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Week in Reviews: Gonpachi, Murano, the Oinkster, Dim Sum at Empress Pavilion and MORE

Today S. Irene Virbila generously one stars the Japanese import Gonpachi on La Cienega, a restaurant that sounds all form and little substance, a beautiful structure made with authentic Japanese materials, the kind of place where "young Tokyo businesspeople stop by after work to meet a friend for a drink and a bite." But somewhere along the way, something gets lost in translation:

Here's what I think. Fusion doesn't cut both ways. What would appeal to a Tokyo salary man's palate doesn't necessarily appeal to an American's. It's the same with fashion sense: It simply doesn't cross over. And adding touches of western luxe ingredients such as caviar and truffles completely misses the mark. The management is still trying to figure out how to intrigue Angelenos. And I think they don't have much of a clue, really. At least not yet. Though they have caught on to the ever-popular wacky, over-the-top sushi rolls with five kinds of fish and avocado and spicy sauces. They're also aware that savory dishes with an element of sweet have a big appeal, and so sauces tend to be edging up on cloying.
Miss Irene hates the potato croquettes, so has everyone else we've talked to who's tried them. Why are they still on the menu? She does, however, rave about the house-made soba noodles, so today, the "S." stands for "sluuurp." [LAT]

ELSEWHERE: LX.TV meets the owners and chef at Murano; Potatomato does pastrami at The Oinkster; it's cheap, fast and rude at India Sweet & Spices; Mike, Maria and the tot find Empress Pavilion dim sum as reliable as ever; mark your calendars for next year's Crab Fest at the Hungry Cat; Steven Arroyo's Happi Songs Asia Tavern makes someone happy; and a video review of Vito's Pizza.