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LA Times Wonders Aloud About the Many, Many Failures at Chateau Hanare Restaurant

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Also, Addison speaks to the mystery and wonder of a great meal at Angler

An array of brightly-lit Japanese dishes from Chateau Hanare.
Chateau Hanare
Wonho Frank Lee

Boy oh boy, did LA Times writer Lucas Kwan Peterson not like Chateau Hanare. The Sunset Strip spot right next door to the Chateau Marmont ostensibly offers a finer-dining Japanese meal loaded down with opulence, but in this week’s seriously scathing review, guest critic Peterson says it all feels like a bunch of faux gilding meant to hide a very ugly inside. And it basically all starts with a glass of water.

From Peterson:

A manager was shadowing my server during a meal (“Quality control,” the server said through slightly clenched teeth) and at one point she awkwardly wrested a water glass out of my dining companion’s hand when she realized sparkling water had been poured instead of still water. As in, physically peeled it out of her hand.

Not only were there service issues, but the food wavers from intentionally over the top to “truly foul.”

Whole, uncut tomatoes sit in dashi gelée with plum slices, surrounding a mound of burrata that has the texture of a clay face mask. It’s all covered in some diesel-y shredded black truffles. An order of crispy fried chicken is anything but crispy, and has a distinct bready, black pepper-heavy flavor that recalls the hot food section at an Albertson’s.

And then there’s this:

The haphazard deployment of gold leaf is the kitchen’s way to try to put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.

Uni and bright gold leaf on a white plate at Chateau Hanare Hollywood.
Uni and gold leaf
Wonho Frank Lee

But most importantly Peterson points out that Abe Hiroki, the restaurant’s executive chef, was accused of sexual harassment two years ago by a female manager at one of his restaurants in New York City. Both he and Chateau Marmont partner André Balazs have been accused of misconduct in the past, though they have not been ostracized from the dining scene like bigger names, including Mario Batali.

The vast majority of bad actors are people who aren’t household names. They’re chefs and cooks who have been in the industry for years, moving from kitchen to kitchen and restaurant to restaurant. They’re not media darlings. They don’t have TV shows or their own prepared food lines in grocery stores. As such, bad behavior can sometimes fly under the radar, even when it’s formally named in a lawsuit.

Peterson decides to write the review anyway, opting to put the place into the bright media spotlight not in spite of, but because of, the bad food and accused actors involved.

Seafood creatures abound inside a fish tank at Angler Los Angeles.
Angler
Wonho Frank Lee

Meanwhile, Bill Addison made it to Angler at the Beverly Center to openly ponder the place’s masterful seafood. It’s not a cheap experience, he notes, but one that feels unique for Los Angeles, if a bit mysterious.

Why, Addison asks, is the restaurant “not visible from the street;” what is up with the “fugue-state design scheme;” and, most importantly, “will Los Angeles embrace” the place?

So far, it seems that the answer is a tentative yes. Addison notes that the restaurant is “lively on weekends, sparer during the weekdays. It’s easy enough to book a prime-time reservation most nights.” More folks should be coming to try the food:

There is no pleasure quite like beautifully presented seafood, when the ideal firmness and sweetness of every fish or mollusk or crustacean has been individually considered, the most flattering preparations for each of them mastered. That’s happening here.

Among the high recommends: The starter radicchio salad that is so wonderfully dressed in red that it seems to bleed (“its red-veined foliage [is] glossy with a dressing made from tougher outer leaves, garlic and shallots that grill slowly on the hearth for two days”), and a whole poached marble fish served with its own fried skeleton to nibble on.

Angler certainly feels to Addison like a rather special place, complete with fine dining-level service and wild, enticing soundtrack. That doesn’t mean the city has to love it, or that it will last. As Addison ends:

Priciness considered, I’m cheering for Angler. But I do love a good mystery.

Chateau Hanare. 8097 Selma Avenue, Los Angeles.

Angler. 8500 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles.

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