East meets West at this new Hollywood patio-bar restaurant that offers fusion-inspired tacos and colorful cocktails.
“If New York is a melting pot, then L.A. is something way more delicious, with hot sauce and sunshine.” So says Brock Kleweno, Yamashiro’s Executive Chef and the creative force behind Komida, a new fusion taco joint at Hollywood and Highland.
Inspired by the Asian-leaning Yamashiro menu, Chef Brock began serving his “krazy killer takos” and hot salsas two years ago at the Yamashiro farmers’ markets. And now he’s taken over the patio and bar area of defunct nightclub H.Wood to bring his vision of gourmet quick-service tacos to the heart of Hollywood.
Taco traditionalists, take note. Yes, Komida’s are served street-style in simple cardboard boxes, but the ingredients may surprise you: Japanese Miso Sake Black Cod, Spiced Chinese Hoisin Duck Confit, Thai Chicken Satay.
People, it was inevitable. This is Los Angeles, the city of reinvention. It was only a matter of time before an imaginative chef put an urbane spin on your beloved taco.
I’m all for it. My adventurous palate couldn’t wait to taste these corn tortillas stuffed with unpredictably disparate deliciousness.
In Search of Sunshine
Maybe it was the overcast skies or the chill in the air — or perhaps it was simply opening night jitters. Who knows?
I like the concept. No, I love the concept. And I really wanted to love the food. But on this particular evening, Komida seemed to miss the mark.
Despite its headliner status, I had to go fishing through far too much slaw to hook the cod in the Japanese Miso Sake Black Cod Taco. Next up was the Spiced Chinese Hoisin Duck Confit Taco, which should have been meltingly tender and tasty, but arrived uncommitted to hoisin’s famous tangy sweetness, and was even a tad greasy.
Accompanying each selection were classic chips and some very brave and heady guacamole. Now, I love the subtle flavors in a good guacamole — creamy avocado, hint of cilantro, splash of lime. Unfortunately, this delicate combination was overpowered by one ingredient in Komida’s rendition — wasabi. While I appreciate the creativity, the strength of the Japanese horseradish kicked all other ingredients to the curb.
The space … well, let’s just say it has potential. If you like your comida and cócteles with a side of graffiti and a raw street vibe, then Komida’s atmosphere might be right up your alley. The outdoor patio, with its dark brick, somber concrete, repurposed architectural pieces and tough wrought iron chairs, evoked a backlot movie set that felt sparse and cold on an already cool October evening. Some heat and a few aesthetic touches could really warm up the place.
On the bright side, Komida served up some kicky salsas and colorful cocktails. The Nectarine Agave Salsa, Ginger Pico de Gallo and Korean Chili Salsa Roja were fresh and piquant. The White Lychee Sangria and Jamaica Aqua Fresca con Bubbles brought a sweet contrast to the spicy salsas.
Soy and Red Wine Braised Short Rib Tacos at a farmers’ market are an enjoyable novelty. But public expectations escalate once you transition from a simple taco stand to a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Atmosphere, layout, interaction with servers, and numerous other touch-points contribute to the overall dining experience.
The road to restaurant success is paved with speed bumps, and Komida hit a minor one on opening night. Although my initial impression wasn’t wildly positive, I think it can easily get there. Komida simply needs to tweak the details.
After all, everyone’s entitled to a second chance in Hollywood, and there’s too much good stuff here to do otherwise.
I can just picture a sequel on the menu — the Hollywood (and Highland) Comeback Taco. Smells delicious.
1738 North Orange Drive
Hollywood, CA 90028
The location is currently only open two days a week for
Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Hours will be expanded in November.