Kaviar serves its patrons a superb assortment of sushi and fusion dishes in an upscale dining environment.
In researching where to dine for a celebratory dinner, I landed on a place in the Arts District in Downtown LA called Kaviar. This location opened about a month prior to my visit. The other location of the restaurant is in Pasadena and has gained much recognition and even some awards such as the Certificate of Recognition in the city of Pasadena, and the Mayor’s Commendation in the city of Glendale. However, this location in the Arts District has an entirely different menu than the Pasadena location.
We parked in a lot across the street from Kaviar, and upon walking in, we were greeted at the host stand before being assisted down a long hallway to the dining area. On our way to our table, we passed the bar, a private omakase area that only seats six, as well as a secret caviar-tasting room. My observations upon being seated included the life-size Samurai figures, the dim lighting accompanied by little lamps at each table, and the traditional Japanese artwork and botanical arrangements aligned along the walls. We were fortunate to dine in on a night that was not too busy, which personalized the experience.
To start, we had the Garlic Edamame, which consisted of garlic shoyu butter sauce. This dish had a kick to it, which made each bite a bit of a surprise in terms of how much spice was on each edamame piece.
Following this, we had the Albacore Carpaccio, which was topped with scallions, minced red onions, crispy garlic chips, ponzu, and rayu. This dish was extraordinarily fresh and practically melted in your mouth upon each bite. The crispy toppings were flavorful and added the perfect amount of crunch and texture to the soft albacore sashimi.
We then had the Maguro Crispy Rice, which consisted of spicy tuna over crispy rice with a jalapeño, spicy cream, and eel sauce. While this dish is pretty mainstream, the way that the tuna was cut was distinct from other spicy tuna crispy rice dishes served at various well-known sushi restaurants. The tuna was not mashed, but instead was cut up into thin slices and organized neatly across the top of the crispy rice.
Next, we tried the Baked Salmon Roll which was made of eel sauce, garlic aioli, and snow crab. This sushi dish was definitely one of my favorites of all that we ordered because of how well the warm salmon paired on top of the snow crab roll. This type of roll is hard to master, but the chefs at Kaviar did just that!
Lastly, for our main entrees, we ordered the Spicy Yellowtail Escolar Roll and the Wagyu Tacos. The Spicy Yellowtail Escolar Roll was presented beautifully consisting of spicy yellowtail, seaweed salad, cucumber, escolar, rayu, eel sauce, and sesame cream. The various ingredients of the roll were easily seen in the way it was presented. I am really glad we ordered it because it was fresh and really different from any sushi dish I typically order. I especially enjoyed the seaweed salad ingredient! The Wagyu Tacos were served on mini wonton crisps with a dash of guacamole. The wagyu on these tacos was cooked to perfection, and the way it was served on the wonton crisps created the perfect texture and flavor contrast.
However, the meal was not over as we could not pass on dessert. We had a classic brownie with vanilla ice cream. It was beautifully presented, and the brownie was packed with rich chocolate flavoring that resembled the flavoring of See’s Candies, which paired perfectly with the vanilla ice cream.
Our waiter was delightful, as he was happy to answer any of our questions about the restaurant itself and the menu in particular. He was enthusiastic about our choices, which made us even more excited to try each dish. His recommendations were excellent as well!
We even had the chance to talk with one of the Kaviar Restaurants co-founders to gain a little more insight as to the purpose behind the brand, who they see as their main competitors, and where they see the future of their establishment heading in relation to earning a consistent consumer base. While their Pasadena location already has an established consumer base of an older crowd (due to the pricing and the menu selection), the Arts District location is looking to bring in the younger, trendy crowd of both celebrities and influencers, as well as those who self-identify as “foodies.” The ambiance is a quick getaway as you dine in the dimly-lit, authentically decorated restaurant. Even the bathrooms have a particular vibe with turquoise-centric coloring and decor. My main suggestion is to adjust the style of music they play as I did not feel the current top pop hits matched the high-end atmosphere or the fine-dining experience. Top pop hits of the day are ephemeral at best. This restaurant and its culture are built to last. I would suggest instrumental music to match the dimly-lit, flirty vibe of the restaurant.
Despite the dent in my wallet, I hope to be back to Kaviar sometime really soon!