LOS ANGELES — Except for the A-frame architecture, there is no sense of the IHOP that used to inhabit this space in Culver City. Below the vaulted ceiling at A-Frame restaurant, which seats 80 to 90, depending on how snug you want to get with your neighbor, a large triangular picture window lets light stream into the warm, modern space. The view is all trees and sky. You can hardly believe you are on a major highway on the west side of LA. Bright, lacquered furniture adds pops of color. Walls are covered in a pleasing wood panel. A sunny table-filled patio with lush vegetation shields diners from the parking lot and traffic. A-Frame is open, airy, inviting, and fun. It’s hip without being intimidating, cheerful without being cheesy. The food at this 2-year-old spot has been described as Asian-fusion picnic, and it’s food you want to dig into right now.
Executive chef and co-owner Roy Choi grew up in Los Angeles, but after a trip to Hawaii he knew he wanted the space to have a laid-back Hawaiian feel (he owns the restaurant with David Reiss). Choi became known for his Kogi taco trucks, which blend the ubiquitous LA taco truck with ingredients from his Korean heritage. They have attracted huge buzz, and a following of artists, bloggers, surfers, and celebrities, who were happy to follow him here, his first brick-and-mortar restaurant. He now has three other establishments: Alibi Room, Chego, and Sunny Spot. Choi was named best new chef by Food & Wine magazine in 2010, the only chef cooking out of a truck to be so honored.