The main event for Salty Saturday is bagels and cream cheese the Philly way.
And this sausage from the old school sausage make downtown, Fiorella’s. This place has been making sausage the same way since 1892!
The main event for Salty Saturday is bagels and cream cheese the Philly way.
And this sausage from the old school sausage make downtown, Fiorella’s. This place has been making sausage the same way since 1892!
Location: 12244 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. (310) 826-4737
Date: September 4, 2014
Cuisine: Japanese Sushi
Rating: First rate traditional sushi
Somehow, straight nigiri sushi is mostly a lunch thing for me. And oh do I love it, perhaps no other savory food offers such a consistent yummy bite factor.
Shunji, which took over for the “Mr. Cecil’s BBQ” in this oddball looking building on Pico has developed quite a reputation. Chef Shunji Nakao was an opening chef at Matsuhisa in the day, then opened Asanebo, then The Hump (one of my old favorites). It has quickly risen to the top of the LA Japanese scene.
At night, Shunji offers an amazing and advanced mix of traditional and modern raw and cooked dishes, but at lunch it’s straight sushi.
It might be noon, but great food enjoys some great wine.
1990 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 93. A truly wonderful nose of simply knockout complexity features notes of yeast and baked bread along with now fully mature aromas of a variety of floral notes and spice hints that gives way to mineral-suffused round intense and detailed medium full flavors that also offer outstanding depth on the sappy and mouth coating finish. This is drinking perfectly now. A beautiful effort of real style and grace.
This chef cut for me many many times at Takao.
Crab hand roll. This was good, but I probably prefer the kind that the Nozawa disciples make (like at Sasabune and the like).
All and all Shunji is rather fantastic, joining the large repertoire of top LA sushi restaurants. I really have to come back here at night and get a big mega omakase to sample his more “modern” fare. Not that I mind the nigiri, because as I said at the beginning, it really is a classic for a reason.
Location: Mekon Delta
Date: March 23, 2014
Rating: Crispy Elephant Ear fish!
Hundreds of miles of snaking river was like a circuit cable plugged straight into…
A good meal.
Low and behold, after snaking up the (now) bucolic byways of the Mekon delta, we come across (well, our guide takes us to) this lovely little luncheon (and a low water table, good thing its not mosquito season).
Like the fish we get at the good Vietnamese place back in LA, and much of Vietnamese cuisine in general, it’s intended to be eatern wrapped in rice paper with various condiments: basil, mint, baby banana, onions, etc.
Overall, an unexpected (and delicious find deep in the jungle).
Location: Ritz-Carlton. 4375 Admiralty Way. Marina del Rey, California 90292 USA. (310) 823-1700
Date: October 29, 2011
When the Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey renovated and opened its new restaurant in the early 2000s the naming committee was obviously inspired by Steve Martin‘s classic LA Story (and its 80s restaurant, lee-dee-oh — spelled l’idiot). In any case, the original Jer-ne actually served up top notch California Asian Fusion when it opened. Like most hotel restaurants, there has been chef turnover — who knows how many times in the last decade. I hadn’t been in a few years (except for the pretty amazing Sunday brunch) and when an old friend from High School Facebook IMed me that he was in town, we headed on over.
From my cellar. Parker 96 points. “The 2008 Flor de Pingus offers up an enticing nose of smoke, Asian spices, incense, espresso, black cherry, and blackberry. On the palate it displays outstanding volume, intensity, and balance. Rich, dense, and succulent, it has enough structure to evolve for 4-5 years and will offer prime drinking from 2015 to 2028.”
“oyster. pacific oysters, crispy potato, spanish ham, sambuca hollandaise.” The sauces were really good, but the oysters had that bitter note that fried oysters often have. Every time I have them I’m reminded that I like my oysters raw.
“spiced peanut butter mousse. crunchy peanut butter chocolate, candied ginger ice cream, spicy caramelized honey.” This was a nice dessert. A good interplay between the fluffy peanut butter, crunch, and the ginger ice cream.
Overall the food at this new Jer-ne was good. It didn’t blow me away or anything, and it’s very different than it used to be 8 or so years ago (full of Japanese influenced dishes), but it was a very solid take on conservative but well executed the New American. Even the desserts show plating influences that are very contemporary — what I think of as geometric and dust — the use of cubes, spheres, and ovals in a sort of post war art kind of arrangement, often dusted with granular flavor components. Red Medicine’s desserts are typical examples, but I suspect it’s really a Ferran Adrià thing.
Location: 11656 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049. (310) 207-8636
Date: October 16, 2011
Rating: 9/10 creative “new style” sushi
I’ve already covered Takao in some detail HERE and then separately here, here and here. The full menu and some information on the history of the place can be found through the first link. This particular meal covers a full $120 Omakase, which actually is a very good value compared to ordering ala carte.
White fish with a bit of micro greens, citrus zest, and red peppercorns. A very light and delicious “sashimi salad.”
Toro tartar with caviar. A takao (and Nobu) classic.
Grilled Alaskan king crab legs. A sprig of pickled ginger. Very fresh and not frozen tasting, but the sweet vinegar sauce (in the back) totally made the dish.
A classic Japanese style unami flavor. A autumn broth of three kinds of mushrooms and some kind of light fish. The two sauces were a sour plum sauce (I think traditional with this fish) and a really tasty vinegary ponzu.
Sweet Santa Barabara prawn and asparagus tempura. The batter had little crispy riceballs in it which gave the whole thing a different texture. Plus there was both curry salt and sea salt and the traditional tempura sauce for dipping.
This was probably my best official omakase at Takao yet (and it’s always good). A very nice meal.
Date: June 27, 2011
Rating: Best we had in Liguria
I did my best at internet research to pick this restaurant in the heart of “downtown” Santa Margherita. It was #2 on TripAdvisor. Now this is a review source that I take with a block of salt, but in reading the reviews I got the feeling I’d like the place — and I was right.
You can see a hint of the quaint little garden inside. Like the rest of Liguria it was a little steamy, even late at night (the weather was 88 degrees and 100% humidity, shades of my youth in Virginia).
The “pre-bread” which look like donut balls but tasted salty — and delicious. After all, they were fried.
The regular bread.
We started with a romantic glass of “special cocktail,” which was probably more or less a Kir Royale.
Restaurant: Arnolfo Ristorante
Date: June 16 & 23, 2011
Rating: Awesome, but hard to find
Just fifteen minutes from our villa and Siena lies the city of Colle di Val d’Elsa and its two star rated Michelin restaurant, Arnolfo. So we went twice! This is an amazing restaurant in a gorgeous location atop the old city. The rub, however, is getting there. The first time the GPS insisted we drive into a masonry wall (closed road). We gave up with that, parked, and ended up walking over a mile, including taking the elevator up to the old city. The walk back wasn’t no fun either and the staff told us that to actually drive here you have to go 6km out of your way to the next town and then come back by one particular approach — but then there is no parking in the old city.
So the next time, feeling all smart, I tried to park in the “close” (only 500m) lot below the old city. But the first entrance I tried was so narrow that I almost got stuck and had to back up my 9 seater van down 200m of alley and around a 90 degree turn — only took 30 minutes and soaked through my suit in the 88 degree humid weather. Then we had to hike up the half mile.
But it was worth it.
Then comes a tray of amuses. From left to right. Green pea mouse, tomato stuffed with mozzarella, apple disc with prawn, veal croquet, and gorgonzola and fig jam sandwich. These were all good, but the last was incredible.
My notes failed me a little here, but I think it’s some kind of fish (possibly a pork belly though) in a pea soup.
“Asparagus, Ricotta Cheese, Eggs.” Now this was an interesting dish. The white asparagus were grilled and wrapped in pancetta (bacon). The white and yellow stuff is deconstructed egg (yolk and white as powder). The ricotta is in the upper right and was delicious. The powder wasn’t as successful as the bonus egg, shown below.
“Spinach soup with sea bass, tomato.”
And two extra goose liver preps for good measure. A sort of Napoleon and a little pistachio coated truffle, solid fois inside.
“Tortelli, Red Onions from Certaldo, White Beans from Sorana.”
“The 2006 Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva is a pretty, juicy red laced with cherries, dried flowers, tobacco and underbrush. The tannins dry out a touch on the finish, which is the only thing that keeps the score from going higher. Still, this forward, fruit-driven Chianti should drink nicely over the next few years. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2016. “
Ah the suffering involved in dining in one of the world’s great wine regions. 93 points from Parker. “Consulting oenologist Carlo Ferrini has turned out a beautiful wine at this historic estate, a property which he speaks of in effusive terms. Talenti’s sublime 2001 Brunello Pian di Conte exhibits a deep, translucent ruby color. It opens with captivating, vibrant aromatics, with notes of freshly cut roses, raspberries and licorice. Gorgeously expressive yet delicate on the palate, it offers layers of dark fruit, earthiness and sweet oak supported by a refined, classic structure, with exceptional length and fine, silky tannins on the fresh finish. It is a superb effort. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2021.”
We are assaulted by a battery of pre-desserts. Vanilla ice cream with cherry rhubarb “soup.”
“Almond Mascarpone, pistachio ice cream.”
And just a few petite fours. Lemon jelly in the center. A little fruit tart on the right.
More, on the second night. Berry tart. Ricotta vanilla dome. Pistachio burger. Blackberry mouse. Almond marzipan.
Our second meal here was slightly better than the first for some reason, but both were top notch. Service was spectacular all around. Highly recommended as a very updated medium modernist take on Tuscan cuisine. The quality of local ingredients was impeccable, and they know how to modernize playfully without letting the techniques get out of control.
Restaurant: Lo Sporting
Location: Milano Marittima, Italy
Date: June 9, 2011
Cuisine: Trendy Italian
Rating: Decent food, but overpriced
One of the cool things about the beach town of Cervia / Milano Marittima is that there are a lot of shops and restaurants on a lovely tree lined promenade stretching through town.
We stopped for lunch at a likely looking place called Lo Sporting.
The menu was huge, but I only photoed the part that was relevant. Really we had wanted pizza, and the place had the world “pizzeria” on the sign, but when we sat down they told us that the pizza oven was only available in the evening!
Mixed fish. On the left tuna in balsamic, in the back sepia (cuttlefish) in a vinegary sauce, and in the front right some white fish — possibly sardine fillets — marinated. This was all very tasty.
Restaurant: Locanda dei Salinari
Location: Cervia, Italy
Date: June 8, 2011
Cuisine: Adriatic Seafood
Rating: Great seafood
After three days in the Modena/Parma/Bologna area we relocated west to the Adriactic coastal town of cervia/Milano Maritima. While technically still in Emilia-Romagna this is a beach-side community with a much greater emphasis on seafood.
Our first night we check out this Michelin bib-gourmet restaurant.
Starting with a nice white.
We moved on to a Masi Amarone. I love Amarone, and Masi is one of my favorite vineyards. This was surprisingly cheap too. “The entry-level 2005 Amarone Classico della Valpolicella Costasera is made in a fairly straightforward, fresh style, with perfumed bright red fruit supported by silky tannins. This harmonious red offers excellent depth and lovely balance. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2015.”
Location: 129 N La Cienega Blvd Beverly Hills, CA 90211. (310) 659-9639
Date: May 6, 2011
Cuisine: Japanese Fusion
Rating: As good as it’s always been!
Some good friends were in town who had never tried Nobu Matsuhisa‘s particular blend of Japanese Peruvian Fusion. As popular as this has become in the last fifteen years, and how every derivative restaurant in America throws a few of his dishes on the menu, the original still rocks. I also scored a Friday night reservation in the coveted and private “Omakase only room,” where his cooking is showcased to the best effect.
This aged 1st Cru white burgundy from my cellar was the very expression of mature chardonay.
As you can see from the color. This wine is ready, more than ready, as it might have been a tad better two years ago. Still it had a wonderful floral perfume to it.
“Seafood springroll with heirloom tomato and caviar.” This is the only repeat of the night, a Matsuhisa classic.Fry is always good, but it’s actually the combination with the spicy tomato chutney/salsa that really sells the dish.
One of the private kitchen chefs working on the appetizers.
“Seared salmon, new style.” That is with sesame, ponzu, and warm olive oil.
Burgundy goes very well with the Matsuhisa flavor profiles. The first time I ever went here, in 1996, I brought a Gros Frere Clos Vougeot. This 2005, Parker gives a 92. “The 2005 Clos Vougeot from Drouhin’s two parcels in that famous cru, is much more earthy and less fine-grained than the majority of their wines from this vintage, but it exhibits impressive concentration. A bone meal-like meld of mineral and meat dominates the nose and suffuses the palate along with black raspberry, plum and cherry fruit accepted by faintly bitter fruit pit notes. This is quite full and rich, but without being heavy; overtly tannic and chewy, but without being coarse. A promising more tart than sweet juiciness of black fruit mingles with roasted meat and stony, chalky minerality in the finish.”
Par boiled Santa Barbara prawn with a tiny bit of salad (including hearts of palm). This was really yummy, even better than the cooked version we had last time. The meat is very sweet and succulent, delicious warm but essentially raw.
“Fois gras, seabass, mushrooms, in a very rich reduction sauce.” Very meaty and tasty, the sauce was a pretty awesome blend of all three contributors of yum: salt, sweet, and fatty. The little red fruit is a pickled leeche.
Each person gets a little sushi plate, there were a couple variants, this one has no shellfish.
This was probably the best meal I’ve ever had at Matsuhisa, and I’ve had a LOT of great ones. Because I’m jaded now, and used to the cuisine, it wasn’t utterly mind blowing innovative like the first time I ever ate here. But the cooking is as good here as it ever was. Nobu (and his sucessor cooks) still really know their stuff.
Restaurant: The Lobster
Location: 1602 Ocean Ave. Santa Monica, California 90401. 310.458.9294
Date: April 29, 2011
Rating: Great view, decent food.
Every couple months we go to the Lobster. It’s located right at the top of Santa Monica Pier and has a tremendous view of the pier and the ocean, lots of seafood, and a lively scene. It is a little overpriced, but view spots tend to be.
The wine list. I got a couple glasses of the ever reliable J.J. Prum Kabinet Riesling.
“Manila Clam Chowder. Applewood Smoked Bacon & Weiser Farms Fingerling Potatoes.” This was a slightly different take on the New England clam chowder. I liked the clams in the shell factor, certainly makes it pretty. The broth had a nice flavor, but without the thick creamy whiteness of the totally traditional variant. It was a bit more like a corn chowder, or certain types of traditional Irish soups.
“Grilled Wild Columbian River King Salmon. Coleman Farms Baby Broccoli, Caramelized Onion, Weiser Farms Fingerling Potatoes & Tart Cherry Gastrique.” This would have been good except for the fact that while it was ordered medium well, it was medium-rare, and the pink inside didn’t have the firmness it should, but had turned into that kind of salmon mush. We actually sent it back. Cooked right it would have been fine.
“Butter Poached Lobster. Tutti Fruitti Farms Sweet English Peas, Wild Mushroom Ragout & Lobster Mash.” I usually get this, and there’s a reason. I love lobster. I love buttery bisque-style lobster sauces. I love pees, and mash potatoes go well with all of the above. Really, what’s not to like.
The hopping bar scene. It was even more crowded outside on the patio.
The Lobster is fairly typical of mid-high end ocean-view American places. The food is better than Gladstones (see below), and if you order right can be very good, but it certainly isn’t a stellar kitchen. Still, it can be a fun place and a very enjoyable meal, particularly if you enjoy our favorite North Atlantic crustacean.
Restaurant: Sushi Zo
Location: 9824 National BlvdLos Angeles, CA 90034. (310) 842-3977
Date: April 8, 2011
Cuisine: Japanese / Sushi
LA is a sushi town. I eat a lot of sushi (just take a look at my LA Sushi review page!). People say Zo is the best in town. I finally went.
Unfortuantly, this outside shot is all you get, because they don’t allow photography. Bummer, because the sushi was good.
Zo is omakase only. You sit down. They bring you stuff. They charge you by the piece but don’t really tell you how much. They keep bringing you sushi. Eventually you get full and they hand you a (stiff) bill. It’s closest in style and format to Sasabune (my detailed reviews of that, with photos, HERE and HERE).
This is Osaka-style “warm rice” sushi, like Sasabune, and presumably descended from the same Chef Nozawa source. The individual pieces are made one at a time, no precutting, and given to you in a hurry. The fish is superlative, although each piece seems to have been placed in a miniaturization machine set to 70%. I’ve never seen sushi this small. This was particularly humorous when it came to the “battleship” style ones like Uni (sea urchin). They just looked so cute and diminutive (maybe 50-60% size for these). But I’m not sure this size issue resulted directly in less value. At the end I was still just as full as at Sasabune, although it cost perhaps 10-20% more. I perhaps had more pieces numerically. But each was certainly smaller.
The fish was a bit better than Sasabune, and certainly better than Echigo. The preps are very similar, with 90% being “no soy sauce” — a fact of which we were emphatically reminded each and every time. There was a lot of use of vinegar, yuzu and other brightening flavors. I do like these, but I think it did tend to distract slightly from the fish — which was stellar.
The chef had a bit of an attitude. Bordering on brusk. First the no camera bit. Then the sushi-nazi style directions on the table about proper sushi etiquette, the hurried pace, and the “no soy sauce” or “yes soy sauce” commands — barked.
But food wise, this is overall the best warm-rice style sushi I’ve had in recent years. I really should go back to Nozawa, but it’s been way too long for me to give him proper perspective.
But I’m thinking I prefer Sushi Sushi (reviews HERE, HERE, and HERE). The deal is a little better, it has more variety of style, the fish is just as good, and I prefer the more traditional Tokyo (cold rice) style, the friendly chefs, and the emphasis on the taste of the fish.
Location: 326 1/2 Beverly Dr. Beverly Hills, CA 90212. (310) 277-1165
Date: February 11, 2011
Cuisine: Japanese Sushi
Rating: Old school sushi – fantastic fish and presentation!
Last week I ate at this new (to me) sushi place in Beverly Hills, the redundantly named, “Sushi Sushi.” It was great but I didn’t have my camera. So with a bit of arm twisting — not — I convinced my brother to head back for a repeat.
The storefront, on Beverly Dr just south of Wilshire.
A small subset of the sushi bar. “Sushi sushi” is a pretty old-school looking Japanese place inside. Small room, small tables, and a sushi bar of about 12-15 seats. We decided to get the middle Omakase and let the chef work his magic.
He started out with this sashimi plate!
Ankimo (monkfish liver), with scallions and pickles in a ponzu. Perfectly fresh, with that rich creamy texture that it’s supposed to have, a hint of grainy, a hint of fishy, but very mild (no such thing as monkfish liver with NO taste of the sea — what would be the point of that?)
Perfect Santa Barbara Uni (sea urchin) on a bed of soft Ika (squid). A bit of wasabi mixed with something, and some sauce (had a little citrus in it I think). Both fishes are sweet, with the uni being delectably so. The squid was very soft with that slightly pasty texture squid is supposed to have. While this is not a dish for the land-lubber, it was awesome!
Fresh raw Hama oysters, with a bit of soy vinaigrette. Yum too.
My brother isn’t so into the Uni, so he got sweet shrimp instead.
Blue fin tuna. The chef here “pre-sauces” the fish, so no soy sauce is needed. In this case it’s already been put on. I had this done a number of times in Japan, and at high end places here like Urwasawa (HERE FOR REVIEW). The tuna melted in the mouth. Sushi Sushi uses big pieces of fish and a small ball of rice too. The rice is traditional, not the warm rice favored by Sasabune (HERE FOR REVIEW).
Tai (Red Snapper), with a slightly citrusy sauce. This is a lighter fish, but I’m very partial to it.
After this we had another course pairing a piece of Chu-toro (medium grade fatty tuna belly) and a piece of Kampachi (young yellowtail). Tragically, somehow I forgot to photograph it. /cry /cry
The toro was soft and delicious, the kampachi firmer, but also very tasty, just not nearly as rich.
The chu-toro was just a warmup for this o-toro, the even more fatty toro. It melted in the mouse like butter. Always one of my (and everyone else’s) favorites.
Then there was a piece of scottish salmon which I also missed a photo of. Maybe I’m going crazy, maybe it was just the hangover from Saam the night before, I don’t know. In any case it was one of the best pieces of salmon I’ve ever had.
And another missed one, aji (Spanish Mackerel), with only the very slightest bit of fishy. Again, a great mackerel.
And a fourth miss. Kohada (Japanese Herring) I swear I photoed these, but they’re not on my camera. This was great herring, but is certainly a bit fishy — herring always is.
Saba mackerel, not as good as the Spanish one, but nothing to mock either.
Another sashimi course. Sweet shrimp, Japanese scallop, giant clam, and taco (octopus). Are were prefect examples of the breed, and doused with a little bit of yuzu (just the fruit, not with the pepper) to test them up.
Kampachi cheek. This was marinated in one of those sweet broths I would frequently get in Japan. There was a bit of bone but the meat was incredibly soft (consistency like tuna fish?) and delectable. I really enjoyed the heavily marinated root vegetable. I don’t remember what these are, but I’d get them in Japan all the time.
Asari miso (clam broth miso soup). This is a very light miso, with a clam brothy quality. Not too salty, very nice.
They say you should judge a sushi chef by his tamago (sweet omelet). By those standards Sushi Sushi rules.
Ikura (salmon roe). Perfectly fresh, with just the slightest hint of brine (good). Wonderfully taught, they explode in the mouth like little brine balls.
Diced Toro handroll. This had yellow pickles and shiso leaf inside, which added texture and the exotic and wonderful flavor of the leaf.
Unagi (Fresh water eel). BBQ, with the sweet eel sauce. This was some damn fine eel, as good a piece as I’ve had.
The omakase included dessert, this concoction of fruit, green tea ice cream, green tea panna cotta, sweet bean sauce, and whipped cream. Oh yes, and with a “mens pocky” as garnish and corn flakes underneath. Pretty good, and all Japanese.
Sushi sushi is a new favorite place of mine. This place is GOOD! Not only because the fish is totally delectable, but because it offers that relative rarity now in LA, the “traditional sushi bar.” I like the warm rice Nozawa/Sasabune school and the modern Nobu school, but there is something satisfying about the original.
Location: 12400 Wilshire Blvd Ste 150 (South Carmelina Avenue) Los Angeles, CA 90025, (310) 820-3596
Date: December 21, 2010
Rating: Excellent as always.
Fresh real Wasabe and pickled ginger await us on the table.
Salad and Miso soup.
A choice of bowl. This is the Tuna bowl.
Shiro Maguro (Albacore) bowl is a different option.
The incomparable Blue crab handroll finishes (each lunch gets one).
Hotatagai (scallop). These raw Japanese sea scallops with yuzu juice, salt, and green pepper are devine. The yuzu provides a delicious snap and the texture is soft and buttery.
Albacore shashmi to start.
And when two or more people do the Omakase they often bring multiple shashimis to share. Baby tuna sashimi.
Blue fin Toro (tuna belly) and tuna in a sweet sauce. The toro is melt in your mouth soft.
Ono and halibut in tangy sauces.
Scottish salmon and premium Japanese yellowtail. The salmon has a traditional bit of seaweed/kelp on it, and sesame seeds.
Tai (Red Snapper) and Pampano Fish.
Albacore belly and Kampachi (Amberjack). The albacore has a slightly sweet sauce.
Seared Butterfish in a slightly sweet soy sauce.
Yellowtail handroll. Normally the Omakase would include the blue crab handroll, but as this was no shellfish…
If one is feeling really out there. The Japanese Omakase — this was me.
Pan shell or razorback clam sashimi. Yuzu/pepper paste, and 10,000 year old sea salt.
Blue fin Toro (tuna belly) and tuna in a sweet sauce.
Japanese Mackerel with shiso leaf and Tai (red snapper). Both in a tangy vinegar sauce.
Oysters, dynamite on the left and raw with a little vinegar and spicy radish on the right.
Scottish salmon and premium Japanese yellowtail.
Sweet shrimp and Japanese Scallop.
Uni (Sea Urchin) and Ikura (Salmon Egg). The Uni was from Santa Barbara, and delectably sweet. The Ikura popped in the mouth — little blasts of salty/fishy (in a good way).
Orange Clam with yuzu and Giant Clam with shiso leaf. I love Shiso leaf.
Again the Blue Crab handroll.
Now that was some good sushi.sharethis_button(); ?>
Traditionally, the ThanksGavin continues on Saturday with the deli brunch. In LA you just can’t get deli like you can in Philadelphia, with the partial exception of Brents. The locale was moved this year to cousin Abbe’s downtown.
A homemade frittata is whipped up.
The other half of the spread. My mom and aunt made the cream cheese, chive, onion, caper, and fresh lox “terrine.”
Saturday Deli Brunch (this post)
Restaurant: Sushi House Unico (SHU)
Location: 2932 1/2 Beverly Glen Circle – Bel Air, Ca 90077 (310) 474-2740
Date: Nov 12, 2010
Cuisine: New Style Sushi
Rating: A great “Nobu” clone with some dishes of its own.
Nearly 15 years ago now when I first ate at Matsuhisa I was blown away. I was already a veteran Sushi eater, having started going to Washington D.C.s one (then two) places in the late 70’s, and having been to Japan 2 or 3 times at that point (now it’s around 20). At the time it seemed like a culinary breakthrough. Classic sushi was great, but here was a whole new cuisine based on “modernizing” and combining Japanese elements with some other sensibility. Fundamentally it seemed intensely creative. But nowadays half the restaurants in LA have Miso Cod or Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno. In Food just as in any other art, creativity is surprisingly rare. SHU is very much derivative of this tradition, but unlike many of the places (Sushi Ryoku & Katsuya you know who you are!) does add a dash of its own style. Now we had read that SHU combined Japanese flavors with Italian. As a lover of both cuisines I didn’t really see this. It was more like a 95%/5% split in the Japanese favor. A few dishes had an occasional ingredient pulled from the Italian palette (like Olive Oil), but that was about it.
The menu, left half.
And right. There is also a separate Sushi menu and a specials of the day menu.
“Edamame,” the usual. They just put it on the table, which some places do.
This is unfiltered Sake, served cold. It looks like the Japanese soda Pocari Milk. I liked it, smoother than many filtered Sakes, with a nice “rice” flavor.
“Miso Soup w/ Tofu & Green Onion,” the classic. Certainly well done, but I object to the presence of the spoon.
“Tuna Carpaccio. Thinly sliced Tuna w/ arugola, extra virgin Olive Oil, Yuzu & bottarga,” was very tasty, bright, soft, with a pronounced citrus zing and a good dose of black pepper. While it did have Olive Oil, I’d hardly call it Italian — but I liked it!
“Wild Yellowtail: Tomato Sashimi,” was nice. The sauce had a LOT of zing to it, very vinegary in a good way, with a little hint of spice afterwards.
“Heirloom tomato salad with Jalapenos, onion, cilantro and Jalapeno dressing.” I only tried the dressing, as I detest raw tomatoes (one of 2 foods I don’t like). My wife liked it, although it was a chopstick challenge. The dressing was on the side and I used it on some other dishes as it had a great, very bright citrus, vinegar, jalapeno tang.
“Salmon Carpaccio, thinly sliced Salmon, w/ capers, arugolo, extra virgin Olive oil, sea salt & lemon,” I didn’t try. In fact, I didn’t order, but it was so pretty I photoed it from the next table over.
“Crispy Risotto w/ Spicy Tuna Tartar & Sliced Jalapeno” was a very nice dish, but the Risotto name was a total misnomer. It’s the standard “friend crispy rice cake,” topped with spicy tuna. But it was very good, even though I’m not a spicy tuna fan. Spicy tuna is to Sushi as Spaghetti and Meatballs is to Italian.
“Broiled Miso Marinated Black Cod,” the Nobu classic and one of my wife’s favorites.
“Roch Shrimp Tempura w/ spicy creamy mayo” is another Nobu classic, but it was done just as well here.
Click the pic for a zoom. Starting left to right across the top: Toro, Salmon, Albacore, Uni, Japanese Scallop, Eki (squid), Fresh Water Eel, and Tamago (Egg Omelet). The sushi was excellent. It was just a notch below what you get at Nobu, the late Hump (sob), or other extremely top LA places. So extremely yummy, but not totally sublime. Bear in mind that I am an extreme sushi snob with over 30 years of practice.
The unasked, but welcome fruit plate. I was too slow with the camera.
The trendy interior.
And exterior, right next to Vibrato Jazz Grill.
Overall, SHU was a very good place. It did the “classic” Nobu dishes well, and added enough originality to give it some flavor of its own.sharethis_button(); ?>