Adolfo Suaya's Osaka is ready for its close-up
However, Suaya won't give an exact date, just saying, "Very soon." This is understandable because, even by L.A. standards, where opening a restaurant can often take months longer than an owner might initially hope for, five years is a very long time.
On a recent tour of Osaka, which was photo-ready and filled with the bustle of chefs and hopefuls applying for wait staff jobs, Suaya said he took his time finishing the restaurant after the bottom fell out of the economy in 2008.
"I wasn't going to open a restaurant in 2009, and not in 2010," said Suaya, wearing a smart red hat and jeans. "This is a work of love."
That's saying something for the longtime player on the dining scene, who once owned part of 17 restaurants. Today Suaya is involved in three: Boho, which recently relocated to Hollywood and Highland; Surly Goat, which soon will open a second location in Hollywood; and Osaka.
"I'm tired of playing the game," says Suaya. "I want to do everything just right, make places that last."
Osaka, which is an offshoot of a restaurant by the same name that Suaya fell in love with in Peru (he flew members of the staff from Lima to train his new staff in L.A.), is certainly in a geographically desirable location. Near Hollywood and Vine, the restaurant, along with Katsuya and Cleo at the Redbury, has the potential to serve as an anchor destination for that stretch of Hollywood Boulevard.
Designed by the omnipresent Kristofer Keith of Spacecraft, the restaurant is accessed by a stone path through a shallow decorative pond flanked by water walls. An outdoor hostess station opens onto a circular bar made from thick, dark wood. In fact, the entire restaurant's design is informed by sturdy wood, and feels almost cabin-like, although the vibe trends toward large and stately rather than small and cozy.
The exception is the pisco garden, which, with its peaked wood roof, bright red rafters, stone floor and tall trees, feels light and airy. In this room diners will be able to enjoy a wide range of piscos infused with flavors such as vanilla, tamarind and chile.
Suaya is staying mum on the subject of the menu, other than to say that he sent his head sushi chef (who worked at Matsuhisa for 11 years) to train in Peru for a month.
"I didn't want to bring a chef to the restaurant," says Suaya. "I wanted to bring the whole country of Peru."
Osaka, 6327 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles.
-- Jessica Gelt
Photos: Top, the sushi/ceviche bar; middle, the pisco garden; bottom, the entrance. Credit: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times