A few weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated several occasions (birthdays, anniversary) over one meal. Dinner at n/naka is a dining experience. It cost (way) more than our usual special occasion budget, but worth every penny. I’m so glad we finally had a chance to go here because it was the best meal of our lives. Every single morsel was a masterpiece and each bite was as excellent as the one before it. It was a little over of three hours of pure bliss (we had a sitter that night).
My husband rarely posts, but felt so moved by the meal, he had to put it in writing. Before I continue, you must first know about kaiseki, the style of dining at n/naka
What is Kaiseki
From the n/naka website (n-naka.com):
The whole of a meal is as important as the sum of its parts. At n/naka, we are devoted to providing a unique and satisfying dining experience through our interpretation of kaiseki. This traditional Japanese culinary art form reflects the ever-changing rhythms of the earth by taking the freshest seasonal ingredients and presenting them in their most natural states. Using the very best ingredients we have access to is true kaiseki; we proudly serve vegetables from our own organic garden built and maintained by our friends at Farmscape Gardens. We take great care in preparing a beautiful plate and believe that the more involvement we put into a meal — no shortcuts — the more connected we feel to the food and to your experience of it. Through a meaningful balance of both traditional and modern techniques, Chef Niki Nakayama is committed to creating a meal that will engage your attention — it’s about enjoying the moment, the current offerings of the season, and ultimately, the food in front of you.
“This Meal Changed My Life” by Josh Hunt
It’s been a few weeks since we were there now, but I remember it as if it were my last meal only a couple short hours ago, & the last genuine meal I will ever eat; unless I am fortunate enough to have a seat at that grand feast once more. The elegant images that flashed across the screen as we watched Chef’s Table on Netflix, & the memories I have in my own head are only specters of the exquisite art that simply must be tasted to truly be understood & enjoyed.
I could go on & on about every mouth-watering bite, how the flavors paired perfectly with each sake & wine that our hostess recommended. I could describe in detail each intricacy of every fresh herb on every plate set before me from the garden which I so long just to sit & admire for five minutes. I just kept thinking about that garden throughout the entire meal- wondering what planet vegetables like that came from, & how come when we cook cauliflower, we have to add almost abhorrent amounts of salt, pepper, & olive oil just to feel like it’s actually food.
To dine at n/naka is not just to eat an extraordinary, unforgettable meal. As best as I can describe it, the pure sensation, which plays with at least six senses, is as if every individual you’ve ever respected for following their passion in all of history, & the whole world knew without a doubt they are on point, were rolled into one, & that person is Niki Nakayama. Then, you don’t just pull off the feat of making a reservation at her restaurant for dinner. Oh no! You have no idea what you’re walking into. This is not even just an experience. You are going to be honored! She is a complete stranger to you save for the name, but she loves you, & she longs to give you her uttermost, expressive, delectable, “neo-creations”. The plate is not her canvas, it’s your mouth! She wants to leave you feeling like the first time you ever heard your favorite song, & like you just got cozy with some hot chocolate & the family quilt at grandma’s house after Christmas festivities, all at the same time.
I don’t know if you will ever have the privilege, but I can only hope that someday you get to feel alive like we did. At the end of your awakening, it’s only fitting that you also get to thank her.
Our dining experience
photos by Ruby Hunt
(THIRTEEN COURSES, $185)
A deep exploration of traditional Kaiseki service with modern accents in technique and flavor pairings.
Know before you go
- If you’re a first-time guest, you must make a reservation through the website (n-naka.com)
- Reservations fill up quickly – reservations open three months in advance
- Cancellation fee is $85 per person if you don’t give them enough notice
- If you are a returning guest, you can contact them through e-mail or make your reservation at the restaurant after dining
- There is a vegetarian tasting option
- They are only open for dinner Wednesday – Saturday
- The dining experience is roughly three hours long
- Sake or wine pairings available
- Valet parking is limited, take a Lyft or Uber instead of driving
- It’s an excellent place to celebrate a birthday or anniversary with your loved ones and very close friends (they took a mini Polaroid photo of us for us to keep)
- Chef Niki Nakayama may visit your table and may oblige should you request a photograph
- Read the FAQ on their website
- Niki Nakayama was featured on the Netflix documentary Chef’s Table
n/naka is located in an nondescript building on Overland Avenue near Palms Blvd.
3455 S. Overland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90034
n/naka website: n-naka.com
Disclaimer: Westside Mommy was not compensated in any way for this review. We made the reservation on our own and paid in full for our meal like everyone else. All thoughts and opinions are our own.