If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the last year eating a lot of takeout. So, you’ve probably discovered it’s a demanding art form of its own, and while you may be able to phone it in, you don’t want the chef to. You’ve no doubt figured out that some joints know how to recreate a meal in your dining room (or on your picnic blanket), and that others only know how to scoop food into a little box.
I’m also betting you’re ready to get back inside a proper brick-and-mortar restaurant and experience proper service once again, rather than going family-style in ripe sweatpants.
California is on the verge of reopening and whether you’re enjoying the last days of the dining sofa or celebrating your first meal back, one restaurant is the ideal choice for either: Gozen Bistro.
The new Japanese cultural concept has officially opened in the heart of West Hollywood’s Restaurant Row and features seasonal tasting menus and specialty sake. “Go,” I’m told, translates as “five” in Japanese, and refers to the concept of the “Five Good Things” which comprise Japanese cuisine: good water, good sake, good meat, good seafood, and good vegetables. As recipes for success go, that one’s not bad.
But what does “good” really mean? For Gozen Bistro, good means magnificently marbled Angus-Wagyu beef, whole Jidori chicken butchered in-house, humanely raised Berkshire pork, and stocks and sauces prepared from the simmered bones. It means an array of organic, non-GMO, pesticide-free natural produce selected for each dish in its proper season. It means fish flown directly from the finest Japanese fish markets, where proper techniques are employed to preserve freshness, and each seafood item cooked in the way which best enhances its natural flavors.
The combination of Japanese ingredients and French-influenced cooking techniques is a sensory-enhancing reminder of the pre-COVID world. The menu is a must-read. And if you’ve received your second vaccination and are indoor-ready, prepare to be whisked away to a comfortable modern space with a décor that evokes 19th century Japan, including serving dishes hand-made by master craftsmen.
Mr. Hide, Gozen Bistro’s renowned creator, explains his concept is about more than just good eats. “There is still so much more that I want to teach the world about Japanese craft and culture,” he says. “Gozen Bistro is more than just food, it’s about my culture’s love for crafting things of beauty.”
Speaking of things of beauty, the to-go bento boxes represent the finest example of takeout as art that I’ve discovered during the dine-in hiatus. The colorfully tiered hexagonal boxes are even more gorgeous inside, showcasing a unique kaiseki meal highlighted by sashimi and chirashi-sushi.
Gozen Bistro, 521 N. La Cienega Blvd., is open for indoor and outdoor patio seating, as well as delivery and takeout Tuesday through Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. And here’s something cool: Periodically, the restaurant will host specialists in Japanese tea culture, flower arrangement, and calligraphy for unique pop-up lunchtime educational events.
It’s been a hell of a year, at least reward yourself with one good thing.
One Good Thing: Gozen Bistro