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.
On the following three Thursdays (August 26th, September 2nd & September 9th) and the first two Wednesdays in September (the 1st& 8th), chef Yamada will offer two prix-fixe menus (7-course, $45, 13-course $90; tax and gratuity not included; wine and sake pairing available at an additional cost), composed around artistic sushi and sashimi creations, befitting the venue.
I had nine courses, and as you can see from the photos below, the whole experience is quite attractive. Since we give ratings, it deserves a 13/20. Some dishes need more flavors, while others have too much sauce. For a different sushi experience, it is definitely one I would recommend because of the unique venue.
You can click on each photo to enlarge. All food shots by Sophie Gayot.