Michelin adds six restaurants to its California guide — and three of them are in L.A. County

Michelin additions

In preview of Michelin’s 2023 update to its California-wide dining guide, the international gustatory compendium that ranks restaurants from one to three stars, added six new restaurants to the state guide this month.

In addition to stars, Michelin also awards businesses with nods for value and affordability (Bib Gourmands) as well as noteworthy openings; the six additions to the California guide — three of which are in the Los Angeles area — could mean they’ll garner any of these notations in the 2023 update.

Downtown’s yakiniku-style, wagyu-focused Japanese restaurant Niku X is now in the state’s Michelin guide; as is Leona’s Sushi House, a Studio City sushi bar, robataya and Japanese fusion spot from Matsuhisa and Asanebo vet Shigenori Fujimoto. City of Industry’s Sushi Yuen, which specializes in edomae sushi and ryori-style kaiseki, is also a newcomer. Other new entries include Laguna Beach’s Selanne Steak Tavern, San Diego’s Mabel’s Gone Fishing and San Francisco’s Basang.

Niku X executive chef Shin Thompson heard the news of his restaurant’s inclusion via a co-worker, then began seeing comments and congratulations pour in over social media.

“It's great that we're being recognized, it's more eyes on the restaurant and what we do,” Thompson said. “I'm happy that they noticed that we're here, and a lot of people read the Michelin guide and follow what they're posting, so it's great for us in terms of the business value that it brings.”

Thompson has seen the Michelin effect firsthand. His now-closed Chicago restaurant Bonsoirée garnered one Michelin star in both 2011 and 2012, and the chef says he noticed guests traveling from far-off locales to dine at the restaurant. He credits the dining compendium not only as a new source of exposure but also as a beacon for kitchen talent. Being acknowledged by Michelin, Thompson says, often helps to attract career-oriented, “high-level employees.”

The fully updated California guide is slated for release later this year.


An overhead photo of lamb chops and the chicken lule kabob in white styrofoam containers
The opening of Canoga Park's sprawling new food hall will mark the first expansion of Mini Kabob beyond Glendale. (Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Topanga Social

Two dozen restaurants, coffee shops, bars and pop-ups are headed to a new food hall in Canoga Park this spring, when Topanga Social opens at the Westfield Topanga shopping center. The 50,000-square-foot food hall will host three bars — including a “margarita garden” — and a range of food vendors including first-time expansions for some of L.A.’s most lauded restaurants. Glendale’s Mini Kabob, an L.A. Times 101 list awardee, will be opening an outpost in Topanga Social, as will West 3rd Street’s Slab barbecue; Chinatown’s Katsu Sando and Amboy Quality Burgers; West Hollywood’s Dtown Pizzeria; Hollywood’s Mad Lab Coffee; and former Smorgasburg vendor Shrimp Daddy with its first permanent location, among others.

6600 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park, eatplaytopangasocial.com

Sur Le Vert

A new wine bar from the team behind Tabula Rasa is now open in Beverly Hills with a green-hued interior; a range of international wines and craft beers; and a selection of crudos, snacks, sandwiches and entrées — one of which is an ode to the building’s previous tenant, chef Thomas Keller. Sur Le Vert is housed on the ground floor of what was the cafe at Tommy’s of Beverly Hills and, before that, Keller’s Bar Bouchon, with a small patio that overlooks a green space.

Owners and operators Nicole Dougherty and Zach Negin tapped Ben Stephens, also of Tabula Rasa, to head the food program, which offers dishes such as a chopped salad in verjus vinaigrette; kanpachi crudo in calamansi vinegar and Greek olive oil; burrata with grilled bread; a seared dry-aged steak with herbed mustard butter; chocolate crémeux with jasmine whipped cream; and a nod to Bouchon’s beloved grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. When it comes to the wine selection, Sur Le Vert offers a tight list of classic and low- to no-intervention wines by the glass and bottle from France, Germany, Italy, Austria, California and beyond, tailored to the neighborhood.

“We want to make sure that while we're honoring our ethos of natural wine, minimal intervention, highlighting female winemakers and unique grapes from not-so-common areas, we also want to make sure that we're speaking to and providing this neighborhood with what they want,” Dougherty said. Both Negin and Dougherty say that Beverly Hills is “open and ready” to embrace independent winemakers and natural wine, and have incorporated a few skin-contact options and pours that might be a bit more introductory to experimental wines than what guests can find at Tabula Rasa. Expect the wine menu to rotate frequently. Sur Le Vert is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 431-9636, instagram.com/surlevertwinebar

An overhead photo of kanpachi crudo in olive oil and calamansi vinegar on marble with a glass of white wine to the side
Sur Le Vert, the new wine bar from the team behind Tabula Rasa, serves a tight menu of bar snacks, sandwiches and crudos such as kanpachi in olive oil and calamansi vinegar. (Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

Baroo to return

Chef Kwang Uh’s announcement of Baroo’s closure sent ripples through L.A.’s food scene in 2018. The boundary-pushing Korean restaurant specializing in fermentations and culinary experimentations was lauded by a range of critics both local and national, including Jonathan Gold, who called it magical and “a taste of the future.” This year it’s set to return in a new location and with a new format.

“We're really excited because Baroo has evolved over the years since we closed,” said Mina Park, co-owner of the restaurant and Uh's wife. “We thought we were going to do basically a larger version of the old casual Baroo, but after it took so long, we figured that if we were going to do Baroo, we should just do it exactly the way that we always dreamed of doing: Rather than the casual one, we're just going to do a more kind of relaxed fine dining.”

The duo hope to open the retooled Baroo in late June in the Arts District, in the former home of Bao Hiroo. The pair hope that a tasting-menu format will help them to control their operating costs and limit food waste as well as expand upon the style and flavor profiles that Uh developed in the original location. Since the closure, and during the pandemic especially, Uh has been studying the traditional Korean concept of saju-myungri, or the balance of the five elements, and plans to showcase this practice through dishes made and inspired by wood, fire, water, metal and earth or soil, in the new location.

“This is kind of what Korean traditional medicine is based in,” Park said. “Korean astrology, fortune-telling, feng shui and things like that all sort of stem from this framework, and we want to reflect those principles in the food.”

The new Baroo will offer an omnivore’s tasting menu, as well as a vegan option inspired by temple cooking, and is expected to offer beer and wine alongside its tasting menu across its roughly 45 seats. For a more casual taste of Uh and Park’s cooking, their quick and casual Korean food stall, Shiku, opened in Grand Central Market in 2021 and continues to operate.

905 E. 2nd St., #109, Los Angeles, baroolosangeles.com

Pizzana Silver Lake

Using generational recipes and a decades-old familial dough starter transported from Italy, one of L.A.’s most popular pizza spots is now open in Silver Lake. Pizzana — from Candace and Charles Nelson (Sprinkles Cupcakes) and chef Daniele Uditi — is an L.A. Times 101 list awardee known for its “neo-Neapolitan” pies; its newest location was initially slated to open last fall, but instead it launches tonight in the former Vive la Tarte space with roughly 25 seats, a new, unique pizza and the brand’s signature dishes from Uditi, who grew up cooking at his family’s bakery in Caserta.

“I've been blessed so much to open up a spot in Los Angeles,” Uditi said. “I never thought that it would grow to become what it's becoming; the core is to keep it always artisanal and al dente. We still do the dough by hand, and the question is: 'Why don't you buy a machine?' Well, 'Why don't you guys mind your own business?' That's the only way I got taught from my auntie to make the dough and it says a lot about the flavor of the pizza.”

It marks the fourth — but not final — location in Los Angeles. With a bit more kitchen space, Uditi hopes to host more events such as his pasta nights, which routinely sell out in minutes; collabs such as a focaccia-and-cheese night with the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills; and even live music. “I see this place more like a vibey, neighborhood spot,” Uditi said, “and people in Silver Lake are very cool.”

The menu of Pizzana’s newest locale will mirror that of the other three, including pizzas, salads, seasonal small plates and desserts, with the addition of a new, unique-to-Silver Lake pizza inspired by puttanesca and featuring marinated heirloom farmers market tomatoes, olives and Cetara anchovies. Beer, wine and cocktails are expected to follow soon. Pizzana Silver Lake is open Monday to Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m.; Friday from 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday from noon to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.

3515 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, pizzana.com

A man in a black shirt stands outside a black-and-blue restaurant that says "Pizzana." Palm trees reflect in the windows
Pizzana chef Daniele Uditi stands outside his new Silver Lake restaurant, which opens its doors this week. (Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

El Cholo, squared

In celebration of its centennial and after decades of accolades, El Cholo — one of L.A.’s best classic Mexican restaurants — is receiving a new honor: its own intersection. On March 30, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles City Council will rename the nexus of Western Avenue and 11th Street, where the original El Cholo is located, to Alejandro and Rosa Borquez Square in ode to the restaurant’s founders.

1121 S. Western Ave., Los Angeles, elcholo.com

Coachella dining

Indio’s most famous annual music festival has yet to announce the event’s full lineup of 2023 food vendors, but those planning their Coachella dining can currently book a meal through the Outstanding in the Field dinner series, which will run in the VIP rose garden both weekends (April 14-16, 21-23). Participating chefs include Baja’s Javier Plascencia (Jazamango, Finca Altozano); Santa Monica’s Zarah Khan (Rustic Canyon); and Tolu "Eros" Erogbogbo (Ilé). Tickets to the family-style alfresco meal, served at a 200-seat table, run $350 and include a four-course meal, cocktails, wine and beer, and early admission to the VIP section the day of the event.


This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.