Eclectic new concept lets diners explore the region’s culinary scene without leaving the building

By Jessica Koslow

Put the words airport, hotel and food together and you aren’t usually talking about an unforgettable meal. But that’s just what Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport’s new three-in-one dining concept — the conspicuously un-capitalized unity la market, bar and restaurant — aims to serve. Their motto, “unquestionably un-airport,” says it all.

The average stay of a visitor at the Hyatt Regency is one day. The hotel’s mission is to expose guests to L.A.’s diverse food scene without them having to leave the building.

“We want to give people a sense of where they were for a short amount of time,” says Charles Fusco, executive chef at unity la.

The unity la menu is currently divided into the fare of six neighborhoods: Thai Town, Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights, East L.A., Santa Monica and Sunset Strip. In East L.A., chicken mole is plated with chorizo potato hash. Boyle Heights showcases charred corn salad and crispy pork belly. Santa Monica offers up fish tacos and California salad, with roasted kabocha squash. The Drunken Noodles from Thai Town is a take on a traditional Thai hangover cure, shares Fusco.

Hyatt hotels are known for their food and beverage programs, and particularly that the programs are loyal to the city where they operate.

Fusco came onboard at Hyatt Regency in 2015, one year after the hotel had reopened. He’s spent the past year researching food from each L.A. neighborhood.

“Our team scoured L.A.’s neighborhoods, tasting the cuisine in each one to create menus that introduce guests to our diverse and ethnically rich city,” he says.

And so what was once a restaurant centered around a pizza oven now takes diners on a culinary tour of Los Angeles.

“Food plays an important role in connecting and educating visitors in Los Angeles about the cultural richness of each community,” says Fusco. “Located at the gateway to the city, just steps away from LAX, we saw great opportunity to introduce travelers who may not be able to visit these neighborhoods during their stay, as well as locals, to the diverse flavors intrinsic to L.A. neighborhoods.”

L.A. native Jonathan Solis joined Fusco as chef de cuisine a few months ago. He’s a man whose mom made —and taught him to make — a mean mole, and he loves Asian cuisine: Thai, Korean, Vietnamese. So unity la’s menu is an exciting prospect for Solis.

The menu will change seasonally. Neighborhoods will rotate (Koreatown will feature bibimbap, a variously topped rice bowl that typically features kimchi), and the chefs will incorporate different items into the menu depending on time of year. Next up, Solis says he may add grilled cactus, watermelon, fresh corn, tomatoes and berries.

The kitchen sources all of its ingredients from within 90 miles, another reason unity la stands out among airport hotel restaurants.

And it’s not just for tourists. Each part of unity la — the bar, the market and the restaurant — features a different menu experience and occupies a separate area of the hotel.

The bar is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it specializes in plates for sharing with a heavy emphasis on American classics. But there’s also queso fundido with house-made tortilla chips; posole with Guajilo chile broth, hominy and Kurobuta pork; and cold noodle salad with Bloomsdale spinach, Shiitake mushrooms, heirloom carrots, cucumber, Thai basil and a soy ginger dressing.

The market is open 24 hours and includes a salad-and-sandwich station as well as a soup-and-noodle station featuring dishes like ramen and lentil chili.

The restaurant offers dinner and breakfast, with choices like huevos con chorizo with heirloom beans, Spanish rice and a local corn tortilla; tres leches French toast topped with vanilla custard, whipped cream and Cajeta sauce; and the churro waffle with sweet cinnamon dust and Mexican chocolate sauce.

My dinner recommendation: Start with a papaya salad from Thai Town, follow it with Skuna Bay salmon from Santa Monica, and for dessert try the crispy plantain spring rolls with coconut dipping sauce — a combination of Thai (spring roll wrappers) and South American (sweet plantains) with some Filipino roots.

For tourists and locals alike, the diverse menu offers a taste of the richness of the L.A. culinary scene without bouncing around the city.

In other words, a uniquely L.A. experience without the accompanying L.A. experience of way too much driving.

unity la market, bar and restaurant 6225 W. Century Blvd., Westchester (424) 702-1234 losangelesairport.regency .hyatt.com

 

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