Photos: What to Eat and Drink at Hinoki and the Bird
David Myers has wowed Angelenos before with his cooking at Comme Ca and Patina, and his new restaurant on the Avenue of the Stars, Hinoki and the Bird, follows suit, taking diners on an adventure down the Silk Road via California cuisine. His use of bright flavors and playful sensibility is a welcome addition to the Century City neighborhood, and will likely become a staple for the nearby agent crowd as well as diners looking for a destination restaurant with style and flare. What's more is that we walked out having eaten more than half the menu and didn't feel utterly disgusting, which is a testament to Myers' healthful sensibility and deft skill at creating well-balanced dishes.
When it comes to design, Hinoki and the Bird his all about the details. MAI studios and Milo Garcia (Gjelina, the Canal House) really crafted something special at the Century City space. Potted succulents and small orb-like light fixtures are strung through the wooden beams on copper wire, adding even more depth to the ceiling. Sprigs of ume blossoms sit in low votive vases that adorn each table. A retractable outdoor ceiling, which almost looks like a corrugated tin rooftop due to the keen lighting and natural elements, makes for perfect outdoor dining no matter what the season. Well, that and the heated floors, a touch we've only seen in the bathrooms of some of the highest end hotels. And don't get us started on the bathrooms. If this place doesn't make the ranks of the AIA LA Awards, we'd be stunned.
The focus of the interior is dual, with lighting leading the eye to the real focus of the restaurant: the bar and the open kitchen. Cocktails at Hinoki and the Bird, which were crafted by Sam Ross, are aces. We tried the Jungle Bird (Black Strap rum, pineapple, lime and Campari) and the White Negroni (gin, bitter gentian, bianco vermouth on the rocks with a grapefruit twist), both of which were spot on. As a Negroni purist, it's a major accomplishment to get us to go outside the traditional gin, Campari, bitters formula. Consider us converted.
Now for the main event. Let's talk lobsta. The lobster roll on charcoal bread might seem a bit strange to look at. After all, black bread is usually a sign that you need to clean out your cupboards. But Myers uses a similar technique to the NoMad in New York, using charcoal powder to add a unique earthiness to the roll. And the seafood part of the sandwich isn't at all heavy or laden with mayo, which is one the reasons why these little East Coast treats can be so disappointing if not done right. Myers' version is brightened up with lemongrass and Thai basil and green curry, all without overwhelming the delicate seafood. Other highlights included the chili crab toast, pumpkin toast, and the sambal skate wing, the latter of which really packed a wallop of Southeast Asian punch.
Another strong point -- aside from the playlist that boasted the likes of Miike Snow and Gotye -- are the desserts. Myers makes mochi in house, which isn't too gummy or sweet. Our favorite was the miso mochi with butterscotch, but the PB&J-like black sesame mochi with hibiscus caramel was also delightful. The EVO cake was gorgeous to look at, but sort of fell flat in comparison to it's gorgeous architectural composition. The zephyr mathca cake -- whose name had us Googling like crazy before our visit -- was as ethereal as the name sounds. (Zephyr is actually a type of high-end white chocolate.)
So, as you can see, it's safe to say we'll back to try the other half of the menu. As should you.