When the upscale Wilshire Grand opened in June, it’s been lauded as the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. Standing 1,100 feet tall, the Wilshire Grand Center is the newest addition to the Los Angeles skyline. From the street to the top of a long decorative spire, the skyscraper reaches above 73 stories.
Christopher Martin, the architect and development manager, designed the multi-use high-rise to include hotel rooms and four dining options. Starting at the 31st floor up to the 68th are almost 900 InterContinental Hotel hotel rooms.
On the 69th floor are two dining venues – an elegant Japanese restaurant named Sora, and Dekkadance a market-to-table buffet dining area with views of the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island.
For a fine dining steakhouse option, La Boucherie is on the 71st floor. On the top floor is the popular rooftop Spire 73 lounge, featuring 360 degree views of the city.
Most visitors park in the subterranean garage, and are welcomed by staff and security, before entering the ground floor lobby. Additional staff and security guide guests to take an elevator up to the hotel’s 70th floor sky lobby reception area.
My friend Michelle and I met at the 70th floor and walked down a spiral staircase to the 69th floor to enjoy lunch at Sora.
The elevated omakase experience offers three different dining venues. First there are stools next to the entrance along glass windows looking out to Griffith Park Observatory, the Hollywood Hills and beyond. What makes this dining experience unique is the rolling conveyor belt parading plates of sushi covered in clear glass domes. Guests lift appealing plates right off the moving belt to enjoy.
Other guests sit at the sushi bar watching itamae (sushi chefs) cut blocks of fish, prepare the perfect sushi rice, grate ginger, and slice scallions to prepare hand rolls, nigiri and maki rolls.
The last area is a narrow dining room with high back booths along the windows. In the evening, this is a popular spot for couples seeking a romantic dinner, while gazing out at the twinkling nighttime views. My friend Michelle and I opted to sit in one of these booths looking out towards Dodgers Stadium, and neighboring skyscrapers.
The menu offers a good selection of beers, domestic and international wines and champagne, plus a variety of Japanese Whiskey. Cocktails range from a Passionfruit Bellini to a Seoul margarita made with ginger syrup and Korean pear juice.
After our order was taken, we received a customary warm oshibori (hot towel) to clean our hands before eating a few appetizers for lunch. The first was the Soba Inari that arrived on a plate with two Aburaage (fried tofu pouches) filled with thin boiled buckwheat noodles, scallion spirals, a dollop of spicy Japanese horseradish wasabi, and little orange micro flowers. What makes this appetizer an interactive experience is the pipette filled with ponzu sauce. With a squeeze, I could control how much sauce I needed to enhance this dish.
Two other stunning dishes arrived adorned with more flowers. The mini vegetable bowl was filled with sticky sushi rice and a variety of chopped steamed vegetables. I really enjoyed the mini Chrirashi bowl. In Japanese, Chrirashi means scattered. On the bottom of the bowl is seasoned rice topped with a scattering of raw fish, fish roe, and tamagoyaki (a spongy egg garnish). A few sesame seeds were sprinkled on top for textural diversity.
My sushi loving friend Michelle ordered one of the sushi plates. It arrived with 25 pieces of rolls and nigiri. On the plate were eight California rolls and eight salmon avocado rolls. Our server Vladimir told us that they use fresh crab in their rolls. For nigiri, she selected freshly sliced tuna, salmon, yellow tail. The sliced fish was placed on a dollop of wasabi and small oval balls of rice.
Before leaving we each had a small mochi for dessert with a pot of green tea. I enjoyed the delicious black sesame mochi confection made from pounded sticky rice and filled with a pleasing, light gray sesame ice cream. It’s spherical in shape and dusted with a powdery starch to keep it from sticking.
For the ultimate Japanese dining experience with million dollar views, Sora won’t disappoint.
$$ Sora is open daily from 12 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday the restaurant opens at 2 to 10 p.m. 900 Wilshire Blvd, Floor 69, Los Angeles, CA 90017 (213)688-7777.
This review was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea newspapers – http://beverlypress.com/2017/10/360-views-and-sushi-at-sora/