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Cafe Beacon in Culver City


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I had lunch at this place today for the first time. I'd call it Asian-fusion with a casual, hip thing going on but no 'tude -- you know, westside but it's Culver City so they're more relaxed. I had the black cod and it was yummy. There were some just cooked and still crispy cold green beans on the side tossed in a light vinaigrette and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I definitely need to go back and try more.

It's on the corner of Washington & Helms in the Helms complex, across from the New School of Cooking and around the corner from Surfas. You could make a whole food-oriented adventure out of it.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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Hey BVUS, nice to hear from you.

No, I hadn't seen the Times. I ended up at Beacon when someone I was meeting for lunch picked it. I'm so glad the Times liked the black cod.

Jody

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey did y'all see? The new LA Magazine ranks Cafe Beacon as their #1 restaurant in LA in their new issue with the cover story on the top 25 in town.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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  • 2 weeks later...

This place keeps coming up!

The Recipe SOS column in today's LA Times Food section provided the recipe for the delicious black cod I mentioned in my first post on this place. Here it is. You can make it yourself but I still think the place is worth a visit.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 months later...

On Sat. night, I went to Beacon, an Asian cafe. I didn't have a reservation, but they serve their full menu at the bar.

It's definitely the size of a cafe with maximum 100 capacity & 7 seats at the bar. Wooden tables & chairs, bare walls, clean & simple decor.

So, I sat in one of the bar's high stools which I have a not-so-easy time getting use to. I ordered a bottle of Ducale, sparkling.

I decided on a small plate, then a large plate. I started with the chicken wings in a soy-ginger glaze. That night, I wasn't adventurous enough to have the shishito peppers. The wings taste wonderful. The glaze was present, not prominent or overwhelming.

For the large plate, I took JFL's recommendation of the black cod. The cod was served with chilled green beans in three stacked layers topped with sesame seeds. The miso sauce was off to one side of the plate. The black cod melted in my mouth! Afterwards, I asked the server how it was prepared: marinated in miso sauce for 48 hours and then grilled. Great recommendation, JFL!

For dessert, I had the green tea cheesecake with white chocolate shavings. The cheesecake had a subtle taste, not intense or sweet. The sweetness came from the white chocolate shavings, 1-inch wide shavings, as well as the raspberry sauce.

I really enjoyed eating at Beacon. It has the feel of a neighborhood cafe. It's located on the NW corner of Helms Ave. & Washington Blvd. in Culver City. Across the street is a French cafe and about 100 yards away is the Jazz Bakery. Good luck on parking.

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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  • 1 year later...

Yesterday, I dropped somebody off at LAX and since it was closeby, I decided to check the place out. After reading a profile about the chef in the LATimes, I always wanted to check it out but it was too far. I got there early for lunch, and found a parking space and a table with no problems. As it was still early, there was a casual vibe and you could see the through the window that the chefs were goofing around. I had the 'black' edamame, the Kakuni udon, and the black cod with miso sauce that everybody's raved about.

Since I was eating alone, I probably wouldn't have ordered the edamame but I was intrigued by what black edamame was. It was disappointing because it was basically the same green edamame you can get at any sushi joint. And, it needed more salt. I still don't understand how it was supposed to be black.

My favorite dish was the Kakuni udon, a delicious, yummy broth with braised pork belly and udon. The pork belly is unctous and delicious in the way that only something fatty can be. This dish is big enough to share with somebody else, but who are we kidding. As I was eating this dish, I was worried that I might not have room to eat the black cod that everybody has been raving about. That wasn't a problem, as the portion for the black cod turned out to be quite small. It was about the same size as the green beans that came with the dish, but the green beans were supposed to be the side dish. I've heard that Beacon serves good food for the price, but if all the portions are going to be this small... Personally, I wasn't enamored with the flavor of the black cod, and found it be too sweet for my tastes. I think the problem is that you needed something like rice to help balance out the flavor. But, apparently I'm in the minority about the cod and have also never understood the cult of In-N-Out.

Hey did y'all see?  The new LA Magazine ranks Cafe Beacon as their #1 restaurant in LA in their new issue with the cover story on the top 25 in town.

What metrics did they use to come up with that rating? Overall, I thought it was a good experience but I wouldn't call it the top restaurant in LA. For me, the top restaurant would be someplace that I'd be willing to drive large distances to go eat there, even braving the dreaded LA Traffic. But, I wouldn't do that for Cafe Beacon. Its unlikely that I'd be in Culver City, but if I was, sure, I'd drop in and reorder the Kakuni because its right around the corner. To me, Cafe Beacon seems like a good, casual neighborhood restaurant, but I just don't see why there's been so much hype about this particular place. If Kazuto Matsusaka wasn't involved but it was sitll serving the same food, I don't think people would seriously consider it the top restaurant in LA.

Edited by leviathan (log)
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sounds like a case of too-high expectations based on too many media reports. as the guy who wrote the profile of kazuto, i probably share part of the blame.

i really like beacon, but that said, it's a cafe. it's not a fine-dining restaurant. go furniture shopping at the Buttercup complex next door, then stop in Beacon for lunch and you'll think you've found a miracle. Drive in from LAX expecting to find the French Laundry and you'll be really disappointed.

without wishing to speak for my friend Patric Kuh, the Los Angeles magazine rankings are for new restaurants, which means that context is everything (what else opened that year?). and like all such ratings, they are somewhat whimsical. my guess (and it's just that) is that Patric was rewarding Beacon for doing what it does so well--offering very stylish, delicious food at prices that are far less than normal fine-dining; in short, offering a near-fine dining experience that you can enjoy every day. i don't think anyone--including the owners--would ever claim that it was the best restaurant in the city.

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This is so cool that I'm having a dialouge with Russ Parsons, the person who originally wrote the profile about Kazuto that got my interest piqued about this place in the first place. I really enjoyed your book as well as your work with the LA Times, although I'd also like to see a return to the sports section as well. I hope Buttercup lost a small fortune after that publicity stunt about the UCLA-USC game.

without wishing to speak for my friend Patric Kuh, the Los Angeles magazine rankings are for new restaurants, which means that context is everything (what else opened that year?). and like all such ratings, they are somewhat whimsical. my guess (and it's just that) is that Patric was rewarding Beacon for doing what it does so well--offering very stylish, delicious food at prices that are far less than normal fine-dining; in short, offering a near-fine dining experience that you can enjoy every day. i don't think anyone--including the owners--would ever claim that it was the best restaurant in the city.

I went to my local library to find a copy of the Los Angeles magazine to look up that issue, but they didn't have that particular issue in its archives. But, after searching the internet, I did find an online listing of Los Angeles magazine's ranking that year and it seems that it actually was saying that Beacon Cafe was the best restaurant in LA, not just the best new one. Most of the other restaurants, especially Spago, in its top 25 are obviously not new restaurants:

Los Angeles Magazine Top 25 Best Restaurants

01.Beacon (Asian-Fusion $$)

02. Sona (American $$$)

03. L'Orangerie (French $$$$)

04. Angelini Osteria (Italian $$$)

05. Melisse (French $$$$)

06. Mission 261 (Chinese dim sum/dining $)

07. Josie (American $$$$)

08. Patina (American $$$$)

09. Grace (American $$$$)

10. Vincenti (Italian $$$$)

11. Teresitas (Mexican)

12. Campanile (Mediterranean $$$$)

13. JAR (American $$$$)

14. A.O.C. (Wine Bar, Gourmet Tapas $$$)

15. Urasawa (Sushi $$$$)

16. Bastide (French $$$$)

17. Casa Bianca (Pizza $)

18. Mako (Asian fusion $$$$)

19. Mimosa (French $$$$)

20. Joe's (Cal-French $$$)

21. Spago (Wolfgang puck's place $$$$)

22. La Cachette (French $$$$)

23. Capo (Italian $$$$)

24. Granita (Californian $$$)

25. Traxx (American $$$)

You're right about even the owners don't claim its the best city in LA; I think even they are somewhat embarassed by Los Angeles Magazine's high ranking. On the top of their home webpage, they proudly announce they were selected as one of the top 25 restuarants by LA Magazine, but don't mention they were selected as the best one.

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  • 4 months later...

I want to thank those of you who recommended Beacon. I had a very enjoyable lunch there today with a friend. We were greeted by a friendly hostess and sat on the front patio, underneath a large umbrella that provided plenty of shade.

We both had iced tropical flower teas, which were pleasant. I had forgotten that you can get unlimited free refills in California. That's one of the things I love about this state. In New York, you almost never get free refills.

I was considering sharing two appetizers and a "large plate," but fortunately, the waitress advised us that the mushroom salad plus the Thai seafood curry would be quite enough for sharing. That salad is a really big portion. It's a nice salad, somewhat bitter, tangy, and with some manchego cheese. The seafood curry tasted like a dish I've eaten in rural Malaysia. The broth tasted a little like the sauce for what they call Sayur on the East Coast of Malaysia. It was a light coconut milk broth, not thick as more usual in Thai restaurants. As in the salad, all the ingredients were fresh and very good. I loved the tasty fingerling potatoes. Other ingredients included shrimps, calamari, and tuna. It felt healthful. I also ordered a side of rice, which was good rice with very individual grains. After having such a good meal, we couldn't pass up sharing a dessert - a peach cake with strawberry/rhubarb sorbet. We loved the cake, which was made with excellent-quality white peach slices, to which not much had been done, with the skin on. The sorbet tasted more of strawberry than rhubarb, but was also very good.

The total for everything was $43.79 plus tip, which I consider an excellent value. If one could find a restaurant like this in New York, it would cost at least twice as much, but assuming that it were possible to plunk this restaurant down as is in New York, I would go frequently.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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