The first time I drove up to Yamashiro in the hills above Hollywood was some 45 years ago. It is about as romantic a spot as there is in Los Angeles, with a panoramic view that spans from Century City on the west, to the distant downtown skyline and beyond. At night, a carpet of diamonds spreads out across the Los Angeles basin as far as the eye can see.
The restaurant and grounds add to the magic, with Japanese architecture and décor authentic enough to draw TV and movie producers for frequent shoots. The grounds include a 600-year-old Pagoda brought from Japan. The inner courtyard features a tea house overlooking a Japanese garden that is surrounded by a terrace set with tables for dining.
When I was young and single, Yamashiro was a standby for a drink on the way home at the end of an evening. The view and the setting are as wondrous today as they were then. What has changed, however, is the quality of the food. I ate my first sushi at Yamashiro in the early 1970s. In the years that followed the quality of the food rode a rollercoaster between good and awful.
For the last few years, however, things have been decidedly better and there’s more to Yamashiro than just a view. There’s an array of sushi, sashimi and rolls that are acceptable, but I prefer other places in town for sushi. At Yamashiro, I order the cooked food – Shoyu glazed black cod, seared Ahi, Asian BBQ baby back ribs or Korean short ribs. Butter lettuce wraps, a sea weed salad or fresh oysters are good choices for starters.
In many ways Yamashiro is an ultimate L.A. experience – one that thrills out-of-town visitors and continues to satisfy this long-time L.A. resident.