New Heights for a Santa Monica Sushi Bar
Perched Atop Typhoon: Brian Vidor, who owns Typhoon at the Santa Monica Airport, is opening a Japanese restaurant and sushi bar on top of his first place. His declared motivation: The deck above Typhoon was just the perfect size; all it needed was to be rebuilt. If that sounds like the old mountain climber’s explanation (“It was there”), wait until you hear the name of the new place: the Hump. That’s what World War II pilots called Mt. Everest when they flew over the Himalayas to deliver supplies to China after the roads were cut off. But if you prefer, you can call the place Cho-jo, Japanese for “highest peak.” The Hump was created with the help of chef Hiro Nishimura, formerly of R-23. (Nishimura also helped create Sushi Roku and Matsuhisa in Aspen.) Traditional Japanese dishes are on the menu, and there’s a full sushi bar complete with glass fish case showcasing the day’s shipment of fresh fish. The Hump will be open for exploration sometime in mid-July.
Citrus’ New Appeal: Citrus has some additions to its menu for summer, such as beignets of scallops with cucumber sauce and crispy skin whitefish with asparagus gratin and pea sauce. Also new for summer: dinner on Sundays. As of July 12, Citrus will be open for dinner Sunday nights from 6 to 10 p.m.
* Citrus, 6703 Melrose Ave., L.A.; (213) 857-0034.
Pinot 7, Starbucks 5,000: The Pinot empire may not be quite as prolific as that Seattle caffeine chain, but as this column mentioned in March, Joachim Splichal is adding another restaurant, Pinot Provence, this one in the Westin South Coast Plaza, Newport Beach. And a large one, with two outdoor patios and three private dining rooms. The chef will be Florent Marneau, formerly of Aubergine, and the menu will be Mediterranean with, of course, a particular slant toward southern France. Pinot Provence is scheduled to open in the first week of August.
I Cugini Hits the Beach: I Cugini has changed its personality slightly. Moving away from its strictly Italian background, the Santa Monica restaurant has made room in its heart for fish. Whole fish. Crusted in rock salt, roasted in a wood-burning oven and deboned in the dining room, fish are the new anchors of the I Cugini menu. The rest of the dishes have a more country European flavor, and the dining areas inside and out have been slightly redesigned to keep up with the menu. More table-side service is another friendly facet.
* I Cugini, 1501 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 451-4595.
Fourth of July Parties: If you aren’t planning on firing up the barbie this Saturday, then maybe you’ll want to go out. And darn it, that’s what we write this column for. So here’s a couple of places to head to on Independence Day.
* Mardi Gras, Hawaiian Style, on the Fourth: OK, maybe Rix owners Will Karges and Neil Morse never researched where holidays come from, but that’s probably because they were too busy partying. On the Fourth, their Santa Monica place will be decked out with grass huts, tiki torches and ice sculptures. There will be a whole roast pig, just as our ancestors enjoyed at their Caribbean luaus (no, now I’m just getting confused). A steel drum band will be playing on the patio upstairs. You’ll be able to barter for plates of salads, skewered fish and barbecued beef and pork with strands of beads. Just to remind you that you’re still in L.A., though, you’ll have to buy the beads at the door, but those who don’t want to mess around with necklaces can purchase a $75 VIP pass for unlimited food and drink. The fun starts at 4 p.m. Rix, 1413 5th St., Santa Monica; (310) 656-9688.
* An American JiRaffe: Josiah Citrin and Raphael Lunetta will try not to set their chefs’ toques on fire Saturday while bending over a street barbecue grill in front of their restaurant in Santa Monica. They’re throwing an all-American (read: everything’s grilled except the apple pie) Fourth of July party, $50 a head. Your choice of grilled lobster, salmon, Co^te de Boeuf, or chicken will be accompanied by grilled vegetables and your choice of ceviche, shrimp cocktail, chilled asparagus soup or one of many salads. The desserts would make Mom proud. Domestic and imported beers and wines are available for an additional charge. The barbecue runs from 4 to 9 p.m. JiRaffe, 502 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 917-6671.