I have now been to Yu twice and I have to say, this restaurant is evidence that if you flawlessly production design a food space in the right area, you will make a mint.
But boy is the food mediocre.
Here's the good:
1) super location - on Montana at around 17th
2) valet parking for $3 which is a bargain considering that otherwise you will likely end up parking 20 blocks away and get a ticket anyway from the Santa Monica parking ticket gremlins
3) sexy, dim, candle-lit interior
4) good bartender both nights I was there.
5) wine served in reidel glasses
Here's the bad:
1) again, lousy food from what I could tell in my limited taste test (but, hey, everything we ordered was a fav of our server) the food was, as my companion labeled it, "less like Chin Chin and more like Panda Express."
2) already packed like a tuna can
The western-ized Asian decor includes oversized stone Buddhas, soy sauce containers shaped like a chinese dude's head with the soy coming out of his mouth (uh, is that p.c.?), dark wood mirros & accents that look asian (though likely they are from Mexico), etc. I believe that this was a good direction for them to go as far as trendy westsiders go. After all, Santa Monica has more yoga studios than nearly anywhere else in California.
The service is okay, but not great. They would be able to do a much better job if they had more servers - more bartenders, more waitstaff, etc.
I mostly enjoy the cocktails and snacks environment of the bar - but why in heaven's name is there a big ole plasma screen TV right over the bar? argh! tack-ee!
I would enjoy hearing what others think about this place and if they found any good dishes there.
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