Chef Niki Nakayama was formerly at Azami on Melrose. She is now exploring, experimenting, and doing her own thing for the Chef's Table. By day, Inaka offers prepared healthy Japanese food and is a seafood market. At night, it is transformed to Niki's chef's table, a multi-course dinner, $80pp, 10 people max, free corkage.
We were a group of 7, and had the place all to ourselves, it was closed to everyone else. We had Chef Niki all to ourselves. It was way awesome cool. Like having a private dinner with your friends at a secret restaurant, and having the chef all to yourself. Prior to the dinner, I communicated with Niki about the general foodie background of our group, and anything in particular any of us don't eat. When we arrived, Niki chatted with us, she is so friendly and down to earth. Our waiter was also very friendly and quite jovial.
Now, the food:
1. Lobster with avocado ravioli, the avocado was in some sort of clear little round sack (use of gelatin?), I don't know how she did that. Ok, my description is probably not very good, but the dish was.
2. A trio of kumamotos, each with a different sauce: orange saba, yuzu, ponzu.
3. Sashimi: Japanese snapper, toro, scallop from Japan.
4. My friends all had the kobe beef from Japan, and all got very quiet while the beef was blowing their minds. Since I don't eat beef, Niki made for me: Chilean seabass--it was perfectly seared, so fresh and beautiful. Both dishes came with truffled mashed potatoes.
5. Shitake mushroom stuffed with shrimp, in a dashi broth, with mitsuba.
6. Foie gras with unagi risotto.
7. Sushi: sweet shrimp, Japanese snapper, Scottish salmon, Spanish mackerel, kanpachi, uni.
8. Dessert: sake braised fig, green tea creme brulee, banana tempura, with vanilla bean sauce.
It was a wonderful, delicious, excellent dinner. In a couple of years, Niki will have her own place on Overland and Palms. I can't wait!
Inaka Seafood Gourmet
838 S. Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91007