We Are Family: Sushi Roku, that happening place on Third Street in L.A., is opening a Santa Monica branch in the old Rice Man spot (1401 Ocean Ave.). Roku owner Michael Hide Cardenas, a former Matsuhisa maitre d', has partnered with brother Tom Cardenas (formerly with Chaya Brasserie and Cafe La Boheme)--and still another brother, Vernon Cardenas, the youngest of the three. Vernon, who's cooked at Mamagaya and Bo Kaos, will run the kitchen. Although the Cardenas brothers have years of L.A. restaurant experience, this will be the first time they've all worked in the same place. (Says Tom: "We're looking forward to it. We get along really well.") Look for Sushi Roku, Santa Monica to open around May.
Asihustam Next?: Nobu Matsuhisa, who owns restaurants named both Nobu and Matsuhisa, has opened a super-casual dining spot on the street level of the Beverly Center. It's called Ubon, which is Nobu spelled backward. Ubon serves appetizers from Matsuhisa's menu, such as the salmon-skin salad and teriyaki chicken. Rice bowls topped with chicken, beef or fish also come out of the open kitchen, along with a few noodle dishes. Ubon, which takes no reservations, is open every day for lunch and dinner.
* Ubon, 8530 Beverly Blvd., Suite 151, L.A.; (310) 854-1115.
A Do at the Dal: Pico Rivera's venerable Dal Rae, in the midst of celebrating its 40th anniversary, is hosting a wine dinner Tuesday with guest Mike Stein from the Robert Mondavi Winery. Mondavi wines are served with the appetizers, salad and filet mignon. A Woodbridge Porta Cinco comes with three miniature desserts. The evening begins at 7 p.m.; the tab is $80 plus tax and tip.
* Dal Rae, 9023 E. Washington Blvd., Pico Rivera, (562) 949-2444.
Bicoastal Beardies: Jennifer Naylor and Gustavo Escalante--chef and pastry chef, respectively, at Granita--have been invited to the James Beard House to cook for the "Rising Star" dinner in April. Naylor and Escalante will re-create their dinner in Malibu on April 8. Cocktails, served at 7 p.m., are accompanied by five passed hors d' oeuvres. Dinner starts at 8 p.m. with spring onion soup and peeky toe crab crostini. A cheese plate follows, then a fish course, and lavender honey-glazed rack of lamb. Dessert is chilled strawberry-rhubarb soup with vanilla ice cream. The $75 rate doesn't include beverages, tax or tip.
* Granita, Malibu Colony Plaza, 23725 W. Malibu Road, Malibu. (310) 456-0488.
Easter Brunch: It's time to decide whether to let your kids cover themselves in egg dye--and where to go for Easter brunch or dinner. Here's a list that might help with the latter decision, anyway.
Peter Cottontail (OK, a guy in a bunny suit) is the featured guest at Griff's, the restaurant by the pool in the Beverly Hilton. A brunch buffet will be served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 4, loaded with seafood, pasta, omelets, roasted Cornish game hen and rack of lamb. The rate is $45 for adults, $22.50 for children under 12. Mr. Cottontail will be handing out treats such as candy and eggs. Griff's, Beverly Hilton Hotel, 9876 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 285-1268.
The Westwood Greek restaurant Delphi is throwing its traditional midnight Greek Easter celebration again (Orthodox Easter falls on April 10 this year). It's scheduled for after church services. The night begins with a midnight candle-lighting ceremony and includes the traditional cracking of red Easter eggs against each other (if your egg is the one that doesn't crack, you'll be the one who has better luck in the year ahead). A six-course dinner will be served late into the night--it's fine to show up at 3 a.m.--for $26.95 per adult, $12.95 per child. Live music and dancing carry on until about 6 a.m. Delphi, 1383 Westwood Blvd., Westwood. (310) 478-2900.
Le Chardonnay's Easter menu is available from noon until 7 p.m. on April 4. It's a four-course meal that offers lots of choices for $42: Entree choices include roast duck with orange, honey and ginger sauce; grilled whitefish on a potato galette; and rack of pork with green apples. Le Chardonnay, 8284 Melrose Ave., L.A.; (323) 655-8880.
Rockenwager will serve Easter brunch from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The three-course menu offers dishes like lobster bisque, scallion pancakes, blue crab and poached eggs. Price: $25 for adults, $12 for children under 12. That evening the regular menu will be served from 5:30 to 10 p.m., along with a $35 three-course menu. Rockenwagner, in the Edgemar complex, 2435 Main St., Santa Monica. (310) 399-6504.