ASA MEZA OPENS IN HOLLYWOOD- BLEND OF ASIAN AND LATINO DELIGHTS THE PALATE
By Michael Hepworth and Albert Hayashi
ASA MEZA is a new spot in Hollywood just at the corner of Hollywood and Vine that boasts a stunning library style interior and an outdoor patio area that will become a big hit in the upcoming summer months. They opened up in early February and in the first month business was a bit spotty, but it is slowly picking up now that the word is getting out.
Head chef is Joey Lopez and his brigade includes Crudo Chef Rui Mateo and Pastry Chef David Rodriguez. The head mixologist is Justin Kim who has created a signature list of cocktails mostly priced around $12 and focusing on the areas such as Chile, Venezuela, Mexico and Peru. There are eleven bottled beers all priced at $7 including Dark Truth Stout, Hopnosh IPA and Bitburger, and six beers on draft including Dos Equis, Kirin and Goose Island.
Service is still a little disorganized but friendly enough, and as soon as we got going the dishes started coming out quickly, although unfortunately several items on the menu were sold out. Such was the case with the Cauliflower Soup which they serve with caramelized onions, tomato relish, cilantro oil and a crispy crouton, something I really wanted to try. Instead I went for the Cocido ($10), a hearty beef broth with winter vegetables-also nice and spicy. My guest had the Beet Salad ($11), which was highlighted by the roasted pumpkin seeds and the orange queso with a citrus dressing.
Next up came the Hamachi Sashimi ($12), excellent value and an attractive presentation with a combination of spices that blend well with the sweet potato mousse. The Sashimi also comes in versions of Tuna, Salmon and Prawn and is picked up every morning at the airport from an out of town supplier. I just thought that the caramelized popcorn with this dish was a great idea and a complete surprise as it is not listed on the menu.
Next up was the Short Rib ($27) marinated in a braised pear and a gochujang sauce with a kabocha squash that was done perfectly, as was the Casuela Del Mar ($27), the restaurant’s version of a sea food tomato broth with prawns, mussels, octopus and calamari. Also a word of praise for the Tuna Ceviche ($14), a strikingly pungent dish with rocoto, leche de tigre, sweet potato and choclo. I believe that the place is actually open in the morning for artisan coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters and the divine leaf from Art of Tea.
On a side note, I was thinking about what the word Meza means. We have a Spanish Rich Journey reporter named Deserie Meza (no relation to the restaurant) on our staff. The word Meza means to rock or push as in a “swing”. With “aza” meaning a handle or grip, my own interpretation of Aza Meza literally means to swing a pan handle around in the kitchen. I believe this new South and Central American Vine Street Hollywood fusion food succeeds in swinging and hits a homerun out of the kitchen and into the mouths of the Hollywood crowd foodies.
Location: 1718 Vine St, Hollywood
Parking: Valet, $10.00 also meter parking
Hours: 11:00 AM- 4:00 PM (LUNCH), 5:00 PM-12:00 AM (DINNER), until 2:00 AM (FRI/SAT)