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The last time I had dinner in Encino was in 2016 at Chef Phillip Frankland Lee's Scratch|Bar, a restaurant on the second floor of a strip mall that offers nightly tasting menus featuring seasonal ingredients. Two years ago, hidden behind Scratch|Bar, he opened up Sushi|Bar, an Omakase Speakeasy that serves a 17 course sushi meal for $125 per person. I love sushi and am always game to try a new place and added this to my list. And finally I made it for dinner. Sushi|Bar is not your typical sushi bar and much more like a speakeasy. We made our reservation for 6pm and were told to arrive 30 minutes early for a welcome cocktail. We arrived at the mall, took the escalator to the second floor and found an unmarked door with a doorbell. We rang the bell, gave our names, and were invited in to a small room with a bar and some tables. We had arrived promptly at 5:30pm and we were the first people there. We were welcomed with a drink of sake, lemon juice and ginger. And, as we enjoyed our drink, a few more guests arrived took seats and had their drinks. Promptly at 6pm, we were invited to follow the hostess into Sushi|Bar. There were a total of six of us. Sushi|Bar can accommodate a total of eight people at a time. There are actually two sushi bars, one with reservations at 6pm and 8pm and one with reservations at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm.
Sitting in a strip mall with neighbors such as Mediterranean Bar and Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, Massage Envy, Gymboree, Coffee Bean, Allen Edwards Salon, Larsen's Steakhouse, a dental office, clothing boutiques and a carousel, I was surprised that was where I would find Chef Phillip Frankland Lee's Scratch Bar & Kitchen. But there it was, tucked into the second floor on the mall in Encino. encino-mall Scratch Bar & Kitchen first opened in Beverly Hills in 2013 and that was the first time I was introduced to Chef Lee. When the restaurant closed, Chef Lee opened the vegetable driven Gadarene Swine in Studio City which I went to a number of times. I was always impressed by the creativity of each dish, showcasing vegetables in ways one would never think of. Sadly Gadarene Swine recently closed but happily Chef Lee re-opened Scratch Bar & Kitchen one year ago in a strip mall in the valley. scratch-bar-kitchen-1