FIN Asian Tapas Bar

Seductively enchanting  FIN Asian Tapas Bar is modestly tucked  into bustling Culver City. Sporting a chic minimalist atmosphere, it comes to the life nightly, offering tasty Asian tapas and vibrant cocktails.

             As if a sushi  bar has been turned upside down and merged with the culinary styles of French, American and Latin cooking,  FIN is an amalgam  of cultures colliding in an unexpectedly marvelous mixture. Each seasonal menu is a culmination of  remarkable, creative and delicious dishes.

            The house, now home to FIN, which was once an authentic Mexican restaurant for over 20 years, came to fruition under the direction of FIN Managing Partners  Gerardo Reyes and Michael Flanagan who serendipitously stumbled upon the space nearly two years ago.

 They brought bar aficionado Kenneth Whong of Sushi House Unico and Kanzen in Manhattan Beach on board, adding 30 years of combined restaurant experience between the trio.

            “Myself, Gerardo and Ken are complete opposites,” says Flanagan.  I was raised in the family restaurants, before moving to the states and managing popular eateries like Rockenwagner, OBrien’s Irish pub and Via Veneto. Reyes, a Southern California native who has had his hand in several successful restaurant ventures, including  Blue Velvet and Westwood’s Tengu Sushi shares the same mutual objective and had a distinct vision for FIN.

            The collaboration of these three distinct backgrounds appropriately mirrors the diverse FIN menu. Offering fresh and flavorful plates that are perfect for sharing, the menu is broken up by Cold  Dishes, Hot Dishes from the Sea, Hot Dishes from the Land, Rolls, Side Dishes and Salads.

            Kicking-off the menu are cold dishes of fresh sashimi, cerviche, tuna tartare and one-of-a-kind tasty tacos. The Jicama Fish Tacos with Asian Slaw, is a refreshingly unique dish composed of hand-breaded Basa Sole wrapped in a crisp-cut jicama taco shell and topped with Asian coleslaw and a kiss of chipotle. Another unique and spicy spin on the shrimp taco, the Tiger Prawn Tacos are minced and served in crispy bite-sized wontons with wasabi aioli and ponzu pico de gallo. A light, yet decadent standout, the Lightly Seared Beef Carpaccio with Japanese Vinaigrette is a deliciously satisfying carpaccio, delicately seared with a light flame, drizzeld with chive truffle oil and topped with crispy shitake mushrooms and micro greens garnish.

            Bright and clean flavors shine in the Citrus Salmon Sashimi Truffle, thinly sliced with Alaskan salmon topped with shaved black truffles, and drizzled with a citrus truffle soy dressing so delectable, you would be remiss to rid your table of the excess sauce left on the plate. A FIN insider tip: Order up a pair of the Baked Crab Hand Roll to follow, so that you can dip the crab meat wrapped in sesame encrusted white soy paper in the  citrus truffle soy dressing. An un expectedly delicious pairing that Flanagan and Reyes discovered during a meal one evening.

            Fresh-caught and seasonal hot dishes from the sea include Seared Kiwi Scallops with a pairing of fire-roasted kiwi slices, topped with succulent Japanese sauteed scallops, sweet soy glaze and garnished with a crispy lotus root. The Miso Glazed Black Cod is steeped in sake and marinated in miso, baked and served with poached asparagus and carrots.

            Rounding out the menu  are hot dishes from the land, Asian-influenced prepared proteins served with American comfort food style sides. Pepper Encrusted Filet Mignon with Truffle Mash Potato and Plum Reduction Wine Sauce is decadent. Pan Seared Miso Ginger Chicken Breast, an aromatic dish, is tender and served with rosemary mashed potatoes.

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            Simple and sweet desserts include locally baked Brownies (peanut butter, chocolate and rocky road flavored) from the neighboring Hot Cakes Bakery with Black Sesame ice cream; cheesecake with strawberry sauce and a selection of traditional Mochi (Japanese rice cake ice cream) in strawberry, vanilla, green tea and red bean choices.

 

            For those who prefer to sip their sweets, try a house made Key Lime Martini or Espresso Martini made with vodka, Bailey’s, Kahlua and Frangelico, two of FIN’s four dessert cocktails crafted by Managing Partner and Beverage Director, Kenneth Whong.”I strive for a good balance between bartending and mixology.  l use farm fresh ingredient and try to really showcase the flavors from each component used to prepare each cocktail,” says Whong. “From cool and brisk to spicy and hearty, there is a lovable libation for every type of cocktail connoisseur.”

            FIN Asian Tapas Bar is located at 12223 West Washington Blvd in Culver City.  Phone (310) 398-8611 or www.finculvercity.com . Open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday , and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

 

            The Alley Lounge a back room extension of the FIN building, is a separate  swanky hidden speakeasy that’s a spirited tribute to the 1920s.  A posh hideaway, it can only be accessed through the  lamppost -lined suburban back alley, that leads up to a carpet flanked by flickering candles.

            Kick back bar-side or curl up on a plush couch, while sipping on  a concise menu of libations including spicy cocktails from Barman Russell Thomas, along with gourmet grub snacks including artisanal sandwiches.

            Alley Lounge is open Monday through Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 12 midnight, and Thursday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. For more information or to plan a special event go towww.AlleyLoungeLA.com  or (310) 596-8257.

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