Location: You wish you knew!
Date: May 20, 2016
Rating: Best yet!
Yamakase is just hands down one of the most fun evenings in LA. Not only is the “modern” Japanese cuisine incredible, but the convivial nature of the place is just great. It’s not very big and as usual we took the entire sushi bar (we had 10 this time, but you can squeeze in 11 or 12). This is my second time at the new location and while the back was empty first time around, this time there were 8 or so people at 2-3 tables back in the “depths” of the restaurant.
We start with a bang! 2003 Krug Champagne Clos du Mesnil. VM 94+. The 2003 Clos du Mesnil is insanely beautiful. Vivid, resonant and textured in the glass, the 2003 boasts magnificent depth and pure breed. Since I last tasted it a few months ago, the 2003 has begun to shut down, which is probably a great sign for its future and overall longevity. Hints of smoke, slate and dried pear gradually open up in the glass, but the 2003 mostly stands out for its exceptional finesse.
1998 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon P2. VM 95. The 1998 Dom Pérignon P2 is open and beautifully expressive today. Unusually open for a young P2, the 1998 drinks well upon release, especially compared to the 1996, which was virtually unapproachable for the first few years after release. That is not at all the case with the 1998, which is quite open at this stage. Hints of apricot, almond, white flowers and chamomile add texture on the fleshy, resonant finish. The added time on the lees has given the P2 an added dimension of texture.
2002 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. JG 99+. At first sight a lovely bright golden colour. A very charismatic fresh nose, promise of natural intensity and elegance with strong presence of fruits, fruits of all types. A diverse bouquet of orange aromas with some notes of liquorice and light chocolate biscuit can be enjoyed.
On the palate, astonishing, balanced and delicate with significant fresh, tropical, wild and crystalised fruits. It is a hymn to fruit: red, white and citrus fruit with notes of cassis, chocolate, candied-orange peel, cocoa beans, honey with hints of smoke and toast enhanced by a vibrant, persistent long finish. It is a balanced dialogue between Pinot Noir (40%) and Chardonnays (39%) with Meunier (21%).
Persimmon butter sandwich. This is an odd one, but delicious. The orange stripes are dried persimmon which has been hung to dry for months. This is a traditional Japanese New Year preparation and very highly prized. The lighter stripe is frozen high end butter! Almost like a little petite four.
1986 Marquis de Laguiche (Joseph Drouhin) Montrachet. 94 points. From a virtually perfect bottle, this wine had a deep yellow center and clear rims. Not surprisingly, the nose was rather closed at first. Eventually, the high- intensity nose showed apples, vanilla, macaroons, and white stone. In the mouth, this wine was reasonably ripe and rich but the wine’s majesty came from its powerful acidity. Not surprisingly, it showed awesome length after some time.
2007 Louis Latour Montrachet. BH 95. A deft touch of wood serves as a background presence for the reserved but fresh and bright floral, citrus, brioche and spice aromas that are strikingly complex and broad and complement the full-bodied flavors that are deep, dense and massive with exceptionally powerful drive and intensity on the gorgeously long and palate staining finish. This is an impressive wine blessed with great underlying material, perfect balance and superb harmony plus it’s built for the long haul. Note however that the expressiveness of the nose aside, the flavors are like a block of stone and thus I would suggest not opening a bottle for the next few years as it would likely be a complete waste.
From my cellar: 2002 Domaine Amiot Guy et Fils Montrachet. Burghound 93. Tight yet fragrant aromas of stunning complexity reveal hints of peach, pear and a trace of wood spice, leading to large-scaled, extremely ripe flavors that stain the palate with wave after wave of sappy extract. Exceptionally powerful and very masculine, this is a very backward wine today with impressive focus and precision and it will require a minimum of 5 to 7 years of cellar time to arrive at its peak, though it should be capable of lasting a good deal longer.
From my cellar: 2000 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault 1er Cru Les . BH 94. Razor sharp aromas of wet rocks, earth and white fruits meld into flavors that are crystalline in their precision, purity and transparency. Understated, discreet and fine yet this is painfully intense with buckets of minerality. Quite backward presently but this is a genuinely breathtaking wine that defines class. In two words, absolutely brilliant and consistent notes.
Truffle, crab, quail egg, uni parfait. Classic Yamakase greatness. White truffles apparently this time of year. In December it was black.
1999 Etienne Sauzet Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Champs Canet. BH 92. Slightly exotic fruit (often a characteristic of Champs Canet) with notes of pineapple and banana with that mouth watering Granny Smith apple acidity. Marvelous intensity on the mid-palate that continues on to the long, powerful yet discreet finish. Not flashy and in fact rather understated for Champs Canet but it has arrived at its peak and is drinking perfectly now. Impressive in that it’s generous yet precise and pure with lovely harmony of expression.
2000 Faiveley Corton-Charlemagne. BH 91. The nose is still relatively fresh though the aromatic profile is one of a fully mature white burg, offering up notes of dried flowers, green apple and citrus hints that are also picked up by the elegant and pure medium-bodied flavors that display some wood influence on the otherwise admirably long finish. This is a Corton-Charlemagne of finesse and about the only nit is that one could wish for a bit more mid-palate concentration. No other recent experiences.
Foie gras, toro, quail egg, truffle cheese, blue crab. Wow! This dish was absolutely out of this world. Just crazy rich and delicious. You wouldn’t think it works, but it’s amazing.
Uh oh, crabs!
King crab, steamed. Simple steamed fresh crab.
At work in the kitchen — which is right behind the sushi bar.
From my cellar: 1997 Joseph Drouhin Romanée St. Vivant. 93 points. Garnet color, with light bricking on the rim. Red fruits on the nose, with some spice as well. The red fruits are also present on the palate. Long finish. Very good given the vintage and kept very well.
Ultimate ramen bowl. This foie gras based seafood broth was topped with truffles and filled with yummy seafood bits. Underneath are the ramen noodles. There was crab, beef, oyster, and who knows what else in here. Absolutely stunning. So rich. So good. The broth had quite a white pepper kick too which was amazing.
From my cellar: 1982 Domaine Marquis d’Angerville Volnay 1er Cru Clos des Ducs. Burghound 88. Superb nose of dried rose petals trimmed in minerals and damp earth follow by middle weight, slightly thinning flavors that display excellent complexity and frankly more structure than the mid-palate sap can adequately buffer on the finish. That said, this receives its marks for the sheer breadth of flavors and the clean, pure character. This is a first rate effort in what was a very difficult vintage.
“Only” 16 bottles of wine. 10 people. Great stuff tonight too. No bad or spoiled wines. Stuff was great in all 4 categories: champ, white burg, red burg, and sake. Just some really stellar drinks.
Plus, food-wise, this was one of my best meals this year — really quite excellent — and regular readers know I have more than my share of great meals. A really great format. A total blow out and Yama’s cuisine keeps gaining in strength and power. Really quite incomparable.
Oh, and that toro cheese dish and foie gras “ramen” are just to die for. I’m headed back in July for more.