As of today, Konbi is officially slinging its signature konbini-style Japanese sandwiches and French pastries at the massive, 395,000-square-foot One Culver office-and-retail building in the middle of Culver City — and the greater Westside is apparently excited, with a line forming well before the restaurant even opened at 8 a.m. today. With this latest opening, One Culver is quickly becoming a food destination in its own right: Konbi is flanked on one side by local coffee darling Go Get ‘Em Tiger; on the other, Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson’s Kismet Rotisserie is slated to arrive in short order.
When owners Akira Akuto and Nick Montgomery first opened Konbi’s tiny eight-seat location next to an Echo Park gas station in 2018, the restaurant was showered with accolades from local and national media, including a nod from Bon Appetit as 2019’s Best New Restaurant. This new, much larger, 1,375 square-foot location has been in the works for two years.
“A lot of people coming to Konbi were coming from the Westside and could only come once a week or once a month,” Akuto says. “Even in the two years since we’ve been in construction, the neighborhood has been changing — not just with tech companies coming in, but with more young families.”
Konbi’s Culver City location was also designed by the firm Lovers Unite; the aesthetic is similar to the original, with a long, tiled service counter and flecks of forest green. It, too, only has eight counter seats indoors — a move dictated by designing and building during the pandemic and concerns over indoor dining, Montgomery notes — and shares ample outdoor seating with the other foodservice occupants of the building.
The new Konbi Culver City now also serves as a commissary, with all production, including its pastry program, being run out of the restaurant’s more spacious kitchen and prep areas. “There were things we couldn’t do before because of space constraints,” says Montgomery. “We wanted to bring our operation closer to areas of the city that were more difficult to reach while being somewhat convenient to the first store. And we wanted to create a commissary kitchen that gives people a nicer place to work, with more natural light than a warehouse somewhere could provide.”
As for the menu, Konbi’s original tri-cut sandwiches are all available at the new location, including its Instagram-famous egg salad with its exposed yolks, as well as its classic egg omelet, pork katsu, and eggplant katsu iterations. A more recently added tuna sandwich, featuring tuna salad made with nori mayo and studded with bits of cucumber and pickled celery, is also on offer, and a sandwich the team is calling the TLC (that would be seasoned farmers’ market tomatoes, lettuce, and chashu made with pork belly from Peads & Barnetts) is in the works.
For now, sandwiches are still being made on Bub & Grandma’s bread, but Konbi will be making its own milk bread at this location in the next few weeks, a move motivated by Bub & Grandma’s expansion and need for more space (Montgomery notes that founder Andy Kadin has been very helpful in offering direction on Konbi’s bread production). The team is working on new composed rice dishes as well, to satisfy more gluten-free eaters.
Perhaps the real scoop at this new location: gelato-style ice cream, which has been in development for a year. Konbi Culver City launches with six flavors of homemade ice cream today, ramping up to eight soon. (The original location has a couple of flavors as well.) This week sees vanilla, chocolate, coffee, houjicha honey caramel swirl, and chocolate mixed with bits of crispy croissant, all made with Clover Farms dairy. Dairy-free options include strawberry sorbet, as well as an impossibly creamy dairy-free pistachio ice cream, which uses pistachio oil for richness and sencha tea for depth of flavor. Housemade regular and vegan waffle cones are available.
Pastries include the classics, such as Konbi’s well-known croissants and caneles, but there’s also a new ham-and-cheese croissant sandwich here, featuring a double-baked croissant filled with peppery bechamel, Comte cheese, and ham, and crisped up with Parmesan cheese on its crunchy exterior. Other additions include a corn custard tart topped with Andy’s Orchard nectarines, as well as a take on bostock made with laminated dough instead of brioche. The dough is soaked in juice from roasted strawberries and toasted. It’s then spread with sesame frangipane and topped on one side with jammed roasted strawberries and fresh-cut strawberries, and whipped mascarpone with Meyer lemon on the other, pastry chef Kiyoshi Tsukamoto explains.
There will be a more extensive tea selection here too, with more Kettl teas and pour-over options, as well as a new warm spiced tea latte. That said, this location is not serving espresso drinks, seeing as Go Get ‘Em Tiger and other coffee spots are within walking distance.
Konbi’s Culver City location is open Wednesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 10000 Washington Blvd., with more days planned in September.