CATCH LA is the newest outpost of the popular EMM Group seafood restaurant chain that began in New York and has now expanded to Los Angeles (actually West Hollywood), Dubai and Playa del Carmen, Mexico. CATCH LA combines a super-sexy scene � think famous actors, top athletes, Hollywood executives � with some of the most mouthwatering seafood concoctions you have ever tasted. Head upstairs to the indoor-outdoor space with a view of the Pacific Design Center next door, and choose the patio or the indoor section, which on a clear evening will have its roof retracted, revealing a moonlight view. Then try selections from the various menus sections: Raw Bar, Signature Cold, Cold, Skewers, Rolled, Hot and Signature Vegan and it is hard to go wrong. Pick Hamachi Spinach with its amazing ponzu sauce, go for the light Branzino in butter, and don't miss the Truffle Sashimi.
Recommended for Asian because: A hot social scene combined with world-class seafood and other Asian-fusion dishes to be shared quickly brought CATCH LA to the top of the Hollywood heap.
Jenny's expert tip: Order the "Signature Cold" dish of Truffle Sashimi and taste what just may be the most delicious seafood dish on the planet.
Thai cuisine meets Californian atmosphere at Chan Dara, and it's a well-suited match. Thanks to a casual, cool attitude and terrific, spicy Thai dishes, the place is constantly hopping. Hip crowds have filled this place for more then 30 years, kept happy by Clay Pot Shrimp and Scallops, Seared Onaga with Lemon Grass Cream Sauce, Thai Barbecued Pork and Catfish Cha Cha, which gets a kick from a spicy red curry cream sauce. Chan Dara's menu features plenty of Thai classics as well (think Mee Krob and Satays, for example), and noodle, rice and an extensive range of stir-fry dishes (including vegetarian choices) are also on offer. In fact, tasty unique and inexpensive dishes come flying out of the kitchen at a fast pace, and there's enough variety to satisfy every palate.
Recommended for Asian because: Thai restaurants come and go, but Chan Dara remains one of L.A.'s perennial best.
Jenny's expert tip: The West Los Angeles location has closed. Head to the Larchmont location instead.
Ask any local to name the best Chinese restaurant in town and Yang Chow is always included. This popular Chinatown eatery now has two more outposts, in Pasadena and Canoga Park. Known for its excellent Mandarin-Szechuan menu, Yang Chow's extensive selection of classics will satisfy even the most authentic of Chinese eaters. The delectable Slippery Shrimp dish is what put them on the map, but there's a lot more to try, with other popular specialties including Kung Pao Squid, General Tseng's Chicken and Sizzling Scallops. Started by five brothers back in 1977, Yang Chow is a classic L.A. eatery with something for the whole family to enjoy.
Recommended for Asian because: Famous for its Slippery Shrimp, this Mandarin-Szechuan Chinese eatery has been making people happy since 1977.
Jenny's expert tip: Expect large portions, so don't go overboard in ordering â" unless you plan to take the extras home.
Chao Krung Thai Restaurant is one of the oldest in the city, recently celebrating 50 years in business. The Kuntee family has always been at the helm; these days, sisters Amanda (the chef) and Katy (the restaurateur) continue their parents' legacy by serving up authentic Thai dishes in a comfortable, casual setting. Everything on the menu is meant to be shared, so dig in together to some of Chao Krung's unique dishes. Start with the "small plates" â" choose tangy bites of Isaan Sausage, sour pork sausage served with bird's eye chili, then taste their original (and famous) BBQ Pork Ribs with a coriander tang. If soup is your comfort food, enjoy the various Tom Yum hot and sour versions or the coconut-milk-based Tom Kha. And no Thai meal is complete without a taste of curry; the Green Curry here is fragrant, just spicy enough and perfect done with chicken or your other favorite protein.
Recommended for Asian because: A classic of Thai food in SoCal, with just the right mix of traditional favorites and unexpected taste delights.
Jenny's expert tip: If you're feeling adventurous, let your waiter choose your dishes for you.
If you are looking for top-notch Indian cuisine, the Mint Leaf in Pasadena is the place to be. Entering the exotic space, you'll feel as if you've stepped right into a Mumbai eatery, with its golden lamps, dark leather banquettes, red tapestry chairs and burnished wood floors. Under the helm of Chef Jayanta Paul, the Mint Leaf offers everything from perfectly cooked Garlic Naan (be sure to try the Mozzarella and Pine Nuts Naan, too) to lusciously spiced dishes including a sensational Goan Salmon Curry and a classic Chicken Vindaloo. Start with an order of Shrimp Pakoras, dip them into accompanying the fragrant mint sauce and you're on your way to a wonderful meal. Finish up with the unexpectedly sweet Carrot Halwa Pudding for dessert with its fragrant cardamom spice and you're sure to be planning your next visit as you pay the very reasonably priced bill.
Recommended for Asian because: Amazingly flavorful dishes served up in a lovely setting make the Mint Leaf a wonderful Indian destination.
Jenny's expert tip: Go with a group so you can order plenty of dishes, eat family style and share all the flavors.
For some of L.A.'s best sushi and coolest scene going, head over to Katsuya by Starck L.A. Live. This outpost of the restaurant chain helmed by Chef Katsuya Uechi and designed by Philippe Starck must be seen to be believed. But don't let the hip decor fool you; this place is serious about its sushi. Try the signature Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno and don't miss the Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna. We'd suggest simply putting yourself in the chef's hands with the omakase ($75); you cannot go wrong. And don't miss the Flaming Mandarin cocktail, for it is a taste sensation like no other. Keep your eyes open, too, for there's always a chance to see a few famous faces at the table right next to you, enjoying their favorite Katsuya delicacy.
Recommended for Asian because: Where the chic meet to eat, Katsuya by Starck began in Brentwood and now has four locations in SoCal; all are the epitome of Japanese cool.
Jenny's expert tip: Park in the East Garage and get a two-hour validation with any purchase at Katsuya by Starck.
The scene at TAO Los Angeles is an extraordinary one from the moment you enter the massive restaurant. The first thing you see is the cocktail lounge, where a large reclining Buddha overlooks the proceedings. Stop there for the swirling, beautiful-people bar scene, or keep going to sit down and have an exemplary meal under the watchful eye of a massive 24-armed Quan Yin buddhist statue that changes color and design constantly. And while the scene is pretty much as cool as you can get in L.A., the food and drinks are terrific here as well. Standouts include the outrageously delicious (and astonishingly designed) Crispy Snapper in "Sand" dish, along with Wagyu Ribeye Teppanyaki, which comes with an assortment of succulent dipping sauces. There's also sushi, sashimi, dim sum, barbecue, yakitori and more. If you're celebrating, order the giant fortune cookie for quite a surprise.
Recommended for Asian because: An incredible design, a scene of the coolest people in town and terrific food make TAO a bucket list Hollywood place to eat top-notch Asian food.
Jenny's expert tip: Book a room at the Dream Hollywood Hotel right around the corner for a Hollywood staycation; or stay for a few days if visiting L.A. and eat at Beauty & Essex in the same complex, too.
This Arcadia branch of Din Tai Fung, the Taiwanese chain renowned for having some of the world's tastiest Shanghai-style dumplings, looks very unprepossessing. But don't be surprised to find a long line out front, so arrive early and be patient, for it is definitely worth it. Tender steamed dumpling pillows are filled with a wide assortment of savory items �" pork, shrimp, beef and even crab. Plus, there are plenty of other Chinese choices, like pork buns, rice dishes, noodle soups and other entrees, which round out a menu that manages to be brief in comparison to most Chinese restaurants, yet still completely satisfactory and filling. Be sure to try the tofu seaweed salad and the Shanghai rice cake with your choice of meat.
Recommended for Asian because: Din Tai Fung is a Taiwan-based restaurant chain that has taken over the world with its incredibly tasty dumplings; there are four in Los Angeles.
Jenny's expert tip: If parking is packed in the plaza, try the back lot. Drop someone off to get in line beforehand.
Los Angeles is where it all began for Nobu Matsuhisa, the acknowledged king of Japanese cuisine, who now has high-end eateries all over the world. His first restaurant, Matsuhisa, is a tiny place on La Cienega Boulevard; Nobu Los Angeles is further north up that same street; and the prettiest of them all, Nobu Malibu, is perched right on the sand on Pacific Coast Highway in the heart of that posh beach community. Malibu gets our vote for the best of three solely on location, for the gorgeous ocean views and sleek restaurant design somehow make Nobu's signature dishes like Black Cod Miso and Yellowtail with Jalapeno seem even more delicious when eaten there (and they are seriously fantastic no matter where you taste them). We suggest you visit all three restaurants, for each offers a unique culinary experience.
Recommended for Asian because: The ocean views and stunning design are the perfect pairing to Nobu's world-class sushi and other Japanese classic dishes.
Jenny's expert tip: Time your visit to Nobu Malibu to see the sun set, for with its beachfront location on Pacific Coast Highway, there's no better view in town.
Chef Helene An escaped Vietnam as the Communists overran Saigon in 1975 and the rest really is history. She carried along the secret recipes that have made Crustacean one of the top Asian fusion restaurants in Beverly Hills for decades; and she's even got a secret kitchen-within-the-kitchen where only the few in the know are allowed. Her garlic noodles with prawns are legendary, as is her huge Dungeness crab roasted in secret spices. With a recent $10 million redesign, Crustacean has reopened and is better than ever, with Chef Tony Nguyen joining An in the kitchen. There are delicious dim sum offerings too, ranging from pho soup dumplings to a langoustine spring roll and a filet mignon beef satay. The new look is open and bright, and the fish tank walkway built into the floor remains the same, thank goodness, for it really wouldn't be Crustacean without that.
Recommended for Asian because: Crustacean has been a Beverly Hills fixture for over 20 years and remains the place to find the best Asian cuisine in Southern California, hands down.
Jenny's expert tip: You simply must have An's Famous Garlic Noodles and An's Famous Roasted Crab. There's a reason they are famous â" they are fabulous!