David Judaken is known for his longstanding impact on LA nightlife. He is perhaps most famous for opening Garden of Eden, the club whose impressive lifespan made Cats' stay on Broadway seem like a brief blip in time. Last year he opened MyHouse to great fanfare and made headlines again. But amongst things that Judaken had not become known for was food. It's not that his multiple nightclubs don't serve food. They do. But when you're at the club at 1 in the am, food serves only one purpose--and that's to sober up. Well, that changed last week when Judaken opened EAST Restaurant and Lounge to the fine-dining public of Hollywood. And last night I stopped by to test the culinary waters.
The menu earns its gold star for its sashimi selection, listed under the aptly named section 'I like it raw' (cue ODB's Shimmy Shimmy Ya song here along with an entire dirty conversation between dinner guests). Granted, I couldn't try these raw bites, but one of my dining mates (MyHouse regular DJ Jasepi) had the honor of tasting for the rest of us vegetarians. And speaking of us vegetarians--we didn't go hungry either. The Drunken Tofu (this is no joke. the tofu is literally soaked in sake and beer--you'd be drunk too) is fantastic. Crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, with a layer of cabbage and mushroom on top. As Judaken, who stopped by the table to say hello, says--this tofu could convert a carnivore. As I couldn't taste much of the menu, I asked Judaken what his personal favorite items on the menu are--the meaty ones I won't have the pleasure of trying myself--and he called out the tuna, the monkfish, and the chicken as his top choices.
We ended our meal with a dessert all eating styles can appreciate (well, except for those pesky vegans)--the bread pudding. Served with vanilla ice cream, green tea anglaise, and a mini croissant on top, it may be the menu item I return again [and again] for.
And I can't forget to mention the specialty cocktail menu. Three drinks incorporate serrano chiles. At least two are made with tea. And one is called East of Eden, which I adore for its fabulous puntasticness. Judaken's wife who had a large hand in crafting the drink menu, explained the name's duplicity--East Restaurant is just East of the now shuttered Garden of Eden (tear). And its more romantic meaning--the drink is pretty darn close to heaven. And it really, really is.
EAST Restaurant and Lounge
6611 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028