A tiny jazz bar called The Blue Whale quietly surfaced in Little Tokyo at the end of last month. Owned by music lover Joon Lee, the bar hosts live trios and various jazz cats in a Gehry-esque gallery space (the designer says he finds more inspiration in Libeskind) of ottomans, with a chalkboard schedule on the wall and plenty of extreme right angles. Fortunately the food and cocktails aren’t just here to play second trumpet to the tunes.
The easygoing bartender is crafting banana flip martinis and carefully garnished ocean breezes. The small menu offers Korean bar eats no less spectacular and mind-bending than the architecture. A vertical cube of pork belly comes coiled with grilled red onion and rests on a slab of tofu, while sweet potato fries spring from a champagne flute. Even simple fried chicken wings, which could make Kyochon sweat Blue Whale’s technique, appear artful under the sexy smoky lighting. A find for good music and atmosphere, and a treasure for the menu and attitude. Open Monday-Saturday from 8 p.m.-2 a.m. 123 Astronaut E. S Onizuka St. Suite 301 Downtown. 213-620-0908.