Restaurant: Tempura Endo
Location: 9777 Santa Monica Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90210 USA. 310-274-2201
Date: January 3, 2016
Cuisine: Japanese Tempura (Kyoto style)
Rating: Like being back in Japan, including the price 🙂
My friend Liz Lee of Sage Society invited me to a pre opening dinner at Beverly Hill’s latest high end Japanese restaurant.
Tempura Endo is a new branch of a traditional Kyoto style tempura restaurant. As they say on their website: “Savor our exquisite Kyoto-style tempura in a most traditional setting in the ancient capital of Japan. the ingredients for our delectable tempura feature the choicest seasonal delicacies. Indulge yourself in exquisite Kyoto-style tempura at Tempura Endo.”
The plate is pre-prepared with a variety of salts, soy sauce, and lemon. “The delicately seasoned original dipping sauce, made with a secret recipe and carefully selected salt, enhance the natural flavors of the tempura. Premium quality cottonseed oil made from the finest guarantees the amazingly crisp, light, healthy tempura.”
Liz brought: 1999 Bruno Paillard Champagne Nec Plus Ultra. AG 94. Vivid yellow-gold. Potent, smoke-accented aromas of pit fruits, melon and honey, with a sexy floral overtone and building minerality. Lively, sappy and seamless, with intense nectarine and candied ginger flavors and notes of buttery brioche and anise. Shows a compelling blend of richness and vivacity, with no rough edges. A refreshingly bitter note of citrus pith adds lift and cut to the smoky, strikingly long finish, which leaves notes of honeysuckle and poached pear behind. a 50/50 blend of chardonnay and pinot noir that was aged for 12 years on its lees and disgorged in January, 2012.
Cold Tempura Appetizer. Kyoto-eggplant, minced shrimp, ginger dashi gelee. Very Japanese, with that mild savory flavor lent by the dashi. Interesting textural interplay between the jelly, the bits of ginger, and the cool eggplant.
Corn tempura. A quarter turn of kernels skimmed off the cobb. Perfectly fresh. The frying style here is light and fluffy, with a nice crispy texture, but without any taste of oil. It serves to enhance the ingredients rather than distract from them. The was eaten (as recommended) with the rice salt.
Liz brought: 1992 Louis Jadot Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles Domaine des Héritiers Louis Jadot. Burghound 92. Deep golden. When this wine is good it’s terrific but these days it often isn’t. After years of being a relatively closed wine, particularly in the context of the vintage, this has arrived at its full maturity and is now wonderfully expressive with ample breadth and depth that complement well the admirably rich and full but delineated flavors that offer better fine acid/fruit balance plus excellent length. While not a great vintage for this storied wine, it still is really quite lovely plus, if well-stored, remains a lovely effort. Still I would suggest drinking up sooner than later as my experience, even from perfect storage, has been very inconsistent with several oxidized examples.
Wagyu sashimi. The beef is from Miyazaki Prefecture in Japan, one of the most elite sources of genuine Wagyu beef. It completely melted in your mouth, silky smooth. Almost certainly the best beef sashimi I’ve ever had.
Just appreciate the geometry of the sauce tray — ignoring the white blob at the bottom.
From my cellar: 2006 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc. Parker 94. The 2006 Chateauneuf du Pape blanc (80% Roussanne and the rest Marsanne, Picpoul, and Bourboulenc) possesses classic notes of orange marmalade, honeysuckle, and rose petals, a full-bodied, unctuous texture, gorgeous purity and richness, and a stunningly long finish. It can compete with the finest full-throttle, dry whites of France as well as the world. It is difficult to find a better white Chateauneuf du Pape than Beaucastel. Much like their reds, their whites are made in a style that is atypical for the appellation. It is put through full malolactic, and one-third is barrel fermented, then blended with the two-thirds that is aged in tank. Extraordinarily rich and honeyed, it is ideal for drinking with intensely flavored culinary dishes.
Endo’s Tempura, style 1. On the left, classic shrimp. They use a bit of wine in the batter, either Chardonnay or Sauvignon blanc, depending on the type of thing being fried. This tempura is eaten primarily with salt, in this case the yuzu salt.
From my cellar: 2011 Veyder-Malberg Riesling Bruck. 92 points. First beautiful straw chablis like color, nose of oil can like and lead pencil, the finish is very long smooth and lasting for over a minute. Awesome wine…
Then the Refreshment Tempura.
Flambed sweet potato. Sweet and crispy. Like the ultimate high end version of one of those sweet potato desserts served at some Chinese Restaurants.
Yuzu Granite. Delightfully refreshing.
Caviar for the next course.
Ten Don. Egg and various other bits all fried together over rice. This is a high end version of what they serve at Hannosuke. Another of my favorites. I love the egg yolk on the rice.
A specially trained member of the staff prepares the tea in the “tea nook.”
A close up of the tea.
Overall, this was some spectacular tempura and a lovely meal. In every way it reminded me of various dinners in Japan: the small intimate room, the friendly staff, the small courses of exquisite food, the high price tag (although it’s also similar in price to Totoraku and Yamakase). I also understand this kind of food is inherently expensive, because the staff is large (relative to the guests) and the technique labor intensive. You’ve never had fried food with this attention to detail! But it will be interesting to see if LA appreciates that.
Also, in terms of experience, once they officially open they plan not to allow corkage, which is something I’d like to see changed. They have a very straightforward wine list, and wine guys like us have way too much interesting wine to go that way. If I were eating here again under those rules I’d go with sake (which I do like), but still, not allowing outside wines precludes this as a wine dinner destination — and that is 99% of my fine dining.
Still, as we have such a fine collection of great Japanese restaurants in LA, it’s nice to have yet another with such a different style of cuisine.