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When the Wilshire Grand Center opened in June, it was lauded as the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Rising to 73 stories and 1,100 feet, the Wilshire Grand is the newest addition to the Los Angeles skyline.
Christopher Martin, the architect and development manager, designed the multi-use high-rise which is home to the 889-room InterContinental Hotel occupying floors 31 through 68.
On the 69th floor are two dining venues – an elegant Japanese restaurant, Sora, and Dekkadance a market-to-table buffet dining area with views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island.
For a fine dining steakhouse option, La Boucherie is on the 71st floor. On the top floor is the popular rooftop Spire 73 lounge, featuring 360-degree views of the city.
Most visitors park in the subterranean garage, and are welcomed by staff and security, before entering the ground floor lobby. Additional staff and security guide guests to an elevator up to the hotel’s 70th floor lobby reception area.
I met a friend recently for lunch at Sora, an elevated omakase dining experience with three seating areas. Stools sit along windows looking out to Griffith Park Observatory, the Hollywood Hills and beyond. What makes this dining experience unique is the rolling conveyor belt parading plates of sushi covered in clear glass domes. Guests lift appealing plates right off the moving belt to enjoy.
Another option is to sit at the sushi bar watching itamae (sushi chefs) precisely slice fish, prepare the perfect sushi rice, grate ginger and cut scallions to prepare hand rolls, nigiri and maki rolls.
A narrow dining room with high back booths alongside windows is a popular spot in the evening for couples seeking a romantic dinner, and a place to gaze out at the twinkling nighttime views. We opted to sit in a booth looking towards Dodgers Stadium and neighboring skyscrapers.
The menu offers a good selection of beers, domestic and international wines and champagne, plus a variety of Japanese whiskey. Cocktails range from a passionfruit Bellini to a Seoul margarita made with ginger syrup and Korean pear juice.
After our order was taken, we received a customary warm oshibori (hot towel) to wipe our hands before lunch. We started with an appetizer of Soba Inari that arrived with two aburaage (fried tofu pouches) filled with thin boiled buckwheat noodles, scallion spirals, a dollop of spicy Japanese horseradish wasabi and little orange micro flowers. A pipette filled with ponzu sauce made the dish interactive as I could control how much sauce I wanted to enhance this dish.
Two other stunning dishes arrived adorned with flowers – a mini vegetable bowl was filled with sticky sushi rice and a variety of chopped steamed vegetables and a mini Chrirashi bowl, which I thoroughly enjoyed. In Japanese, Chrirashi means scattered. On the bottom of the bowl is seasoned rice topped with raw fish, fish roe and tamagoyaki (a spongy egg garnish). Sesame seeds were sprinkled on top for textural diversity.
My sushi-loving friend Michelle ordered a sushi plate with 25 pieces of rolls and nigari for $40. Diners can select two rolls (eight pieces each) from California, spicy tuna and salmon avocado rolls. For nigiri, select from market fresh tuna, salmon, yellow tail, tamago, albacore, scallop, white fish or snow crab. A smaller plate is available for $30.
Before leaving we each had a small mochi for dessert with a pot of green tea. I enjoyed the delicious black sesame mochi confection made from pounded sticky rice and filled with a pleasing sesame ice cream. It’s spherical in shape and dusted with a powdery starch to keep it from sticking.
For the ultimate Japanese dining experience with million dollar views, Sora won’t disappoint.
$$ Sora is open daily from noon to 8 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, the restaurant is open from 2 to 10 p.m. 900 Wilshire Blvd, 69th floor, Los Angeles, CA 90017, (213)688-7777.
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