Imagine you walk through an unmarked door to find a 300-square-foot restaurant. In the center there is a table group for 12 people only. A cutting board is positioned inches from your seat. Across the counter, the chef cuts puree pieces of fish and then makes them and puts them on top of chunks of warm, spicy rice. You are presented of course after the course, each more detailed than the previous one. The roasted bone marrow is cooled, carved from the bone and served like nigiri. The empty bones are now burned and attached to slabs of unagi so that the fat dripping onto the eels will fall off. The torch is then used to fry the eel in the fat of the bone marrow. It is served still smoked, finished with soybeans, ponzu, lime, Anaheim yuzu kosho and powdered green salt made with matcha, mushrooms, and kelp.
You’re not dining at the new Omakas restaurant in Los Angeles. There is dust on your shoes, sweat on your forehead and you can hear the music in the far background. this is It’s the new way to eat at Coachella.
Each year, the music and arts scene in Indio, California, is geared toward becoming a de facto food festival, with culinary experiences designed to take you, if only temporarily, from the rumble of the weekend and the seemingly endless movement — temporary breaks meant to enhance pauses. between dance.
This year, before watching Harry Styles, enjoy a 17-course dinner from Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee, the duo behind Scratch Restaurants (Scratch Bar and Kitchen, Pasta Bar, and Sushi by Scratch Restaurants). Sushi Coachella will be, in essence, a couple’s version of Scratch’s sushi, Lees and their team will offer a free interpretation of an omakase meal, complete with pairings of sake, for $375 per person.
“We basically replicate the entire experience with a menu that matches what we offer in Los Angeles,” he told me. “We bring all the service tools from the restaurant and we play the same music too.”
The talk will be hidden somewhere inside the Indio Central Market, the large tented food vendor area that the festival introduced in 2018. The evening will begin 15-20 minutes before booking time (arrival early), with a welcome cocktail, followed by 16 courses, pairs of Sake, fudge, and farewell green tea cocktail.
“We want to take you out of your world and put you in this kind of truncated reality where you can actually experience what we’re doing,” he said.
Dinner will be served on both festival weekends, over a two-hour period, with seating at 3:30, 6, and 8:30 p.m. Coachella tickets and prepaid dinner tickets are required.
If a very long table set under the stars among the flowers in the rose garden area is your speed, the excellent pop-up diner crew on the field returns for another round of nightly dinner.
Week 1 will start on April 15 with Diego Hernandez from La Bête Noire in Ensenada and Donnie Masterson from Restaurant in San Miguel, followed by Gaggan Anand from Gaggan in Bangkok, Salt and Straw on April 16 and Los Angeles chefs Burt Bakman (Slab) and Eric Greenspan on April 17th. Indy Howell of iEatGrass and Makini Howell of Plum Bistro in Seattle will be starting Weekend 2. Los Angeles chefs Minh Van, chef-owner of Phenakite and Porridge + Puffs, Theresa Montano of Otono will prepare dinner on April 23, Max Boonthanakit and Lijo George of Camphor in downtown Los Angeles will conclude the festival on April 24th.
Festival tickets and advance purchase are required for dinner.