Restaurant: Sushi of Gari
Location: 6201 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028. (323) 400-6300
Date: November 16, 2016
Cuisine: Japanese Sushi (new influences)
Rating: Good, but new style is different
Tonight just the core original Foodie Club founders went: Erick and I.
From my cellar: NV Jacques Selosse Substance Blanc de Blancs. VM 93. Selosse’s NV Substance, based on 2007, is remarkably fresh considering the solera style that goes back to 1986. Candied lemon, white flowers and herbs are fused together in an ample, creamy Champagne. The classic Substance breadth is there, but in this release, the wine is a bit less overtly oxidative in style than it can be. Disgorged October 2015. Dosage is 1.3 grams per liter.
Erick brought: 2002 Louis Jadot Montrachet. BH 96. Jadot has seriously upgraded the quality of their Montrachet over the past few vintages and while it’s always been good (consider the incredible ’96), the last few efforts have been at another level. The ’02 offers sublimely complex aromas of white flowers and citrus wrapped in a gentle hint of wood spice followed by sappy, powerful, mouth coating, pungent flavors of superb density and weight. Ripe and vibrant acid keep everything in perfect balance and this should drink well for a long time. In short, this is class in a glass and a knockout effort.
Maguro Tofu Raya. Tuna with creamy tofu puree. The tofu was very mild, but right off the bat it set the night by distracting a bit from the gorgeous fish. Not that it was bad, but the rice here isn’t very assertive (low vinegar), and the topping complicates the tasting of the fish.
Tai Salad. Japanese red snapper topped with seasoned baby greens, roasted pine nuts, and crispy lotus root with hint of wasabi olive oil. This was interesting and quite a bit of basil, but again I wasn’t sure it paired to the improvement of the fish.
Yellowtail Belly Jalapeno. Like a nigiri version of the Matsuhisa classic. Much better pairing.
Kamatoro with wasabi. Awesome piece of toro. This is from the collar, like the giant whole collar we had the other night. Pretty straight up without a weird topping (that was just wasabi).
Yuki Masu Ringo Sauce. Snow trout with apple sauce and sprigs of radish. There was a smoked quality to the piece. I’m not sure the sweetness of the apple actually goes with the marinated vinegar tone of the fish and rice.
Yaki Sawara. Charred kit mackerel with mushroom sauce. One of these very charred fish bits. The mushroom wasn’t so distracting but I’m not a super lover of this sort of “dried” (aka charred) sushi bits.
Maguro Yukke. Shredded lean blue fin tuna marinated with Korean-style sweet sesame oil sauce on a bed of crispy nori seaweed with pine-nuts and scallion. This was very interesting and I liked it a lot. I liked that it was soft and marinated. The crispy (and it was quite chewy) bit of seaweed was interesting too.
Toro Taku. Chopped fatty tuna with Japanese yellow pickles. This one was great. Interesting we are in parallel working on a very similar handroll at Ramen Roll — maybe the toro and pickles is a classic pairing.
Crab handroll. Very nice crab, but plain like this it’s pretty subtle. I prefer blue crab.
Okay, so how was Sushi of Gari? I’d say that the decor was awesome. The service was awesome. The sushi chef’s really nice and very skilled. Two we knew from Mori. The build out is really swank as well, although for me the location is FAR. Not as far as oo-toro — but far enough. The fish quality was absolutely first rate. The price wasn’t even that bad (considering how much we had).
But how was the overall effect?
Gari has a very distinct style. The rice is very low vinegar. A LOT of nigiri (and we tried EVERYTHING THEY HAD tonight) are charred. A little too much for my taste, sort of the opposite of the Sasebune or Zo style where there is a lot of ponzu and things are very wet. Here many nigiri were quite dry and partially cooked.
Then there is the sauce/topping/modern thing. Overall I would have to say it distracted and made for novel, but inferior tasting nigiri than a more conventional approach. Now they were interesting, and some succeeded well like the truffle egg, kelp, or parsley clam, but many of my favorite pieces were the ones without heavy/unusual toppings. Like the marinated salmon or the kamatoro. So what does that tell you? If they dropped most of the gimmicks they would have to stand out on the quality of the fish — but I think they actually have that, and I might enjoy it even more.
Sunset Grind. Cookie custard, Stumptown coffee beans, marshmallow sauce and Cofax spiced crumb donut. These things are like gelato softserve crossed with Cold Stone creamery. The hugely sweet infusion of stuff makes for a yummy mix, but it’s hardly subtle or elegant. And it sits VERY heavy.
Tinseltown Toffee. Chocolate custard, peanut butter sauce, chocolate toffee and Compartes dark chocolate chunks. Peanut butter chocolate with chunks. What’s not to like? Pretty decadent.