Restaurant: OOToro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
Location: 1569 Fairway Dr, Walnut, CA 91789. (909) 598-8299
Date: October 5, 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 sixth 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.
Yarom brought this ancient Burg. 1953 Chanson Père & Fils Beaune 1er Cru Bressandes. It was cloudy and we all swore it had no chance, but it was actually quite nice (for about 30 minutes before dropping off).
Ron brought: NV Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée Edition 167eme. VM 94+. Krug’s NV Grande Cuvée 167ème Edition is positively brilliant. Chef de Caves Eric Lebel and his team have always put tremendous emphasis on the craft of blending. Never has that discipline been more critical than here, with the 167, which is based on 2011, one of the most challenging harvests in Champagne in many years. Brisk and racy in the glass, the 167 is laced with a range of lemon peel, baked apple, brioche and floral notes. Readers should plan on giving the 167 at least a few years in bottle, as it is presently tightly wound and not at all expressive. The flavors are beautifully articulated. In many releases, the Grande Cuvée is richer and more overt. The 167, on the other hand, is airy, weightless and sublime. Most importantly, it is an unqualified success. This release is based on 2011, with reserve wines back to 1995. (Drink between 2021-2036)
Cod sperm with radish and ponzu. Looks like brain and has a soft squirmy texture — but tastes great.
1995 Krug Champagne Vintage Brut. VM 94. The 1995 Krug is gorgeous. I chose it because one of my guests loves Krug and I thought the 1995 would have the right amount of complexity to pair beautifully with the smokiness in Saison’s caviar. Although the 1995 Krug is not a truly epic wine, it is in a sweet spot right now. (Drink between 2018-2023)
Oyster with uni and ikura (salmon eggs).
Close up. Bright, briney, and delicious.
2002 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. VM 97. Another highlight in this vertical, the 2002 Salon is also fascinating to taste after the 2004. Rich, opulent and intense, yet also very classic in the Salon house style, the 2002 possesses superb persistence and depth. The radiant vintage has softened the contours and given the wine fabulous depth to match its decidedly powerful personality. At the same time, the 2002 remains quite youthful. Next to the brighter and more finessed 2004, the 2002 offers more of a baritone-inflected expression of Chardonnay. (Drink between 2016-2036)
Sashimi. Aji (Japanese horse mackrel). Wild snapper. Uni wrapped in halibut with shiso.
Left to right: Baby peach, Japanese pepper, Abalone, Whitefish tempura, and Japanese cucumber with miso paste.
2012 Louis Jadot Bâtard-Montrachet. BH 93. There is a hint of menthol sitting atop pretty aromas of acacia blossom, spiced pear and white peach scents. The delicious, muscular and pure broad-shouldered and powerful flavors possess fine size and weight that continues onto the concentrated and impressively persistent if presently compact finish. Those who enjoy their white burgs young should note that while this is very promising there isn’t great complexity at this early stage so I would very much be inclined to allow this to age for at least 8 to 10 years first. (Drink starting 2020)
Uni, Ikura, and house made tofu. The uni ikura pairing is a classic.
2013 Hubert Lamy Puligny-Montrachet Les Tremblots Cuvée Haute Densité. BH 90-92. An expressive yet cool nose is composed by notes of essence of pear and citrus that are nuanced with hints of apple and spiced tea. There is outstanding density and vibrancy to the relatively powerful and mouth coating flavors that possess plenty of sappy dry extract, all wrapped in a delicious, balanced and impressively lingering finish. This is a terrific Puligny villages and worth a special search to find. (Drink starting 2020)
Johnny crab — not sure how you spell that — but a lovely crab salad nonetheless.
2004 Bouchard Père et Fils Chevalier-Montrachet. VM 93+. Deep, bright aromas of pear, spring flowers and liquid stone. Penetrating and pure, with pear, citrus and stony flavors nicely framed by firm acidity. Still tight in the middle, but already conveys the precision of the vintage at its best. A real mouthful of wet stones on the very long finish.
Lobster sashimi, done 3 ways.
From my cellar: NV Krug Champagne Brut Rosé. BH 94. Medium rosé hue. A cool, restrained and highly complex nose that is not especially fruity displays a moderate yeast character along with slightly exotic aromas of mandarin orange and Asian tea, all wrapped in an enveloping array of beguiling rose petal scents. There is very good richness with a relatively firm supporting mousse that adds to the impression of richness to the superbly complex and highly textured flavors, indeed one could aptly describe this as more wine that Champagne. As such this is indeed a sumptuous Krug rosé that is difficult to resist already though it should reward extended keeping if desired. As I noted in the original 750 ml review, that while I am not always wowed by the Krug Rosé, this latest incarnation in magnum is strikingly good. (Drink starting 2020)
Roasted Blue fin tuna collar, kama-toro. This giant collar from a giant fish is one of the things that brought us back. The meat looked and felt like roasted lamb, but of course tasted more like tuna. It was very rich and solid and almost certainly the best cooked tuna I’ve ever had.
2009 Domaine Michel Niellon Chevalier-Montrachet. BH 94. Here mild reduction doesn’t materially diminish the appeal of the more elegant if ever-so-slightly less complex aromas that feature notes of stone, lemon zest, acacia blossom and spiced pear. There is superb intensity and simply gorgeous detail to the mineral-driven and impeccably well-balanced flavors and explosive finale. Still, as good as this is and it is indeed exceptional, the superior complexity of the Bâtard gives it the barest of edges in 2009. (Drink starting 2015)
Clam and the other clam.
Seared toro, uni mousse, actual uni, takuan, and gold flakes. This is incredible, partially because of the different textures: soft, mushy, smooth, crunchy.
Tempura vegetables and cold soba. First time I’ve had soba here and it was delicious.
1989 Clos Vougeot.
Chu toro sushi.
Kama toro sushi.
Seared red snapper sushi. Charred finish was amazing.
Kama toro again, slightly different way.
Some Grange from a previous night.
A5 wagyu sukiyaki.
The certificate for the beef, including cow nose print.
Here is the finished sukiyaki which was wonderfully beefy, and a touch sweet. I love sukiyaki.
Red Current Cassis Sorbetto! — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Currents from Avignon, blended with Creme de Cassis –#SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #sorbetto #RedCurrent #current #cassis
I just can’t get enough of this flavor and had to use it as an excuse to practice my Italian Merignue —Italian Lemon Cookie Meringue Pie — Limoncello Zabaione base with lemon cookie flavor mixed with Italian Lemon Creme Cookies and Sicilian Candied Lemon and topped with house-made toasted Meringue — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato) — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #lemon #LemonCookie #cookie #Sicily #Sorento #Limoncello #Meringue #LemonMeringuePie
Salted Caramel Peanut Gelato — House-made salted caramel and integrated Chunky Salty Peanut base mixed with Toffee Coated Peanuts and Dark Peanut Butter Cups — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #caramel #chocolate #peanut #SaltedCaramel #Toffee
Dandelion Dark Sorbetto — a super intense Dandelion Small Batch 70% Chocolate plus Valrhona 100% Cocoa plus Callebaut Cocoa Mass — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — the best no milk straight chocolate I’ve yet made — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #Valrhona #Callebaut #chocolate #cocoa #sorbetto
The house dessert, Taro coconut ice cream. Not like mine!
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 (mostly because I ate so much roasted tuna).
As we often do, it was back to the Marriot parking lot for some valley-view drinking.
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