Location: 9669 S Santa Monica Blvd #1, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. (310) 734-7829
Date: October 16, 2019
Cuisine: Japanese A5 Shabu-Shabu
This is IMA, sister restaurant to Yazawa, the super A5 Yakiniku joint in Beverly Hills. They use the same meat.
And have a similar (adjacent and with connecting doors) modern Japanese vibe.
The tables have little induction burners built in and stylish hoods.
The small menu is some shabu-shabu and sukiyaki variants. We of course ordered everything!
Erick brought: 1985 Château Rausan-Ségla. VM 91. The 1985 Rauzan-Ségla is a vintage that I have tasted several times from bottles I picked up cheaply some years ago. I was particularly effusive about the 1985 although, I feel that it has decayed a little since my last note in 2010. Soft red berry fruit, hedgerow, sage and mushrooms on the loose-knit nose, very typical for a 1985 though it is less intense nowadays. The palate is very savory in style with roasted chestnut and ferrous notes infusing the finish that has an appealing rounded texture. Maybe there are better bottles out there? In any case, don’t hesitate to crack one of these open. Tasted from a bottle from my personal cellar. (Drink between 2019-2027)
agavin: really nice bottle
From my cellar: 1997 M. Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon. VM 94. Bright deep ruby. Blackberry, violet, tar, shoe polish and game on the nose, plus a light floral note; at once vibrant and surmuri. Superconcentrated, remarkably intense flavors of crystallized black cherry, cassis and licorice. An extremely persistent wine of noteworthy finesse, yet also one with a powerful structure for aging. One of the standouts of the vintage.
The appetizer flight that comes with the “Chef’s Special” set course.
Lobster with mushrooms and radish and soy sauce. Bright acid dressing. Very nice.
Hokkaido Uni Tofu with dashi jelly. White creamy quality.
Brussels sprouts with pepper and anchovies. Nice.
A5 Wagyu tartare and Russian Caviar. The caviar is Calvisius ars Italica Caviar. Delicious dish. Although I slightly miss the wasabi ponzu typical on the toro version at Nobu.
Beef Cheek stewed in Saikyo Miso, Topped with Parmesan Cheese. Rich fatty beef chew — like Japanese grandmother’s beef stew.
Grilled Beef Tongue and Vegetables. Thickest tongue I’ve ever had!
Salt and lemon for the tongue.
Toro with salt. Lightly seared. So good we ordered 2 (for the 2 of us).
Steamed Oyster Wrapped in Wagyu with Japanese Salsa. Kinda a bit odd.
The sukiyaki pan arrives.
Sukiyaki meat. Yazawa beef loin. With beef tallow for seasoning.
Sauces and tools.
Raw egg yolk for dipping.
They coat the cast iron pan with tallow then cook.
And dump in sukiyaki sauce (which is a sweet soy).
Here is the tallow and sauce deglazing.
Then you roll your barely cooked piece in the egg yolk — scrumptious. Soft velvety meat, sweet soy flavors, and the rich egg coating.
Broth for the shabu-shabu.
First meat (for the shabu): Beef Tongue.
She boiled it in the broth and served it next to the salt. You just eat it with a bit of salt. Super tender and delicious.
More meats, right to left: filet tenderloin, Ichibo, Shin-Shin, rib.
Sauces, a light dashi one and a sesame one.
Chopped mini-green onions for the sauce.
My sauce blend (lighter sauce) with some meat.
Mixing up the sesame sauce.
Veggies and tofu for the shabu (one side).
The other side with glass noodles and a carrot cow.
Pureed Corn Topped with Sea Urchin. I thought I’d love this, but too corn mushy. Cold too and a bit odd.
Noodles for the “ramen” that is coming from the broth.
Flavorant for the broth.
The ramen, brothed up, with noodles.
Special soup to finish, rice porridge.
Dessert time: Pannacotta with soy powder.
On the left, mixed fruit, on the right Passionfruit Sorbet.
Special roasted tea.
I don’t usually post the bill, but this one is useful for the discussion that follows.
Now I liked IMA a lot. The food was very good — delicious in fact — and this was the best/most elevated shabu-shabu I’ve had. And the sukiyaki even better. The meat is incredible (as it is at Yazawa). Service was awesome. Our server was incredibly nice and even helped us cook our food.
Wines were great too (pat ourselves on the back). Corkage isn’t outrageous (at least for the first 2 bottles).
But I wonder how they are going to do and who the market is for this. Only a small set of people (in America at least) even know what Shabu-Shabu is — and even less sukiyaki — and I doubt too many of them are looking for a $400/person shabu/sukiyaki experience! Some high end Asian customers will dig it for sure. I did. But the menu is very limited, so I wouldn’t come back particularly often.