Restaurant: Sushi of Gari
Location: 6201 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028. (323) 400-6300
Date: November 16, 2016
Cuisine: Japanese Sushi (new influences)
Rating: Good, but new style is different
Sushi of Gari is that rare bird in LA, a New York Japanese food import! They have a couple of high end branches in Manhattan and have now ventured back to the serious sushi town.
It’s located in the heart of Hollywood — on the Blvd. Bold location for an expensive Japanese omakase restaurant.
The interior has a very high end and modern Japanese build out.
Tonight just the core original Foodie Club founders went: Erick and I.
From my cellar: NV Jacques Selosse Substance Blanc de Blancs. VM 93. Selosse’s NV Substance, based on 2007, is remarkably fresh considering the solera style that goes back to 1986. Candied lemon, white flowers and herbs are fused together in an ample, creamy Champagne. The classic Substance breadth is there, but in this release, the wine is a bit less overtly oxidative in style than it can be. Disgorged October 2015. Dosage is 1.3 grams per liter.
agavin: maybe a tiny touch advanced, but drinking awesomely.
Erick brought: 2002 Louis Jadot Montrachet. BH 96. Jadot has seriously upgraded the quality of their Montrachet over the past few vintages and while it’s always been good (consider the incredible ’96), the last few efforts have been at another level. The ’02 offers sublimely complex aromas of white flowers and citrus wrapped in a gentle hint of wood spice followed by sappy, powerful, mouth coating, pungent flavors of superb density and weight. Ripe and vibrant acid keep everything in perfect balance and this should drink well for a long time. In short, this is class in a glass and a knockout effort.
agavin: this needed more years, still pretty closed.
Cute custom chopstick rests and wrappers.
Kuromutsu Nanbanzuke. Our only non-sushi. deep-fried halibut, marinated in sweet vinegar. Dashi, ginger, and crunchy glassy noodles. Very interesting (and fun) texture.
Maguro Tofu Raya. Tuna with creamy tofu puree. The tofu was very mild, but right off the bat it set the night by distracting a bit from the gorgeous fish. Not that it was bad, but the rice here isn’t very assertive (low vinegar), and the topping complicates the tasting of the fish.
Tai Salad. Japanese red snapper topped with seasoned baby greens, roasted pine nuts, and crispy lotus root with hint of wasabi olive oil. This was interesting and quite a bit of basil, but again I wasn’t sure it paired to the improvement of the fish.
Amaebi Yuzu. Sweet shrimp with yuzu miso. This had a slightly bitter finish but was overall a slightly better compliment.
Yellowtail Belly Jalapeno. Like a nigiri version of the Matsuhisa classic. Much better pairing.
Sake Yaki Tomato. Salmon with sautéed tomato. This is one of their signatures. The salmon was fabulous, and with the tomato made for an interesting interplay, but the fish is slightly lost.
Nama Hotate Ume. Hokkaido scallop with umeboshi plum sauce. This was a good pairing and the plum didn’t overwhelm the scallop.
Kamatoro with wasabi. Awesome piece of toro. This is from the collar, like the giant whole collar we had the other night. Pretty straight up without a weird topping (that was just wasabi).
Yuki Masu Ringo Sauce. Snow trout with apple sauce and sprigs of radish. There was a smoked quality to the piece. I’m not sure the sweetness of the apple actually goes with the marinated vinegar tone of the fish and rice.
Mackerel with shiso and marinated daikon. Interesting, and certainly colorful.
Ika Broccoli. Squid with broccoli! The squid was very tender with a char flavor. This actually paired well with the broccoli and didn’t distract.
Zuke Kinmedai. Goldeneye snapper with dried kelp. A great pairing. The kelp isn’t very strong and it added some extra interest and texture to a fabulous piece of fish.
Zuwaigani Uni. Snow crab with uni sauce. Quite charred. Good though, although I kind of like my crab cold and less crispy.
Hirame Truffle. Charred halibut with quail egg and truffle oil. This one was very good. I love egg yolk. Combo was “interesting” but it worked.
Yaki Hokkaido Bafun Uni. Charred Hokkaido search urchin. Very straight up and without a sauce. Worked better than most of the sauces. There was a bit of char to the uni too — very good uni.
Maguro Carpaccio. Seared tuna with onion, seaweed, breaded flakes, garlic chip, and ponzu. Nice nigiri. Also tasted like a Nobu dish.
Aji Miso. Spanish mackerel with cream cheese miso. Hmm. Miso distracted a bit.
Yaki Sawara. Charred kit mackerel with mushroom sauce. One of these very charred fish bits. The mushroom wasn’t so distracting but I’m not a super lover of this sort of “dried” (aka charred) sushi bits.
Lobster. Marinated lobster with sea salt. Excellent.
Nodoguro. Charred rosy sea bass. No sauce, but quite charred.
Yaki Sake. Seared marinated salmon. This was an awesome piece with more of a vinegar flavor than most things tonight.
Nama Saba Goma. Japanese mackerel marinated with sesame soy sauce. Very interesting strong nutty tone from the sesame. Quite good.
Clam Parsley Sauce. Chew giant clam sautéed in butter and served with a garlic-parsley sauce. Like escargot! Nice chew too.
Maguro Yukke. Shredded lean blue fin tuna marinated with Korean-style sweet sesame oil sauce on a bed of crispy nori seaweed with pine-nuts and scallion. This was very interesting and I liked it a lot. I liked that it was soft and marinated. The crispy (and it was quite chewy) bit of seaweed was interesting too.
Baby baracuda. Another fairly “charred” piece, but good for barracuda.
Toro Taku. Chopped fatty tuna with Japanese yellow pickles. This one was great. Interesting we are in parallel working on a very similar handroll at Ramen Roll — maybe the toro and pickles is a classic pairing.
Needlefish with shiso and plumb sauce. Interesting marinated sushi note.
Ikura. Salmon eggs. Straight up — but I love salmon eggs.
Hamachi Yubiki. Poached yellowtail with sesame sauce. Different. The sesame worked. Tahini basically, so felt slightly middle eastern.
Kohada Rakkyo. Shad with shiso and onion. Very marinated. Tasted almost like pickled herring!
Yaki Kamatoro. Kamatoro (collar toro) is always great. I prefer (as usual) the fully raw version, but the seared one is good too.
Avocado sushi with eel and cucumber. Interesting. Tasted exactly like a caterpillar roll — but as a nigiri.
Foie Gras Nashi. Foie gras with poached pear and red wine jello. Unconventional but awesome. What’s not to like about foie gras and fruit?
Anago. sea eel. A nice chunk of sea eel. Not very sweet with a distinct charred fat flavor.
Tomago, shiso, and sour plum handroll. Very traditional with the shiso/plum thing. A good palette cleanser and fairly bracing.
Crab handroll. Very nice crab, but plain like this it’s pretty subtle. I prefer blue crab.
Okay, so how was Sushi of Gari? I’d say that the decor was awesome. The service was awesome. The sushi chef’s really nice and very skilled. Two we knew from Mori. The build out is really swank as well, although for me the location is FAR. Not as far as oo-toro — but far enough. The fish quality was absolutely first rate. The price wasn’t even that bad (considering how much we had).
But how was the overall effect?
Gari has a very distinct style. The rice is very low vinegar. A LOT of nigiri (and we tried EVERYTHING THEY HAD tonight) are charred. A little too much for my taste, sort of the opposite of the Sasebune or Zo style where there is a lot of ponzu and things are very wet. Here many nigiri were quite dry and partially cooked.
Then there is the sauce/topping/modern thing. Overall I would have to say it distracted and made for novel, but inferior tasting nigiri than a more conventional approach. Now they were interesting, and some succeeded well like the truffle egg, kelp, or parsley clam, but many of my favorite pieces were the ones without heavy/unusual toppings. Like the marinated salmon or the kamatoro. So what does that tell you? If they dropped most of the gimmicks they would have to stand out on the quality of the fish — but I think they actually have that, and I might enjoy it even more.
We lasted past 3 different normal Omakases and were the last guests at 11:30 — I think they wanted us out of there and didn’t offer us dessert. So we went next door to shake shack!
I photoed the concretes, which is what we ordered.
And the simple but well done interior.
Sunset Grind. Cookie custard, Stumptown coffee beans, marshmallow sauce and Cofax spiced crumb donut. These things are like gelato softserve crossed with Cold Stone creamery. The hugely sweet infusion of stuff makes for a yummy mix, but it’s hardly subtle or elegant. And it sits VERY heavy.
Tinseltown Toffee. Chocolate custard, peanut butter sauce, chocolate toffee and Compartes dark chocolate chunks. Peanut butter chocolate with chunks. What’s not to like? Pretty decadent.