When you live in a city the size of LA, you become familiar with the in-between areas. They’re those quiet stretches of town where neighborhoods end and new ones haven’t quite started yet, and almost everyone is on their way to someplace else.
West LA is one of this city’s quintessential in-betweens. Sandwiched between Santa Monica, Culver City, Century City, and Westwood, it’s where everybody ends up eventually, yet few know what to do once they get there. Here’s a tip - go eat at Necco, a casual Japanese restaurant serving some of our favorite meals in the area.
Necco has been open since 2014, but unless you live in the neighborhood surrounding Westwood Blvd., chances are you’ve never heard of it. And that’s part of the allure - it feels like a secret. Its tiny, sparsely decorated space (there’s about eight tables to go around) exudes a Zen-like energy that’s ideal for waiting out rush hour traffic or clearing your head during UCLA midterms. But when the food starts hitting the table, you realize Necco is much more than just a relaxing sanctuary. This is some of the best Japanese food for the price on the Westside.
Necco is technically a small plates/tapas restaurant, and depending on when you’re there, you’ll be handed anywhere from 3-5 different menus as soon as you sit down. There’s the daily specials, a la carte tapas, a full list of their big platters, and a page describing all their different omusubi (Japanese rice balls). Needless to say, it’s tough to know which direction you’re supposed to head in.
Here’s what you do - get the “Best In One” combo. It’s a $30 platter featuring 10 different Japanese tapas, plus two omusubi balls, that also happen to be the 10 best things on the menu. You’ll get a perfectly marinated miso salmon, deep-fried lotus root, and some of our favorite jidori fried chicken in LA. The thick slices of mozzarella cheese sitting around the edge of the platter might be a surprise, but after tasting how fresh they are - and how well they go with the tempura vegetables - you’ll quickly be asking for more. It’s a lot of food, but if you come hungry, you can definitely handle it as a solo lunch. If you’re with a group, put it in the center of the table for everybody to pick at, then add in other tapas or more fried chicken (because the first order was eaten too quickly).
When a restaurant is as full of good food as Necco is, it’s important to sit back and enjoy it. After all, if you’re here, you’re probably on your way to somewhere else. But now that you have a good reason to stop and hang out for a bit, that destination can wait.
You can go to Necco and order as much a la carte tapas as you want, or you can make your life easier and get this combo platter instead. Deep-fried lotus root, Japanese roast beef, karaage chicken, marinated salmon, goma ae (sesame marinated kale and nori), fresh vegetables, tofu, mozzarella, miso soup, and two omusubi of your choice. For $30, it’s a tremendous value and also a great way to try the best things that Necco serves. Whether you’re with a group or by yourself, this has to hit the table.
This remarkably simple dish (boiled kale in a sesame and seaweed sauce) appears on the Best In One, but if you’re with a group, it’s not nearly enough for everybody - especially because it’ll be everybody’s favorite. So order this big version as well. Actually, go ahead and order two of them.
Deep-fried in potato starch and marinated in a dashi broth with ginger, this plate of chicken is aromatic, savory, and full-out addicting. And at $9, it’s an excellent solo lunch option if you aren’t in the mood to fully commit to the Best In One.