This week, Garrett Snyder takes a long look at Koreatown newcomer Here's Looking At You. The work of Animal alums chef Jonathan Whitener and manager Lien Ta, the restaurant is described as "a wonderfully lively place — compact and intimate, bustling with the energy of a room filled with young, good-looking people."
Dinner here probably begins with a cocktail that "is further proof that the most exciting cocktails in L.A. are found in restaurants as often as they are in bars," before diving into some pretty stellar dishes that demonstrate a "more subdued touch, with less of that smash-mouth decadence that defines many of Animal's greatest hits:"
Charred shishito peppers are a common sight at the tail end of summer, but my favorite version might be the way Here's Looking at You serves them, with a generous dollop of tonnato — a rich Italian aioli flavored with poached tuna — and a dusting of Chinese sour plum powder, the kind you often see coating dried fruits and gummy candies in Asian supermarkets. The combination is as cheeky as it is head-slappingly simple.
The same could be said for the fried prawns, head-on crustaceans prepared like the salt-and-pepper shrimp of so many Cantonese banquet halls, arranged over a pool of cumin-heavy salsa diabla, the Tapatío-esque red sauce often paired with sautéed seafood at marisquerías, garnished with tiny dots of avocado mousse, peppery Vietnamese coriander, and hot pink watermelon radish. Is it a miniature metaphor for the city's cultural hodgepodge? Sure, but it's also effortlessly delicious enough to be consumed without context. [LAW]
While not all the dishes are a hit—G.Sny mentions an under-ripe nectarine salad and bitter sweetbreads—Whitener's cooking is undeniably exciting. The critic wraps up the review by describing the restaurant as "overflowing with as much raw creative potential as anywhere else in the city." Here's Looking at You scores three stars.