Restaurant: Toku Unagi & Sushi
Location: 1106 N La Cienega Blvd #201, West Hollywood, CA 90069. (310) 854-7285
Date: May 12, 2022
Cuisine: Japanese BBQ Eel
Our Foodie Club / Sushi Series group decided to hit up this Unagi (Japanese freshwater eel) speciality spot.
Unagi or Japanese freshwater eel, has been consumed in Japan for centuries. Unajyu and Ohitsu are couple of the staple dishes and the recipes for these ever-popular Japanese traditional foods is said to have been around since the Edo period (1603 ~ 1868).
Their restaurant was founded in 1909 as an Unagi market in one of Japan’s renowned Unagi locations, Hamamatsu in the Shizuoka prefecture. Their special Unagi sauce has been carefully passed down from generation to generation and to this day, they continue to offer our original flavor. Toku Unagi and Sushi opened its door in the fall of 2019 on La Cienega Blvd, one of Sourthern California’s premier dining areas. Their specialty, the Unagi, are directly imported from Japan every week and continuing the legacy of their founder, Toku Unagi & Sushi is proud to offer Unagi using the same cooking method and the special sauce created over a century ago.
Big menu actually.
2008 Bollinger Champagne La Grande Année. VM 97. Bollinger’s 2008 Grande Année is rich, ample and full-bodied, with all of the pedigree of the vintage on display. Dried pear, dried flowers, chamomile, red plum and mint develop as the 2008 shows the breadth and creaminess that are such signatures of the Bollinger house style. A whole range of brighter, more floral and chalky notes appear later, adding translucence and energy. The 2008 is 71% Pinot Noir and 29% Chardonnay taken across 18 crus, and it is the Pinot that very much informs the wine in both flavor and texture. More importantly, the 2008 is one of the best Grande Années I can remember tasting. Bollinger fans won’t want to miss it. Disgorged November 2018. Dosage is 8 grams per liter. (Drink between 2020-2048)
2008 Dom Pérignon Champagne. VM 98. The 2008 Dom Pérignon is a huge, powerful Champagne and also clearly one of the wines of the vintage. This is one of the most reticent bottles I have tasted. So much so that I am thinking about holding off opening any more bottles! The 2008 has always offered a striking interplay of fruit and structure. Today, the richness of the fruit is especially evident. Readers who own the 2008 should be thrilled, but patience is a must. (Originally published in May 2021) (Drink between 2028-2058)
Amuse of macaroni salad. Delicious, actually.
Sunomono. Very “prepared.” A little bit of chili heat to the marinate.
Monkfish liver. Great sunomono-style kelp underneath.
Cold Tofu. Nice. Great silken texture.
Ago-dashi tofu. Great.
Some of the tofu pulled out.
Yuzu Cervice. Nice and bright.
Unagi liver. Bitter and not that pleasant. This is a traditional dish Eel BBQ restaurants in Japan and I’ve had it there many times — still not my favorite.
Unagi Chawanmushi (egg custard).
2002 Louis Jadot Latricières-Chambertin. BH 90-93. This sample displayed heavy oak and was largely “un-Jadot-like” in style, which again makes me wonder about how the cask sample was pulled. The full-bodied flavors however are round, supple, sweet and wonderfully intense with obvious minerality and a long, pure and beautifully balanced finish. The overall impression, aside from the wood, is one of power and grace and my score offers the benefit of the doubt with respect to the oak influence. (Drink between 2009-2017)
2002 Domaine Launay Chambertin. BH 94. This is extremely ripe and aromatically forward, offering notes of game, leather, tea, spice and plenty of Gevrey earth plus big, intense, muscled and robust yet supple flavors that are structured and deep on the powerfully long finish. The tannins are pronounced if ripe and the supple mid-palate makes this wine seem deceptively approachable yet it should age for years. A great effort. (Drink between 2012-2022)
Unagi Terrine. Jelly-like texture. Not that much flavor.
Unagi Yanagawa. Delicious. Some very fibrous vegetables.
Rib Eye. Not that much flavor.
Unagi (and vegetable) Tempura. Quite nice.
Eel box. Unajyu. These eel meals come as sets with the eel, rice, and pickles.
Pickles. I love Japanese pickles.
Grilled Eel. This is the classic and it was lovely. There is a great combination of the char, the sweet sauce, and the fatty texture of the meat. The textural and flavor contrast with that great Japanese rice is fabulous too.
Special soup. More or less a dashi.
Ohitsu eel with tea. You pour the tea over the eel and rice.
Here is the eel, “pre tea.” You just pour the tea right over it, helps cut the fat.
Macha Cream Brulee.
Vanilla Cream Brulee.
This was a super fun evening. Like most traditional Japanese restaurants Toku has great service. The best part was the eel. I always love BBQ eel and while even cheap BBQ eel is kinda enjoyable, this was some of the best I’ve had in the US. It’s nice to have a specialty shop here in town. We didn’t try anything from the sushi side tonight.
The wines were awesome, of course.