[RESTAURANT REVIEW] Here’s Looking at You

Stracciatella cheese, pepita, yuzu kosho, perilla and charred bread from Here’s Looking at You. Photo: T. Tseng // flickr Creative Commons

Koreatown isn’t just for Korean restaurants anymore, and as a new breed of restaurants like Commissary and Le Comptoir are showing, it’s where some of the freshest ideas are incubating.

Here’s Looking at You is as sassy as its name, inspired by a postcard message. Run by former Animal chef Jonathan Whitener and Lien Ta, who managed the inventive, influential restaurant, it has a similar sensibility and price point, though the menu skews slightly more seafood.

Like Animal, it’s a casual, lively atmosphere, with a compact menu of small plates that show strong attention to layering flavors and creative combinations of ingredients.

Inside, the 6th Street storefront looks a little like your friend’s kitchen if he or she happened to be a cheeky young chef. Hand-lettered signs here and there admonish diners not to disturb the pickles in progress or not to touch the books on display near the front desk. The cocktail menu includes a $26 mai tai made with aged rum, which had better be the best mai tai ever. We can’t tell you whether it’s worth it, but the rest of the cocktails are elaborately constructed and absolutely delicious, like the bracingly refreshing Beachfront Property and the musky Giving Lily made with mescal’s cousin, Sotol. The menu just switched over to new spring drinks, with names like Superbloom and Beast of Bourbon.

The menu is divided into vegetables, fish and meat and poultry rather than entrees and mains. From the vegetable side, stracciatella cheese comes with charred bread and there are several salads including a generous bowl of market lettuces with a Mexican influence with cotija cheese, corn kernels and shreds of bread.

Seafood plates include a silky Scottish salmon crudo that starts the meal with a bright, fresh note. Baby octopus tentacles are perfectly tender, though the dish’s base of rich potato puree nearly overwhelms.

One of the stars of the menu is Red Wattle pork belly showered with herbs and shallots. Bits of pineapple are strewn around the plate and the explosion of herbal, spicy and tangy flavors matches the best Thai dishes, only with higher quality meat.

A hand-painted sign behind the bar teases strawberry-rhubarb pie, but it’s only served at the bar. If you want to stay at the table, the yuzu tart is popular. Or get a little crazy with the milk chocolate dessert with sunchokes and squid ink meringue.

This place has a sense of humor and it’s perfectly of a piece with the new breed of L.A. restaurants.

Here’s Looking at You

3901 W. 6th St.

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