Location: 3455 S. Overland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034. 310.836.6252
Date: September 14, 2012
I first went to the amazing Omakase only N/Naka last summer. After a bit of a hiatus the Foodie Club returns. Now bear in mind that this lovely restaurant has only a set menu (they offer it in two sizes, plus vegetarian) but the talented young chef Ms. Niki Nakayama has whipped up an entirely different meal (with similar structure) every time we’ve gone!
This time around we went with wine pairings. Sommelier Jeffery Stivers just a fantastic job with these and even more so given the difficulties in pairing Japanese flavors with wine. Very little red wine works (good Burgundy with some dishes) and with a small number of people so many courses are hard to pair by bringing bottles.
Our first pairing: French Sparkling Wine, Domaine Rosier ‘Cuvee Jean-Philippe”, Blanquette de Limoux, France 2010.
Saki Zuke (A pairing of something common and something unique) – Fanny Bay Oysters that have been butter poached and are wrapped in a bird’s nest of crispy Maui Onions and is topped with fresh Uni from Santa Barbara, a leaf of baby Red-veined Sorrel and a Flower of Pansy both of which are from Niki’s garden, a dusting of onion powder and sits in on a sauce of spicey Russet Potato and Dashi and a gelee of Sanbaizu (a combination of mirin and dashi).
On a Bed of Julienned Crispy Bull’s Blood Beets sits Norwegian Smoked Salmon along side of Junsai (water shield), topped with a shochu Crème Fraiche, Chives, a Flower of Pansy, Gold Leaf and a Puree of Roasted Nasu (Baby Japanese Eggplant).
Zensai (Main seasonal ingredient presented as an appetizer)
A Cucumber roll that is stuffed with Canadian Snow Crab and Unagi (Freshwater eel), Onion Sprouts and topped with a gelee of Sanbaizu. This was amazing, with a light smoky flavor.
Modern Zakuri (A modern interpretation of sashimi) – Tartare of O-toro of Big Eyed Tuna, White Scallions, topped with Caviar of American White Sturgeon, Uni Butter, Soy Reduction, Chives and Konbu Dashi.
Otsukuri (Sashimi) – Toro of Big Eyed Tuna, Kumomoto Oyster with Ponzu, Live Hirame (Halibut) from Jeju, Korea, Kanpachi (Amberjack Tuna), Tai (Japanese Snapper), fresh sweet shrimp from Santa Barbara, all served with Freshly Grated Wasabi, Ponzu and Niki’s Special Soy Sauce.
Agemono (Fried dish) – Tempura Pompano along with the Crispy Bones with Multi-colored Peppers, Scallions and a Sauce of Sweet and Sour Dashi, Butter Lettuce Leaves.
Yakimono (Grilled dish) – Hotate Yaki – Live Diver Scallops from Boston grilled in their own Shell with the Roasted Liver, Shiso Leaf, Shiitake Mushroom, Yuzu Zest and Dashi.
Shiizakana (Not bound by tradition, the Chef’s choice dish) – Spaghettini with Black Abalone from Monterey, Pickled Cod Roe, Shaved Italian Summer Truffles, Garlic, Soy and topped with Daikon Radish Sprouts. An unusual, but truly unworldly pasta.
Niku (Meat Course) – American Wagyu from Washington State Rib-cap Steak with a Canele of Russet Potato Mashed, Nanohana (Broccoli Rabe), Roasted Carrot with a Ponzu Demi-jus American Wagyu from Washington State Rib-cap Steak with a Canele of Russet Potato Mashed, Nanohana (Broccoli Rabe), Roasted Carrot with a Ponzu Demi-jus.
Sunomono (Salad) – On thinly sliced Baby Cucumbers from Nki’s Garden along with a Sweet 100 Cherry Tomato is marinated Hirame (Halibut) with Ponzu.
On the side is: Yuzu Sake, Yuzu Omoi, Yamamoto, Japan.
It’s worth noting that this time around, IMHO, the sushi had really improved. The above flight, while small, was sublime.
Soba Noodles served with Freshly Grated Wasabi and Konbu Dashi.
N/Naka really is a very special place. All the meals I had here were spectacular (here for the first, here for the second, third here, fois gras). The place keeps getting better and better. This is thrice wonderful because often one finds a slight bloom to come off a place on repeat meals. I’ve recently eaten at two Jose Andres set menu restaurants where the menu barely changed in eight months, but at N/Naka everything is seasonal and constantly rotating.