For the past five years, the towering space on the fifth floor of Japan House in Hollywood has hosted pop-ups and special dinners highlighting Japanese cuisine here in Los Angeles. Now the restaurant will permanently become a kaiseki destination called Uka under the direction of celebrated chefs Yoshitaka Mitsue and Shingo Kato, who will occupy the 30-seat restaurant and tasting counter with one of the highest-end expressions of Japanese cuisine in town in early June 2023. With a nine-course kaiseki priced at around $300 per person (before tip and tax), with available wine and sake pairings at $120 per person, Uka is poised to become the most rarefied Japanese food experience in Hollywood, certainly aiming for Michelin recognition in the coming months and years.
Japan House has been a multi-level showcase for design, culture, and food sponsored by the Japanese government, with additional locations in London and São Paulo. Years ago, sushi chef Morihiro Onodera used the venue as a launchpad, starting with a sushi pop-up called Inn Ann that he morphed into his namesake Michelin-star omakase restaurant in Atwater Village. More recently, a ramen pop-up last summer served various styles of noodle soups while last winter the space hosted a modern kaiseki from Hiroo Nagahara, a chef who operated the Chairman Truck in San Francisco and Bao Hiroo in LA’s Arts District.
However, Uka is a departure from the roving pop-up style operation, settling into something more lasting in order to establish the somewhat difficult-to-access floor into a bona fide dining destination. Expect nine courses, including dashi; savoy egg custard with uni, egg yolk, and fresh wasabi grated tableside; and aged Washugyu ribeye and filet mignon with burdock sauce. Similar to what other kaiseki restaurants like N/Naka and Hayato have brought to Los Angeles, Uka aims for an intricate, beautifully plated display of Japanese ingredients (though California ingredients will also play a role). Kaiseki in its highest forms is celebrated across Japan with detailed, seasonal tasting menus based on local ingredients, but can be more difficult to see in the U.S. The name Uka refers to Ukanomitama-no-Kami, the god of grain and fertility.
The restaurant’s interior didn’t need a lot of adjustment, with its gray colors and natural tones already designed for a sleek, minimalist look. In the evening, the bright lights of Hollywood are on full display thanks to its high-level perch atop Ovation Hollywood (previously known as Hollywood & Highland). Mitsue and Kato will weave between sashimi, prepared dishes, traditional Japanese dishes, and a finale of Western-style tweezer-type desserts that one would expect at two or three Michelin-star establishments in Tokyo or Kyoto. Both Mitsue and Kato come with extensive fine dining backgrounds in Japan and France and were most recently the private chefs for the Japanese ambassador to the U.N.
Reservations for Uka at 6801 Hollywood Boulevard will be required and will be listed on Tock beginning June 8.