If you’ve driven on past Century City on Santa Monica Blvd recently, you’ve undoubtedly seen what looks like an Asian temple or shrine jutting out of the Westfield shopping mall. No, this isn’t a place for some meditation between purchases at Bloomingdale’s. The giant space houses RockSugar, one of Cheesecake Factory’s new concept restaurants.
To walk into RockSugar, you have to enter a long passageway with fire pits, ornate wooden carvings, jungle foliage, and artificial bird noises from the restaurant’s speakers. I’m not kidding. Inside, the detail of every aspect of the restaurant is carefully constructed to make you feel like you’ve entered another world. I’m talking detail on the level of a Disneyland attraction or Vegas mega-restaurant. You can’t look anywhere in the dining room without having a Buddha or Indian statue staring back at you.
As for the food, it’s decent pan-asian fare, basically a ‘best of’ list of Thai, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, and Japanese dishes. If you’re feeling schizophrenic and in mood for some naan, pad thai, and sushi, this is the place to go. The Bang Bang Chicken, Indonesian Shrimp, and Lettuce Wraps were some solid choices.
While the array of choices and over-the-top architecture may be overwhelming, you never really feel lost since the restaurant still has all the same familiarity of a chain like Cheesecake. While it might be far from authentic and mildly tacky, going to RockSugar is an experience like going to Rainforest Cafe or any other themed eatery. As long as you think of it that way, you’ll be in for a ride.
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