3/08/2013 02:16:00 PM

Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Sambal Skate Wing at Hinoki & the Bird

David Myers' Hinoki & the Bird isn't anything like Sona, in case you were wondering. Set on the ground floor of The Century condo building near CAA and the Westfield Century City, it's quite the hidden gem but not at all stuffy or subdued. But even with the music pumping, people drinking and chatting and sharing plates at the tables, it's still a serious Myers restaurant with food and drinks that are definitely turning heads. The ingredients are top-notch utilized in simple yet creative ways, and while he's in the kitchen every night, Kuniko Yagi, a recent Top Chef Seattle contestant who's running the show, certainly knows how to use them.

The high-design space is spread out between two rooms: a dining room and bar with views of the bustling open kitchen, and the covered and heated patio (the floors, too). We have to say, the menu looked exciting on paper but it was even more appealing on the plate. We worked our way through the spicy crab toast, simply dreamy hinoki-scented black cod, that lobster roll everyone's raving about with its charcoal-black bun, and some dynamite grilled short ribs that resembled a flavorful NY strip steak. All delicious. But our table went absolutely bonkers for the skate wing, the fish splayed out on the bone, crusted with chile spice. The meat, tinged with heat, practically melted with every bite, and didn't really need a drop of the house-made fish sauce served on the side. But we used it, and we really hope they bottle. It's just that good.

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