ASIAN & LATINO FUSION COMES TO HOLLYWOOD
The corner of Hollywood and Vine is pretty iconic, not just in Los Angeles lore but around the world. It harkens back to classic Hollywood (it was home to the Hollywood Brown Derby, the birthplace of the Cobb Salad) and a time when movie stars were larger than life and not just tabloid fodder. So when someone opens up shop at the famed intersection, it stands out. At the former site of Lexington Social House, a restaurant that had its fair share of wild Hollywood nights, comes Asa Meza, an Asian meets Latino fusion that impresses visually and with its drinks and fare.
“From the very start, our vision has been a restaurant in Hollywood with a communal feel, not a ‘Hollywood restaurant’”, the powers that be explain. “We wanted a chill gathering place off busy Hollywood Boulevard where people could come in, slow down, and relax. We want people to have a memorable and heart-warming meal, whether enjoying a variety of luscious oysters from our raw bar, or relishing an Asian or Latin dish that they’ve never experienced before.”
During my recent visit, I walked in off busy Hollywood Boulevard, bellied up to the bar and took refuge from the rat race outside. While the interior is a little more chic than Lexington Social House, I like its redone study feel (one of the rooms looks like a charming library), much was left intact, including the impressive outdoor seating area—always in high demand. I wasn’t expecting much from the cocktail program but I was pleasantly surprised when I took the first sip of my Summer in Chile, a refreshing cocktail perfect for day drinking made with Kappa pisco, lime, cucumber, simple sugar and a pinch of salt. It was simple and yet very satisfying.
Dining is served throughout the day, featuring small and large plates emphasizing diverse and comforting foods from Asia and Latin America, from empanadas and tiraditos to short ribs and ceviches. We started with a mix of hamachi sashimi, and a mix of ceviches, including sea bass, salmon, shrimp, and aji Amarillo. We also shared the shrimp antichucho, and our favorite, the Beef Filet Tartare served with soy sauce, sesame oil, egg yolk and Asian pear. Delicious!
Our next round of cocktails included the Old Habana made with Elijah Craig 12-year bourbon, sweet habanero, orange bitters and maraschino cherry—and nice and boozy take on the Old Fashioned.
If you’re looking for quick bite and drink before a show in Hollywood, the Bar Bites are the way to go. The Brasilian Flourless Waffle, made gluten free with tapioca and parmesan, an authentic Brazilian treat, often referred to as cheese bread (they decided to get cute at Asa Meza and made mini waffles), is a must. Other favorites include the Juhn Panckae (funny, “juhn” is Korean for pancake, so this dish is really called Pancake Pancake—they thought it was funny), prepared with Korean beans, pork, beef and scallions, and the Linguica/Taiwanese Sausage—a plate of delicious Brazilian and Taiwanese links. If you’re looking for cocktails at lunch or brunch, the Chino Latino, made with Nolet’s gin, lychee liqueur, guanabana, lime and grapefruit, and the Oaxacan Sunshine, made with mescal, roasted red pepper cherry tomatoes, sage, lemon, and agave, are both on the sweet side, but wholly delicious. Both are well balanced the sweetness, which I’m not a fan of in my drinks, doesn’t takeaway from the libation.
If you’re staying for dinner or want a hearty lunch, the Short Rib is utterly amazing. Prepared with braised pear, sake, soy, and kabocha squash faro, this dish is so tender and tantalizing.
The Casuela Del Mar is a lovely medley of prawns, mussels, clams, octopus, calamari, and spicy tomato broth perfect for fans of seafood. This is a great and comforting dish. An absolute must-have side dish is the delicious Fried Rice, a perfect combination of pork belly, duck fat, garlic, onion, XO, and scallion. It’s great to share but you’ll probably want it all to yourself. This with the Short Rib was pure genius. Damn, I want more right now! Dessert options include Tres Leches, Abuelita Chocolate Tart, made with chocolate gelato, and Churros with dark chocolate and sweet corn cream—yum!
I like the upgrades the Asa Meza folks made to the old Lexington Social House space. It’s still a great place to hangout, albeit perhaps now a little more welcoming. And with its strong food and drink menus, there more reason to be here than just to see and be seen.
Asa Meza is located at 1718 Vine St in Hollywood. Call (323) 538-2700.
Some photography courtesy of: Asa Meza
Story by Jose Martinez