Restaurant: Ginza Onodera
Location: 609 La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069. (323) 433-4817
Date: January 18, 2017
Cuisine: Japanese Sushi
Rating: Fabulous nigiri, expensive, not enough food
Los Angeles’ amazing homegrown sushi scene has recently been invaded by high end entrees from outside the city. I recently visited Sushi of Gari for some new style sushi, and Ginza Onodera is a Tokyo import using ultra traditional methods.
The decor is clean. Not as neat looking or stylish as Gari but bright and attractive.
The pottery is very artsy Japanese.
For wine, our small party, organized by Liz Lee of Sage Society, brought all high end late disgorgement champagnes.
Erick brought: 1990 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut Collection. 97 points. Like a Grand Cuvee on fire. Rich, vibrant, with a complex maturity.
From my cellar: 1996 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rosé P2. 97 points. Floral aromatic start with red berry, red cherry, and ripe apple. Similar flavors with intense concentration, finishing with energizing minerality. In fact very similar to the 1996 “P1” in the next glass, but with just “more” of almost everything good.
Liz brought: 1995 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rosé P2. VM 95.5. The just-released 1995 Dom Pérignon Rosé P2 is stunning. Young, delicate and vibrant in the glass, the 1995 has it all; expressive aromatics, crystalline fruit and fabulous overall balance. Cranberry, mint, hard candy, cinnamon and dried rose petals are laced into the super-expressive finish. The 1995 P2 is sweet and layered, but with lovely veins of chalky minerality that give the wine its sense of energy. A delicate, floral finish rounds things out nicely.
Comes with a super fancy box.
Blanc and rose.
Smoked mackerel sashimi. Lovely smoky flavor.
The chefs hard at work. Despite a frenzy of effort the sushi was so labor intensive it was about 20 minutes between morsels!
Baby barracuda sashimi. Certainly the best bit of barracuda I’ve had.
Out comes a typical Japanese ceramic container.
Caviar and uni custard. Egg custard is a classic Japanese dish and I love it — this one was particularly decadent with the caviar and uni!
Hokkaido taco (octopus). Very tender, with a nice bit of chew.
Monkfish liver. This monkfish liver was DEEPLY marinated in a sweet soy. It was probably the softest and arguably most delicious version I’ve had. Melted completely in your mouth.
Cod Sperm Sack Tempura. Soft and delicate with that fluffy brain-like texture of the cod sperm. Pretty delicious if you don’t think about what you are eating.
House made ginger. Very sweet and soft. I love ginger and this version was almost like a candy ginger. Delicious.
Goldeneye red snapper.
TLiz generously opened this second bottle:
1990 Moët & Chandon Champagne Cuvée Dom Pérignon P3. 99 points. Spell binding bottle of Champagne. Disgorged in 2014, there was so much brioche here, I thought I was in bakery. There was a vibrancy and energy to the wine that keep all that pure fruit right out in the front. The effervesce was exactly what it needed to be with textures that promoted its beautiful finesse character. Worthy the money? That is another issue. But price aside, this is in contention for one of the best bottles of Champagne I have ever tasted.
Sardine with ginger. Very pickled and super delicious (if you love vinegar like I do).
Kohada gizzard shad. Another very marinated cut.
Fermented squid gut. Like a pasta in uni sauce. Very strong earthy fermented taste. A bit sweet. I thought it was delicious, but if you don’t like umami “aggressive” Japanese fermented seafood flavors and slimey texture it might freak you out.
Razor clam nori taco. Like a hand roll with no rice. Very much a charred flavor with a constrast between the perfect roasted nori and the crunchy/chewy clam. Very interesting and nice.
Two kinds of marinated fish roe with slices of daikon. Almost like charcuterie — fishy charcuterie. A touch sweet and quite salty. I loved these. Great texture contrast to between the crunchy daikon and the chewy dried roe.
Collar toro. A special cut from the collar (kami toro). They only get 2-4 prices out of the whole fish!
Chefs plating the next dish.
Red miso soup. Earthy and appropriate on a rainy winter night.
Hokkaido uni sushi. Fabulously soft.
Eel sushi. The dry sea eel type I think, with salts and eel sauce. The eel sauce was incredibly sticky and caramelized.
Omelet is considered the measure of a traditional sushi chef.
Tamago (omelet). Very light and fluffy.
Green tea and sesame pudding? Whatever it was exactly it was delicious with a very strong wonderful macha flavor.
Our executive chef, Yohei Matsuki!
Overall Ginza Onodera has a very strong distinctive traditional style. The rich is basically oozing with red vinegar and has a strong assertive quality — but it does stay together well. The fish was very aged and marinated and each piece of nigiri crafted so as to balance with the particular qualities of the fish. I can’t fault the taste, texture, or presentation of nearly any of the dishes. They were pretty spectacular. And I love straight nigiri. Individually these are much more enjoyable than the odd combinations at Sushi of Gari for example.
And service was warm, very Japanese, and excellent.
My issues with Onodera are a high price point (about $300 for food) / quantity ratio. The price itself is high, but not outrageous at all given the labor involved (and certainly not offensive like Urwasawa). But there is also a fairly slow rate between pieces (at least 15 minutes), and not ENOUGH pieces for my big nigiri appetite. I could easily have eaten 2-3 times as many. They might as well have just served me pairs. I would say that for pure nigiri QUALITY in volume this is the best I’ve had outside of Japan. Yamakase has some fabulous nigiri too but you only get a few (plus a whole lot of other dishes). Now I may be biased, but Yamakase is a “better deal” in that you get about 4X the calories for similar money. But it’s really a totally different (if both Japanese) cuisine as Onodera is pretty much straight straight sushi and Yamakase a modern creative Kaiseki. Still, if you want to experience the exquisite art of perfectly crafted nigiri — Onodera is the top right now in LA.
But we were so hungry we went afterward (after midnight!) to Korea Town for some hearty stew!
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The full wine lineup.sharethis_button(); ?>