Let the Subscription Run Out – Bon Appetit’s Restaurant Picks

bon appetit magazine september 2005 america's top 5 restaurant cities
About a week ago, I put together my thoughts about GQ’s July 2005 issue (Jessica Simpson!) that had Alan Richman’s list of the 20 Burgers You Must Eat Before You Die, but held off on attacking the subject of Bon Appetit’s September restaurant issue because I just didn’t want to get all over-heated. No, I’m not upset that they left Los Angeles out of their Top Five Restaurant Cities in the US. I’m not necessarily patting the editors on the back for it, but I’ve never though LA to be a true “food” city to begin with. From West to East, Bon Appetit chose San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, New Orleans, and New York. I’ll admit that the choice of Vegas surprised me, but only a little, as many a great chef has opened a restaurant in Sin City, and if I ignore the Treasure Island buffet, then I’ll give them Vegas. ;)

bon appetit september 2005 issue, top five restaurant cities
i’m okay with vegas, as long as they don’t mention “buffet”

And I have to say that I was happy to see that Bon Appetit did acknowledge LA for some of it culinary merits. Sure, we have embarassing celebrity restaurants like Chi and Dolce, but we also have an incredible patchwork quilt of ethnic neighborhoods that basically allow a person to eat all over the globe without ever setting flight on a plane. But don’t think that doesn’t mean you don’t have to travel for a bit. Katmandu Kitchen may be closer in miles than the Himalayas, but if you’re starting from Pasadena, it’ll still take you 45 minutes to get to Nepalese food. ;)

bon appetit september 2005 issue, la in the raw - sushi
la for sushi – no argument

No, I had no issue with the issue, and in fact, completely agreed with their claim that LA can’t be beat for sushi. Please, no arguments here. That’s just a fact. No issue with the issue, until…I actually opened to the article and saw not one, but two photos, and read their praises of Geisha House, I almost…wept. Geisha House. Geisha House?! I was stunned. Not only did Condé Nasty list Geisha House as one of the 80 Hottest Tables Around the World, but now a magazine that I read and respect and look to for fun and food, has identified Geisha House as “L.A.’s sushi restaurant of the moment.” Oh, BA, do you now see the Geisha for what it really is behind all that makeup?

I suppose it sounds like I am very very bitter. I’m not. Really. In fact, I don’t hate Geisha House as much as you would think. I will most certainly not argue that Geisha House is trendy. The gazilliion dollar almost-to-the-point-of-gaudy decor, the beautiful people not eating at the tables and not eating at the bar, all make it a fun place to see and be seen. The problem I have is more with Bon Appetit. A food magazine calling Geisha House out for their food? Did they look around and just not eat like everyone else there (Geisha House is in Hollywood, after all) and not taste how so very mediocre and *eh* the sushi was? *sigh*

“L.A.’s sushi restaurant of the moment.” Of the moment. At least you’re right about that.

Here are the rest of B.A’s picks:

NEIGHBORHOOD SUSHI (3 out of 4 in the Valley!)

8385 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA


11680 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA

Sushi Nozawa
11288 Ventura Boulevard, Suite C
Studio City, CA

Tama Sushi
11920 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA


Geisha House
6633 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA


730 N. La Cienega Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA


Sushi Ike
6051 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA

Sushi Roku
8445 West 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA


The Hump
Santa Monica Airport
3221 Donald Douglas Loop, 3rd Floor
Santa Monica, CA

Mori Sushi
11500 West Olympic Boulevard
West Los Angeles, CA

8684 Melrose Avenue
West Hollywood, CA

218 N. Rodeo Drive (@ Wilshire Boulevard)
Beverly Hills, CA

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  • Clare Eats

    see this is why you should be writing for them instead

    :P to them

  • Shauna

    I’ve heard of Geisha House from my LA friends, but only with disdain. Please, they got so much wrong in that piece. And where are the paens to Seattle restaurants that should have been there? I’ve actually lost my taste for Bon Appetit this year. I’m with you–let the subscription run out. I learn FAR more from other food bloggers than from them.

    And by the way, I still don’t think Las Vegas deserved to be in there!

  • NS

    I don’t know what’s going on with the BA editors. As I noted on my own blog last week, they inexplicably identified the San Francisco Ferry Building – which contains restaurants that are average at best — as proof why SF is one of the country’s Top 5 restaurant cities, completely ignoring the many other reasons they could/should have cited. Bizarre.

  • sarah

    aw, clare, so glad you’re passing through! actually, i think i would love to edit a food magazine, but i don’t think i have the s**t to actually write. LOL!

    lacheesemonger: gosh! you found all those pictures of me on the web! and i thought i was being sly by going by my alias, hyori ;)

    shauna: actually, i decided not to renew my subscription last year after a few suspicious stories, though i can’t remember sepcifically. the mag has good recipes, but they’re always available online anyway. LOL!

    ns: at the risk of sounding a bit snobby…perhaps the editors of BA are just trying to reach out to a wider audience? i’m not quite sure wht they’d want to do that anyway. *sigh* oh well.

  • sarah

    oh, and by the way, i’ve always thought of seattle as quite notable as a food city, and was surprised that it wasn’t on the list ;)

  • Anonymous

    Silly question, folks. Does Geisha House serve otoro?

  • Mell CH

    It looks like the menu on their website http://www.geishahousehollywood.com has “Toro” on the menu, but it doesn’t specify o-toro, chu-toro, etc.

  • sarah

    aaahhh! what perfect timing! i’m about to do some poking around about different “types” of sushi fish – you know, how maguro and toro are both tuna, but different parts, etc. so hopefully someone can comment on:

    1) the different tuna bellies (toro)
    2) the different hamachis
    3) what is hirame vs. other names for what seems like the same thing

    and any other types of commono sushi

  • Miss M.

    The September issue of LA Magazine lists their choices for the top 15 sushi restaurants in LA. I thought the list was pretty accurate (if not a bit pricey!). They also have cute tidbits about sushi history and dining etiquette as well as descriptions of the fish used in sushi! I subscribe, so I don’t know if it’s on newsstands yet, but check it out when you see it (it has the folks from Grey’s Anatomy on the cover).

  • sarah

    thanks for the tip, miss m!

    in fact, sushi is becoming quite the hot topic these days! gq also talks about l.a. as top food city (around the world, even!) because of japanese food availability here, and i just got tipped off from another food blog friend about the september issue of food and wine!

  • Anonymous

    Aside from Geisha House, which you seem to hate, have you actually eaten at any of the other ones on this list? I would hope so, since you’re commenting so negatively on their choices.

  • Anonymous

    What do a bunch of non-native Manhattanites working in a Conde Naste office know about the best food in Los Angeles anyway?

    Los Angeles has world-class Asian and Latin food that is light years cheaper (and better produce) than anything in Las Vegas, NYC, etc.

  • Anonymous

    I also have much disdain for Geisha House! That place has old, overpriced sushi. This is not a place to eat, only lounge and drink. Even that gets old when being snubbed and ignored by the waiters.

  • Anonymous

    Sarah, the grade level for tuna belly are as follows:
    1) O-toro (like buttah!)
    2) Chu-toro
    3) Toro

    I rarely find o-toro. I like tuna belly so much that I can’t afford to finish my meal with other types of fish!

  • eric_siry

    Hey Sarah! I was a graphic designer at BA when this issue came out, and in fact, I designed the LA sushi story. I recall that we decided to open with a big photo of Geisha House just because it was so visual, but we also put in photos of a more mainstream restaurant and a little out-of-the-way place on the second page. We wanted to show a range of restaurant styles, but the splashier photo usually gets the prime real estate. :) (By the way, as a designer, I had nothing to do with the choice of restaurants or cities.)

    I found this post when I was googling up BA’s phone number. Sadly, your blog reminds me of just how much I loved LA, which I had to leave too soon…


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