Yamashiro Restaurant Offers Splendid Views of Los Angeles
With such limited time in Los Angeles last weekend, we were very lucky to squeeze in time for Sunday brunch at Yamashiro Restaurant. We were there about noon, and the place was empty. I wondered if it was because they charge $10 to valet park. We grabbed an Uber from the Hollywood Dream Hotel to the top of the hill in Whitley Heights where Yamashiro Restaurant is located. It was only $6.00. But the brunch itself was expensive as compared to a brunch in Sacramento, for example. Our tab, without mimosas, just soft drinks, was $120 for the two of us.
Yamashiro Restaurant is steeped in history. The name in Japanese means Mountain Palace. It was built in 1911 by two brothers from Germany as a residence. Supposedly it was a re-creation of a palace in Kyoto, Japan. History says it’s not completely Japanese. The architecture and design influences are also Chinese and incorporates elements from other Asian areas. Over the years it’s been a speakeasy of sorts, a military school for boys and was purchased by Thomas O. Glover in the ’40s. Glover planned to build a hotel but discovered all of the beautiful silkscreen wall coverings and carved wood walls had been covered up during WWII — due to the country’s horrible attitude toward Japanese back then. Instead of building a hotel, Glover restored the place.
Thomas O. Glover, by the way, also purchased The Magic Castle, at the bottom of the road. That place is now a nightclub and restaurant.
I headed straight to the seafood buffet. On ice were delectable king crab legs, split in two; fresh oysters and jumbo shrimp, paired with an assortment of sauces and clarified butter. After completely pigging out, I wandered over to the hot station and ordered an omelette with mushrooms, cheddar cheese, and spinach. They don’t make you wait for it; a waiter brings the omelette to your table. However, the waiter also showed up with a quarter of a waffle, piled high with glossy sweet strawberries in a sugar sauce and a healthy dollop of fresh whipped cream. I felt guilty if I didn’t at least taste it, even though I did not order the waffle.
After I completely consumed the waffle, I thought about sampling the sushi, but passed that display by. It had been sitting out for at least an hour by now. Not only that, but it would taste weird to switch from something sweet. This meant I went for the only other viable option available: chocolate cake. It seemed dry, not very chocolate-y. Then, as my Sacramento real estate job requires, somebody called me about a listing. I grabbed my cellphone and headed out into the courtyard where I discovered a gorgeous koi pond.
My husband’s plan was we would walk back downhill to Hollywood to wear off some of the calories from brunch. Before we started that journey, though, I wanted to visit the Buddha in the Summer House. He faces west to ensure good luck and good fortune. Darn, I regretted dumping all the pennies out of my bag at the hotel. There is a pot of coins between his legs.
Yamashiro Restaurant is now owed by the JE Group, based in China. They are hotel operators. The group purchased the property on 7 acres in 2016. Fortunately, the Yamashiro Restaurant received its historic recognition in 2012 and was placed on the National Historic Register. It offers views of Los Angeles all the way to the ocean. You can also spot the top of a 600-year-old pagoda peeking over the tree tops. I bet it’s a very pretty view at night.