Jonathan Gold for The Times

Jonathan Gold | L.A. restaurant review: The Church Key's future comes on carts

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews the Church Key, where a retro-future dining adventure on the Sunset Strip comes along on carts.

Jonathan Gold | L.A. restaurant review: Mari Vanna is poetic Russian

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews Mari Vanna. The new branch in Los Angeles spikes simple Russian cooking with perfection.

Jonathan Gold | L.A. restaurant review: Purist omakase sushi at Zo

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews Zo. Keizo Seki's downtown L.A. restaurant serves one meal: the $145

Jonathan Gold | L.A. restaurant review: Girasol reflects Chris Jacobson's journey

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews Girasol. The Studio City restaurant by Chris Jacobson benefits from his travels abroad and his Southern California roots.

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews Terroni downtown

Terroni in downtown L.A. is a more gilt setting than the pizzeria on Beverly, Jonathan Gold writes, and its cooking has solid virtues.

Jonathan Gold | Restaurant review: Fishing With Dynamite blows away seafood lovers

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews Fishing With Dynamite. The wait can be daunting at David LeFevre's newish Manhattan Beach eatery Fishing With Dynamite, but it's also worth it.

Jonathan Gold | Culver City restaurant review: At Bucato, stop for a snack, stay for pasta

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews Bucato. Chef Evan Funke combines strong pungencies and seasonal vegetables with fresh pasta at his restaurant in Culver City's Helms complex.

Jonathan Gold | L.A. restaurant review: At Willie Jane, a local phenom refined

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews Willie Jane.

Jonathan Gold | L.A. restaurant review: Marugame Monzo is all about udon

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews Marugame Monzo. The Little Tokyo noodle house is at its best with its traditional udon dishes. Its more modern varieties miss the point.

Jonathan Gold | L.A. restaurant review: Allumette is haute cuisine with Etsy sensibility

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews Allumette. The Echo Park restaurant is chef Miles Thompson's follow-up to his pop-up Vagrancy Project.

Jonathan Gold | Restaurant review: Connie and Ted's, a clam shack extraordinaire

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews Connie and Ted's. The West Hollywood clam shack conjures Rhode Island on the West Coast, be it with clams of all kinds, lobster cooked just right or oysters treated with reverence.

Jonathan Gold | L.A. restaurant review: Muddy Leek gets comfortable in Culver City

Muddy Leek, from Julie Retzlaff and Whitney Flood, is an inviting restaurant with an Earth-friendly bent. Jonathan Gold reviews.

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold | L.A. restaurant review: Littlefork takes a big-eats turn north

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews Littlefork. Full flavors of New England and Montreal (yes, lots of maple), combined with a Chicagoan's cocktail magic, and all for a few Yankee dollars.

Jonathan Gold | Restaurant review: Hunan Mao for fish heads and fire

Counter Intelligence: Jonathan Gold reviews Hunan Mao in Rosemead: Fiery chiles and giant steamed fish heads are on the authentically Hunanese menu. The heat is on.

Counter Intelligence: Stylish, deluxe Japan-inspired cuisine at Hinoki & the Bird

Hinoki & the Bird is a modern, luxuriously designed Century City restaurant from David Myers that is part Bond-villain lair, part garden party. Jonathan Gold reviews its pan-Asian cooking and finds its high-end ingredients leave an impression.

Counter Intelligence: Hostaria del Piccolo lives the fantasy — almost — in Venice

Review: Hostaria del Piccolo near Venice Beach gets some things very right (the costicine). Jonathan Gold finds consistency is an issue, though.

Counter Intelligence: Le Ka's a bit of this and that, for the beautiful people

Restaurant review: Le Ka is a bit like L.A. itself: a mix of this and that, but centered on the beautiful people

Counter Intelligence: A little taste of Cortez

Cortez in Echo Park is a small-plates restaurant that may divide diners, and its dishes, some delicious, may be difficult to divide among diners.

Counter Intelligence: Josef Centeno gives Tex-Mex a twist at Bar Amá

Bar Amá restaurant review: Josef Centeno's new Tex-Mex cantina does Tex-Mex its own way, queso included. Jonathan Gold checks it out for Counter Intelligence.

Counter Intelligence: The just-right cooking at Bestia

Jonathan Gold reviews Bestia, an Italian restaurant on the edge of downtown L.A. that knows how to not go too far our.

Counter Intelligence: Storefront Deli in Los Feliz

Jonathan Gold reviews Storefront Deli in Los Feliz

Counter Intelligence: Spago makeover smooths aging star's wrinkles

The newly redesigned Spago in Beverly Hills modernizes the dining room and brings a fresh take on Japanese cooking as it plays down its tasting menu in favor of an Italian-style menu structure.

Counter Intelligence: Ari Taymor's Alma stands apart in L.A.

Chef Ari Taymor is cooking like no one else in L.A. at his downtown restaurant Alma, which started in pop-ups. And, oh, those butter-soaked carrots.

Counter Intelligence: Tasty Dining in San Gabriel brings the heat of Wuhan

Tasty Dining in San Gabriel can bring tears to the eyes. That's what you get for ordering the chicken wing griddle 'very' spicy. The restaurant serves Chinese food from Wuhan, a culinary center in Hubei province.

Counter Intelligence: At MessHall in Los Feliz, fall in for fun

MessHall restaurant review: It might not be a destination restaurant, but its glammed up dinner-party food and summer camp theme set the stage for a good time.

Counter Intelligence: The basics of life at Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong

Jonathan Gold reviews Kang Ho-dong Baekjeong in Koreatown, a barbecue restaurant that understands the basics of food and drink.

Counter Intelligence: Laurel Hardware nearly nails it

At Laurel Hardware, chef Mario Alberto, lately of Lazy Ox and Chimu, brings an inventiveness to this late-night haven that sometimes nails it, sometimes doesn't quite.

Counter Intelligence: Tom Bergin's Tavern, reinvented

Tom Bergin's Tavern on Fairfax is fascinating since Brandon Boudet took over, with rethought Irish American bar food and, if you're lucky, a killer jambalaya.

Counter Intelligence: Plan Check, where food meets the future

Plan Check Kitchen and Bar has a modernist take on the classic burger, engineering it to a different level. Other items on the menu are a mix of good and bad.

Counter Intelligence: Starry Kitchen breaks hearts with cult dish

With its pan-Asian dishes that include the popular Singaporean chili crab, Starry Kitchen has set up shop as an evening pop-up shop at Tiara in the fashion district in downtown Los Angeles.

Counter intelligence: Superba Snack Bar in Venice

At Superba Snack Bar, the cauliflower T-bone grabs attention, but the playful cooking hews Italian. Jason Neroni and Pitfire's Paul Hibler are behind it.

Campanile closing? The dining scene loses a standard-setter

Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton looked to the past as they took fine dining forward. Farm to table. Exacting standards. They influenced chefs everywhere.

Counter Intelligence: Hannosuke and Ramen Iroha arrive in U.S.

Hannosuke and Ramen Iroha, popular populist restaurants from Japan, open locations in Mitsuwa and Marukai supermarket food courts.

Counter Intelligence: Thou shalt not make substitutions at the Parish

Casey Lane's no-substitutions gastropub in L.A. offers fish and chips, burgers, locally brewed ale, pan-fried chicken and more.

Counter Intelligence: Industriel's aggravating fusion

Steampunk, stale L.A. scene ideas — it's the latest from chef Josef Antonishek. It's best the closer he gets to Russian cooking, but then there's the 'goachetta.'

Counter Intelligence: Casual crazy vibe at Sycamore Kitchen

The atmosphere at Sycamore Kitchen is relaxed, but make no mistake: The husband-and-wife team behind the restaurant obsesses over every detail of every dish.

Counter Intelligence: Hui Tou Xiang Noodles House has a star dish

Hui Tou Xiang Noodles House in San Gabriel done a lot of things just fine, but the reason to go is in the name.

Counter Intelligence: Shunji is no ordinary sushi bar

Shunji Japanese Cuisine, from chef Shunji Nakao, is in what looks like a big chili bowl but is upscale and inventive, with special attention paid to vegetables.

Counter Intelligence: Next Door by Josie

Next Door by Josie in Santa Monica brings a lot of what's great at Josie Le Balch's main restaurant to a smaller, more relaxed scale.

Counter Intelligence: Red Hill brings a folky modernism to Echo Park

Red Hill is the latest step in the Brooklynization of Echo Park, a modern restaurant to go with the vintage clothing stores and well-frequented boutiques. Jonathan Gold reviews.

Counter Intelligence: At modern Mo-Chica, the alpaca question

Counter Intelligence: The Pikey, simply a pub with better food

The Pikey isn't a gastropub. It's just a pub. It's got three beers on tap, food kicked up a notch with market-fresh ingredients and a little imagination, and an atmosphere even an Iron Maiden roadie could appreciate.

Counter Intelligence: Maison Giraud in Pacific Palisades

At Maison Giraud in Pacific Palisades, the croissants are as good if not better than ones you'd eat in Paris. Alain Giraud may be the last true French chef standing in Los Angeles.

With foie gras ban, chefs say state is force-feeding morality

A California law against foie gras goes into effect Sunday. As some restaurants host farewell dinners, a gaggle of chefs, farmers and connoisseurs sees it as a feather-headed intrusion on culinary freedom.

Counter Intelligence: Bizarra Capital, a dreamland Mexican-style gastropub

Bizarra Capital in Whittier is a Mexican-flavored gastropub, the newest project of Ricardo Diaz, who is also behind Cooks Tortas and Dorados in Monterey Park and Guisados in Boyle Heights. Featured dishes are

Counter Intelligence: Umamicatessen in downtown L.A.

At Umamicatessen in downtown, L.A., a wealth of imagination is on the menu at the multi-kitchen restaurant: Rethink that pastrami sandwich, a bourbon cocktail, the PB&J.

Counter Intelligence: A little crunch with your Chianti at Tar & Roses

Wine is important at Andrew Kirschner's new restaurant, but so is the food, starting with the lardon- and chile-laced popcorn appetizer. From there, it's a serious but playful mix of wood-fired small-plate temptations.

Counter Intelligence: Bombs away at Wang Xing Ji

Review of the monster buns at Wang Xing Ji in San Gabriel. Or, how I learned to stopped worrying and love the crab and pork bun.

Counter Intelligence: At Rocio's in Sun Valley, moles reign

Rocio's Mole de los Dioses, near the airport in Burbank, is a garden of Eden for moles.

Counter Intelligence: Cooks County, fresher than modern

Cooks County, the new restaurant from chef Daniel Mattern and pastry chef Roxana Jullapat, may seem more of the moment than a modernist place like Ink. It feels like a wine bar but functions more as a restaurant, with actual appetizers and main courses. The list of farmers at the bottom of the menu rolls on as long as the credits at the end of a Spielberg movie.

Counter Intelligence: LàOn Dining

LàOn Dining is the latest from Jenee Kim (Park's BBQ, Don Dae Gam). It offers 'Korean tapas.' Jonathan Gold reviews (and recommends