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Interior of Shibumi restaurant.
Shibumi, Downtown
Wonho Frank Lee

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A New Kind of Japanese Cuisine for Los Angeles

Kappo-style Shibumi opens Tuesday on Hill Street in Downtown

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

David Schlosser knows a thing or two about Japanese food, having spent time staging and working at some of the best and brightest restaurants in Kyoto. Now he's in LA, doing unique Kappo-style service and cuisine from across a 400 year old wooden bar.

Downtown’s Shibumi Japanese restaurant has big plans, though you wouldn’t know it from talking to owner David Schlosser. The chef (who will himself be working a section of the long, ancient cypress bar) has spent time inside the kitchens at several highly regarded restaurants in Kyoto, as well as places like L’Arpege and L.A.’s Urasawa.

Instead, the focus at Shibumi is on the plate. At the new Hill Street destination, which opens for dinner on Tuesday, June 7, you’ll be keeping a keen eye on each dish as it rolls out from the kitchen to Schlosser’s finishing station right at the bar. It’s a small menu of essentially upscale bar food, but without the izakaya smoke or sterile sushi bar sensibilities.

Upscale bar food but without the izakaya smoke

Instead, this is Kappo-style service and cuisine, which works though a chorus of cooking techniques (steaming, frying, grilling, raw) to provide a complete meal experience. There’s no true omakase on the menu yet, but the expectation is that Schlosser will add one as time goes on.

Dishes are still being tweaked between now and Tuesday, but one can expect an array of fresh fish and prepared beef and pork dishes. Find lightly grilled meats served almost without accompaniment, or delicate rice bowls laced with fermented vegetables. Schlosser is sourcing his Holstein beef from California directly, and hopes to expand his working relationship with some of the state's best farmers when selecting produce.

As for the space itself, expect a long room mostly filled with that extended L-shaped bar. It’s at waist height all around, which means you’ll be pulling up to chairs, not stools, thus making the experience a touch more intimate but no less fun. Hours will run 6 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Sunday.

Shibumi 815 S. Hill St. Los Angeles, CA

Wonho Frank Lee

Wonho Frank Lee

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