6 of us had dinner last night at this new small restaurant on the corner of Washington Blvd and Helms Ave in Culver City, just down the block from the Jazz Bakery. The chef is Katzuto Matsusawa (sp.?) who used to be at Chinois years ago and subsequently was at Zenzero in Santa Monica, Barfly, and ws in NYC for a while. It is small, neat and modern with a small bar in front. There are tables inside and also on the heated patio. Service was friendly, attentive but not obsequieous. The wine list is not extensive but quite interesting and international. The cuisine is described as Asian fusion. There are many small starter, tapas-style dishes and only a few mains. Also there are a few sushi and sashimi items.
We all shared everything which is probably the best way to enjoy this place. The dishes:
First was an amuse bouche of fried rock shrimp served a "salad" of tiny chopped pieces of nectarine, corn, hazelnuts, and I think a little greens. This was so good, the rock shrimp perfectly fried with a crispy, ?corn starch skin.
Fried oysters served on a small bed of butter lettuce and shredded Nappa cabbage were great. We ordered 2 more servings and would have gotten more but they ran out. crisp on the outside only slightly cooked on the inside.
Shishito pepppers were sauteed and served with dried bonito flakes and a small amount of a teriyaki-shoyu type sauce. Very tasty but we all agreeed the peppers would have been better if they were spicier.
Tuna pizza: stay away, good quality thinly sliced tuna but overall very bland and uninteresting.
Udon style noodles in broth with pork belly and some vegetables I can't recall: even the person who didn't like pork thought this was amazing. very good.
Japanese style chicken wings were great. crispy but not overcooked, perfectly seasoned with a not too hot, not too sweet sauce. We could have kept going with these for a few more orders too.
Yellowtail tataki was basically yellowtail sashimni (not seared) . Nice thickly sliced slabs of perfect yellowtail. Delicious.
Just to try 2 of the main courses we shared a black cod whcih was delcicious, too. Very nicely cooked with a lsight crust on top, some sesame seeds, with a miso sauce and some baby green beans. We were all delighted with this. The hangar steak accompanied by potato salad was ntaobly horseradishy (or more likely wasabi) flavored but cooked rare, thinly sliced and the taste grew on us. The potato salad was samll red potatoes with a mustard garlic flavor (?aioli style) mayo.
Desserts were ordered by the restaurant. There was a bento box type presentation of some small treats: guava gel, passion fruit gel, small chocolate truffles, a fried fortune cookie, and some well done baked meringue cookies. The large desserts were a green tea cheesecake (I don't really like cheescake so can't comment), a small chocolate cake (very good), a cross between a panna cotta and a creme brulee that I didn't like, and some lychee ice that was great.
We had three wines: a gruner veltliner (sorry I can't recall whose) that was minerally and dry and went well with the food (tasted like a cross between a sauvignon blanc and a good pinot gris), a grenache blanc, Celadon, from Topanga Vineyards that was elegant and soft, and a very good cabernet sauvignon, Carolis, from Susan Balbo in Argentina that worked great with the hangar steak.
While not inexpensive, prices were reasonable but remember, dishes are small. I didn't see the final bill (one of my friends decided to spring for dinner) but can't imagine it was shocking. All 3 couple agreed we would all like to go back there.
Sorry for the length of this report, I guess I got a little carried away.
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