Opened in 2016, the on site restaurant at the InterContinental Hotel in Century City, Los Angeles, Mari Restaurant blends together Japanese and Californian flavours for a truly original menu offering.
They serve an evolving menu throughout the day, from breakfast, through to lunch and dinner – every menu getting slightly more Japanese flavoured than the last.
You’ll find a traditional breakfast buffet for $30 until 11am, as well as an al a carte menu. There’s omelettes from $19, avocado toast for $14, eggs Benedict from $19 and all the usual trimmings; cereals, waffles, fruit… you name it. There’s even a Japanese Breakfast option (which mirrors their dinner menu) with grilled salmon and miso soup for $28.
I tried the delicious Prosciutto Benedict ($19), which came on perfect English muffin with a side of hash browns and covered in Hollandaise that I definitely wanted to write home about. A pot of tea for $6 may seem a bit pricey for the Australian traveller, but comes with a large pot they’ll happily refill with extra hot water.
At dinner time (5.30pm to 10pm), meanwhile, Mari blends together Californian and Japanese flavours for a unique menu that sees the restaurant fill up with more than just hotel guests – it seemed a popular spot for locals, too, with a variety of regulars in the room when I dined, sparking up conversation with the wonderful staff as though they’ve known them for a lifetime. Given the hotel has been here for 30 years, it’s possible that they have – though Mari only emerged in 2016.
Of the starters, the Brussels Sprouts ($12) with Yuzu Vinaigrette and Pistachios is the unbeatable highlight – both in price and quality. It’s hard to stop eating them – but make sure you save enough room for your mains!
At $15, their sushi options, a California Roll or the Spicy Tuna roll (pictured), are definitely on the more expensive side of the spectrum, but are delicious, and filled with fresh ingredients.
The Short Rib Pinkabet ($29) is the highlight of the menu, with Short Rib that literally melts in your mouth. It’s served with Kabocha Squash, Bitter Melon, Eggplant, Haricot Vert, Okra and Coconut Cream Sauce, delivering a unique and unbeatable blend of flavours.
And finally, the White Chocolate Namelaka ($10) – which is a sort of pannacotta with a breaded base (the word means “creamy texture” in Japanese) – is served with Raspberry, Rose, Pistachio and Lychee. It proved a beautiful, light way to end a magnificent and very filling meal.
It also has to be mentioned that the service was fantastic, that they served warm, tasty bread rolls to your table after you sat down (a common element of US restaurants I love), and also presented us with a spectacular cocktail menu, and an extensive wine list.
Of the cocktails you might want to consider the “Australian Daisy”, with Don Juilo Tequila, Cointreau and fresh Yuzu Juice shaken and served on the rocks with lime zested foam. The menu says that the cocktail was inspired by the InterContinental in Sydney. You’ll also find cocktails like the “Argentine Libra” inspired by the InterContinental Buenos Aires (this one is Rum based), and the “British Bellringer” (Gin based), inspired by… you guessed it, the InterContinental London Park Lane.
At the time I dined, the restaurant also had a “Prix Fixe Dinner” for $39 a person. It’s three courses, and considering this includes the Short Rib, the Namelaka and other great options like the Chicken Katsu or the Lobster and Shrimp Ravioli, it’s amazing value, and part of a dining experience which is worth the trip whether you’re staying at the hotel or not.
Headline image supplied. The author dined as a guest of the hotel for dinner, though not for breakfast.