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This week marks a year since I first walked into Kiriko and ordered my first $40 lunch omakase. I documented many of my visits initially, but I quickly exhausted myself (and I’m sure some of you) with my write-ups, so I stopped last summer.
After the lengthy hiatus, I wanted to post something new on Kiriko, but rather than write another standard one-meal review, I thought I’d do a photographic retrospective of the past year. (Kinda goes well with the L.A. Magazine profile...)
Instead of trying to capture the flavors and textures with fancy words, I'll just give a quick description of the dishes I’m featuring and let the photos speak for themselves. (Yes, I am kind of copying J.L.’s “Photographic Essay” format, but why reinvent the wheel?)
I've loosely grouped the photos, for a bit of coherency. So without further ado...
>>> Bivalve, Crustaceans, Gastropods, and Cephalopods...
1. Aoyagi Nutaae: Surf clam salad with onions, daikon, various sea vegetables, and a miso, vinegar, and mustard dressing. From March.
2. Soft-Shell Crab Tempura: Live soft-shell crab from Maryland, served with sweet onion rings and a shishito pepper. From last month.
3. Amaebi Tartare: Raw sweet shrimp, topped with grated karasumi (salted mullet roe, a.k.a. bottarga in Italian) and fresh wasabi, served with the shrimp heads deep-fried. (One of my favorite dishes of all time.) From last August.
4. Baigai: Sea snails/whelks, served simply steamed or boiled. From last July.
5. Baigai Takenoko Salad: Sea snails/whelks, in a salad with fresh bamboo shoots. From March.
6. Sazae: Turban shell conch, served simply steamed or boiled. From last July.
7. Sazae Ceviche, with asatsuke (garlic chives), onions, and citrus. From last August.
8. Ika Somen: Squid “noodles” in its own ink, served with a small scoop of uni (sea urchin) ice cream and garnished with a tempura shiso leaf. From last August.
9. Hotaru Ika: Firefly squid, drizzled with a yellow miso sauce. From March.
10. Iidako and Takenoko Ceviche: Baby octopus and bamboo shoots, with roasted momotaro tomato salsa. Ken-san called it his "Bajapon" (Baja and Japon) plate. From March.
>>> Roe and “Stuff”...
1. Ikura: Fresh salmon roe, with fresh wasabi and daikon. From last August.
2. Ikura: Fresh salmon roe gunkan-maki. From last August.
3. Shirako Yaki: Grilled fish milt. From March.
4. Shirako in Ponzu. From March.
5. Tamagoyaki: Spongy egg omelet. From February.
1. Engawa: Halibut fin. From March.
2. Karei Engawa: Flounder fin. From March.
3. Chutoro Aburi: Medium-fatty tuna belly, seared. From last July.
4. Bintoro: (Wild) Albacore belly. From last August.
5. Bincho/Binnaga: (Wild) Albacore. From last August.
6. Kinmedai: Golden eye snapper. From March.
7. Aji: Horse mackerel, a.k.a. Spanish mackerel. From February.
8. Sawara: King mackerel, a.k.a. Spanish mackerel too. From March.
9. Uni and Ika: Sea urchin on squid. From last July.
Note: This retrospective is not meant to be a representative sample of what Kiriko had to offer this past year. I’ve tried a much larger variety of specials and sushi than I've shown here, but I chose to highlight these because they reflect what I personally like, which is a lot of shellfish, and also because I think these are some of the better photos that I’ve taken there this past year. Hope you’ve enjoyed them.