Saturday, January 15, 2011


I've heared so much about Hatfield's over the years.  I've heard that Karen Hatfield is an amazing chef, they have a michelin star from 2009, the restaurant is contemporary and it's just a place that I have to go to.

I have to say that it is all true.  However, the short end of the review is that I am glad I went, but I don't think I'll be making a return trip.  Is there something particularly wrong with Hatfields?  Not really.  I just didn't think it was impressive enough.

The decor is incredibly contemporary and minimalist.  There are 3 large pieces for wall decoration on one wall.  They look like fossilized wheat shafts in concrete.  There is a really cool central light fixture in place of a chandelier and an open kitchen for the diner's viewing pleasure.

I noticed that the only minorities there were 3 tables of asians, my table included.  We were also by far the youngest ones there.  Most of the other patrons had white hair.  There's nothing wrong with that...just that it says something about the ambience and feel of the restaurant.

Here's why I won't go back again - for the price of the food, the portions were just too small.

The menu was tiny - 7 appetizers, 6 entrees, a seasonal pre-fixe, vegetaraian pre-fixe and a chef's tasting 10 course.  There weren't very many options and none that struck out to me as particularly avant garde.

The amuse bouche was a cute bowl of smoked salmon tartare on a bed of cucumber yogurt.  It was nice and light - good palatte prep.  The weird thing was that the amuse bouche came out before we even placed our order!  That's just really strange.  It came before the bread and even before the water.  That's just strange to me.  I just let it sit for a bit until I made my order.  It wasn't imperative to eat the bowl contents immediately anyway.

I see that Karen Hatfield's style is not usually very impressive - nothing particularly mind-blowing or smartly composed.  It was simply very good food prepared perfectly.  The agnolotti was beautifully made, nicely composed and a beautiful appetizer plate.  However, $15 for 6 pieces the size of bloated quarters and a half handful of shimeji mushrooms, I'd have to say that's overpriced.

The wagyu flat iron steak I got was delicious and made exactly the way I asked and the rack of lamb was cooked perfectly pink all the way through as requested.  But did you notice the tiny size of the entrees?  For over $35 apiece, I would expect more than 4 oz of beef and 2 large lamb chops.  Flavor-wise, I didn't think the lamb chops were amazing - very good, but not much different from the other lamb chops I've had at other restaurants.  I thought the flat iron steak was just amazing.  They really did that animal justice.  I did, however, feel the sauce was just too salty.  I found that I had to scrape some of it off.  The bed of creamed spinach that it was on was slightly salty too.  I felt the salt on that was sufficient for the steak.  I could have done without the sauce.

Overall, if you enjoy the work of precisely made, technically-superior food, then this is the place to go.  If you're bored and want to try someplace new, by all means, try it out. Just know that you'll leave hungry if you didn't spoil your dinner with a yummy cupcake like I did.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Those who know me know that I'm a huge sushi aficionado and my sushi palatte is very difficult to please.  My friends are usually reluctant to take me to their sushi spots because they're afraid it won't measure up to my standards.  I'm not that mean, but's a perception.

Anyway, a few months ago, my favorite sushi restaurant closed and I was incredibly sad for days.  I kept in contact with their best sushi chef, Susumu, and he told me that he would be working at a new restaurant soon with similar food.  I was so excited.  A few days ago, I got a text message from him telling me that the new restaurant is opening and they will be having an opening party on Sunday, January 9 and I'm invited! =)

The new restaurant is called Shunji's and it's located on Melrose Ave in West Hollywood.  It's opened by Shunji Nakao who used to work at Tengu in Santa Monica.

I didn't get a chance to taste the food off their menu, since the chefs were so busy.  Obviously, for a large party, they were serving up food catering-style.  They created huge, delicious sushi platters for the party and were serving up several of the sakes on their sake list.

The restaurant is really nice with a very sushi restaurant feel - dimmed incandescent lights, clean minimalist decor and a lot of wood.  The sushi bar is enormous and takes up half the downstairs dining area.  This leaves plenty of sushi bar seating and there are tables lining the wall and a booth at the front of the restaurant.  There's also an upstairs bar/lounge area.  I'm not quite sure if there will be tables there for dining service, but there's a staircase in the middle of the lounge that leads to the kitchen, so it's a possibility.

The grand opening is Tuesday, January 11.  I'll definitely be back to try the food on their regular menu and report back.  Stay tuned! =)

I'll leave you with a picture of me and Susumu.  When you go try out Shunji's, make sure to say hi! =)