When you decide to embark upon the type of meal that n/naka offers, you make a decision to let go and be taken on an emotional journey by experiencing food as an art using all of your senses. Taste oh yes, but before taste, there is so much thought that goes into expressing each individual dish in it’s most simple form.
An avid watcher of the Netflix series, Chef’s Table, I became enamored with Chef Niki Nakayama and her thoughtful expressive dishes; her poetic dishes touching me in a way that I NEEDED to experience her restaurant. As you may imagine, a seat at her intimate restaurant isn’t readily available. They only take reservations online at 10am every Sunday for exactly 3 months in advance. After 6 months of jockeying for a table online (it’s tricky), I finally had reservations, 3 months in the future. Needless to say, this was a much anticipated meal.
A fusion of traditional keiseki and seasonal California fare, n/naka’s menu is comprised of 13 courses each delicately curated to express the flavors in their most simple complimentary form. From the first bite of kumamoto oyster w/ crispy shiitake and vinegar gelatin to the cauliflower custard reminiscent of the best version of my grandmom’s green bean casserole this was definitively the most thoughtful meal of my life. Chef Nakayama even cares so much about your experience that they track each dish you were served and make sure, should you return, you will never have the same exact experience. Each dish I tasted was everything, I was transfixed in that moment in pure delight.
Since I was there to enjoy the experience and didn’t want to alter it completely by being picky about pictures, I didn’t capture photos of each item, but these will make your mouth water just enough.