Restaurant: OOToro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]
Location: 1569 Fairway Dr, Walnut, CA 91789. (909) 598-8299
Date: December 11, 2021
Cuisine: Japanese Sushi (with slight nod to China)
Rating: Ends of the earth, but very good
Chef Kaz of Totoraku, an occasional hedonist, sent us far east to this Sushi restaurant in 2016 and it was such a fun time that we had to return again for a sixth visit — it’s now become a twice a year thing. This is my second return since the pandemic — although some in the group went once in the middle for a meal that was supposedly not quite up to snuff. Because a bunch of us have engaged in a special Sushi Series this fall (tasting all the best LA sushi places) I figured I’d include OOToro in the mix.
And by far east I mean REALLY REALLY far east — to Walnut California. 40+ miles from my house. 20 miles past Alhambra (which most people consider to far to drive for food). It took an hour and twenty minutes on a Saturday night!
The slick looking location is in the heart of the affluent Chinese American San Gabriel Valley. But yes, it’s Japan, if perhaps catering to Chinese taste. This photo was shot at about 10pm after everyone else had left.
Here is the private room — the only way to go.
NV Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvee Edition 169eme. VM 94. Krug”s NV Grande Cuvée 169ème Édition is brisk and finely cut, with terrific energy driving the citrus, floral and light tropical notes. Even with all of its energy, the 169 balances the vibrancy of the late-ripening 2013 vintage it is built on, with the depth that the reserve wines added to the blend. The 169 drinks well now but clearly has the potential to age. The 169 is a blend of 146 separate wines back to 2000. Krug ID: 120003. (Originally published in May 2021) (Drink between 2022-2042)
2004 Vilmart & Cie Champagne Premier Cru Coeur de Cuvée. VM 95. The 2004 Coeur de Cuvée has gained considerable weight, richness and resonance over the last few years. Brioche, almonds, marzipan, anise and dried flowers are some of the notes that flesh out in a radiant, super-expressive Champagne built on texture and class. The 2004 is every bit as impressive as it has always been. At eleven years of age, the Coeur de Cuvée is just entering an early plateau of maturity that is likely to last for at least a handful of years. Disgorged May 2012. (Drink between 2015-2024)
Two oysters. Uni ikura. Radish ponzu.
Grilled Japanese blue fish with yam.
2012 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses. VM 95+. Bright yellow. Aromas of elderflower, ginger, quinine and fern, plus a hint of petrol. Densely packed, dry and backward; hints at superb sucrosite on the vibrant middle palate, but the tight, chewy finish is dominated by menthol and wet stone. Not as expressive today as it was from barrel a year ago but built for a long and glorious evolution in bottle.
2013 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses. VM 94. Vincent Dauvissat’s 2013 Chablis Les Preuses is one of my favorite Chablis of all, as I have a particular soft spot for the Les Preuses Grand Cru. Less massive than Les Clos or Valmur, Les Preuses usually offers the most chiseled, precise of all great Chablis drinking experiences, and in the hands of a master like Vincent Dauvissat the experience is most often unforgettable. In fact, the only problem with this Grand Cru is that there isn’t much of it made. (Drink between 2022-2032)
2016 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses. JG 96+. The 2016 les Preuses chez Dauvissat is again, absolutely classical in profile, which means it is already delivering kaleidoscopic minerality in its vibrant nose of lemon, green apple, beeswax, layer upon layer of chalky minerality, spring flowers and a nice touch of orange zest in the upper register. On the palate the wine is pure, full and properly reserved in personality out of the blocks, with a great core, stunning mineral drive, great, snappy acids and a very, very long, focused and complex finish. A great, great Preuses in the making! (Drink between 2022-2060)
2014 Vincent Dauvissat (René & Vincent) Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons. VM 93. Very pale yellow. Lemon oil, flowers and a lightly lactic yeasty nuance on the nose. Tight, upright and penetrating, with brisk lemony acidity intensifying the dense flavors of white peach and almond flower. Shows terrific grain and palate presence and finishes with explosive mounting length. A very serious Vaillons. Dauvissat noted that as these vines have aged, they are yielding consistently more mineral wines. (Drink between 2020-2030)
A pair of lovely spoons.
Nama Octopus (Taco) with Japanese uni.
Lobster Salad with Truffle Caviar.
Marc’s ass inn blanc.
Shirako with ponzu (on request). The cod sperm sacks are so good!
From my cellar: 2002 Domaine Jean Grivot Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts. VM 92+. Deep red. Enticing aromas of minerals, flowers, red licorice and earth. Impressively glyceral on entry, then sweet and silky in the middle, with noteworthy energy and grip. Impressively concentrated and dense wine, with an explosive, rising finish and terrific cut. This should be at its peak between 2010 and 2017, says Grivot.
Toro and o Toro sashimi. Special (sweet) soy sauce.
Golden eye snapper.
Marc’s ass inn rouge.
Kama toro. The special signature cut of tuna collar from the giant hunk of meat above.
2011 Faiveley Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru Les Amoureuses. 93 points.
Seared ruby snapper.
Pasta with crab and caviar.
Second Kama Toro — because it had to be done.
Grilled A5 Japanese Wagyu.
Simon Bize Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Marconnets (forgot the year).
Fish head miso.
Chunks of fish in the soup (under the head).
Because the cheapos in the group always want to order a smaller omakase, I feel obligated to treat the group to several plates of Ootoro’s awesome seafood tempura (including lobster).
Oo-Toro ramen. Hadn’t tried this before. Was pretty awesome. Rich seafood miso broth.
Strawberries & Mascar-Creamy Gelato — A base infused with Mascarpone Cheese then blended with house-made Strawberry Curd — created by me for @sweetmilkgelato — my vain attempts to pipe a pretty decoration on top were uttery foiled by timing –#SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #cheesecake #mascarpone #cheese #strawberry #cream
Overall, OOToro — while always good — showed again that the private room is really the way to go. This was a great meal and much more subtle and sophisticated than some of the front room fare. Really great stuff — although we should have gotten the largest omakase for max variety, but even one down I was more than full (mostly because I ordered a couple extra tempura plates). The kitchen tonight was as good as ever despite the pandemic, however, we didn’t have a few of the more interesting items like the shabu shabu or roated/grilled tuna collar. Gotta get them to do the big one some time but I despair as there are too many without the guts (or stomachs) to go all out!
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