Destini Cafe Makes Me Rethink My Beliefs About Asian Restaurants


Being wary of jack-of-all-trade Asian restaurants is a rule as old as not eating the bread at an all you can eat buffet.  Red flags always fly when I see sushi paired with Thai food under one roof, or Vietnamese followed by the words “and Chinese Food”.  And living in L.A. has made me even more fanatical.  Now it’s not even good enough for a place to be just Korean, or just Thai, or just Japanese.  They should specialize in one particular region or dish or style of food- like boat noodles at Sapp, or ramen at Daikokuya, or the bosam at Kobawoo. But recently I discovered a place in Playa del Rey that turns all that on its head. Meet Destini Cafe.

By all measures, this place should be terrible.  Situated in the Asian food wasteland that is the entire Westside, Destini Cafe is on the stretch of Culver Blvd that passes through Playa del Rey. With an out of the way location, it’s not exactly a typical lunchtime destination for working folk- but if you work along Lincoln in Marina del Rey or Venice, it’s worth taking a short drive to this little oasis to the south.


Half tea house, half lunch place, the decor is kind of cheesy but oddly inviting. The entire seating area is located under a tent behind the restaurant so you kind of feel like you’re eating outside by the ocean (even though your view is off a garage and an empty field.) Destini Cafe’s website describes the menu as “fusion” but technically that is not true because they’re not muddling different cuisines together-  just serving a bunch of different kinds under the same menu.  There’s Korean (bulgogi, bibimbap, kimchi fried rice, soondubu, and spicy rice cakes), Japanese (curry, yakisoba, ramen, miso soup), Chinese (General Tso’s, Kung Pao, Sweet & Sour), and Thai (pad thai).  It’s hard to tell what country the cook is from (toss up between Korean and Japanese?)  but their hot stone bibimbap makes a strong case for Korea.


The lunch special bibimbap is only $5.50 and comes with a nice array of veggies (bean sprouts, spinach, carrots, a shredded cabbage kimchi kind of thing) as well as beef or chicken for an extra $1.50.  And look at that fried egg?  Perfect.  For $7 this is a complete steal, and the quality is significantly better than BBQ Garden in Santa Monica.


Don’t like the crispy bits?  Or looking for something a bit cooler for summer?  They do a salad style bibimbap as well for the same price.


The Pad Thai was decent, but nothing I’d get again (shocker).


And the yakisoba was pretty boring.  But the “Chinese food” is actually surprisingly good.


I had heard from Yelp that their General Tso’s was good ($6.50 on the lunch menu), and it didn’t disappoint.  Unlike a typical General Tso’s this version was served dry but still had a ton of flavor.  Slightly sweet, slightly spicy, it was really tasty… and if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like that thick gloopy sauce that comes on a lot of Chinese food, you will love this.

If you do like the thick gloopy sauce, go with the sweet and sour chicken instead, which was also kind of awesome if you like that sort of thing.

Destini Cafe is not going to end up on any end of the year list for Asian food, or unseat any of your favorites from the San Gabriel Valley. And not everything on the menu is great. But if you’re by the ocean and looking for a decent, affordable, Korean food lunch (or a quality version of Americanized Chinese food classics) in a really nice environment, Destini Cafe is kind of amazing.


  • Their bibimbap is great… and super cheap on the lunch menu
  • Everything is cooked fresh to order, and made with decent ingredients
  • I love eating outside, and this place is really calm and inviting
  • General Tso’s without the gloopy sauce?  I’m intrigued.
  • There aren’t a lot of Midtown Lunch’ish places in Playa del Rey.  This is definitely on of them.

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Pick a cuisine and stick with it!
  • Ramen and Korean food and Chinese food.  There is no way they can do all these things well… something’s got to give.
  • Seems Korean, but there’s no banchan.  What’s up with that?
  • I hate “zen” lunch places
  • The westside must really be hurting for Asian food if you’re recommending this place
  • Closed on Mondays!?  But I was planning on going today…

Destini Cafe, 423 Culver Blvd., Playa Del Rey, 424-228-2140


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