Location: 1569 Fairway Dr, Walnut, CA 91789. (909) 598-8299
Date: August 13, 2022
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. This is my second return since the pandemic — although some in the group went once in the middle for a meal that was supposedly not quite up to snuff. Because a bunch of us have engaged in a special Sushi Series this fall (tasting all the best LA sushi places) I figured I’d include OOToro in the mix.
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.
Mango, Avocado, Hairy crab, Some kind of Jelly (ponzu?). This was a new dish, and quite refreshing. Many in the party loved it. I thought the mango and crab bit was a touch too sweet, but was pretty good.
On the right Octopus with Caviar and Yuzu. On the left Scallop with Uni. The yuzu part was great. This was a lovely dish, although they don’t use the best quality caviar here and there is an overreliance on uni.
White fish tempura. The name sounded like “pea soup.” The tempura was dusted with wasabi salt which is traditional. Nice, but slightly dull tempura.
Abalone, jellyfish, shrimp tempura (wrapped in potato), sea snail and “katsuloco” (the yellow sponge). The abalone was great for that creature. The jellyfish was a bit bland. The shrimp great, the snail nice, and the sponge a fishy spongey texture I really enjoyed.
Sashimi of toro, ikura, uni, and a white fish. A bit of rice was hidden underneath. This was a lovely (and rich) dish.
Oysters 3 ways: with black tobiko, ikura, and uni.
Wagyu toast with caviar and balsamic. This used a “truffle oil caviar” that was kind of gross. Otherwise it would have been a nice dish but the truffle oil only detracted.
Kumadai and another snapper with yuzu and wasabi. Lovely bright fish.
Kama-toro. The ultra rich tuna collar. Always an awesome bite.
Seared Ruby Snapper. Very sauced and lovely.
Crab, Red Snapper, Truffle Oil Caviar and Yuzu miso sauce. The dish was nice except for that truffle oil in the caviar which was a minor negative. It basically should never be used.
Kimchi uni noodles. Great. Kinda spicy.
Ron’s “non spicy” creamy version.
A5 Wagyu. Simple but delicious.
Clam miso. Lovely.
Green Tea Cheesecake. Very straightforward, basically just cheesecake with matcha powder in it.
I jazzed ours up with my own private stock of Valrhona 70% and house-made Hazelnut Brittle.
This group of “kids” (20s) were celebrating a birthday and we toasted them with some extra Krug.
Overall, OOToro — while always good — showed again 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. Tonight I felt was the weakest OOToro in a while — although it was still very good — but somehow there were a few dishes that I didn’t love. Maybe it was the truffle caviar. Maybe it was the fact that I had a massive Longo Dim Sum Lunch only a few hours before.
Also, after dinner, instead of the surprisingly fun Courtyard Marriott view parking lot, we ended up at this terrible picnic table at some even cheaper dive hotel Ron was staying at. Kinda dingy and depressing. Never again.