This Is the Most Artful Place to Eat in Los Angeles
There’s no question that food is art—particularly for chef Kris Tominaga, whose work is on full display in one of the hottest galleries in downtown Los Angeles.
Tominaga runs the kitchen at Manuela, located inside Hauser & Wirth. His cuisine mixes southern Gulf Coast flavors with California’s seasonal, farm-fresh fare. Adding a true locavore element to the menu are the vegetable garden and chicken coop that are part of the space.
The influences are evident on the menu with dishes such as barbecued oysters and deviled eggs along with delicata squash served with Cloumage farm cheese—all dishes that look delicious while keeping in mind the works by Paul McCarthy, Mark Bradford, and Raymond Pettibon that animate the space.
Supporting role: “This is a garden, an art space, and a restaurant, but the food is not ‘look at me.’ It’s really almost easier to do something striking. It’s natural food that seems effortless.”
Garden variety: “I’m going through seed catalogues with our head gardener and planning for the next season. It’s very different than just going to the farmers’ market. If we plant it, we want to use it. If we get a ton, then we have to figure it out. And if there’s not a lot, then we have to know what we’ll do; for example, maybe we’ll pickle it so there’s a little bit of the crop touching each plate. But once we got hundreds of pounds of cucumbers. It’s logistics.”
Chef’s choice: “There’s a chicory and citrus salad right now that’s really simple, but we’re making it more next level in terms of taste perception. There are two bitter things, and we’re bringing more unctuousness with a labneh vinaigrette. We’re adding mushroom salt for earthiness without actually adding mushrooms. We’re not really into adventurous combinations just for the sake of it. We’re following what works.”