LA Confidential Review: Agura

Agura is a new Japanese restaurant on La Cienega's restaurant row. What's interesting about it is that it's actually the first U.S. location of an upscale Japanese restaurant chain, that it is housed in a former church, and that there is a specially commissioned 13-foot-high Buddha statue presiding over the whole space.

The food is pretty darn good, too, with fantastically fresh fish choices, some interesting dishes from the hot kitchen, and a small but very well thought out sake selection. You can take a look at the scan of my review from the January/February issue of L.A. Confidential Magazine, but I'll also paste in the text below for easier reading. Enjoy!



A 13-foot Buddha, a Versailles-like crystal chandelier, traditional Japanese masks, and jewel-box gilt flourishes all in a former church should not make for a coherent dining experience, but somehow they do at Agura, the first U.S. restaurant for Japanese restaurateur Yasumasa Kawabata. The Japanese- French fusion menu features some spectacular sushi arrangements like the ornate Agura Platter with five different types of fish wrapped in cucumber and garnished with flying fish roe. Eclectic entrees include curried lamb chops with couscous, and luscious pan-fried halibut in Madeira sauce. Skip the unremarkable wine list in favor of a hard-to-find sake like the gold-medal Tamagawa, or a specialty cocktail like the Manhattan made with plum wine. A high-backed chair in the dining room or a stool at the sushi bar is ideal seating, but the large patio is also prime territory. Better yet, invite a few friends and book one of the screened-off private rooms. Just be sure to remove your shoes before stepping inside.

514 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048, (310) 289-1940;