At Necco, healthful Japanese small plates in Westwood

At Necco, healthful Japanese small plates in Westwood
Brown rice and a curry nanban chicken are among the lunchtime selections at Necco in Westwood. (Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee)

Name of restaurant: Necco, which means "root" in Japanese, as indicated by creative uses of daikon, carrots, ginger, gobo and renkon (lotus root). The Westwood restaurant opened last October.

Chef/owner: Chef and cofounder Kenji (Ken) Koyama has two decades of cooking at various Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles and Tokyo under his belt.
Concept: Japanese-fusion small plates emphasizing the fresh and healthful.

What dish represents the restaurant, and why? One dish doesn't really stand out on its own, but the menu works like a symphony — a balance of hot and cold, crunchy and soft, vegetables and meat make up a well orchestrated meal.

Menu highlights include the necco chips (a selection of fried roots), avocado tempura, lamb chops, curry nanban chicken, spicy octopus, and necco pickles (made with rice vinegar, garlic, spices and a delightfully surprising bit of raisin).

The limited lunch menu provides a choice of main dish and a selection of sides. All lunch combos come with a side salad, necco pickles and bowl of miso soup to start. Dinner showcases a more extensive menu, so maybe bring some friends to share the small plates.

Who's at the next table? Smartly dressed women converse quietly in Japanese. They may look like they're having a business conversation, but overheard tidbits reveal the usual fun gossip talk.
Appropriate for: Those who love the subtle flavors of traditional Japanese cuisine, but want to experiment with something modern and deliciously good-for-you.
Problematic: There's only a little bit of parking in back, and metered parking in front (be sure to read signs carefully).

Service: The service is youthful, friendly and ridiculously polite.

Necco, 1929 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 446-5241,