Just moved to LA from the Bay Area six months ago and started my quest to check out all the restaurants in LA.
First I'd like to say that I believe LA's message board is the best. There are more knowledgeable chowhounds than I could count.
San Francisco has over 3000 restaurants in a small 7 mi by 7 mi area. And per square mile, it is much better than the LA area. I do believe that SF has better seafood restaurants. (LA does have the best sushi) But since moving down to LA, the LA message board kicks ass with more recommendations of places that serve the best in what they do.
Here goes my first review:
Started with the Omakase (Chef's Choice) which on the menu states $75 and up.
1st Course: Warm spinach salad with sauteed portobello mushrooms with thin tempura batter strips on top shaped like grated parmesan on a caesar salad. Soy/peppercorn dressing.
Very tasty and good start
2nd Course: Appetizer plate consisting of homemade sesame tofu with wasabi on top, octopus, sawagani (tiny crab smaller than a golf ball seasoned with salt), mozuku seaweed with nagaimo (mountain potato slimy in texture)
The tofu was very dense in texture like most high grade tofu with a distinct sesame flavor. I picture them mixing in ground sesame with the texture of peanut butter.
The octopus was fantastic. It had a soft ring on the outside that reminded me of pork belly. Very different from the octopus I get from sushi bars.
The sanigawa was interesting. I enjoyed the crunchiness of the shell, but not much taste otherwise.
The mozuku seaweed with nagaimo was good and the mozuku was very flavorful.
3rd course: Hirame (Halibut sashimi) 4 slices of hirame were sliced thin and was translucent. Two slices were served with salt and pickled vegetable. Very good. Another was garnished with a dab of ginger. The last piece was seasoned with salt and a dab of red chili. No soy sauce necessary. These were all very good and a nice departure from the traditional ponzu with momiji oroshi and negi.
4th course: Blue fin tuna and Toro sashimi. Two slices of wild blue fin tuna from Boston and 2 slices of Toro. The toro was solid, not the best, but good. Blue fin tuna was excellent. I ate the last piece wrapped in shiso leaf which was wonderful. Daikon was fresh.
5th course: Salmon sashimi topped with caviar on top of an onion salad with ponzu. The caviar was a great match with the salmon. Thin slivered onions with small slivers of cucumber were very tasty in the ponzu sauce. I wish there were more than two slices of salmon. This was one of my top 2 dishes of the night. (Although I hate to say it since I never order salmon when I go to a sushi bar since it is considered "gaijin" for non-traditionalists)
6th course: Cooked marinated pork with spinach topped with grated ginger. Very tender, fatty, and flavorful.
7th course: Shiitake mushroom and red snapper tempura. It had shiso inside which I loved. The red snapper is good but since it is a whitefish lacked flavor. The sea salt was a orangy-pink color which I believe they put some japanese red pepper in it.
8th course: King crab claw tempura with ponzu sauce. Good, pretty much what I would expect from that dish.
9th course: Chilean Sea Bass with a miso sauce. Well prepared. Creamy miso based sauce. The sauce was wonderful. Almost like a miso gravy. The sea bass was flaky and juicy.
10th course: Soba (buckwheat noodles) topped with baked yamaimo and red snapper. This is the final dish. The bowl was hot so I figured they put in the oven to bake the yamaimo. Regular tsuyu (soy based broth) on the bottom and not a noodle soup.
The omakase was $82 per person.
We ordered more. 2 orders of beef nigiri (organic natural beef) topped with ponzu jelly and ginger. Seared on the outside. Tasted like roast beef but nothing special. I would not order it again.
King crab nigiri sushi was decent. I've had better at many other sushi restaurants.
Kanpachi nigiri sushi was good as well but not great.
Fried calamari stuffed with asparagus: The calamari was not breaded and just deep fried with fresh asparagus. The asparagus was very good. In some of the calamari was 3 pieces of asparagus. Served with ponzu, momiji oroshi (grated daikon with red chili), and green onion.
Overall, the presentation was excellent. The seafood was fresh and well prepared. For a Sunday evening was packed around 6:30 pm, so reservations are recommended. At around 8 pm, the sushi bar emptied out.
I noticed from the party next to me who ordered sushi from the menu, that the sushi portions are small. They ordered uni and it looked like a 60% order and the salmon nigiri 2 pcs looked like one regular sized piece.
As for drinks, ordered started with a Sapporo Reserve. OK, but still prefer Asahi and ordered a bottle next.
I ordered a Kubota Senju Sake in bamboo glass. This was definitely interesting as the waitress brought a frozen bamboo shoot and filled it with sake to the top so it spilled sake to the bottom of the dish that was holding it. Kubota makes fine sake. I've had manju which has a fruity flavor and goes for $20+ a glass and Hekiju with a more floral flavor for $15 a glass. Senju is their lower grade but still is very smooth.
Then we had some shochu which is not on their drink menu. Had Ginza No Suzume Black $7 a glass which is fairly new. The glasses and servings were bigger than normal.
For dessert I had green tea ice cream, not sure if it was homemade but had a true Japanese flavor. Japanese sweets are less sweet than their American counterparts. It had a true Japanese ice cream taste with real green tea flavor. I do like Fubuki's version of green tea ice cream which is sweeter and creamier, but this was a nice change of pace. Being Japanese American born in the US, my taste buds are more americanized but do appreciate authentic Japanese style. My dining partner had the vanilla bean creme brulee which was delicious as well with a crisp caramel top.
The bill came out to $300 with tax for two with 2 omakase, 2 orders of beef nigiri, 2 orders of king crab nigiri, 1 order of kanpachi nigiri, Fried calamari/asparagus appetizer, 2 bottles of Sapporo Reserve, 1 large bottle of Asahi, 1 bamboo glass of Kubota Senju, 4 orders of Shochu, green tea ice cream, and creme brulee.
Very good and had a good time. I'd go there again but may choose to order items a la carte knowing which items I liked and choosing some other dishes that were not in the omakase. The sashimi orders they prepare look wonderful.
If you want straight sushi, this is not the place for you since the portions are small and you can get similar or better for less.
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