Having never been to the old Ssam or even Bazaar, I plunged for Somni since a friend of mine wanted to experience what the high end LA dining scene is like. I figure that the restaurant’s unique combination of casual fun and playful vibe, along with its exclusive chef’s counter seatings, will fit the bill. Ultimately, I was not mistaken.
Parking: Valet’s the way to go since Somni will give you a complimentary validation.
Service: Stupendously friendly and engaging. Simply flaweless.
Summary: Is there a more whimsical experience than Somni in LA? I think not. A mind numbing array of 27 “courses”, or amuse bouches as I would prefer to call them, are beautifully plated and served at an ridiculously consistent and precise pace. At its best, Somni’s performance is a tour de force in seamlessly blending together familiar flavors and surprising textures with a dizzying number of modernist techniques, giving birth to masterpieces of edible art one after another.
But however well oiled an machine is, flaws are inevitable. Take the dry and chalky pork course that even an Outback Steakhouse would put to shame. Or what about Somni’s interpretation of pizza margherita? It’s no doubt fun and mind-bending with a crunchy yet spongy meringue replacing the traditional dough crust and intensely tomato-y dehydrated tomato standing in for a tomato sauce…but does the end product ultimately taste better? Or it’s perhaps more satisfying than a good old Neapolitan slice? This theme of presenting familiar flavors with a unique presentation and unexpected textures is something that I can see a guest potentially having a hard time to grapple with.
To me? I came away with one transcendental course and a memorable night.
Highlights: santa barbara spot prawn, shiso & tartare, ensaimada, turbot & tea
Upon entering the restaurant, a gracious host leads you through the music blasting Bazaar, to a somewhat secluded area exclusively for guests of Somni to enjoy their trio of snacks.
The evening then begins with a welcome aperitif.
2015 Weingut Knauß Schwarzriesling Zero
raspberry leaf, powder sugar, wasabi
almond shell, almond candy, praline, lemon pith
oak “tree”, potato, thyme, black garlic
Moving on to the main performance…
this evening’s first edible cocktail
raspberry tart with tarragon
chicken skin and liver mousse
somni’s pizza with a crunchy but spongy meringue and dehydrated tomato. it’s whimsical but they really should’ve given me a real slice instead
beets, yogurt and horseradish
gazpacho with a touch of cherry for added color and sweetness
santa barbara spot prawn
the picture doesn’t do justice to this ginormous binchotan grilled medium-rare spot prawn…one of highlight of the evening
absolutely scrumptious and the wagyu tartare simply melts away on your palate while contrasting with the feather light crunch of the shiso tempura
seeds of life
“egg” on egg action
here’s your bread course. parmesan butter is paired with warm, fluffy, and buttery brioche wrapping itself around deeply caramelized onion
how often do you get to eat your cocktail?
hearts of palm and white asparagus
kohlrabi and snap peas
pea season + handpicked peas + truffle = an automatic winner
crab, black garlic and coconut
the crab tomalley infused coconut sauce is the real star of this dish
favas and jamon
not my jam…jamon infused tea didn’t work for me alongside the favas, morels, and artichoke
turbot and tea
forget about the turbot infused tea…the absolute star of this evening is this aged and binchotan grilled turbot wing…concentrated flavor, tender/fatty af, and it’s lightly smoky with a glazed of house-made teriyaki sauce
this sous vided suckling pig disappoints…skin’s crispy bu the meat is dry. no amount of complex 3,000+ days mole from the venerable pujol on the plate can save this tragedy
cow and her milk
the pungent machego is countered with sweet melon notes, savory hazelnut crea, and a mystery puree
fresas con nata
great use of unripened white strawberries to give acidity and crunchy texture to balance the sweetness of the strawberry sorbet and sauce
edible piña colada
immensely crunchy pastry
Program is presented at the end of the performance
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048