Location: 1569 Fairway Dr, Walnut, CA 91789. (909) 598-8299
Date: November 11, 2017
Cuisine: Japanese Sushi (with slight nod to China)
Rating: Ends of the earth, but very good
Chef Kaz of Totoraku, an occasional hedonist, sent us far east to this Sushi restaurant last year and it was such a fun time that we had to return again for a third visit.
And by far east I mean REALLY REALLY far east — to Walnut California. 40+ miles from my house. 20 miles past Alhambra (which most people consider to far to drive for food). It took an hour and twenty minutes on a Saturday night!
The slick looking location is in the heart of the affluent Chinese American San Gabriel Valley. But yes, it’s Japan, if perhaps catering to Chinese taste. This photo was shot at about 10pm after everyone else had left.
This time we had the private room.
Which even has its own sushi chef!
From my cellar: 2000 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. BH 96. A wonderfully layered and nuanced nose features an intense yeasty character to the maturing fruit that displays interesting phenolic characters, in particular petrol, along with aromas of apple, pear and soft citrus hints. In contrast to the nascent maturity expressed by the nose the flavor profile is still tight and backward with a genuinely gorgeous texture, all wrapped in a strikingly persistent and highly complex finish. For my taste the 2000 Brut is at an inflection point as the nose does offer enough maturity so that it’s really quite pretty whereas the palate impression is substantially younger. As such it really just depends on how you prefer your Champagne because I suspect that the nose will be very mature by the time the still very youthful flavors attain their majority. For my taste preferences it would be no vinous crime to begin enjoying this now but be aware that this will age for a very long time. The best approach is probably to buy 6, or even 12, bottles and enjoy them over a longer period of time.
Cod sperm sacks in ponzu with spicy daikon. Looks like brain, has a slimy texture, and you slurp it all down in one go. Pretty awesome actually — even if it tasted mostly of ponzu.
Right to left (as most descriptions will be): Kawahagi with seaweed salt. On the left the same fish with yuzu juice and Himalayan salt. Very mild and light.
From my cellar: 2014 Domaine Sylvain Pataille Bourgogne Blanc Chardonnay Rose. This lovely and floral wine is made from a different clone of the Chardonnay grape called “Chardonnay Rose.” Very unusual and delicious.
Amuses. Right to left. Seared abalone, sea snail, potato salad with tobiko, and persimmon and butter layer cake. All very good for what they are.
Sashimi (photo wasn’t mine which is why it’s blurry). Front to back: Shima Aji, chu toro, o toro. Delicious cuts of fish and really nice house ground wasabi.
2014 La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Milieu. BH 93. This is notably ripe though the nose stops just short of expressing exotic fruit aromas and I particularly like the plethora of Chablis characters present on the pear and citrus scents. There is excellent richness, volume and density to the full-bodied flavors that possess plenty of minerality on the powerful lemon-inflected finale that is both persistent and quite dry. Very fine quality here.
Live lobster sashimi. It was still wiggling.
There was a bit of pepper on there too and some yuzu or lime.
From my cellar: 1994 R. López de Heredia Rioja Blanco Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia. 95 points. Aromas of nuts, hay, wood and minerals. Smooth texture. Deep, intense and concentrated.
Steamed abalone with sake. Very soft and tender for abalone. Briney but nice.
Kumamoto oysters with two types of caviar and with daikon. Lovely little oysters.
On the left, golden eye snapper sushi and on the right red snapper sushi. Citrus zing.
Yarom posing with the main chef.
Ruby snapper seared. An awesome piece of fish!
2013 Sine Qua Non …And An Eight Track. 92 points. Very nice hefty rose.Seared o toro with takuan. Underneath the fish is a bit of crunchy pickled daikon. Really great interplay of different textures, flavors, and temperature.
Toro with foie gras and mountain potatoes and leeks! Now that is a lot of goodness.
Uni and toro with avocado and…
Hokkaido hairy crab legs and guts. I love kani miso (crab guts).
Arnie brought: 2009 Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Ten. VM 89. One of the Sea Smoke flagships, the 2009 Pinot Noir Ten impresses for its depth and sheer power. Layers of flavor flow through to the huge, dramatic finish in a full-bodied, intense Pinot. Once the intensity of the fruit fades, there is not much development in the glass, which results in an overall impression of one dimensionality. The Ten is one of Sea Smoke’s flagships. It is made from all ten Pinot clones planted on the property. While a solid effort, I expected more from this offering, which also happens to be the wine through which I discovered Sea Smoke years ago.
agavin: I actually liked this as new world pinots go.
Sliced A5 wagyu for the next dish.
The chef presents the documents.
Wagyu/lobster shabu shabu! You dip the wagyu into here to cook it (delicious) and
Then dip in the sauces. As a bonus the broth becomes incredibly delicious with the beef fat.
Arnie brought: 2011 Aubert Pinot Noir CIX Estate Vineyard. VM 91. The 2011 Pinot Noir CIX Vineyard is gorgeous. Dark red cherries, flowers, mint and licorice all come together nicely. A pointed, beautifully articulated wine, the 2011 impresses for its focus, length and nuance. Like its Chardonnay sibling, the CIX Pinot lacks a little of mid-palate stuffing that will likely come with further vine age. Today, the CIX is a bit tight, but I imagine it will always remain energetic and vibrant in style.
Lobster and seafood tempura. First rate tempura.
Purple yam (ume) dessert with edamame (soy bean) sauce. Sounds weird. Colors are odd, but it was surprisingly delicious for a Japanese dessert!
Overall, OOToro — while always good — really upped its game tonight. This was by far the best meal we have had here and much more subtle and sophisticated than some of the previous fare. Really great stuff.
But that drive! It was so far that most of the party booked a nearby Marriot and turned it into a bunch of meals, massages, and other decadences. I drove home to my lovely wife.
To sober up we went to a cafe nearby, as the 85 degrees was closed 🙁
Got some delicious warm cookies.
And an iced latte.
For more LA dining reviews click here,