Bel Air, CA 90077
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Nestled in the canyons of Bel Air, Shu is a dining experience like no other -- a fusion of Japanese, Italian and Latin flavors and influences.
Shu is the brainchild of Giacomino Drago, the well-known restaurateur and chef of several restaurants including Il Pastaio and Piccolo Paradiso in Beverly Hills, and Mauricio Oberfeld, a young real estate developer. Drago and Oberfeld set out to completely transform the former location of a Japanese restaurant in the Beverly Glen Center in Bel Air into Shu Sushi House Unico. For the partners, coming up with the name was an exercise in linguistics. “We loved the word ‘Unico’ which means unique in both Spanish and Italian, and ‘Shu’ means ‘a place of gathering’ in Japanese, so we thought that Shu was a perfect acronym for Sushi House Unico,” says Oberfeld.
The menu features traditional dishes as well as signature offerings, inspired by Drago’s love of blending Japananse, Italian and Latin cuisines. “As it is, there are a lot of similarities between Italian and Japanese food,” says Drago. “Both offer their versions of carpaccios and sashimis, or fish and seafood, rice and pastas.”
Shu has brought award-winning chef Kenny Yamada, of Katsu-ya fame, to their new restaurant in Bel Air. Yamada will serve dishes including halibut carpaccio with sundried tomato salad, Kobe beef sashimi, albacore shashimi with shaved truffles, salmon wrapped papaya finished with osetra caviar, and crab and mozzarella cheese tempura.
Tag Front (designers of the Boa Steakhouses, The Ivar, Paladar, and Nacional) was commissioned to invent a space that was contemporary and classy, but not too trendy. The designers combined elements of stone and wood throughout the restaurant, mixing the earthy extremes of texture and feel, from rough to smooth, and from cool to warm. The restaurant is approximately 1,800 square feet and will seat about sixty people. Soon a second floor dining room will be available for private parties of between twelve and fourteen people.
A gorgeous curved ceiling made of walnut slats arcs from front to back, where it ends above the second floor level. The bar, which seats up to ten people, was created from hand-chiseled and torched granite, with a large slab of walnut cut from a single tree. The upstairs private dining room is separated from the main dining room by an image of a large Buddha applied on glass which overlooks the entire restaurant. There is a special booth that seats six people, enclosed within a bamboo-laced screen.
The food is of the highest quality, yet pricing is moderate. Shu’s environment is well-suited to singles, couples and families. The design team went to great lengths to create a space that minimizes crowd noise while providing a pleasant and appetizing background music level.
Kenny Yamada, of Katsu-ya fame
Phone: (310) 474-2740
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