LA WEEKLY - Spirits Infuse Spirits And Food At Nakamura.Ke Mobile Kitchen

This article originally appeared on LAWEEKLY on July 15

Food and entertainment frequently go together. The extent to which they go together can, of course, vary significantly, but when certain foods are tied to themes — that’s when things really start getting fun. Nakamura.ke Mobile Kitchen [the “.ke” is the equivalent of “‘s” as in “Nakamura’s”] is a pop-up dining experience that recently opened its doors outside of Yamashiro Hollywood. Through its partnership with Yamashiro, Disco Dining Club and Dashboard, Nakamura.ke Mobile Kitchen has brought a ghostly dimension to the concept of the ramen bar.

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After making reservations for the exclusive experience, guests receive menu forms to select their preferred drinks and ramen dishes. Then, when the big night arrives, diners drive up to the beautiful grounds of Yamashiro, which is situated at the top of North Sycamore Avenue and provides a terrific view of Los Angeles. At the time of appointment, guests are ushered into Yamashiro’s lobby, where they are plied with Saké Mules. After the mule starts to kick, the herd is escorted through the restaurant — past its scenic Japanese garden — and down into the darkness of the basement. It is in the basement that the ghostly experience begins.

Within a corridor of glowing images and a haunting soundtrack, the hostess tells the tale of the Nakamura family. As the story goes, Mr. and Mrs. Nakamura mysteriously disappeared. Their children later re-opened their parents’ ramen shop to honor the family tradition; however, on the day they opened, the food, drinks, and utensils began to glow. Could the glowing be evidence of the Yōkai (spirits) of Mom and Dad? The Nakamura.ke Mobile Kitchen represents the efforts of the Nakamura siblings, who continually seek reunification with their lost parents.

The next stop is the mobile restaurant. The ramen shop resides within a cargo container, which sits just out back of Yamashiro. The tiny space is decorated beautifully with haunting artwork and creative lighting and once inside, the guests [six per appointment for the VIP treatment] indulge in the drink and food items they’d ordered prior to the date of their reservation. Holding true to the family folklore, the drinks and food glow fluorescently. The food and drink are delicious — the ramen broth being especially delectable.

Following the meal, which lasts about 45 minutes, guests are invited to visit Yomi’s Saloon, an add-on to the experience. It is also located out back of Yamashiro and is billed as an open-to-the-public speakeasy, where the living and the dead co-exist… and drink designer cocktails. The glowing motif of Nakamura.ke is shared via some of the saloon’s decor. The installation, itself, is the product of a partnership between Disco Dining Club and Kensho, and will remain on the grounds of Yamashiro for the duration of the Nakamura.ke pop-up’s term.

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FeaturedCraig Harrison