Jordan Kahn's new restaurant Vespertine - Spring 2017 / Culver City


That was quick, all the food pics are gone now.


I fail to understand the backlash to Kahn’s no picture policy.

How is this any different than respecting an itamae’s presentation of sushi by not drowning the nigiri in a pool of soy-wasabi paste?

Or even Yoon’s no ketchup policy at Father’s Office?

If a person really can’t abstain from taking photographs for even one meal, I think the problem is more of a you problem than a Jordan Kahn or Vespertine one.


I’m not against the no picture policy, but “drowning the nigiri in a pool of soy-wasabi paste” is different.

It’s similar in that it’s the chef’s house rule, but an instruction against overapplyiing condiments is qualitatively different than a no photo policy.

“Drowning” sushi in wasabi soy makes it unbalanced and ends up erasing any distinction for what made ostensibly good sushi in the first place. The nigiri falls apart and the rice becomes too wet and too salty. The neta’s flavors, which are often delicate, are almost certainly going to be washed out. It effectively lays waste whatever good sushi there was to begin with and diminishes one’s ability to appreciate what’s being offered. Even if the diner doesn’t know or care about the textures or flavors, or even likes extra soy wasabi, drowning the sushi may be perceived to some extent as a disregard for the chef’s skills, as if to say that the sushi needed some real correcting.

On the other hand, nothing about taking a picture - particularly if it’s done quickly and discreetly - necessarily diminishes the food presented at Vespetine, or wherever. A picture can be taken in literally two seconds, and it does not really detract from one’s ability to enjoy the food as presented. I could imagine that the no photo policy is more about not spoiling the surprise for others, or rather to reserve knowledge of the food experience to those who have the ability to be affected by all of the other aspects - the music, the architecture, etc .

I think both rules are fine, but they are nonetheless different.


First off, I am a hopeless shutterbug. If I was allowed to take photos during my experience at Vespertine, I am not really sure I would have been “in the present” enough to enjoy the meal in the way the chef and his team intended for the diner to enjoy it ('cuz the whole Vespertine thing is so “out there” in every way, I’d be snapping away all freaking night). Photo-taking would have diminished my true enjoyment of the meal.


I think this is a distinction without a meaningful difference. The itamae does not want you to drown sushi in soy-wasabi paste because it will ruin his creation. In a sushi place, everything is about the purity of the taste experience. Presumably Jordan Kahn views it as equally important in his restaurant for people to be surprised by the food and have a sense of wonder. He wants it to be an immersive experience–one that is detracted from if you have already seen all of his tricks in pictures. I think the analogy is apt and don’t get the complaints about it either. I am still on team skeptical though–nothing about his food has ever made me think he can cook at a level to justify this price point.

I think the real distinction–if we’re being honest–is in who is making the request. It’s one thing to respect the sushi etiquette requests from a sushi master. I think people see requests from Jordan Kahn, a guy famous primarily for throwing a critic out of his restaurant (which went out of business) and talking about how his food is from another planet, and they can hardly roll their eyes enough.


I think it’s also to allow them to be more creative on a day to day basis. If someone posted a picture of an appetizer topped with salmon roe and a slice of yuzu, and then someone went there and got the same appetizer but it was topped with black caviar and a slice of kumquat, you’d see all these negative reviews on Yelp about how “I went here because I love appetizers with salmon roe and yuzu, but imagine how upset I was when I got black caviar and kumquat instead. Come here if you like to be disappointed!”

The element of surprise and bring able to tweak dishes as they want, not to mention they want people to come eat their food, and pay attention to it, without taking 17 pictures and editing them and posting them before taking a bite. “My entree was cold, but oops, did I mention I let it sit there for 10 minutes while I took pictures and posted it to Snapchat?”

I think if you go to a restaurant with rules, then you agree to those rules when you walk through that door.


spoiler alert, depressiong haute cuisine for melancholy aesthetes:


I think I’ve just confirmed this style of cooking (“new nordic”?) is not for me.


The top photo, which also appears further down as an “aperitif” is of a passion flower:


Infatuation “review”:

The comment from Brancon in the above-linked article is humorous:

Not to take Vespertine’s side or anything, but the people at Infatuation LA are pretty cretinous when it comes to food. They have “basic b*tch tastes,” if you will. Those dining room shots on Moss’s site look god-awful, though. It really is the “regrettable arrangement” that the Hollywood Reporter review talks about.

_Posted on Aug 10, 2017 | 12:26 PM

A good friend of mine went last week and said that while he doesn’t have a desire to return, it was 100% worth the experience. His favorite restaurant in LA remains N/Naka, FWIW.


Imagine listening to and taking Infatuation seriously… yikes


That is the most non-informative restaurant review sentence I’ve read in a while.


That is actually a characterization of the Infatuaton reviewers from a reader.


Okay, I’ll rephrase.

That is the most non-informative comment of a restaurant review website I’ve read in a while.


Read more then cause there’s a lot worse out there.


having read this thread, and that on twitter earlier today, there seems to be a lot more interest in the coverage of the restaurant (and the comments thereof) than the restaurant itself. which i get, nobody can afford informative comments.


Going at the end of the month.


It’s like Willie Wonka’s candy factory.


I’m hearing the food just isn’t very good. The description (bland and kind of mushy) reminds me of my lunch at Destroyer. Sad because I am – or was – a big Kahn fan when he was at Red Medicine.


I have to say, I am enjoying the discourse around the restaurant, and not in a anticipatory schadenfreude sort of way .I reflect on “modernist” restaurants that I have enjoyed (Alinea, Ko, Benu, é by José Andrés). Sure, there were a lot of party tricks at play. But at the bottom line, the food at each was superdelicious. And presented with a sense of enjoyment. The little bit of field reports I have been catching don’t really speak to the flavor of the food as much as they do the austerity of the place. I will be curious to see what Gold and Rodell have to say. Hell, I’d like to see what the usually effusive kevinEats posts. What I would give for that Pete Wells treatment though…