Location: 1008 Montana Ave #1, Santa Monica, CA 90403. (424) 330-0270
Date: December 13, 2022
Cuisine: Modern Sushi
Rating: Awesome (and close)!
Our Foodie Gang has been going to the incredible “The Brothers Sushi” in the valley for some time now, and it was with much glee that we welcomed in the brand new (and somewhat delayed) Montana Santa Monica location. Now it’s become a bit of a staple spot for us.
The space used to be the repulsive Louise’s Trattoria, serving not exactly Italian for decades. But Brother’s has given it a major new makeover.
Well, a bottle or two to warm up.
We had most of the sushi bar.
1997 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. BH 95. An elegant and very fresh but distinctly yeasty nose of stupendous breadth leads to incredibly intense, pure, detailed and vibrant flavors that possess superb depth and simply knockout length. This is a powerful Salon and even though it doesn’t have the solid acid spine of the very best vintages, this compensates by its approachability and terrific mouth feel. This could be drunk now or aged, depending on one’s preference. If you can find it, I would lay in a case and drink it selectively over the next 20 years.
1999 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. VM 94. The 1999 belongs to the family of warm, ripe vintage at Salon. An atypically big, dense wine by Salon standards, the 1999 is somewhat one-dimensional and not likely to improve considerably from here. At the same time, the 1999 has more than enough depth to drink well for a number of years. All things considered, the 1999 has held up well. Didier Depond, the house’s President, describes 1999 as a year with very hot, sunny weather during the summer and into the harvest. Late season rains were an issue for the Pinot, but not for the Chardonnay. (Drink between 2016-2031)
White shrimp from Japan, Hokkaido Sea Urchin, with shaved white truffle. Very rich and decadant.
1 week dry-aged ono from Mie prefecture, along with momotaro tomatoes and ice plant. A bit of delicious acidity in the sauce and very “edible” tomatoes (aka not a strong nightshade taste). The texture of the ice plant was fabulous.
1 week dry-aged cherry-wood smoked yellowtail (buri). I love the smoky flavor — makes me think of ski lodges.
Hokkaido Shirako (cod sperm sack) Chawanmushi (egg custard) with Oregon white pine mushrooms. One of the best chawanmushi I’ve had. Perfect silky texture and great flavor.
San Francisco Dungeness crab and sweet corn croquettes with wasabi aioli and caviar. Super fritter!
2006 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. VM 97. The 2006 Salon is a very rich wine, almost uncharacteristically so. Deep and exotic the 2006 exudes richness in all of its dimensions, with myriad inflections of sumptuous fruit that fill out its ample, large-scaled frame. Today, the 2006 is surprisingly accessible for a young Salon, but it needs time to shed some baby fat. At times, the 2006 recalls the 2002, but it appears to have more phenolic intensity and overall structure. Even with all of its flamboyance and pure volume, the 2006 retains quite a bit of energy and freshness. I imagine it will be a fascinating, utterly compelling Champagne to follow over the next several decades. (Drink between 2026-2046)
2007 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. VM 96. The 2007 Salon is gorgeous. Weightless, delicate and understated, the 2007 is all class. Today, the 2007 reminds me of the 2004 in its bright, citrus and floral-infused profile, but with a bit more creaminess, mid-palate depth and softer contours, all of which will make the 2007 easy to drink with minimal cellaring. Next to the 2006, the 2007 is quite a bit fresher and more delineated, with none of exuberance, power of tropically-leaning overtones found in its younger sibling. At this stage, the 2007 is a bit inward and closed in on itself. Then again, it is Salon. This is another terrific showing from Salon and the team headed by President Didier Depond. Dosage is 5 grams per liter. (Drink between 2020-2047)
2012 Salon Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. VM 97. The 2012 Salon is absolutely gorgeous. It offers a beguiling mix of radiance and energy that seems to capture a little bit of elements of some of its older siblings. The expression of fruit is radiant and quite overt, but without reaching the tropical exuberance of the 2006. In shape, the 2012 recalls the mid-weight style of 2007 with the freshness of 2008, but not quite the youthful austerity of that wine. If that sounds like an appealing combination, well it is. The 2012 Salon is all harmony and class. (Drink between 2022-2043)
Ready for nigiri.
And so is the chef.
Baby sea bream. Cured in salt and pickled in vinegar.
Cured Sardines from Japan (Ishikawa prefecture). One of our favorites — gotta love that vinegar.
Goldeneye snapper. Charred with Binchō-tan charcoal. Lots of char flavor and a firmer, drier, texture than some fish.
Shima-aji (Striped Jack Mackerel), Ponzu jelly, chive, and shiso flower. Scrumptious.
Fan clam with shiso. Slightly heavy.
2012 Louis Jadot Montrachet. BH 91-94. Mild sulfur detracts only faintly from the ultra-elegant white flower, pear, citrus, spice and wet stone nuances. There is outstanding volume and concentration to the attractively well-detailed and imposingly-scaled flavors that display borderline painful intensity on the driving and linear if very compact finish. Even by the usual outsized standards of Montrachet this is a big though not massive example. (Drink starting 2022)
Monkfish liver from the East Coast, Crème brûlée style. Sweet and tangy sauce. Very interesting prep.
Clam miso. Lovely and balanced.
Hokkaido Hairy crab with crab guts (kani miso). Great crabby bite.
Spanish O-Toro (fatty tuna belly), dry-aged 1 week. I could have eaten 10 of these!
Sea perch nigiri.
The sardine returns for an encore.
And Jeffrey brought a red, because while he agreed to go to a Salon dinner, he doesn’t really like champagne :-P.
Jeffrey was obsessed prior to the dinner with ordering the “hot courses” (which aren’t on the normal omakase). So we ordered them off the menu after the main progression. Obsessed. You’d think he doesn’t like “actual sushi.”
Miso Seabass wraps. Butter lettuce, miso marinated seabags, crispy sweet potato. Plebeian, but very pleasant. The crispy potato offered a very nice textural crunch.
Crispy Lobster Tempura. Icimi aioli sauce. Pretty. I didn’t try because of the carbs.
Deep Fried Fresh Soft Shell Crab. Pickled cucumber, creamy citrus soy, chive. I did have to try this as the fry was “lighter”. really quite lovely with a nice crunchy from the “soft” shell and good citrus notes pairing well with the sweetness of the crab.
Yamaimo Fries. Japanese mountain potato, truffle salt.
Green Tea Cheesecake. I had a little taste as it is (mostly) fat — albeit with quite a bit of sugar.
Roasted Green Tea finished the evening nicely.
Overall, another perfect night of sushi and champagne!
Instantly Brother’s Santa Monica has leapt into the top tier of westside sushi bars along with Miyagi and Shunji. It’s combination of perfect nigri and very refined “other dishes” are really great. It’s slightly different from woodland hills in personality, with some dishes in common and some specific to each — just enough to keep things interesting.