It's been just over a year since Eggslut chef Alvin Cailan launched his culinary incubator Unit 120 in Chinatown's Far East Plaza as a place for up-and-coming chefs to test their hand at a restaurant concept of their own. But following Unit 120's one-year anniversary, Cailan has decided to move on and leave the space to Lasa, the Filipino pop-up restaurant.
Lasa, whose Filipino-inspired tasting menu received a glowing review from Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, was one of the first and longest residencies at Unit 120. It started as a casual backyard dinner party concept between brothers Chase and Chad Valencia. The two have been serving dinner at the Unit 120 space every weekend for a year.
"Alvin saw our potential with the success of our prior dinners and felt all we needed was the platform to truly test our concept," said Chase. "Now, we get to take these real life restaurant experiences from our residency and apply what we learned towards our own brick and mortar."
Lasa officially took over the Unit 120 space Jan. 15, and serves dinner Thursday through Sunday. Lasa will close in early February for remodels, then plans to reopen in early March.
"He [Cailan] didn't have to offer us this space but he felt it would be a good move for all of us and so he just did it," said Chase.
The new Lasa will feature a takeout window for lunch offerings Tuesday through Sunday and a slightly larger dinner menu with both a la carte items and prix-fixe menus Wednesday through Sunday.
But the beginning of Lasa's brick and mortar isn't the end of Unit 120. The culinary incubator is moving directly next door, into the space that was previously occupied by Wing Hop Fung, and is scheduled to open in May.
Cailan has described the new Unit 120, which will keeps its name, as having a "mahjong den" vibe. It will feature a smaller, more intimate dining room to provide more focus on each menu and chef. Reservations will be made via email list and in person.
Cailan has yet to release any news about upcoming chefs at the new location.
"I think Unit 120 is a beacon of hope for people looking to make their dreams come true," said Cailan. "Chinatown and its history proves that small business can last decades, we're just happy to keep that going."
727 N. Broadway, Los Angeles, (213) 443-6163, www.lasa-la.com.