Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bar C: Mixed Metaphors in Honda Plaza

Our very good friend R introduced D to this new spot in Little Tokyo one week when I was visiting glamorous Hemet, CA. Bar C is such an amalgamation of themes, ideas and archetypes I am at a bit of a loss to describe it. I will let some of the pictures do the talking.

Bar C is located in Honda Plaza, right next to Sushi Gen & Ka Gai Ya, in that bar space that has been open and closed unceremoniously through the last few years. The entry way above is a sneak peak into what lies beyond.

What lies beyond is a red velvet playhouse, a little naughty and a little nice. There is a long bar with very comfy red velvet stools, and a long banquet against the side wall with shiny black tables. In between each section of the banquet are curtains that the hostess will offer to draw closed for you (I am assuming in case of any desired naughtiness). We left our curtains open so we could do some serious people watching. Bar C is a cross of Japanese and U.S fetishism. It is a composite of nightclub and restaurant. It is a hybrid between a lounge and a hostess bar. The clientele are well heeled, young and hip looking folk (mostly men, I think it would be unfair to not mention). This is some great people watching. The first evening I was there, the owner was sitting with guests eating and drinking wine, dressed in geisha costume right down to the makeup and shoes. (The image was spoiled by catching her hanging out later near the kitchen, chatting on her cell phone, LOL.)

Bar C has a lovely wine list, heavy on the dear end. I would love to publish some of the higher end wines they carry, but I cannot find a website to reference. But some of the wines are beautifully displayed behind the bar with a lovely balloon glass collection, a full bar and a mouth watering choice of sake. At the far end of the fun bar is a tall bronze statue of a Greek goddess, who is actually a water fountain, sexily dripping from her extremities...

Presentation is everything at C Bar. One of our servers was dressed Japanese fetish style as a sexy French maid with stay-up fishnets, high heels and a flower in her hair. Similar to the cosplay folks in Japan, she showed very little in the way of skin, but was nevertheless a completely entertaining and friendly sex kitten. I didn't take a photo of any of the characters that passed my line of sight, I am just not comfortable taking pics of people during their leisure time. Trust me, and use your imagination. She was serving the chef's menu to the owner and her guests at an end table, using this adorable little cart for every course. We chatted with her quite a bit and she said she loves to serve on the cart to enhance the French maid concept, but it becomes difficult on busy Friday and Saturday nights to navigate through the crowds.

On to the food!

The decor and environment might be more than a little unorthodox, but the food was really delicious. The menu is continental-inspired and diverse without being overwhelming. C Bar is called a Tapas bar, yet there is nothing resembling Spanish cuisine on the menu. Rather than small plates, I would describe the menu as appetizer heavy. There is also a section of different fondues, and a short pasta section, all which are decidedly NOT small plates. We started with sashimi ceviche. This plate featured tuna, yellowtail, salmon and scallops in an ever-so-slightly citrusy and shoyu sauce with ribbons of green onion.

We also immediately ordered the sashimi salad, always a favorite of mine, dressed very lightly, with the same cuts of fish as the ceviche and small chunks of crusty garlic bread.

This was one of may favorite dishes of the evening. Fresh tomatoes, sliced and diced with garlic and onions and large wide expanses of proscuitto. Look at the carrots, cut into cute little hearts!

After the above, out came the egg custard with enoki & shiitake mushrooms, prawns and foie gras paste. It was a beautiful, soupy little dish. I didn't taste the foie, but my taste buds might have been a little dulled from the acidity of the marinade on the ceviche and the dressing on the salad. Tonight, I will start with this first. (Yay! I am going back tonight!)

We also shared one of the pasta dishes. This was a giant tortellini stuffed with enoki mushrooms and topped with very lean, lightly breaded pork cutlets, with a slight drizzle of a potato-cream sauce. One of the things I love about Continental inspired Japanese food is that the chefs don't typically go overboard with the things about Continental food I dislike; the heavy creams, buttery sauces and preparations, and well, just doing too much to the food. These things seem to be added like significant accessories rather than being the main show. (I apologize for the blurriness of the following photo, I couldn't quite get this right.) This was my least favorite dish. I didn't find any of the flavors distinctive enough. The texture of the pasta was nice, but there was nothing bright on the plate.

For some reason, D decided he wanted to try one other dish. He ordered the beef tataki, which came with the same diced and slightly dressed tomatoes. It was lovely, but I was way too full to nosh any more.

As we were finishing up, our favorite French maid strolled past with Kobe beef tartar on her adorable little cart for the owner's table in the corner. The presentation of this was beautiful.

I want to add that we were attended to the entire evening not just by our waitress, but also by two very beautiful and buxom hostesses. Both moved around the room, attending to guests and drinking wine with them. And a little later in the evening, after half the bar did a shot together, the French maid did a little table dance. She shimmied all over the bar, moving and singing along with Madonna circa 1985. She was absolutely adorable.

The schema of Bar C was clearly conceived to appeal to men, but in all honestly I had a fabulous time. The hostesses were just as friendly and sweet to me as they were to all the other clients, and I will be happy to make this one of my favorite spots in town when I am looking for something a little more exotic.

No comments: