Pop music gets a bad rap. It’s “trite,” “cliched,” or “reductive,” according to people opposed to anything in the mainstream. But those people are wrong. From David Bowie to Carly Rae Jepsen, pop stars have always made music that is not just legitimately weird and surprisingly deep, but catchy enough that you’ll be singing it in the shower for the next 20 years. And doing all that is a lot harder than you’d think.
If there’s any restaurant that reminds us of a pop song, it’s Yours Truly in Venice. This Abbot Kinney spot is eminently on-trend, from its menu full of buzzwords and brightly patterned benches, to the all-white interior and massive indoor plants we suspect were smuggled out of the Amazon. It even shares its name with Ariana Grande’s debut album. Yet, much like how you wouldn’t have assumed that a five-foot-tall pop star could hit the whistle register, you shouldn’t judge Yours Truly on appearances alone. Because after your first visit, you won’t be able to get this place out of your head.
Let’s start with the menu. If anything, it reads like it was written by a New Los Angeles Restaurant Bot: Avocado hummus. Chicken liver mille crepe. Nashville Hot Shrimp. It may seem predictable, but the food definitely isn’t. The creamy and smooth avocado hummus is topped with a dollop of peanuts, a squeeze of lime, and salsa macha. That mille crepe does, in fact, look exactly like a tiramisu, but inside the buttery layers of rye crepe is surprisingly gamey (and excellent) chicken liver.
And while just about any restaurant can take a protein and make it “Nashville-style” by breading it, frying it, and spicing it, Yours Truly’s huge Nashville Hot Shrimp might be the best iteration of the dish we’ve had in LA. The shrimp is fantastically hot, the milk bread underneath soaks up the spices perfectly, and it’s all cooled down by a cabbage slaw with pickle juice vinaigrette. None of it tastes as precious as it might seem when it arrives at your table (or shows up in your Instagram feed) because as nicely plated as it all is, the food is hearty, interesting, and flavorful.
In fact, Yours Truly’s biggest missteps occur when they try to do too much. There’s a corn and crab chawanmushi (a savory tofu pudding) that’s egg-y and custardy the way chawanmushi should be, but the Dungeness crab is doused with XO sauce, and neither aspect adds much to the dish. And we love the ribeye on its own - it’s salty, fatty, and tender - but it’s served with blistered shishitos and a togarashi sauce that reminds us a bit of mayo, and just adds too much fat to a plate that already has a massive hunk of ribeye on it.
Yours Truly could get by on the simple fact that it’s one of the nicest-looking restaurants in an area populated by tourists and Snapchat C-suites - just like how some pop stars skate by on Auto-Tune alone. But ultimately, Yours Truly distinguishes itself by taking risks and exceeding expectations. The next time we find ourselves humming “thank u, next,” we know it’s not going to be about this place.
While you might ignore weird hummus mash-ups in the grocery store, you definitely shouldn’t ignore this. No matter how many times you come back here, this is how you should start every meal at Yours Truly.
This mashed eggplant is super flavorful, and, with the fermented muhammara on top, ideal for spreading on the sesame bread it comes with.
Cacio E Pepe Potatoes
Even though they’re served at dinner, we’d eat them for breakfast every day if we could, thanks to the egg, potatoes, and cheese. They’re another mash-up that we fully approve of.
No matter how you imagine this fish hitting the table when you order it, you’ll be wrong. It’s basically a make-your-own hamachi taco in a perilla leaf with mango sambal, avocado, and crispy shallots on top. We’d come back just for this dish and a glass of wine.
Nashville Hot Shrimp
We somehow missed the edict that any restaurant opening must have Nashville Hot something or other on the menu - chicken, quail, albatross (maybe). Nonetheless, this dish is huge, hot, and served with an addictive pickled slaw on the side.
Yours Truly takes a lot of risks - most of them (like the hamachi) work. Some don’t, and this is one of them. The salty uni, trout roe, and chipotle butter - all things we love - are too much of the same flavor, and overpower the squid ink shells.
A perfectly layered bowl filled with grilled banana, banana caramel, vanilla ice cream, and salty crust crumbles that taste like homemade graham crackers. Don’t think twice - order it.