From haute to healthy at Joss Cuisine in Beverly Hills
December 17, 2012
BEVERLY HILLS, USA – It’s rare, but it happens: a Sunset Boulevard starlet grows up and goes traditional. The glitzy Hollywood days come to an end, and suddenly she’s got a role on a TV miniseries and a baby bump.
Such is the case, so to speak, with Joss Cuisine/Traditional, the healthy Chinese spot formerly known as Joss/Chinese Haute Cuisine. For 20 years, the restaurant occupied a sprawling space on Sunset Boulevard that catered to the starlet-and-agent set and emphasized the “haute” in its menu. In 2008, Joss moved to a refined Beverly Hills locale and pared down their space to about ten tables. With an organic menu focused on reflecting China’s culinary history, Joss grew up and settled down.
That’s a boon for the exclusive clientele (Chinese food aficionados, well-heeled Beverly Hills types, and a handful of cool kids) who squeezes into the diminutive digs. Their sleek look mixes traditional Asian features like hand-carved wooden screens with modern minimalism à la 1930s Shanghai. Though tables are spread over two floors, they’re pretty close together, so be prepared for some seriously intimate conversation.
The eats are fabulously fresh and creative. Organic produce from small contract farmers is used whenever possible. Healthy oils replace lard, sea salt stands in for granulated sodium, and spices like fresh ginger root eliminate any need for MSG. Their golden roasted Peking duck is an event worthy of much fanfare, but humbler dishes like chicken and fig soup elixir have a homespun elegance. While the offerings are a nice change from gloopy Chinese takeout, the takeout lunch menu is an absolute steal: $8.75 for your choice of two dishes (no wonder you see so many kids in jeans and flip-flops picking up takeway!). If you prefer to eat your lunch in house like a grown up, the $15 lunch special (3 pieces dim sum, soup or salad, and a la carte entreé) is a great deal too.
On Sunday afternoons, the restaurant transforms into a throwback to traditional Chinese tea house culture, with full dim sum service. There are no aluminum serving carts loaded with greasy fare here. Everything is made fresh to order, and the pace is leisurely (they don’t rush you out to fill the next table like some dim sum establishments). Space is limited, and seats fill up fast, so call ahead to guarantee your table.
Perhaps the biggest sign that Joss has put its party days behind is the beverage motto, “Tea will be the ‘new wine’ at Joss.” Sure, they have a beer and wine permit, but they’re much more interested in introducing you to the finest teas imported from China. As their website explains, “Among the tannins in tea is a substance called catechins which is found to help tissue damage. Perhaps for this reason, Asian women drink tea to maintain the youthfulness of their complexion.” Maybe it’s all that tea, but we think Joss has aged really, really well.
Read more about Joss Cuisine in our Los Angeles Guide.
Rachel Levin contributed to this post.