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FrontRunners: Divine Guidance

Robert Wemischner

At Providence (323.460.4170), which Michael Cimarusti opened last summer and named for the Rhode Island city where he grew up, the chef is guided by standards established far from the restaurant’s Los Angeles address and even farther from New England. “If I can evoke some of the Japanese sushi chef’s reverence for quality and freshness on the plate, then I will be satisfied,” says Cimarusti, who enjoyed a six-year tenure at L.A.’s Water Grill, where seafood dishes such as tuna tartare and a creamy clam chowder became his hallmarks. His preparations are more playful and less traditional than those of a sushi chef; he deconstructs an L.A. favorite, the fish taco, by combining Japanese kampachi fish, avocado, red onion, a sprig of cilantro, and a splash of soy on a plate dusted with powdered tortilla. Cimarusti also showcases a Japanese sweet fish, ayu, presenting it on a bed of wild mushrooms. But he does not overlook the fruits of nearby waters, which receive their due in dishes such as grilled Santa Barbara spot prawns accented with orange and fennel.

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