I'm not sure who approved the design plans for the exterior of the new Zen Sushi and Gourmet Asian Cuisine on Foothill in La Crescenta, but the menacing look of the boxy white building had kept me at bay for months. Plus, I was irrationally angry that our favorite Chinese restaurant, Grandview Palace, which used to be on the site, was so abruptly and unceremoniously closed. But one step inside has got me singing a different tune.
The interior of Zen looks as if it was designed by a different person altogether. Black and crystal Hollywood Regency-style chandeliers glint above cool scroll-cut wooden bar stools. Sake bottles are silhouetted against a backlit bar and curving cut-out walls glow orange. They were wise to keep the large, dramatic windows offering views of Mount Lukens and the San Gabriels, though the Ralphs parking lot does glare at you in the foreground. All in all, the ambience is sophisticated yet appropriate for families.