Yamashiro is one of my all-time favorite date restaurants in Los Angeles. The ambiance is right out of a Samurai movie, and it has one of the most amazing views of L.A. of any restaurant I know. The garden in front of the restaurant has got to be one of the most romantic spots in L.A!
NOTE: Yamashiro recently changed ownership and was closed briefly, but is apparently back now! I hope we’ll have many more years to enjoy Yamashiro!
Yamashiro means “Mountain Palace” in Japanese, and that’s a good description of what it is. It was built as a private Japanese-themed estate of the Bernheimer brothers in 1914.
During the 1920’s, it served as a private club for Hollywood’s elite. When World War II broke, out, anti-Japanese sentiment resulted in the vandalism of the property, and much of the decor was destroyed or covered up to disguise its Asian appearance.
In 1948, a builder bought the property with the intent to destroy the building, until he discovered the ornate woodwork hidden under the plywood covering. He decided to save the building and embarked on a restoration effort which continues today.
Amazingly, Yamashiro is usually not that crowded, (shhhh, let’s keep it that way) but I would still recommend making reservations for dinner. If you just want drinks, you can just come up without reservations.
Part of the Yamashiro experience is about walking around the gardens after dinner (more on this later). So, be sure to bring a light jacket for you and/or your date.
The entrance to Yamashiro is on Sycamore, off of Franklin Blvd in Hollywood. Sycamore is a small road with a tiny sign on Franklin, so watch for it. It’s near the Magic Castle, if that helps.
If possible, approach Sycamore from the East on Franklin. If you approach from the West, you have to make a gnarly left turn onto Sycamore while blocking traffic, resulting in angry drivers behind you.
Drive up the one-way street to the top, where they will valet park your car. Be sure to get your ticket validated in the restaurant (it’s $20 for parking without validation, $8 with validation).
If you can’t get a table with a view, don’t be too disappointed. The inner garden area is also very nice, and you can save the best views for your after-dinner stroll in the front garden.
The fusion-inspired dishes are good, but this is not the place to go for authentic Japanese cuisine or if you are a foodie. Personally, I like the food. My favorite dish is the shrimp and scallops.
Entrees range from the twenty to forty dollar range, which is reasonable, all things considered. With drinks, dessert, valet, and tips, a date can easily run over a hundred dollars.
The service can range from fine to slow. I remember feeling abandoned a few times in the courtyard, but the ambiance made up for it.
The Pagoda Bar
If you just want to have drinks outside and are okay with a limited menu selection, you can hang in the Pagoda Bar. The view is spectacular. But note, it is only open during the summer months.
The gardens.. and that incredible view
The great thing about going on a date at Yamashiro is that it gives you something to do after dinner. Just as important as the meal is a walk through the gardens in front of the restaurant. This is where you’ll see the amazing views of L.A. from Century City to Downtown. It’s a small garden, so savor every part of it. It doesn’t get much better than this!!!
You can pick out lots of landmarks from the Capitol Records building to downtown L.A., to Century City.
But, the real payoff of Yamashiro comes at night! This is why I think it’s one of the most romantic date spots in L.A. Walk slowly through the gardens and savor every minute of the view!
If you’re up for something afterwards, Hollywood is just a short drive down the hill!
I hope you have a great date at Yamashiro. Let us know about your experiences there! – Brian