Location: 1569 Fairway Dr, Walnut, CA 91789. (909) 598-8299
Date: January 26, 2019
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 in 2016 and it was such a fun time that we had to return again for a fifth visit — it’s now become a twice a year thing.
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.
Here is the private room — the only way to go.
A bit of the menu. We got the Shiki Omakase this time + maybe some tempura. It was enough, although I would still maybe prefer the even bigger one.
From my cellar: NV Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Extra Brut Extra Old. 91 points. Gentle, frothy texture. Light on its feet, but possesses a wonderful balance between freshness and aged nuance. Subtle wine, no hard edges, very refined. Perhaps lacks a little intensity, and layers of flavour in the middle, but it is completely convincing in its smooth as silk style. Great wine to start start a meal.
Cod sperm with radish and ponzu. Looks like brain and has a soft squirmy texture — but tastes great.
2002 Dom Pérignon Champagne. VM 98. The 2002 Dom Pérignon speaks to opulence and intensity. Rich, layered and voluptuous in the glass, the 2002 shows off its flamboyant personality with flair. Butter, cooked apple and tropically-leaning fruits mesh together effortlessly. Interestingly, with time in the glass the 2002 gains in freshness and energy without losing its essential opulence. The elevated ripeness of the year gives the 2002 Dom Pérignon distinctly Puligny-Montrachet leaning inflections. Chef de Caves Richard Geoffroy adds that August that year was hot and very dry. Rain towards the end of the month and into early September freshened the vines and accelerated the final phase of ripening. This is yet another fabulous showing from the 2002, which continues to cement its reputation as a truly epic Dom Pérignon.
Live halibut with yuzu and wasabi. Very light but scrumptious.
2014 Maison Alex Gambal Chassagne-Montrachet. BH 89. This is also quite expressive with its aromas of resin, pear, apple and fresh citrus. There is a lovely purity to the intense and beautifully delineated middle weight flavors that possess a succulent mouth feel on the balanced finish that is also clean, dry and very solidly complex. This is more refined than usual plus it offers excellent quality for a Chassagne villages. Recommended.
Oyster and clam. Great raw shellfish duo.
Yarom and the younger chef.
2002 Domaine Henri Boillot Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières. Weird, not CT entry! Our best still white of the night.
Sashimi plate. Shima aji, toro and otoro. I forgot to photo it myself, so this is Arnie’s (mobile phone) picture. Fish itself was each one better than the next. The toro here is stunning.
Scallop and shellfish inside bamboo. Interesting new one.
2013 E. Guigal Condrieu La Doriane. VM 94. Vivid yellow. High-pitched aromas of fresh citrus and orchard fruits, quinine, jasmine and chalky minerals, with a smoky quality emerging with aeration. Sappy and expansive on the palate, offering Meyer lemon and poached pear flavors plus a hint of anise. Alluringly sweet and broad on the finish, which clings with excellent tenacity and lingering notes of honeysuckle and chamomile. The blend of power and vivacity here is quite deft.
Hokkaido Uni on edamame tofu. Tofu was a bit interesting, uni was fabulous. They love wasabi here.
Sine Qua Non Deux Grenouilles. Not even sure of the year. Tasted like hermitage blanc.
Live lobster sashimi. He was squirming a bit. That green stuff was okra and wasabi and was incredibly potent (and delicious).
2016 E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé. VM 90. Cheap but good. Bright orange-pink. Ripe red berry and tangerine flavors and a subtle herbal flourish on the expressive nose. In a plush yet lively style, offering bitter red currant and cherry flavors braced by a spine of juicy acidity. Clings with very good tenacity on the red-fruit-dominated finish, which is given a zesty edge by a late jolt of white pepper.
Monk fish liver and seared toro and pickles. Incredibly bite. Super rich and unctuous. Plus gold and caviar for good measure.
Mountain potato tufu with ikura and wasabi. On the milder side (except for the wasabi).
From my cellar: 2001 Domaine Anne Gros Clos Vougeot Le Grand Maupertui. 94 points. Lovely strawberry, vanilla nose; ripe cherry palate with sweet tannins, tight yet; medium finish
Uni, toro tartar, avocado and truffle. Oh, this dish how I love these. A Yamakase style dish but pure goodness.
Seared beef rolled around fresh snow crab. Unique and delicious.
Yarom with the older main chef.
Kama toro. And the crazy good fatty tuna collar. The best toro ever.
Red snapper and golden eye snapper sushi. Fabulous.
Fake pinot (can’t see the year or vineyard).
Uni pasta with clams or mushrooms. Amazing tiny bite of pasta. The yellow stuff around was a kind of cured fish egg like bottarga.
Lobster shabu shabu. This delicious broth was the host for dipping…
A5 wagyu. The fat then melted into the broth.
And one could dip the cooked meat into the sesame sauce.
Seafood tempura. They really make a great mixed tempura here with lobster, eel, and more.
2008 Sine Qua Non Roussanne Jinete Bajo Vin de Paille. VM 95. Deep gold. A highly aromatic, pungent bouquet of orange marmalade, apricot nectar and yellow plum, with exotic honey and spice notes. Lush and creamy in texture, with deeply concentrated, sweet pit and tropical fruit flavors and a strong note of candied citrus. There’s surprising energy and lift to the finish, which leaves juicy peach and orange notes behind. I’d serve this as a dessert, by itself. This clocks in at 11.8% alcohol, with 240 g/l of residual sugar.
Poached sweet white miamoto pear with condensed milk.
I also brought gelato I made:
Another new flavor — Orange Cinnamon Gelato — I steeped the milk with blood orange rind, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg! — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — oh my! — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #IceCream #NomNom #dessert #orange #cinnamon #vanilla #nutmeg
Riffing on a theme — Raspberry Passionfruit Amaro Sorbetto! — the Amaro and Passionfruit offsets the cloying sweetness of the Raspberry nicely — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #raspberry #passionfruit #amaro #cocktail #sorbet #sorbetto
Overall, OOToro — while always good — showed for the third time that the private room is really the way to go. This was a great meal and much more subtle and sophisticated than some of the front room fare. Really great stuff — although we should have gotten the largest omakase for max variety, but even one down I was more than full. I was tired tonight and skipped the post dinner parking lot antics.