A shy Korean friend sent me the following interesting email (and gave permission to post):
My friend and I dined at Matsuhisa, the Border Grill, Ivy at the SHore, Woo Lae Oak, Soot Bool Jeep and C & O Trattoria.
#Matsauhisa: We had mixed ceviche(saur and juicy like Joe Joe Prum, the Reisling, so better than Rinconcito Peruano in NYC, 803 9th Ave.), new style sashimi made with salmon(greasy so as to diminish the freshness of sashimi, specially I don't understand why sesami should be on the top, it looked like an overdressed lady.), rock shrimp tempura in ponzu sauce(it was spicy, crusty, and chewy, though not greasy.), halibut cheeks in shitake mushroom sauce and asparagas(my friend's favorite, the sauce was delicious, so I told my friend that I wanted to analize the sauce if I could bring some, but the waiter dropped some on my hair and skirt! So Mr. Nobu san appologized and gave me a free fancy dessert which made me upset, as they were all sweet chocholates!). And we had an unimpressive black cod, so we dipped it into the shitake mushroom sauce and three pices of regular sushi with tuna(we concluded that salmon is much better in West coast and normally tuna has no flavor there)!
I think Matsuhisa is one of the overevaluated restaurants, the food was not so impressive, some were good though. I didn't like the decors with tacky Hollywood movie posters signed by the stars. The kitchen was surprisingly messy when I passed by on the way to the restroom and the restroom was not tidy enough. The famous shshi bar was so noisy, which reminded me the raw fish market in Seoul. It was not a comfortable atmosphere at all.
# The Border Grill: We had quesadilla with avocado and chiles as an appetizer(good!, but my friend got sick maybe because of the salsa), marinated skirt steak( excellent!), red snapper fish taco(it was small and uninteresting).
# Ivy at the Shore: My friend had the linguini with Washingtom State clams(delicious and fresh clams, but quite expensive, 27$ ?), and I had the linguini with crab, shrimp, mussel, clam and scallop which was very tasty but too sweet, so I put more pepper and tabasco.
#Woo Lae Oak: We had black cod jorim(my favorite!), grill-your-own marinated salmon(fantastic), raw crab(I love raw crab with red pepper, it was not as spicy as I expected but was good, my friend griiled it and liked that) and we had kkakduggi(the cubed raddish kimchi) at the price of 3$, but it was worth to have.
# Soot Bool Jeep: As we had big seafood buffet at the hotel, we just wanted to take a look of Soot Bool Jeep. Tempted by the smoke, we ordered bulgogi and grilled on the charcoal, which was great. Kimchis were good but the moo gook(beef and raddish soup) was not impressive.
# Pinks: On our way to the hotel, we had a chilly dog at the Pinks. It was midnight, but we had to wait for 20 hours on the line to get the DOG as a dessert. It was not so tasty, my friend prefers Chicago dogs.
# C & O Trattoria(at the Venice Beach): It has out door space with a fountain, and heating stand to warm the chowhounds from the heavy wind. We had the linguini with antichokes, salmon, swordfish, shrimp and sndried tomatoes, the big size which serves 3-4 people. It was delicious. Wines were very cheap. The waiters were very professional and friendly.
# Ralphs in Malibu: We improvised the picnic at the Zuma Beach and went to shop for food. At the Ralphs, the supermarket, we got fried chichens, a cagbbage roll, potato salad, string beans & mushroom which were all yummy. Specially sushi box(salmon & tuna, shrimp) were better than any other delis and Daikichi Sushi, yet tuna was tasteless.