There is an understated elegance to the way food is served at n/naka. Arranged on small, handmade Japanese pottery, the Lobster Shumai with anikimo foie, fried pompano and hirame ceviche takes center stage as the minimal presentation heightens focus on the dish.
Even before you can fully get over its gastronomic quality, another dish is set on the table: fried zucchini blossom stuffed with blue crab, carrot sorbet and sanbaizu jelly. Meticulously balanced, the combination is divine.
The passion project of Chef Niki Nakayama, n/naka in Los Angeles, practices the art of kaiseki, a traditional form of Japanese cuisine. Balancing the taste, texture, color, and appearance of food; kaiseki is not unlike French haute cuisine. Food is presented on small plates, scrupulously placed. Kaiseki also emphasizes the use of only seasonal, local, and fresh ingredients. At n/naka, everything is farm-to-table.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Chef Niki Nakayama began her culinary journey at the popular Brentwood restaurant, Takao. There, she worked under the tutelage of legendary chefs, Morihiro Onodera and Takao Izumida. Inspired to learn more about traditional Japanese cuisine, Nakayama took a three-year working tour in Japan. There, under the guidance of Chef Masa Sato, she discovered the art of kaiseki.
At n/naka, Nakamaya is able to blend both the western and eastern principles of haute cuisine seamlessly and with refreshing originality. A delicious example of this is her unique take on Spaghettini.
The classic pasta is served with abalone, pickled cod roe and burgundy truffles. The restaurant also offers a full vegan menu, as well as an extensive wine collection. Since its opening in April 2011, the 26-seat restaurant designed by Tak Toda has earned laurels and praise from the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, C Magazine, Zagat and WSJ. Magazine.
In 2014, Nakayama was semifinalist for the James Beard Award, and was named a “Los Angeles Rising Star Chef” by StarChefs. She is also featured in the Netflix documentary series, “Chef’s Table,” which aired on April 26, 2015.