Restaurant: Gozen Sake Bistro
Location: 521 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048. (213) 308-9393
Date: July 30, 2021
Cuisine: Japanese Kaiseki
Rating: Very good, but not mind blowing
This dinner is arguably the second in (the first being here) in a vast series of epic Japanese sushi and/or Kaiseki dinners post lockdowns that all included myself, Erick, Joe and Bonnie — and often Larry, as is the case tonight. Herein we “endeavor” to visit or revisit most of the top sushi spots in LA.
A cozy looking spot for being right on La Cienega.
Fairly large and stylish interior.
We had a private room with a cool dragon decor.
The menu — lots of options.
Larry brought: NV Krug Champagne Brut Rosé Edition 21eme. JG 95+. The Krug Brut Rosé “21ème Édition” is from the beautiful base year of 2008, with the oldest reserve wine in the blend going back to 2000. The wine was disgorged in the spring of 2015 and is a blend of fifty-one percent pinot noir, forty-one percent chardonnay and eight percent pinot meunier. Ten percent of the pinot noir in the blend is still red wine from Krug’s own parcels of vines in the village of Aÿ. The blend is a slight departure from many releases of Krug Rosé, as hail in the village of Ste. Ghemme in 2008 dramatically cut back the quality of pinot meunier from this vintage, so that Chef de Caves Eric Lebel opted to use all reserve wines for the pinot meunier portion of the blend. The very complex wine offers up the characteristically refined and gently exotic bouquet that this cuvée is cherished for, wafting from the glass in a blend of cherries, a touch of pomegranate, orange peel, beautiful, savory spice elements, rye bread, a complex base of soil tones , dried rose petals and incipient smokiness. On the palate the wine is full, complex and still quite youthful in terms of structure, with vibrant acids, a lovely core, elegant mousse and a very long, perfectly balanced and seamless finish. This is already beautifully complex, but I would love to revisit it five to ten years down the road and see what the passage of time does to this beautiful constellation of aromas and flavors. (Drink between 2018-2050)
5 Good Things.
Marinated fish and onions.
Monkfish Liver with Caviar.
Steamed sesame tofu with uni.
Dashi-maki Tamago (Japanese egg omelet) with Mountain Vegetables.
Salmon roe in a lemon.
Young Peach with Wine Jelly. Sure looks pretty.
2007 Domaine Ramonet Bâtard-Montrachet. VM 94+. Bright, pale yellow. Rich aromas of stone fruits, yellow currant, lees and iodine, plus a complicating whiff of rye bread. Dense and powerful but not at all heavy. Quite youthfully closed but aeration brings up captivating inner-mouth floral character and penetrating talc-y minerality. Wonderfully precise, classy Batard with uncommon complexity.
2007 Domaine Ramonet Chevalier-Montrachet. BH 96. Given the almost extreme reticence of the Bâtard, I was moderately surprised to see how wonderfully expressive this positively brilliant wine is already. The nose is simply stunning with a supremely elegant and kaleidoscopic range of spice, floral, citrus, stone and pain grillé notes that is the perfect complement to the racy, detailed and equally complex middle weight flavors brimming with the underlying minerality advertised by the nose, all wrapped in a driving, delineated and explosive finish. As good as the Ramonet Chevalier is, in the 10 vintages that it has been made, I can’t think of one where it’s the equal of the Montrachet. However, 2007 just might be that vintage. (Drink starting 2015)
From my cellar: 2008 Domaine Ramonet Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet. BH 94. Soft if not invisible wood sets off strikingly pretty and solidly complex honeysuckle, white peach and spiced pear aromas that give way to intense, delicious and equally complex middle weight flavors that possess ample concentration and outstanding balance and length on the palate staining finish. This is really classy juice and quite stylish as well. (Drink starting 2016)
Chawanmushi Steamed Egg Custard with Japanese Sea Urchin.
Softshell Crab Tempura.
Three kinds of nigiri sushi. Toro on the left.
Uni, Ikura, and rice.
2001 Alain Hudelot-Noellat Richebourg. BH 94. While this has certainly matured since I first saw it from bottle in 2004, the original note still largely captures the wine with its deep, complex and spicy old vine aromas that are slightly floral in character. This brilliant introduction is followed by wonderfully harmonious and quite powerful middle weight flavors that are beautifully delineated and perfectly balanced while delivering superb length. In sum, this ultra-pure effort offers reference standard quality with more refinement than young Richebourg usually displays – plus it’s approaching readiness for prime time and could easily be enjoyed now though for my taste another 3 to 5 years would serve it well. Tasted twice in the last few months. (Drink starting 2015)
A smoked dish.
Red miso soup.
The grilled meat dish.
Yogan-Yaki A5 Japanese Kobe Beef.
Condiments for the beef.
Kamameshi (Japanese seasoned rice in a small pot) with Tuffles.
We had several bowls each (I love good fried rice).
Gozen was quite good. It’s tonally very Japanese and quite reserved. I probably prefer a slightly flashier style. Not all the way to Nobu style mind you, that’s too disconnected from the Japanese sense of balance, but maybe I like a touch more acidity and punch. And Gozen is expensive (as all top kaiseki and sushi places are). It does give you a lot of variety in flavors, ingredients, and style, but not very much actual nigiri (which I do love).
The wines were really singing too, particularly the Ramonets. Overall, a great evening.