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Echo Park’s Konbi reinvents itself. Look for Japanese breakfast and more pop-ups

A woman in a loose collared shirt tends to customers seated at Konbi's intimate countertop in 2019.
Konbi’s original location — featuring a cozy eight-seat counter nestled into 500 square feet — has reopened as Konbi Ni, and with it, on-site dining returned.
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)
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Konbi Ni

After years operating as a takeout-only, walk-up window for Japanese sandos, croissants and other pastries that garnered national praise, Echo Park’s Konbi has reopened as Konbi Ni — the “Ni” translating to “two” — with a return to a dine-in format, new items, and what owners Akira Akuto and Nick Montgomery see as a more sustainable business model.

“It feels like what it is and what it should be,” Montgomery said. “We put an incredible amount of time and effort into making the restaurant what it was, and is. Coming to the realization that we should more or less bring back as much of what it was before the pandemic made sense, while also evolving a little bit.”

Dine-in service at the the eight-seat counter is back, overlooking the busy omelet station, binchotan grill, and the prep space where Konbi pastry chef Kiyoshi Tsukamoto assembles new, more composed desserts (patio seating is also now available). From Thursday to Monday the day begins with reservation-recommended Japanese breakfast, where the prix-fixe menu can be made with seafood, produce and dairy; vegetables, fruit and dairy only; or entirely vegan ingredients. The walk-up window will offer teas, filtered coffees and pastries, then at lunch — which begins at noon — given demand for Konbi’s signature sandos, the window will offer limited food selection while dine-in seating will accommodate these and more involved à la carte composed dishes of seasonal vegetables and desserts, such as a quince-and-caramel tart with canelé ice cream and miso crumble. The space will no longer offer dinner service, but will host one to two pop-ups a month such as a recent, ticketed event from chef Miles Thompson and a Dec. 7 dinner by chef Sara Kang (Snack Bar).

An overhead photo of a trio of plates from Konbi Ni's new Japanese breakfast, including pickles, greens and squash.
As Konbi Ni, owners Akira Akuto and Nick Montgomery are reprising the original iteration’s counter seating along with Japanese breakfast featuring pickles, seasonal greens, binchotan-grilled steelhead trout and more.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)
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Once the Culver City location opened in August, ownership sought a business model for Echo Park that could help maintain staff as well as the costs of a second outpost. Still yearning for the sit-down, counter-service model that Konbi had originally opened with in fall of 2018, Akuto and Montgomery temporarily closed the Echo Park space in October of this year, devised a menu befitting a return to indoor (and now, patio) dining, repainted the exterior navy blue, and cleared out the years of items accruing in the dining room, which had turned to storage when the restaurant flipped to takeout-only during the pandemic.

“We had certainly kept [the counter] in mind, hoping to when we were able to,” Montgomery said. “Being able to move some production and general storage stuff over to our Culver City location freed up space inside the restaurant, and allowed us to revamp the inside and get it back to a place that was comfortable for people to dine in.”

The new Echo Park format is also price-inclusive of service charges that Montgomery says will make it possible to offer employees health insurance and competitive pay in a landscape that is increasingly difficult for restaurateurs to staff their businesses.

The team also recently launched a monthly supper club — currently sold out but with a wait list from which Montgomery hopes to add new customers soon — that features tailored, seasonal menus for home dining. The Konbi Supper Club costs $50 per person, minimum of two guests, and is available for pickup from Culver City and Echo Park, or via delivery ranging from Pasadena to Santa Monica for an additional fee.

1463 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, konbi.co

A hand pours soy sauce into a saucer next to a floral-patterned plate of nigiri.
Beverly Grove’s newest sushi spot will serve rolls and nigiri from chef Casey Lane, plus small plates such as udon with clams; fish-sauce chicken wings; and seafood pancakes.
(Jakob N. Layman / Palihouse West Hollywood)

Mezzanine Sushi

The latest Palisociety hotel debuts this month in Beverly Grove, and with it, a tenured L.A. chef is opening a new restaurant: the signature dining establishment of what will be a trio of concepts within the 95-room Palihouse West Hollywood. Mezzanine Sushi, from executive chef Casey Lane (formerly of the Tasting Kitchen, Breva and Viale dei Romani), will feature a sake program — plus Japanese teas and beer — alongside classic rolls and nigiri. Lane, who serves as the creative director of Palisociety’s dining branch, including new Culver City restaurant Simonette, will also serve wood-fired vegetables and dishes such as fried rice with spicy tuna and quail egg; a donabe of drunken clams with udon and miso; seafood pancakes; and yellowtail collar with shiso and ponzu. Mezzanine Sushi launches Dec. 2 and will open Thursday to Saturday from 6 to 11 p.m.; a takeout window along West 3rd Street will open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Other concepts in Palihouse West Hollywood include the all-day, indoor-outdoor Lobby Lounge Café & Bar, offering California fare, while poolside bar the Pool Lounge is limited to guests only.

8384 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 591-9519, mezzaninesushi.com

Flor y Solera

In early 2023 the Arts District will gain a trans-regional Spanish tapas bar helmed by Catalonian chef Mònica Angelats, the former chef de cuisine of Brera Ristorante. Flor y Solera, in the former Sixth+Mill Pizzeria space, is the newest project from Factory Place Hospitality Group (Brera Ristorante, the Factory Kitchen) and will offer a menu of familiar Spanish dishes such as the egg-and-potato tortilla, as well as less internationally ubiquitous fare such as pisto, made with eggplant, peppers, zucchini and onion, here wrapped in kale and topped with Cantabrian boquerones. The new restaurant will also be home to a sherry bar that pours the fortified wine by the glass and by the flight, and pairs to Angelats’s menu; the beverage program — led by Francine Diamond-Ferdinandi, beverage director of the restaurant group — will also serve gin and tonics, beers, Spanish wines and cocktails.

1335 E. 6th St., Los Angeles, florysolera.com

A closeup side photo of a large pan of fideus rossejat decorated with clams and shrimp.
The Arts District’s forthcoming Flor y Solera is set to offer tapas — as well as larger dishes such as fideus rossejat — beginning in mid-January.
(Carlos Chavez / Flor y Solera)

Parchment Paper

A new culinary-focused homegoods store from the team behind Eagle Rock cheese shop Milkfarm is now open, selling aprons, ceramic dishes, cookware, champagne sabers, food-themed art prints and stationary, kitchen towels, mugs and other culinary knicknacks. Owner Leah Park Fierro says she and the team dreamed of opening the new shop for years as what began as Milkfarm’s greeting-card shelf gradually expanded into a revolving table of housewares and apparel. Now, located two blocks from the cheese shop, Parchment Paper is open Tuesday to Friday from noon to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

5054 ½ Eagle Rock Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 607-1007, parchmentpaperla.com

Krampus Tavern

Those in search of holiday cheer and goodwill probably won’t find it at Krampus Tavern, a dark pop-up bar that riffs on the lore of the season’s hooved creature who chains and kidnaps children who’ve been bad. On Dec. 10 and 11, downtown’s Globe Theater will flip to the Tavern, which will include two themed bars — one inspired by Krampus and Germanic folklore, and the other a malevolent twist on the North Pole — serving cocktails such as gingerbread white Russians and cranberry vodka concoctions. Food will also be available for purchase in the form of Krampus-influenced macarons, stollen, chocolates, cookies and other European items, and in the basement and mezzanine levels of the theater, a “dark art marketplace” will feature crafts and other goods for sale. Entry to the pop-up also includes live performances from musicians, burlesque dancers and other entertainers, plus staged photo areas. General admission costs $49.99, while VIP tickets cost $79.99 and include early admission, one drink and merchandise; Krampus Tavern is a 21-and-up event, but afternoon access to the markets and photo ops is all-ages and costs $19.99.

740 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, krampustavern.com


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