Ending a vacation and saying goodbye to your family is always sad, but this last airport experience was particularly stressful. The terminal was closed when I arrived at JFK due to “too many people.” Then, the baggage handler forgot to give me my second boarding pass. My flight was delayed a few times, forcing me to scramble between gates until I finally was able to squeeze into a window seat on a plane headed for LAX. (My luggage was headed for Detroit, but that’s another story.)
The man in the aisle seat and I were hoping that our middle seat would remain empty, but these days, few flights seem to have empty seats. It was filled by a young man carrying not one, but two pizzas. Hot pizzas, in bulky boxes that brushed against my side, as their aroma made my stomach wake up and take notice.
I had been hearing about Royal/T, a café located in Culver City, for a while now and had never quite understood the concept developed by its owner Susan Hancock. So when I heard that chef Kenny Yamada was presenting his “Sushi Pop Art” dinner series last night, I eagerly headed there.
I discovered a 10,000 square-foot space, resembling more of a gallery than a restaurant. It is actually both at the same time. Hancock is sharing her private art collection, focused on Japanese contemporary art, for the viewing pleasure of the diners. The space is huge, but designed and decorated in such a way that it is warm and homey.
Since the café closes at 5pm, it is available at night for these new kind of chefs: the “pop-up” ones, like chef Ludovic Lefebvre (who rented it for the rendition of Ludo 3.0). It is now being utilized by chef Yamada, known for having started Katsu-ya in Encino as well as appearing as a judge on television’s Hell’s Kitchen (like me). The talented chef also worked at Hakata, SHU in Bel-Air, Bambu in Malibu and Takami.