Makani Gerardi flipped the Venice branch of her Pono Burger concept into Makani, a modern Korean-influenced restaurant that no longer has a burger on the menu, and instead features creative cooking from up-and-coming chef Kevin Lee. The decade-long protégée to DTLA Josef Centeno started cooking at Lazy Ox Canteen before rising to chef de cuisine at Baco Mercat and Bar Ama. Chef Lee’s now charting his own culinary path by the beach.
My favorite plate on the plant-lined patio starred Braised Lengua ($18). Tender beef tongue cubes rested on a soft, seared potato cake folded with a prodigious amount of cheese. Chunky crushed avocado and a tangy cascade of tomatillo salsa helped boost the beef. Aromatic curry leaf, lemon juice, clipped chives, and crunchy sprouts rounded out the plate.