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Two dapperly dressed gentlemen have greeted guests at the iconic Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel for over 40 years. Jack and James graciously opened the doors, and wished me a great lunch at Breeze.
The Century Plaza Hotel has recently completed a renovation of all the rooms and suites, added an indoor/outdoor lounge, and an exclusive private gym, Equinox.
Since 1966, the Century Plaza has been a home-away-from-home to many dignitaries, celebrities and presidents. Fondly dubbed the West Coast White House, Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Reagan stayed here when in Los Angeles. Ronald and Nancy Reagan stayed at the Century Plaza for a few nights every year before celebrating New Year’s Eve. In 1984, the Century Plaza tower penthouse was renamed the Reagan Tower Suite, because of their frequent visits. The tower has since been torn down and there was a threat of the Century Plaza being demolished, but the hotel was spared and has been added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list.
Creative Artists Agency (CAA) is located directly across the street. Power lunches with some of their top celebrity clients take place at Breeze on weekdays. Reservations are recommended during the lunch hours.
Many know that Breeze has one of the best sushi chefs on the Westside; Chef Tanaka is a third generation master sushi chef and has worked at the Century Plaza for over 18 years. His sushi is a work of art, especially his signature dragon roll, served on a white plate and shaped like a beautiful dragon, filled with barbecued eel, cucumber, flying fish roe, and sliced avocado resembling scales.
Our server, Pat, has worked at the Century Plaza for 39 years. “Everyday is different,” Pat said. “I’ve had the same customers come in week after week for over 30 years.”
Executive Chef Manfred Lassahn is one of the most respected chefs in the Hyatt Corporation, working at the company for over 29 years. He has been at Breeze since 2005.
Lassahn started as a pastry chef in San Francisco, and eventually ventured from sweet to savory. “Being a pastry chef is a science,” Lassahn said. “If you add too much salt or sugar, you must throw the mix away and start all over again. Cooking is more forgiving. If you add too much salt in a cream sauce, then you just add more cream to balance the flavor.”
The eclectic menu offers interesting starters, like the beet carpaccio filled with edamame hummus and served with a mango emulsion and herb-infused olive oil, a colorful and refreshing dish.
Entrée salads, gourmet sandwiches, burgers, and pastas are on the lunch menu including Hyatt Stay-fit items and vegan dishes.
Hansen Lee from South Korea is Lassahn’s sous chef. He proudly brought over one of his favorite dishes, the gourmet grilled cheese sandwich – artisan bread spread with a house-made tomato jam and grilled with aged Gouda, layered with delicate proscuitto, avocado, and sweet roasted spring onion. This may now be my favorite grilled cheese ever. All gourmet sandwiches and burgers arrive with a choice of fries, fruit kabob or a fresh tomato-cucumber salad.
The crab cake starter was presented on the plate like a flower, with crisp plantains as the petals and an avocado relish as the base. The top was embellished with a large grilled bamboo skewered shrimp.
One of the entrée salads, the Southwest steakhouse, was served with giant, crispy onion rings on top of chopped iceberg lettuce, avocado, egg, tomato, bacon, roasted corn, and slices of sirloin steak cooked perfectly. The salad was dressed with a light cilantro-lime dressing.
The hotel is celebrating their 45th “sapphire anniversary” from June 1 to June 30, and Chef Lassahn has designed a special menu for the occasion. The 1960s era menu features such classic dishes as Swedish meatballs, salmon en Papillote, steak Diane, chicken and mushroom vol au vent and baked Alaska.
Also on June 1, the restaurant will offer complimentary blueberry smoothies and ice creams all day long in celebration of their anniversary.
The iconic crescent shaped hotel still glimmers in Century City, and the award-winning Breeze restaurant continues to consistently serve delcious and fresh California cuisine and sushi.
Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, 2025 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, CA 90067, (310)228-1234. www.centuryplaza.hyatt.com
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