Greater Thousand Oaks -Westlake-It May be One Of the The Elite Places To Live in America-Perhaps The World

We have lived in the Thousand Oaks area for 38 years and have been a leading entrepreneur since 1961 when the population was 16, 000 and The Janss Mall was a big deal with the small and only film theater within 15 miles. If you wanted to dine well, or see an important film, you had to drive to  the  “Deaded Valley” or Malibu or for the really serious stuff, West Los Angeles. For fine food, live musicals and theater you had to spend 2 hours getting to the Music Center downtown after which you filed bankruptcy.

Today, there are in excess of 5 resaurants that beat anything  in the Valley with that one  possible exception??? off Fallbrook in Woodland hills., and a $150 per person Omakase Sushi Bar in Studio city.We now have in addition to the fine Tuscany,its sister Rustico, plus Cafe 14 and now , Payman Afshar and his famed chef’s surprising new move of Leila’s from Kanan road to Westlake Plaza   It is now called     . Then there is  Lisa Biondi’s fine cooking at Mediterraneo and the  conveniently located the street from the Regent Theater which features the hot sophisticated foreign and domestic films that open the same day as Beverly Hills. Well managed and usually jammed Lakeview Garden has very pleasant Chinese food conveniently adjacent to the Regent though for best and widest  Chinese choices, we do recommend  Chester’s Asia in Camarillo ……worth the trip over the Hill.


Now In  The Lakes adjacent to The Entertainment Center .and the only one that I know of in the entire county but a gigantic winner is Pho 9021. It is owned by master chef Kimmy Tang and offers sophisticated Asian food touched by French and Chinese nuances at prices that amaze. A giant bowl of iconic Pho soup is $9. It feeds two. Or more. Full lunch specials are bargains at $9.95. I rate it just about as good as the famed “Slanted Door at The Bay Bridge in San Francisco at about 1/2 the price.

Kimmy just won top prize at a big Westside L.A. cooking event against some major local chefs. 9021 Pho’s inexpensive takeout has caught on so much that Kimmy now offers pre-ordering on the phone with pickup in the rear parking lot.

 In Westlake just off Agoura Road on Village Glen is Kaminari, clearly the best and most sophisticated  SUSHI BAR in Ventura County. His Uni and Oysters are to die for …but top of the price line.Tell him Frankabout food sent you.

Red Meat

As the Thousand Oaks area hit the “Hot Spot” of the country on thecomputers of the developes and Dole’s Murdoch built The Four Seasons Hotel, steakhouses soon followed. Holdrens from Santa Barbara opened on Ventura Road in Newbury Park. it is solid and fairly priced and busy all the time.

Prime of Ventura opened in the large spot across from the theater in Agoura in a spot that has been an “Elephants Graveyard” ofdining for over 25 years. It is somewhat hip from its oroginal Ventura ownership who was a sax player with Woody Heman and now operated by an aggressive new owner who features live music and espcially on Thursday via a Frank Sinatra style singer in the large bar dining area.The main room is somewhat quiet. Often there are special pricing choices that make it interesting.

Then of couse there is Mastro’s for Masochists across from the Civic Cener. The  Waiters seem to be trained in Beverly Hills to be somewhat insulting and condescnding with the expectaion that this attitude results in the diner spendin $200 or more per person  to prove that he has more money than th waiter.

In contrast is that other Beverly Hills import “Grill on The Alley ”

Luckily for my wife and me, we don’t much red meat except for Hamburger…medium rare. I just had a Wagyu beef burger perfectly prepared in New York at Jean George on Columbus Circle perhaps the best dining in the city as part of their famous $38 goumet lunch.  It was wondrful since we went to Kennedy from there to face airline food.


Kaminari for Serious Sushi

It is amazing. After 13 years of, the question most asked is “What is the best Sushi Bar in the Ventura County Area?” That would seem to be and is a tough question since sadly there are almost as many supposed “Japanese”  sushi bars in the county now as there are low end chain Pizza joints and with quality often ranging toward those lower at a similar level. And we have checked out just about every one of any potential from Calabasas to Oxnard.

But if the owner and ALL Sushi chefs are not native Japanese, we walk. We lived in Japan ate lots of true Sushi there and do speak fluent Japanese

And thus what we discovered is that because of a shortage of TRULY trained  (10 years prox) in  Japan “Sushiyas”, most of the current crop are non-Japanese Asians faking that they are Japanese Sushi Chefs. Not one of them that we talked to has ever been been near the world famous Tsukiji Fish market in Tokyo and their expertise begins and ends with slicing the dreaded “California” or “Ventura Roll”. If that is your style don’t bother to read further.

But if you are “Serious About Sushi” Kaminari (Japanese for Thunder) in Westake Village stands out from all the rest. When you enter this small room, you will be transported to the Ginza in Tokyo. You will be greeted by a charming diminutive Japanese server. Behind the bar are 2 true Sushi Masters who have been on this job  for a decade plus Chef Owner Hidekazu   with 40 plus years of slicing, chopping and squeezing behind him. He is also at the downtown fish market every morning with his Japanese Tsukiji trained eye selecting the freshest and best fish available. He will not accept Santa Barbara Sea Urchin (uni) unless it measures up to his high standards.The same goes for all the Ngiri sushi served as well as the very creative rolls that are also on the menu. He is as good as they comie!

Service is the best. But there can be a wait on weekends.

If you know what you want, you will immediately recognize the difference. If you are an adventurer, consider ordering “Omakase” which is Chef’s Choice while indicating a price limit starting with a low of at least $50 per person while adding your own special choices  such as Toro (BlueFin Tuna) or that very special Sea Urchin (Uni).

Avoid the “All You Can Eat, On a Revolving Belt or Near The Water Hustlers”  You will get a lot of rice, soy sauce and very little True Fresh Fish

Kaminari is slightly higher in price than others but absolutely worth it for the serious Sushi Lover.


2891 Agoura Road, Westlake Village 91361
(Actually on Village Glen)
Most Credit Cards   Convenient Free Parking