The Diva Does the Miyako Hybrid Hotel

When I stepped into the new Miyako Hybrid Hotel it felt like I’d left LA and gone to Japan. 

 Gracious kimono-clad receptionists greeted us softly with welcome smiles. The lobby speaks the Orient and everything about the highly-stylized 208-room reflects a yin and yang serenity.

 Hard to fathom such graciousness smack amid a bustling commercial area in Torrance, California, 25-minutes from downtown Los Angeles and a stone’s throw from LAX. We actually went to the hotel to sample the much touted Gonpachi Restaurant Sushi Bar & Lounge.

 We decided to tie it in with an over-night to see exactly what a “Hybrid Hotel” was all about. The whole experience proved rather pleasant. Your basic business traveler facility, there’s no pool or recreational facilities, but a spa and fitness center are in the works, and there’s free Internet connection, two computers available to guests, and shuttle service to and from the airport.

Unless you’re doing business at one of many Japanese corporations (Toyota, Honda and the like) that line Western Avenue, or need a place to plop on a LAX layover, you might be better off just going to Miyako to sample the Japanese fusion cuisine offered at Gonpachi.

The Diva loved her room.

 Comfortable and beautifully appointed , the bed actually engulfed us into a wonderful night’s sleep.   Nice touches include  coffee makers, ultra fine linens, 46 inch flatscreen TVs,, luxurious soaking tubs in which I indulged for a long bath, heated water bidets, and a special system that shuts off electricity when you leave the room (with the exception of a special plug for cell phones etc).

The management prides itself on being “green” and makes special other efforts such as labeling trash baskets for recycling and changing sheets every three days.

 We sampled Gonpachi early in the game—it had opened only two weeks prior to our visit, December 2, 2009. We were told the menu and the wine list weren’t yet completed. Named after “Shirai Gonpachi”, the main character of a Kabuki, a form of traditional Japanese Theatre, the restaurant has an authentic edge. We ordered several items and enjoyed every attractively presented bite from the house, hand-made soba and udon noodles, to plates such as Sunomono –thinly sliced japanese cucumber in tosazu, Meiji Tofu, silken tofu with shibazuke sauce, crispy fried chicken with ponzu sauce, Gindara Saikyo Yaki–grilled miso-marinated black cod, kobe beef and mushroom cooked in hoba leaf (this was particularly fantastic), mixed seaweed : sweet sesame vinaigrette, Red Snapper Carpaccio with blueberry, garlic chips and yuzu kosho(also amazing), Kobujime–thin sliced halibut sashimi on kelp with daikon radish and red chili peppers (couldn’t get enough of this but had to save room), Flying Dragon–spicy tuna roll topped with unagi tempura and guess what? Cheese cake for dessert that was outstanding. It‘s definitely worth checking out when you get a yen for really good Japanese cuisine. And, if you’re really into all these Asian, check out the adjacent Mitsuwa Marketplace—where you can pick up anything from Japanese spices to fresh fish, takeout food, clothing and even Shiseido cosmetics. Miyako Hybrid Hotel, 21381 S. Western Avenue, Torrance, 310-212-5111, www.miyakohybridhotel.com.

Since I’m sure  you’re curious, “Hybrid” according to the company suggests eco-friendliness which is carried through with solar-powered electrical system, environmentally responsible and recycled construction materials. Miyako refers to “a flourishing center of business and entertainment.” Miyako Hybrid is the newest member of the well-respected Japanese hospitality chain.