Location: 6623 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 965-8010
Date: December 12, 2018
Cuisine: Modern Japanese
Rating: Pretty good Matsuhisa style Japanese
Tonight’s dinner is an interesting mash up gang containing about half people from the old Foodie Club dinners of the 2015-2016 time frame (helmed tonight by Walker) and a whole bunch of Will’s friends (previously unknown to me but very cool).
For me this was the start of a bruising 5 night out holiday run.
It takes place at Umeda, a modern Japanese restaurant. But firstly…
Walker is also friendly with the building owner and designer and so we went upstairs before the meal to his private rooftop deck.
A rather awesome little Hollywood lookout.
Chef Takuya Umeda who started his culinary career in Sapporo, Japan in a sushi restaurant between 1981 to 1987. He fell in love with the art of sushi. With his heart and passion set on becoming the best sushi chef, he started working in London at Saga Japanese Restaurant between 1987 to 1995.
Clean light wood interiors.
The kitchen is very organized.
The wine theme was Champagne!
2007 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Premier Cru Coeur de Cuvée. VM 95. Interestingly, the 2007 Coeur de Cuvée comes across as a bit more youthful than the 2008 tasted alongside it. Another year in bottle seems to have only brought out the wine’s freshness and energy. Freshly cut flowers, pears, mint and almonds are some of the signatures, but it is the wine’s vivacity that I find most striking today. The 2007 is a bit less creamy and multi-dimensional than the 2008, but it is impressive just the same.
1969 Perrier-Jouët Champagne Réserve Cuvée Rosé!
Oyster with caviar and miso sauce. A touch sweet, but great.
1995 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut. VM 96. The 1995 Cristal (Late Disgorged) is fascinating to taste, as it is quite different in style from the original release. Because of the extra three years or so on the lees, the 1995 Cristal (Late Disgorged) has picked up a reductive note that is not typical of Cristal. Scents of lime, crushed rock, lemon and slate gradually open up in the glass. The 1995 remains taut and chiseled, with crystalline purity and exceptional overall balance. The wine feels wonderfully alive as it tempts all of the senses with its compelling personality. This is a superb showing from Roederer.
2006 Dom Perignon Champagne. VM 96. Powerful, dense and tightly wound, the 2006 Dom Pérignon is fabulous today. To be sure, the 2006 is a broad, virile Champagne, but I find it compelling because of its phenolic depth and overall intensity. Chef de Caves Richard Geoffroy adds that August was quite cold and wet, and that ripening only happened at the very end of the growing season. Although numbers alone can never explain a wine, I find it interesting that the 2006 has more phenolics than the 2003. Readers will have to be patient, as the 2006 is easily the most reticent Dom Pérignon in the years spanning 2002 and 2009. I am confident the 2006 will have its day, but in its youth, it is not especially charming or easy to drink.
A first little round of sushi:
White fish (maybe snapper) with shiso, toro, uni, mackerel, and hand pickled ginger.
2004 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé. VM 95. A wine of exquisite beauty, the 2004 Dom Ruinart Brut Rosé has the pedigree to drink well for several decades. The 2004 is an especially vinous, textured Rosé. The berry, floral, spice and mineral-drenched flavors are finely sketched in this dramatic, strikingly beautiful Rosé from Ruinart.
The next round was Nobu style sashimi (I think the chef worked for Nobu at some point, maybe at Matsuhisa).
New Style Salmon Sashimi. With olive oil, sesame, chives. This dish (popularized by Nobu) hides the fish, but it is tasty.
Oyster with ponzu. Love these.
Snapper with garlic.
2006 Ruinart Champagne Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. VM 96+. One of the highlights among this year’s new tête de cuvée releases, 2006 the Brut Blanc de Blancs Dom Ruinart is a powerful, almost tannic Champagne built on structure and intensity. Then again, much of the Chardonnay here comes from the Montagne de Reims, where wines tend to naturally be quite broad. Even though it’s now ten years old, the 2006 is much less expressive than either the 2002 or 2004 at a similar stage. I expect it will be quite a few years before the 2006 is truly ready to drink. Over the years I have been fortunate to taste Dom Ruinart back to the 1970s, and while I don’t think the 2006 will need decades to be at its best, it certainly does look like a long distance runner. There is plenty of citrus and floral driven intensity, although the bouquet is less toasty and open than it often is. In short, the 2006 Dom Ruinart is a wine for those who can be patient. It will be a fine investment for those looking for a wine to cellar to commemorate special occasions. Lot L AJSXAC.
Kanpachi (probably) with chili, a silver skinned fish, eel, and ikura (salmon roe).
2011 Pessac-Léognan de Chevalier Blanc. 90 points.
More sashimi, often called taradito in this context owing to its Peruvian influences.
The classic yellowtail jalepeno.
Scallop with yuzu and chili.
A light fish with a tangy sauce.
Tuna in a lettuce wrap.
J.M. Labruyère Champagne Grand Cru Prologue. BH 90. A discreet if mildly fruity nose consists of citrus, white peach, yeast and a whiff of brioche. The juicy and attractively vibrant middle weight flavors are shaped by a moderately firm if not especially fine mousse, all wrapped in very dry and crisp finish that offers reasonably good depth and persistence. This is appealing in its fashion even if it is less distinguished than its two stable mates.
1995 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Blanc des Millénaires. VM 95. The 1995 Brut Blanc des Millenaires shows just how compelling this often overlooked vintage can be. Layers of lemon, pastry spices, crushed rocks and savory herbs literally jump from the glass in this exquisite, perfumed, beautifully delineated Champagne. The 1995 shows lovely flavor complexity and nuance from its extended time in bottle, yet it also retains plenty of freshness, verve and acidity. This is a great showing from Charles Heidsieck. The 1995 was made before the tenure of the house’s current team, headed by CEO Cécile Bonnefond. It will be very interesting to see what develops at this historic property over the coming years.
Persimmon with mushrooms and cheesy cream sauce. This was the most unique dish of the night. I don’t usually like persimmon but this was pretty good. Weird though with the sweet and creamy.
Mysterious underwater champagne.
2015 Samuel Billaud Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot. VM 91+. Bright yellow. Ripe peach and ripe pear aromas are enlivened by flowers and white pepper, with the spicy oak element complementing rather than overwhelming the nose. Tight and strict in the mouth, with its lemon and softer citrus flavors framed by an edge of acidity and a peppery accent that I did not find in the Vaudésir, Preuses or Bougros. Conveys a slightly astringent stoniness but this wine is ripe enough to expand in bottle and absorb some of its acidity (4.3 grams per liter) with four or five years in the cellar. Perhaps it was not a bad idea to pick this fruit earlier than anticipated.
Old style sushi. I like these pressed heavily marinated old school sushis. Although these aren’t SUPER old school or anything. And the roll in the back with the rice paper is decidedly “LA”. For some reason, LA ladies decided that rice paper was healthier than seaweed — which I’m sure it’s not since seaweed has about zero calories and lots of nutrients.
2014 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne. BH 92-95. Moderate reduction presently renders the nose difficult to evaluate but there is lovely intensity to the strongly mineral-inflected and muscular big-bodied flavors that display fine cut and plenty of punch on the pure and relatively refined finish that delivers flat out superb length. This is potentially excellent though note well that it’s going to require plenty of bottle age to realize its full potential.
2008 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos. BH 96. Here too the elegance of the nose is simply stunning with a layered and perfumed aromatic profile trimmed in an almost invisible touch of oak that allows it to ooze Chablis character and in particular, a fine minerality that continues onto the impressively concentrated and palate staining flavors that possess striking precision on the explosively long and bone dry finish. This is a great Les Clos that will make old bones.
Kobe beef skewers. Not, I think, serious A5. But tasty.
From my cellar: 2006 Taittinger Champagne Comtes de Champagne Rosé Brut. VM 96. The 2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé is at once rich and refined, a simply fabulous Champagne Rosè I won’t soon forget. Intensely perfumed, with the Pinot Noir-derived red berry and cranberry flavors that are not just concentrated, but also remarkably pure. It is one of the better Rosé bubbles I have had in the last year.
I also opened but forgot to photo:
1979 Drappier Champagne Carte d’Or Brut. 94 points.
2014 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc. VM 93. The 2014 Smith Haut-Lafitte Blanc has a lively, crisp bouquet with mineral-driven citrus fruit, fine chalk and flint-like scents, dare I say almost Chablis-cum-Bordeaux! The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity, quite vibrant with good depth although the second half is missing the tension that I hope for, certainly what those splendid aromatics deserve. Tasted blind at the annual Southwold tasting.
More rolls. Interesting stuff in them and sweet sauces. Yummy though. I was still hungry and had to eat other people’s rolls. lol.
2014 Jean-Michel Stephan Côte-Rôtie Côteaux de Tupin. VM 91. Bright violet. Smoke- and spice-tinged blue fruit and violet aromas show excellent clarity and a hint of cured meat. Sweet and sappy on the palate, offering concentrated dark berry, floral pastille and allspice flavors plus a subtle suggestion of gaminess. The very long, lively finish features firm, minerally cut, an echo of juicy blue fruit and dusty tannins that add shape and gentle grip.
Meatball ramen soup?
The gang pretty much took over the restaurant.
1989 Zind-Humbrecht Tokay Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal Vendange Tardive. 95 points. Brilliant. A wow from the first sip; deep gold in colour with stunning aromatics – an array of honey, florality, light botrytis spice, apricots, and peach compote all coming together, and a palate that’s also tremendously complex and very light on its feet with bright acids cutting through the copious sweetness here. It’s a fantastic dessert wine, and I’m glad I have a bunch more – this seems to be at peak right now.
Like Matsuhisa, Umeda forgoes the whacky Japanese desserts in favor of Japanese influenced modern desserts like this red bean green tea parfait.
The first of many large batch holiday flavors — Peppermint Gelato — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — peppermint candy base laced with peppermint bark! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #IceCream #peppermint #candy #holiday #winter
A new variant on an old flavor — Cold Pressed Expresso Gelato — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — cold pressed expresso base (usually I hot brew it) with Valrhona Dulcey Stracciatella! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #IceCream #expresso #Dulcey #Valrhona #Stracciatella #ColdPressed #ColdPressedCoffee #coffee
After dinner it was back up to the roof for more drinking.
And a deadly Scotch!
Overall, a blast of a time, if a tad exhausting (got home at 2am which is rare for me).
Food at Umeda was quite good. I had low expectations actually coming in as the website pictures looked all LA ponzu style Japanese. Probably most people who come here eat that but his Omakase was certainly more interesting. Part Nobu-style, part his own thing. A bit Hollywood but always tasty. Building is lovely too. Great Champagnes and crew as well.
For more LA dining reviews click here.