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Take a Long Lunch at Niku X: The Best Japanese Spot in DTLA

Japan is calling and we’re answering by taking a culinary deep dive! We already know that Niku X in Los Angeles is a DTLA hotspot. The Japanese gastronomical experience, with a Michelin backing, is nested on the second floor of the Wilshire Grand Center, and is now catering to all the lunchtime girlies! We’re happy to report they just opened up their menu to the business lunch crowd and it still hits on all culinary notes. We just visited the restaurant for lunch (which was the perfect way to celebrate a joint birthday nonetheless) and had an incredible two-hour-long Yakiniku (aka grilled meat) and Sake tasting experience which blew our eyes and taste buds away. With their unsurpassable cuisine and service, this praised lunch and dinner destination will charm your stilettos off. So without further ado, here’s the full scoop on everything we sipped on, sampled, and saw at Niku X in LA.

The Vibe

We took the train to Niku X at got off at the 7th street/Figueroa Metro Station, then crossed the street to the restaurant. Niku X is located in the heart of the DTLA Financial District at 900 Wilshire Blvd Ste 212, Los Angeles, CA 90017. You can grab a table for lunch (11am-3pm) any day of the week except for Wednesday’s. FYI: if you rely on Google Maps, you may get lost in the lobby of the Intercontinental Hotel. Here’s a Pro-Tip: Niku X has a secret entrance on the corner of Wilshire and Figueroa. It is a staircase that seamlessly blends into the southeast entrance of the Grand Wilshire Center (a contemporary landmark). Climb a few stairs and you will find yourself in awe of a shimmering, mosaic-tiled entrance that sets the tone of Niku X: an intimate dining experience that is immersed in the coolness of the Wilshire Grand Center. 

From the start, the service was impeccable. In trendy, office siren attire, our hostess escorted us to a quiet table that leaned against floor-to-ceiling windows. Inspired by Sukiya-Zukuri architecture, the natural and rustic simplicity of the dining room paid homage to traditional Japanese tea houses. Although the bar was quiet during lunchtime, the colorful mural behind it made the room energetic and lively. Tall industrial ceilings helped those expansive window treatments do their thing.  An even overcast was shed across the low-lit dining room, creating cohesion between the warm wood tables, stone flooring, and impressive faux-wood screens. And with a south-facing view from Wilshire Boulevard, our table was illuminated by views of South Park in DTLA. Also, when making a resy, be sure to request Olivia as your server! She was knowledgeable of every ingredient and every item on the menu.

The Drinks

As an authentic Yakiniku restaurant, Niku X has an extensive selection of wine, spirits, and sake from Japan. Their lunch cocktail offerings are refreshing and flavor-forward, with Japanese-sourced ingredients (even the ice is from Japan…what?!!). To open up the palette with some fresh flavors, we suggest the “Zen Garden.” It has a coconut washed Cincoro Blanco (a rare Japanese Tequila). In the mood for something bubbly? Try their “Yuzu Sparkler!” Fresh raspberry and Yuzu is picked up with Haku Vodka and club soda. But no matter what you order, it’s impossible to make a bad choice: the drinks are so tasty and at a great price point.  Pro Tip: They don’t have happy hour, but drinks cost only $11-13 at lunch. And if you’re sitting at the bar, then you will be in good hands with their lead bartender, Joseph. As Sake novices, Joseph helped us navigate the bottle list with a gentle but generous approach: we sampled five different sakes on the menu before we settled on the Heavensake ‘Junmai Ginjo’. The Sake tasting really took our luncheon to the next level. The lithe, floral notes of the Heavensake were the perfect pairing for Niku X’s Lunch Prix-Fixe menu.

The Menu

Acclaimed Michelin starred Chef Shin Thompson brings Japanese-grown ingredients and multicultural flavors to create Yakiniku authenticity with a contemporary twist. His cosmopolitan take on East Asian fare is reflected in the restaurant’s design. The star of the experience at Niku X is their Lunch prix-fixe menu, which is only $45 per guest. With the savvy use of “ranch-to-table” ingredients and French nouvelle (new French-style) techniques,Chef Shin Thompson creates traditional Yakiniku (“grilled meat”) cuisine from a contemporary perspective. The Lunch prix-fixe includes a four-course meal with an appetizer, rice, beef (featuring 4 oz of Chef choice Wagyu beef), and vegetables.

For the first and second course, we took an ambitious start with a 16-layer Wagyu Tallow Potato Pave. Its sixteen layers of sliced, lightly baked potato and has a melt-in-your-mouth sensation, but sixteen times over! Our fabulous server, Olivia, says that the accompanied Shoyu Crème Fraîche tastes great with just about anything. This first course easily could’ve been the best menu item. For the second course, we ordered Japanese Curry Udon Noodles as an a-la-carte entree (it’s not included in the prix-fixe). Not a spice girl? No problem! The noodles have a tame heat that is more sweet than spicy. If you’re a sushi fan, then we recommend their fresh Salmon Crudo as an a-la-carte appetizer. It’s salmon sashimi layered over Asian pear and topped with decadent Schrenckii caviar and trout roe.

For our third and fourth course, we had Chef choice Wagyu top sirloin with miso asparagus and sweet peppers. This chef cut beef was the perfect addition to the umami flavors of the Udon Noodles. Also, to accompany the Wagyu top sirloin, we ordered the deep fried Brussel Sprouts a-la-carte. We also put in an order for the Sweet Corn with brown butter and apple miso for safe measure. Even as leftovers, the brown butter in the Sweet Corn left the dish tasting fresh and creamy. Saving the best for last, the Waygu Fried Rice was a serious crowd pleaser. First of all, it is prepared table-side. What could be better than lunch with a show? And the dish had passionate flavors. A mixture of garlic, shitake mushrooms, carrots, and bean sprouts was what did the trick here.

For this exceptional value, and tasty flavors,  Niku X has easily become our favorite Japanese lunch spots in DTLA. So, what are you waiting for? If you want to make beautiful memories with your friends or bae, (on a short timeframe too) be sure to book Niku X for a lunch reservation and follow them here on IG. If you’re looking for more to do in DTLA, check out our tried-and-true guide to the Downtown here.