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Coachella 2022: Everything you need to know about the secret sushi bar

Salmon with matcha salt and pickled wasabi.
Salmon with matcha salt and pickled wasabi. This is one of the 17 courses that will be served at the sushi speakeasy at Coachella 2022.
(Liam Brown)

Imagine walking through an unmarked door to find a 300-square-foot restaurant. At the center is a counter set for only 12 diners. A cutting board is placed inches from your seat. Across the counter, a chef slices pristine pieces of fish and then molds and pats them over nubs of warm seasoned rice. You are presented course after course, each more elaborate than the last. Roasted bone marrow is cooled, carved from the bone and served as nigiri. The now-empty bones are torched and held over slabs of unagi so that the rendered fat drips onto the eel. The torch is then used to fry the eel in the bone marrow fat. It’s served still smoking, finished with soy, ponzu, lemon, Anaheim yuzu kosho and a powdery green salt made from matcha, mushroom and kelp.

You are not dining at a new omakase restaurant in Los Angeles. There is dust on your shoes, sweat on your brow and you can hear the thud of music in the distant background. This is the new way to dine at Coachella.

Each year, the music and arts spectacle in Indio, Calif., inches toward becoming an actual food festival, with culinary experiences designed to remove you, if only temporarily, from the clatter and seemingly endless motion of the weekend — momentary respites meant to enhance the pauses between the dancing.

This year, before you watch Harry Styles, you can enjoy a 17-course dinner from Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee, the duo behind the Scratch Restaurants (Scratch Bar and Kitchen, Pasta Bar and Sushi by Scratch Restaurants). The Coachella sushi speakeasy will be, in essence, a version of the couple’s Sushi by Scratch, where the Lees and their team will present a freewheeling interpretation of an omakase meal, complete with sake pairings, for $375 a person.

A sushi chef serves a piece of nigiri at Sushi by Scratch Restaurants.
A sushi chef serves a piece of nigiri at Sushi by Scratch Restaurants in Encino. Chefs Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee are bringing their restaurant to Coachella with a special pop-up omakase experience.
(Liam Brown)

“We’re basically replicating the entire experience with an identical menu to what we’re serving in Los Angeles,” Lee said. “We’re bringing all of our service ware from the restaurant and playing the same music too.”

The speakeasy will be hidden somewhere within the Indio Central Market, the large tented food vendor area the festival introduced in 2018. The evening will start 15 to 20 minutes before the reservation time (arrive early), with a welcome cocktail, followed by 16 courses, a sake pairing, dessert and a farewell green tea cocktail.

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“We want to pull you out of your world and put you into this sort of truncated reality where you get to actually experience what we do,” he said.

Dinners will be served both weekends of the festival, over the course of two hours, with seatings at 3:30, 6 and 8:30 p.m. Coachella passes and prepaid dinner tickets are required for entry.

If an extra-long table set under the stars among the flowers in the Rose Garden area is more your speed, the Outstanding in the Field pop-up dinner crew returns for another round of nightly dinners.

Weekend 1 will start April 15 with Diego Hernandez of La Bête Noire in Ensenada and Donnie Masterson of the Restaurant in San Miguel, followed by Gaggan Anand of Gaggan in Bangkok and Salt and Straw on April 16 and Los Angeles chefs Burt Bakman (Slab) and Eric Greenspan on April 17. Ayinde Howell of iEatGrass and Makini Howell of Plum Bistro in Seattle will kick off Weekend 2. Los Angeles chefs Minh Phan, chef-owner at Phenakite and Porridge + Puffs, and Theresa Montano of Otono will prepare dinner April 23 and Max Boonthanakit and Lijo George of Camphor in downtown Los Angeles will close the festival April 24.

Festival passes and advance purchase are required for the dinners.


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