(credit: yojie.com)

Going out to dinner can be the same old, same old, or you can choose a restaurant that changes up the routine a little bit. These spots all have some kind of interactive element involved that makes dining out a customer-participation experience. Interestingly enough, they also all feature internationally-based cuisines.

(credit: meltingpot.com)

also 21525 Hawthorne Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90503
(310) 316-7500

Fondue, in the traditional sense, is simply a dish of cheese melted in a communal pot over a heat source and enjoyed with small pieces of bread. Both the Swiss and the French enjoy this delicacy, but it is the Swiss that deemed this a national dish. Americans have since expanded this concept to include meats and vegetables cooked in oil or broth and fruit dipped in chocolate.

Dining at The Melting Pot is a culinary experience. Be prepared to spend at least two hours conversing, savoring and even cooking your own food. The traditional four-course meal includes your choice of cheese fondue, salad, entree and chocolate fondue but guests can come by for cheese and/or chocolate if they desire. Along with the venue’s traditional menu, select restaurants offer a destination-themed menu called The Big Night Out. This four-course menu showcases flavors from that particular region but can be tailored to your preference. Some restaurants also feature a gluten-free menu. Tip: Join Club Fondue for notifications about special events, tastings, promotions, etc.

(credit: yojie.com)


Traditionally, the Japanese have enjoyed a healthier diet and lifestyle than other cultures around the world. Two unique styles of Japanese cuisine, Teppanyaki and Shabu-Shabu, have gained popularity here in the US.

Teppanyaki is a cooking style that simply involves the use of an iron griddle to cook food, typically in front of guests in a restaurant. Shabu-Shabu involves the cooking of meats and vegetables in a pot of boiling water.

If you’re looking for an immersive culinary experience that is certain to delight the palate, check out LA’s hippest Japanese fondue and sake bar. Once you’ve selected your entree, your server will bring out fresh, raw cuts of beef, chicken, and/or seafood and an assortment of fresh vegetables, noodles, tofu, Japanese mushrooms and seaweed to cook in a hot pot that’s situated on the table. The meal includes unlimited servings of rice (including the option of paying for brown rice) and a selection of dipping sauces. Be sure to leave room for dessert as they offer four delectable flavors of chocolate fondue including red velvet and their signature green tea chocolate!

Dinner and a show are included in this hibachi-style restaurant where knife-wielding chefs prepare and cook your meal in front of you. The restaurant is a Diner’s Choice Winner for 2012 on OpenTable and features a diverse menu that includes fresh sushi and teppan-style entrees. Portion sizes are generous and entrees on the Teppanyaki menu include soup, salad, vegetables, and steamed rice. Live music, including R&B, Pop, and Jazz are featured Sunday through Thursday.

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Because of Morocco’s unique global placement, its people have interacted with various cultures, the result being foods that have a variety of influences. While authentic Morroccan restaurants are few and far between, Los Angeles is home to a handful, many of which offer the added bonus of entertainment. Babouch offers authentic Moroccan cuisine in a tent-like atmosphere with colorful tapestries and romantic music. Guests dine on plush couches and eat with their fingers while being entertained by male and female belly dancers. The restaurant offers an affordable prix fixe menu which features some of the most popular and renowned foods from this culture including lamb, couscous, lentils, and pastries. A daily special menu is also offered featuring a combination of two chef’s specialties. Note: This is a restaurant best enjoyed with a group of people. Be sure to check out their specials page for daily promotions.

(credit: thebazaar.com)

For many countries around the world, meals, particularly dinner, are designed to engage and foster conversation. This is particularly true in Spain, where small plates (tapas) are served to encourage social interaction. Traditionally, tapas are served warm or cold and are often combined to comprise an entire meal.

Renowned Chef José Andrés has brought his passion for culture and food to LA with a unique dining concept that features a diverse mix of traditional and contemporary small plates. Guests dine in lounge-like spaces and while “Blanca” is deemed the contemporary Tapas bar and “Rojo” the traditional, guests can order from either menu regardless of where they’re seated. The European-fashioned, forward-thinking venue is housed at the swanky SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills and also features Bar Centro, an adventure in cocktails and spirits, and Patisserie, a delightfully romantic space for sweets and treats. The Bazaar has received numerous accolades including Esquire’s Restaurant of the Year and inclusion on GQ’s 10 Best New Restaurants list.

Popular in Korean culture and gaining momentum internationally is a method of grilling meats that involves the use of a gas or charcoal grill built into the center of a table. In some venues across LA, guests actually grill their own meat and vegetables.

Whether you’re looking to cook your own meal or have the chef prepare it for you, Genway Korean BBQ is one of the most noteworthy restaurants in LA for this type of cuisine. The menu includes a diverse selection of meats and fish that can be cooked on smokeless grills right at your table. Each meal is accompanied by the restaurant’s traditional Banchan (side dishes i.e. pickled and kimchi-style vegetables, sesame jelly, salted fish, potato salad).

Caryn Bailey is a blogger in Orange County who publishes Rockin’ Mama.