World Chef: Silk Road travels inspire LA's Hinoki & the Bird

Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:18am EDT
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By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The exotic, earthy aroma from smoking sheets of smoldering hinoki wood hovering over exquisite black cod is the first hint that diners at celebrated chef David Myers' newest restaurant are in for a culinary adventure.

Hinoki & the Bird, the Japanophile chef's Silk Road-inspired restaurant, borrows heavily from the travels of Myers and Executive Chef Kuniko Yagi, who left banking a decade ago and worked her way up from the kitchen's lowest rungs to her current, globe-trotting career.

The sleekly casual eatery, located near some of Los Angeles' top talent agencies, is a departure from Sona, Myers' elegant, Michelin one-star restaurant that opened in 2002 - a year before Food & Wine magazine bestowed on him a prestigious "Best New Chef" award.

After Sona closed in 2010, Myers and his executive chef hit the road - eating, tweeting and picking up inspiration throughout Asia.

Their journeys inform dishes such as spicy sambal skate wing, drunken duck breast and hinoki-scented black cod, the head-turning dish referenced earlier.

The telegenic duo, who are familiar to fans of foodie shows such as "Top Chef" and "Iron Chef America," spoke with Reuters about how travel informed their careers and their latest project.

Q: David, what was the inspiration for Hinoki & the Bird's name?

A: Hinoki is an incredible cypress tree in Japan that has the most wonderful aroma. The bird component was to capture the essence of travel and how important travel is to the creative process. It's about the connection from California to Japan. We chronicle the bird's travel and bring it into the menu.   Continued...

Chef and owner of the restaurant Hinoki & the Bird David Myers (R) poses with chef Kuniko Yagi in the restaurant with one of their signature dishes, hinoki scented black cod, sweet potatoes and pistachios in Los Angeles April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Prouser