Five More Feet: Michael Kang is a man who likes a mystery. His Franco-Chinese restaurant in Laguna Beach (a hot spot there since 1985) is named 5'--that is, Five Feet. He'll give you all sorts of meanings for the name, but he won't tell which is the real one. Same with the new Five Feet that opened Wednesday in Le Colonial's old digs on Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood. Five Feet could mean that the restaurant sits 5 feet above sea level, or it could mean it has three investors, one of whom is one-legged. (That's Kang's favorite story so far. Patrons keep coming up with more explanations as the years go by.) Just don't ask whether Kang is 5 feet tall. "Don't sell me short!" he'll retort. Regardless, the new West Hollywood Five Feet will serve the same sort of food as its Laguna Beach original.
"Obviously, the staples will be the same," says Kang, "the Five Feet classics." Kang will be in the kitchen himself at least three days a week working alongside executive chef Eric Nguyen, who will interpret Kang's ideas in his own ways. "But the essence will be the same," says Kang.
Dinner starters (or Flatteries, as the menu calls them) include sugar cane lollipops of shrimp ($10), lotus-wrapped baby spareribs ($12) and a carpaccio of smoked ostrich with Asian pear slaw ($10). Each entree has its own kitschy name, such as the Drunken King (sake-cured King salmon broiled with miso-black bean butter; $26), the French Connection (loup de mer in an orange-fennel broth; $27) or Luau Lamb, (a Kona-coffee-glazed lamb rack; $34). Five Feet opens for dinner at 5 p.m. nightly, with a bar and lounge that's open from 5:15 p.m. The name of the bar is, of course, 5:15.
* Five Feet, 8783 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 289-0660.
A Twist at Hollywood & Highland? Twist restaurant opened recently (Dec. 26) in the newly refinished Renaissance Hollywood Hotel that adjoins the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex. The hotel (owned by Marriott Corp.) has transformed itself into a mid-20th century modernist creation; think 1960s done in a very stark, updated way with Asian touches. Twist sits on the second level of the hotel, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. It's so named because, as general manager Kathy Marienski puts it, "It's a twist on what you would usually expect." During the day, the tables are dressed in white linens. At night they change to black, set with silver chopsticks and crystal stemware.
The food, served in small portions (so you "don't have to steal," as the menu confusingly says), comes out on oversized white plates. Each diner gets a glass leaf called a share plate. The food is either set in the middle of the table for all to take from or passed around the table from diner to diner. The concept is similar to Asia de Cuba's, but Twist is trying to make it more friendly.
Chef Scott Higa sends out lobster crab cakes ($14), lemongrass chicken skewers ($10) and a pork back rib tower in a Thai barbecue marinade ($10) for starters at night. Dinner entrees run from pancetta-wrapped prawns ($22) to seared tenderloin with foie gras ($32) to Asian osso buco ($26). A sushi chef sets up a sushi bar Tuesday through Saturday nights.
Enter the hotel off of Highland Avenue.
* Twist, Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, 1755 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood; (323) 491-1000.
Spago Goes Hawaiian: The Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group added a fifth Spago to its roster last month (the others are in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, Chicago and Palo Alto). It's located inside the Four Seasons Resort Maui. Wolfgang Puck and his corporate chef, Lee Hefter (you know him as the chef at Spago Beverly Hills), designed the menu to be a fusion of Hawaiian and Californian cuisines. The Maui operation's executive chef, Jason Seibert, met Hefter while the two worked at Barbara Tropp's China Moon Cafe in San Francisco. Seibert has been Spago Palo Alto's sous chef for the past four years. Spago Maui is open for dinner nightly.
* Spago, Four Seasons Resort Maui, 3900 Wailea Alanui, Wailea, Maui; (808) 879-2999.
The Beverly Hills Diner: Fred Eric, owner of the restaurant Vida and the diner Fred 62, both in Los Feliz, has plans to invade Beverly Hills. He'll open Fred 62--An Airstream Diner if his licensing deal with Airstream trailers goes through. The look will be sleek and silver and even more diner-like than the original Fred 62. Eric will also put a doughnut stand in this new "Fred 62 with a Gucci flair," as he calls it. He's hoping to open in April at Camden Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard, where Azia operated.