
Courtesy of Pasta Bar)
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The main course of Michelin's awards season has arrived. After naming 16 Los Angeles and Orange County restaurants as Bib Gourmands last week, the tire company announced 11 L.A. and OC restaurants have earned stars in its 2021 California Guide.

Some of these are newly starred restaurants. Others have been promoted from one star to two stars.

Hayato and Mélisse both earned two stars, joining the four L.A. restaurants that already have two Michelin stars — n/naka, Providence, Sushi Ginza Onodera and Vespertine.

Another seven restaurants L.A. and OC restaurants earned one Michelin star — Gucci Osteria, Knife Pleat, Morihoro, Pasjoli, Pasta|Bar, Phenakite, Sushi I-NABA.

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Together, these nine restaurants comprise a third of the 27 new Michelin stars across California. No California restaurant earned the coveted three star designation this go-around.

In addition, three San Diego (Jeune et Jolie, Soichi, Sushi Tadokoro), restaurants and two Santa Barbara restaurants (Bell's, Sushi|Bar) earned Michelin stars.

Northern California, as always, made an extremely good showing.

Jon Yao, the chef-owner of Kato, which has one Michelin star, received this year's Young Chef Award.

As expected, Southern California's new Michelin starred restaurants were heavy on French and Japanese cuisine. (We will save the talk for another time about the biased cultural perceptions about why certain cuisines are consistently deemed worthy of stars and the "haute cuisine" label while others are not.)

These additions build on the 2019 Michelin Guide California, which returned to California after a shameful 10-year hiatus. The 2019 guide added six new two-star restaurants and 18 new one-star restaurants in greater L.A. as well as two new one-star restaurants in Orange County.

We've said it before and we'll say it again: The Michelin Guide needs Los Angeles more than Los Angeles needs the Michelin Guide. Nevertheless, these stars are important for establishments, both in terms of prestige and attracting moneyed patrons.

Here are the new Los Angeles and Orange County Michelin starred restaurants for 2021, with inspectors' notes (i.e. we didn't write this copy).

Hayato — Two Stars

Dinner at Hayato is an intimate and engaging experience with chef Brandon Hayato Go. Many of the courses for this kaiseki meal begin with ingredients that are artfully arranged in the back kitchen and handed to the chef on trays, then finished before your eyes and presented with detailed explanations. (Hayato previously had one Michelin star so this is a promotion.)
1320 E. 7th St., #126, downtown L.A.

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Mélisse — Two Stars

Mélisse, Chef Josiah Citrin's iconic dining room is back up and running—even thriving. His expertise lies in delivering a certain fine-dining experience that never goes out of style. It's a lovely change of pace for anyone looking to slow down, indulge and be pampered by the highly capable service staff.
1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica.

Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura — One Star

At Gucci Osteria, Chef Massimo Bottura has put the talented Mattio Agazzi at the helm and the results are impressive indeed. This is cooking that is at once whimsical and grounded.
347 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills.

Knife Pleat — One Star

Everyone at Knife Pleat is here for chef Tony Esnault's contemporary take on classic French cuisine, brought to you by professional servers who virtually glide around in measured movements. The menu highlights imaginative dishes that weave technique with ingenuity.
South Coast Plaza: 3333 S. Bristol St., Costa Mesa.

Morihiro — One Star

Chef Morihiro Onodera's omakase, Morihiro, yields an impressive amount of food that includes such impeccably executed items as firefly squid with wakame seaweed and halibut sashimi with pink peppercorn. Minimally seasoned nigiri with large defined grains may unveil everything from clean, white hirame to appetizingly oily mackerel.
3133 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village.

Pasjoli — One Star

At Pasjoli, Chef Dave Beran has upped the ante with this captivating French bistro, where standards like onion soup and beef tartare are elevated to their highest reaches.
2732 Main St., Santa Monica.

Pasta|Bar — One Star

The mastery of the Pasta|Bar team lies in their ability to take full advantage of California’s natural bounty, with thrilling results, as seen in cavatelli with a glossy, butter-rich lobster sauce, with spring peas and chunks of sweet meat; or an exalted take on the caprese by way of marigold tomatoes, mozzarella, fennel flowers and avocado.
16101 Ventura Blvd., #255, Encino.

Phenakite — One Star

Chef Minh Phan's Phenakite takes up residence at a co-working office space nestled among trees and within a beautifully maintained structure. Subtle, elegant flavors and singular textures show up in spades in such deeply personal creations as mochi dumpling with lardon and sugar snap peas.
1370 N. St. Andrews Pl., East Hollywood.

Sushi I-NABA — One Star

At Sushi I-NABA, chef Yasuhiro Hirano, together with his wife who runs the front of house, is responsible for turning out some of the most exciting sushi around. His particular magic lies in weaving together a few key components, including the exotic fish that he ages before preparing with a host of ingredients.
1300 Highland Ave., Ste. 107, Manhattan Beach.

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