New Kids on the Block
From inventive sushi by a Hollywood chef to a crispy-skinned rotisserie chicken from a beloved grandma, a trio of Valley debuts.
PLATING NOW Left: An ahi creation from Kaiju Sushi. Center: Goldie’s Rotisserie chicken. Right: Cocina Condesa’s mole chicken.
Attention diners: Gooey sushi rolls with funny names and mayonnaise-y sauces will not be served. Kaiju (it means “sea monster”) has opened in the former Sweetharts location at Woodman and Ventura, replacing sugary treats with fresh, simply elegant sushi. Other signature dishes include crispy rice cakes topped with spicy shrimp or tuna, six varieties of carpaccio, lightly battered rock shrimp and an unexpected (and delicious) lamb chop with truffle mashed potatoes. Friendly Chef Go Nakabayashi (formerly head chef at Hollywood’s Koi) also whips up “Gozen” combinations that include miso soup, an assortment of individual sushi pieces and blue crab and yellowtail hand rolls. It’s sophisticated sushi served without attitude. Yes, you can even order a California roll.
13704 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks | 818-990-9939 | kaijusushi.com
Chef M. Elena Vega, 27, and mixologist Gilbert Marquez, 28, hardly look old enough to drink—but the youthful pair are successfully mixing it up as the culinary forces behind lively—albeit noisy—Cocina Condesa, one of Studio City’s newest gastropubs. Cordon Bleu-trained Elena adds a bold, contemporary twist to family recipes learned working in her grandmother’s kitchen in Mexico (we’re pretty sure Grandma would not have tossed toasted crickets atop a mango salsa). Menu favorites include braised mole chicken, light (though slightly bland) masa crepes and spicy, creamy agua chile with shrimp. Gilbert wants to make you love mescal with his innovative, not-too-sweet cocktails. Don’t miss: Taco Tuesdays starting at 5 p.m. (any two tacos for $5 and $8 for the house margarita).
11616 Ventura Blvd., Studio City | 818-579-4264 | cocinacondesa.com
You want a chicken? Call Goldie. No, you can’t ring up the late Goldie Stein, but her grandson Dennis Stein, co-owner of Goldie’s Rotisserie, will make sure you feel like she’s still in the neighborhood. With business partner Larry Lorin, Dennis shares Goldie’s Russian-accented recipes including crispy-skinned rotisserie chicken, chicken wings and ribs. Goldie’s also dishes up homey sides including creamed spinach (to die for), potato pancakes and Teddy Roosevelt Baked Beans. You can even order “Thanksgiving all year” for five to 12 diners including a whole turkey, a large side dish and cranberry sauce. A word about Goldie’s ribs: Don’t expect the sweet-smoky flavor of Texas or the South—this Russian-Jewish recipe tastes more like brisket on the bone.
4344 Woodman Ave., Sherman Oaks | 818-849-5341 | goldiesrotisserie.com
The food is only part of the charm.