Location: 11941 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604. (818) 760-3348
Date: January 27, 2022
Rating: Very good creative Japanese
Asanebo has been a high end valley classic spot for a long time, so long that the last time I was here was before I started taking pictures of all my food (which was 2010).
Chef Tetsuya Nakao came to America in 1982. Him and his younger brother, Shunji, were the original chefs that helped start Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills. After establishing the restaurant as one of the best in Los Angeles, the Nakao brothers ventured out to start their own place. “Asanebo” opened in September 26, 1991. Over the years, “Asanebo” was recognized as one of the top Japanese restaurants from Zagat, LA Times, LA Weekly, and more.
“Asanebo” also accomplished one Michelin Stars in 2008 and the other in 2009. It is part of chef Tetsuya’s standards to provide the best quality fish, meat, vegetables, and other ingredients possible to his customers. Not only is the food so great, but it is his warm character that brings in new customers from all over the world.
Because of the pandemic they have this nice outside tend/patio in the parking lot.
The menu is big with a mix of traditional and that style of late 1990s and 00s LA Japanese that is heavily Matsuhisa influenced but not focused on the style over substance greatest hits (Katana and Sushi Roku I’m looking at you). It’s much closer in both period and style to Takao.
2000 Charles Heidsieck Champagne Brut Millésimé. JG 94. The 2000 Charles Heidsieck Brut Millésime is comprised of a blend of sixty percent pinot noir and forty percent chardonnay and spent more than ten years on the lees in the les Crayères cellars here prior to disgorgement and release. I had the good fortune to taste this beautiful vintage twice in preparation for this report, and it continues to deepen and add more complexity with the passing of time. The deep and very refined nose offers up a classy mélange of apple, pain grillé, peach, a marvelously complex signature of salty soil tones, orange zest and a dollop of summer truffle in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, pure and shows off lovely tertiary layers of complexity, with a rock solid core, great focus and breed, refined mousse and a very long, pure and perfectly balanced finish. Stellar juice. (Drink between 2014-2030)
2004 Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal Brut. VM 97. The 2004 Cristal is superb today. Bright and focused, the 2004 shows all of the tension and energy that has always been one of its signatures. The first hints of aromatic maturity are starting to develop, but the 2004 remains quite young and full of energy. I have always admired the 2004 (along with the best wines of the vintage) for its focus. In this bottle, the interplay of freshness from the recent 2018 disgorgement and richness gained through added time on the lees (which also results in lower dosage of 7 grams per liter) opens another window into the personality of Cristal. In 2004, the Pinot Noir is 57%, or a bit lower than normal, while the Chardonnay at 43% is correspondingly a touch higher. (Drink between 2019-2039)
2008 Claude Cazals Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs extra Brut Cuvée Vive.
NV Jacques Selosse Champagne Exquise Sec. JG 94. I had never had the pleasure to taste this limited release bottling of Demi-Sec from Anselme Selosse, which he crafts with an eye to matching with dessert and which it paired beautifully with at the end of a vertical Domaine Dujac Clos de la Roche dinner that I will be reporting on in the next issue. Monsieur Selosse only makes a thousand bottles of Exquise, with this particular iteration disgorged in May of 2015 and finished off with a dosage of around twenty-four grams per liter. This is the same base wine as his Brut Initial cuvée, which hails from the lower sections of the slope of his top vineyards in Avize, Oger and Cramant, and simply finished off with a more generous dosage. The current release of Exquise is really lovely, offering up a complex nose of pear, patissière, chalky minerality, custard and a pungent topnote of spring flowers. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and beautifully balanced, with and excellent spine of acidity to carry the additional sweetness, fine focus, refined mousse and a very long, crisp and moderately sweet finish. Just a lovely wine. (Drink between 2016-2030)
Chawanmushi. Santa Barbara uni. Wasabi. Ikura. Strong Dashi flavor. Lovely.
Baby Spinach Salad. Seared scallop, fried potato. Quite nice and fresh.
Seafood stick with homemade sweet salsa. Really great dish.
Dave and Annie enjoy their sticks.
2009 Henri Boillot Corton-Charlemagne. VM 96. High-pitched aromas of fresh peach, crushed stone, violet and lavender. Dense, sweet and rich, with very ripe pineapple fruit leavened by smoky minerality and given cut and focus by strong (4.5 g/l) acidity. Offers an uncanny combination of depth and high pitch for the vintage. The building, extremely long finish titillates the taste buds and leaves the mouth vibrating. Normally harvested on the late side, these vines were picked on September 5(!) in 2009, with potential alcohol of 12.9%.
From my cellar: 2012 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Meursault Clos de la Baronne. PN 94 points. Showing very well, clean, mineral, straw basket, fine, articulated but not austere, nicely integrated, nice pear, apple, apple skin notes, long. In a great place right now and will hold 5-8 years.Asanebo w/Yarom and gang.
Amberjack. Sesame miso. Pink salt. Serrano. The fish was lovely, but the sesame paste clashes a bit.
Halibut. Italian Truffle. Sweet ponzu. Pickled cherry tomato. A bit too sweet and distracting.
Japanese wild yellowtail. Hawaiian lava salt. Spicy ponzu.
Grilled conch soup. Mushroom. Broth was great.
2012 Colgin Syrah IX Estate. PN 92. Big, bold, tons of blackberry and blueberry and some meatiness; a good dose of fine expensive oak in there, really nice with the A5 wagyu with onion and a sweet soy sauce sauce; silky, big, bold, and eventually pretty oaky. Turned more oaky as the night went on. I imagine if they halved the oak on these monsters they would have something pretty special. Asanebo w/Yarom and gang. Not exactly Japanese food friendly.
A5 wagyu with heirloom tomato. Very sweet classic Japanese flavor. Did pair nicely with the Colgin.
Small flight of sushi. Blue Fin, Chu-Toro, Snapper and another white fish.
Uni. Toro Takuan Roll (awesome) and crab hand roll.
Asanebo has been around since 1991 and as he was an early chef at Matsuhisa (along with his brother Shunji) the food very much reflects that. Like Takao (also at Matsuhisa) it’s positioned somewhere between a classic broad menu 1980s style sushi place and the more Peruvian influence Nobu style. But it’s definitely got strong California influences from the 1990s in a way I never saw in Japan during that period. While the style here is a bit 1990s (unlike Shunji who has massively “updated” recently) the execution remains excellent. I myself do slightly prefer either the very updated traditional or modern styles at the top end right now but there is no question that Asanebo is a great place and thoroughly enjoyable. It’s also not as expensive as the painfully bleeding edge places at current like Kaneyoshi.