08/20/2013 04:12 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Jaywalking in L.A. - News & Gossip of the Restaurant Scene

Gloria and Richard Pink of Pink's Hotdogs at the Concern Cancer Benefit.. photo by Jay Weston

Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the new Academy President. photo by Jay Weston

My very favorite charitable food event of the year is coming up on Saturday, Sept. 28th, when L.A. Loves Alex's Lemonade will be held on the lawn at the Culver Studios to raise fund for the that foundation. This is the event hosted by Chef Suzanne Goin and her partner, Caroline Styne (Lucques, AOL, Tavern) and Suzanne's hubby, Chef David Lentz (The Hungry Cat), which was hosted last year by Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka along with Jimmy Kimmel. What makes it special is that 40 of the top chefs and mixologists from around the country come to town to serve tastings of their delicious dishes, and all of the guests can interact with these famous chefs to say hello and discuss their food. You'll remember that this is the wonderful charity started by a young Philadelphia girl with cancer which has mushroomed into a massive research program to fight childhood cancers. It's a more personal, fabulous fun party for a great cause and strongly urge you to meet me there.....

Jerry Baker, co-owner of Tinga, a wonderful Southwestern restaurant in Santa Monica.

I am a big fan of really good Southwestern Tex-Mex food, so I was thrilled at a recent dinner at TINGA (522 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica) to find such upscale, delicious dishes. Go for their tacos, quesadillas, nachos and burritos. The genial manager, JP Prendergast, will guide you through the menu. This is the brainchild of veteran catering whiz Jerry Baker, who dined at the wonderful Santa Barbara taqueria, La Super-Rica, made famous by Julia Child, and knew that someday he would open something similar here. He teamed with investor Michael LaFetra and in 2010 they opened one on La Brea and then a larger one in Santa Monica. It is colorful and terrific, so visit and see what I mean...I had dinner the other evening at Joss with a Chinese dining mogul named Zhang Yong, who has 90 unusual restaurants in China and Singapore, and is opening his first such place, Hai Di Lao ("Fishing in the bottom of the sea" in Mandarin) here in Arcadia in September. It is a Hot Pot chain (cooking various ingredients in boiling broth at the table) but with a wonderful 'twist,' the Noodle Dance. Patrons order from an IPad and enjoy an entertainment-filled wait with internal kiosks, board games, and unlimited free snacks. But it is the noodle dance which marks its individuality: a supple noodle-maker stretches dough into 10-foot long ribbons with grand sweeping motions (the dance) around their bodies before dropping the noodles into the broth. (I saw the You Tube). The masters undergo six months of training before their dances go public. You can be sure I will be there on opening night to see the dance and to dine...Incidentally, one of my dining companions at JOSS that evening was the wonderful Chinese actress, Nancy Kwan, who made such an indelible impression upon us all in The World of Suzie Wing so many year ago.

Jay with Nancy Kwan, star of "The World of Suzie Wong," at Joss.

Chef Golo of Joss and Zhang Yong of the new Arcadia restaurant Hai Di Lao.

This tiny eatery, Joss, across from the Peninsula Hotel still serves the most delicious, authentic Hong Kong-style Chinese food in the city...As a long-time member of the Oscars' Academy, I have been highly critical of many of its activities in recent years, especially last year's uncouth Oscar show with Seth McFarlan. But I must applaud its Board for selecting Cheryl Boone Isaacs as our new President. This cool, calm, collected woman is a smart and sophisticated person with great charm and the abiity to hear all sides of an argument. Her first decision, the choice of Ellen DeGeneres as the MC for the annual Oscar show, is brilliant. Michael Cardenas (of the original Sushi Roku and Lazy Ox) has opened a paella restaurant, TABERNA ARROS y VI (1403 2nd Ave., Santa Monica) It translates as Rice and Wine Tavern and I can't wait to try it. Multi-regional Spanish cuisine is in short order hereabouts, so it will be welcome. Hopefully a full review in next issue, but don't wait ...But if you are invited to or tempted to go to a restaurant called Tinto Tapas Espana (6511 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood), don't bother. It is touristy awful, and when I told the owner that the Valencia paella was 'dry,' she got highly resentful and tried to tell me that it was authentic to the region. Lady, I've been there, and this was not authentic, just inedible....

Sherry Lansing and Barbara Lazaroff co-hosted the American Cancer Society benefit
at the Pacific Design Center. photo by Jay Weston.

L'Ermitage Hotel G.M. Sal Abaunza commands the Livello restaurant there.

Meal after meal at the wonderful LIVELLO Restaurant in L'Ermitage Hotel has resonated with me of late. Their brilliant young chef, Benjamin Dayag, plates his delicious food so stunningly I hate to disrupt it, but one bite wins me over every time. Tuna sashimi, Grilled octopus, Mushroom risotto, and especially the Miso-marinated Black Cod. Lately I have dropped in for a casual lunch of sashimi-style dishes and come away marveling. I am now convinced that this is one of the most exciting dining rooms in the city, and so hidden and quiet that not many know about it. Tell them I sent you....I understand that one of my favorite venues, Café Four Oaks, in the middle of Beverly Glen on the way to the Valley, will be reopening after several years. Robert Walsh, a landscape artist, and Sandra Costa, a restaurant designer, have signed a lease to take it over. Can't wait...My best line in a recent review: He even burned the jello...Barbara Lazaroff and Sherry Lansing pulled off another huge winner with their 29th annual California Spirit event at the Pacific Design Center. So many delicious dishes, but Spago's Tetsu Yahagi's soft shell crab roll and Ari Rosenson's NY steak tidbits from Cut stood out. As did Gino Angelini's succulent little lamb chops. Enjoyed a chat with Chef Mohan Ismail of Rocksugar and made a note to revisit...Time now to order your tickets for the next L.A. Opera season. I am already hyped for the opening opera on September 21st, "CARMEN", with the sensual Patricia Bardon. Verdi's "Falstaff" will follow in November. I'm hooked on Andie McDowell's new Hallmark Channel series, "Cedar Cove." But then again, I'm hooked on Andie McDowell..... That monstrous Chinese eatery-entertainment center, Hakkasan, will be opening in mid-September at the MGM Building in mid-Beverly Hills (245 N. Beverly Drive) after a successful launchof the Las Vegas branch this summer. Mega-bucks, expensive food, garish atmospshere in a 10,000 sq. ft. space, it should be fun.