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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

A Less Intimate Fan Fan Unfolds

September 12, 1993|LAURIE OCHOA

Is bigger always better? Until it went out of business, the tiny Franco-Asian restaurant C'est Fan Fan, near downtown L.A., counted many big-name chefs among its fans. Now the restaurant has turned up in a new, larger spot closer to the Westside.

As before, you choose one of two menus--one, $31, with chicken salad, smoked salmon and caviar, a choice of lamb chops or fish and dessert; the other, $39, with a mushroom terrine, sauteed foie gras, a choice of roast lobster or Peking duck and dessert. But the experience is much less intimate than before--now you sit at tables, far from the kitchen action (though the door is left open for easy peeking). There are still a few kinks to work out in both the service and food. We remain hopeful.

Meanwhile, the new Garden Grill at the New Otani encourages intimacy with its countertop seating around several grills. Though you can order a la carte, there are set menus to choose from, emphasizing steak (New Yorks and filets, both American and pricey and tender Japanese beef) sliced and grilled. Appetizers are light fish or vegetable dishes. You're right in on the action as your chef grills your meat, Benihana-style. But--this is the sober '90s--the chefs keep their knives to themselves.

* C'est Fan Fan, 8412 West 3rd St., Los Angeles, (213) 852-1223. Dinner for two, food only, $62-$78. * Garden Grill at the New Otani, 120 S. Los Angeles St., Los Angeles, (213) 629-1200. Dinner for two, food only, $20-$225.

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