Review #4: Il Grano

21 June 2014

A trip for me to LA without a visit to Il Grano would be a wasted trip. I never pass up the chance to visit my favourite restaurant in the world and experience the genius cooking of Sal Marino. Perhaps the most underrated chef in California, if not America, Marino comes up with some of the most amazing tasting menus, often on the cuff.

After last night’s rather poor dinner at Piccolo, I was dying for a good meal. Of my more than half dozen meals at Il Grano, I’ve never had anything that wasn’t close to spectacular on the food front. You can see some of them in earlier reviews from January 2013 (review #1), August 2013 (review #2), and November 2013 (review #3). Ironically, some of my best meals there were ones I didn’t review — which just shows how bloody good this place is.

I arrived on a busy Saturday evening and was escorted to my “usual” table. I was a little shocked when the menu was left for me…and had trouble counting the dishes…

menu

No, this is not a joke or a misprint. This was my menu, a 21-course tasting menu. Marino had designed this as a Summer Solstice tasting for the 21st of June, and I took a deep breath. This is gonna be a wild ride!

As I enjoyed a bubbly the first course arrived, a tomato tasting from Chef’s garden.

01-tomatoes

I need to apologise. After a few days of functioning well, the camera on the new phone went nutty again this evening, and this photo (alongside a few others) ended up with wee focus issues. But this was a cute start, reminding me of of last year’s heritage tomato fest here (review #2). More reminders of that meal came on the second course.

02-cherry_gazpacho

Chef loves to make small gazpacho tastings during the summer, which is extra refreshing in LA (despite it being a relatively cool summer day/evening). This version is made from black tartarian cherries, and it was just perfect. I’ve not been a big fan of fruit-based gazpachos but this was fantastic!

03-tuna

Happily I moved into course three, the tuna tartar, with a generous helping of truffles. Honestly, after several nights of fantastic sushi omakase, first at Kiriko and second at Nozawa Bar, I’ve had my fill of tuna. Nice, but overload for me this past few days.

04-snapper

The fourth course continued with crudo, this time with a beautiful piece of snapper. I’m sad the photo was focus-challenged, because this was a beautiful piece. Chef sliced me a wonder belly portion of the snapper — a rare opportunity to enjoy the rare cut. Wow, this was excellent. From someone who is not the world’s greatest snapper fan, this was stunning.

05-scallop

The crudo wave kept coming, as next up was a beautiful Hokkaido scallop. The shellfish was sweet, balanced by the interesting mascarpone and the devilish pickled green peppercorn crowning the dish. Very cool stuff. I enjoyed some fine whites as the seafood tour-de-force met with a timely interlude.

06-peach_burrata

Chef Marino loves his caprese, and he often does unique takes on this Italian staple combination. This time, alongside a very creamy burrata, was a juicy grilled peach and home-grown arugula in between. Extremely tasty on their own, but utterly beautiful together. I am so sad this photo didn’t come out right, as this was such a wonderful visual item as well…

I kept trying to fix the camera during this meal…not the time to tinker with it mid-stream, but I had a feeling these photos were not coming out right (and sadly, I was right). It didn’t do several of these early dishes justice, especially where the light was not great…

07-king_salmon-fennel

We return to seafood after that interlude with a house-cured King salmon and fennel salad. Honestly this one was way too salty, which kind of took too much out of the fish. A rare miss, but when you have 21 courses…

08-stuffed_peppers

At this point a friend of mine had sent over a glass of very fine bordeaux for me, just as the next dish was presented. Chef had two peppers stuffed with different cheeses and fire roasted them. Excellent, melt in your mouth stuff. Sorry for the picture again.

I went to thank my friend, sitting on the far side of the restaurant at a banquette. Turns out his wife (a well-known food blogger) wasn’t feeling well and had taken early leave, but asked him to stay to finish doing research on the entire tasting menu (he was also doing the 21-course special). He was many courses ahead, but we decided to merge and I moved to his table. This was a pleasant surprise as we kept each other company talking food for the next few hours as I caught up to him.

09-butterfish

The next dish was one of the highlights of the night, grilled butterfish with porcini. I love butterfish, and this was a fantastic preparation. Rich but not overwhelming, it worked fantastic with the porcini and wee bit of truffle. Mmm, fantastic. And as you can see, this table was brighter, and that didn’t wreak havoc with my new phone’s idiotic auto-focus…

10-mackerel

Following that wonderful fish was another fantastic fish, a beautiful piece of Japanese mackerel. Extremely rich, this piece presented a deep and unadulterated flavour, accented by the small bits of purslane. Another excellent dish!

11-kisu

We crossed the half-way mark with dish #11, Japanese kisu (whiting), encrusted with a rosemary-tinged breading. It brought out the neutral flavour of the whiting very nicely like from a fantasy English chippie. Tasty.

12-sphaghetti-polipo

I was still going strong as we transition into the pasta segment, starting with a tasty spaghetti with octopus and pepper. Chef may be celebrated for his crudo, but his pasta is utterly amazing. Cooked perfectly, the pasta takes in the flavours of this dish so well — unlike last night’s disastrous pasta dish that tasted like 3 separate items plopped together at the last minute. The flavours here were symbiotic. Mmm…

13-lobster_risotto

We continue with the pasta segment with this wonderful risotto, made with the fabulous Acquerello carnaroli rice. The richness of the Maine lobster comes full force in this beautiful dish, bearing a creaminess and fullness that one desires during a risotto craving. Wow.

My dining companion was doing about 1 dish for my 3 until I catch up, and we continued to chat on while enjoying some of the amazing wine he had brought. He is a wine collector, and the wines he bring are always fantastic. Though I was on pasta and seafood, the unobtrusive reds worked very well. Fantastic to enjoy such a tasting menu with someone so knowledgeable about food and fine dining!

14-halibut

After the pasta interlude we return to fish, this time a brilliant halibut. One of Chef Marino’s ultimate abilities is to leave the flavourful strong fishes to its own devices, but to accentuate the lighter fishes to bring out its full essence. Halibut is usually not one of my favourites, but this piece was spectacular. Full flavoured, this piece retained a strong texture without compromising on the taste. Excellent!

15-king_salmon

We revisit the Alaskan King salmon next, a rich and beautiful serving of this excellent fish. Wonderfully rich, the slices of this vivid treat were specifically tailored for my love of oily fish it seemed…beyond tasty, mmm… But it was this dish when I started to feel I’m close to hitting a wall. It has been a lot of food, and my pace has slowed noticeably.

16-rabbit_milanese

Just in time we move to the meats, which Chef always realise that in a tasting it should be done in appropriate portions and selections as to not overwhelm. The first of the meat dishes is a beautiful rabbit milanese. A perfectly sized portion for this tasting extravaganza, it brought out the delicate taste of the rabbit successfully. Excellent!

17-anatra

Finally we arrive at course #17, the last of the savoury dishes — and one that Chef outdid himself. A beautiful serving of duck breast, cooked perfectly and sliced to get the most out of each bite. I love duck, and this was a perfect way to end this amazing tasting meal!

My readers know I’m not the biggest dessert fan, and my friend was frankly fading as well — he began his tasting menu 2 hours before mine! So we decided to ask Chef to bring out all the desserts so we could just sample them.

18-gorgonzola

I managed to get a photo of the first, the cheese course — a tangy dolceatte gorgonzola. Honestly it was a little too much at this point, the piece wee too big after 17 wonderful courses. Tasty, but I could not finish it at all.

Unfortunately, at this point I was spent and didn’t manage to take photos of the final dishes, which came out together — alongside Chef Marino. He joined us for some wine and we chatted about this amazing tasting menu. He so loves his craft it is a joy just to talk the dishes with him.

At this point our mutual friend had to leave, so we bid him a good night. Those wines of his were fantastic, an added treat to this tasting extravaganza. I chatted on with chef over some more wine and grappa into the night and closed a fantastic night of dining.

Why I love Il Grano is not just the talent of Chef Marino, his ability to bring out the best of each ingredient and to create masterpieces after masterpieces, but his utter love and devotion to his craft. He does not compromise, he does not self-promote at the expense of his craft. The ingredients he grows himself or acquires himself at dawn hours, fighting top sushi chefs for the same beautiful seafood as the best omakase sushi bars in town. He cooks everything himself, and often even serves. He brings the best of an Italian small family-owned trattoria together with a Michelin-level presentation.

Frankly, if I had the chance to pick my final meal, it would be at the hands of Sal Marino. And I wouldn’t even want to see the menu — or need to.

Amazing…

Il Grano
11359 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Los Angeles, California

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Review: Piccolo

20 June 2014

This review is not gonna be like others, it’s more of a “what not to do as a restauranteur” commentary. I was given a recommendation by some “food” people to check out a highly-regarded place in the beachside town of Venice called Piccolo. I had no plans on this Friday evening, so I said why not.

I got to the small and cute place and was sat at a table near the open kitchen. Service was somewhat spotty, as you can see they preferred to give attention to the loud, large tables instead of a lone diner. At times it was extremely frustrating when both wine and water glass were empty for lengthy periods.

The restaurant was darker than Hades, and none of my photos came out remotely well. I’m sorry, I think using flash in a dark restaurant is really crass (and there were flashes all night at this place that blinded me…that tells you the type of clientele here), and no filtering or editing can make them look proper, so this review is sans photos…or I thought. I decided to add the photos, but apologise for their poor quality.

The first dish was lingua, tongue. It itself was pretty good, cooked well. There was an assortment of sauces to use, a little ridiculously varied. None of it was very good. The tongue itself was nice, all it needed was the pepper on the side. This was a case of overkill by a bored chef. And why bother with the colours if it was so damn dark? Oh well, I will resist and show you how weird it was…

01-lingua_edited

Nah, I’ll show it. It looked like a dessert course. Sauces utterly unnecessary and bland. The only star of this dish was the de-tongued cow. Sorry for the pix, I decided to put it in to show just how awkward this dish was. Sorry for the darkness, but I am not a camera douche — especially in a restaurant as bloody dark as this.

Dear restauranteurs. Dark restaurants are not romantic, they are 1980s and backwards. I had to use my phone to be able to read the menu because it was so dark. Plus, when you got loud hipsters and old dudes in shorts and baseball caps while eating, you’re not expecting an imminent engagement.

As I was sipping my short pour of wine (very, very ungenerous, may I add), I was thinking…uh on, this restaurant’s website boasted that it was the “best” Italian resto in LA. Any website that does that means the exact opposite. I sighed…

My pasta showed up, a black spaghettini that was as dark as the room. It was swimming in a really oily green sauce, topped by chunks flavourless dungeness crab.

02-spaghettini_granchio_edited

Sorry again for the bad pix but this was just terrible. To be honest, the pasta was cooked very well, perfect texture. Too bad it was utterly tasteless…was the colour from ink or food colouring? The sauce was hard to swallow due to its oiliness and terrible consistency, and the crab? Wasted. This was poor on planning and execution.

I was just not happy now, and was nursing my wine. My main course was maialino, or pork. You should have seen my face…

03-maialino_edited

This was utterly overcooked like eating pork at a chain restaurant in the 1990s when you purposely overcooked pork as a precaution for badly-sourced meat. What’s the point of all the purple when the room is so ridiculously dark? It was just not good.

I was then told there’s no full liquor license, so no grappa. Great! A terrible dessert of thin pineapple slices and I’ve had enough. Then I saw my bill. For fuck’s sake (pardon for my language) but this is utterly overpriced for a meal that’s barely better than Olive Garden. The dishes here cost more than at some of the best places in NYC. I’m not joking.

I have eaten at some of the best Italian restaurants in and out of Italy, and this wouldn’t even qualify as the best Italian restaurant in a 10-block radius! The price was just insult to injury. Those people who think this is the best Italian food in LA obviously don’t have passports (nor tastebuds). It’s designed for the kind of crowd I hate, those who think they are “foodies” but know jack shit about food. Wow them with big words on a menu, throw some gold crap on their dessert, get it into the crap blogs like Eater, and voila, a recipe for “success” in modern day hospitality.

This is exactly what real food people would gag at, every step of the way. What a waste of my money, time, and energy. Worst meal and dining experience anywhere in LA.

Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Piccolo
5 Dudley Avenue
Venice, California

Review: Nozawa Bar

19 June 2014

Since I planned my trip to Los Angeles I had been anticipating returning to some of my favourite eateries, including the sushi double of Kiriko and Nozawa Bar. I had a fabulous omakase at Kiriko the day before, and was looking forward to another wonderful omakase tonight.

The styles of the two restaurants are very different. As Kiriko is more relaxed and loose, Nozawa Bar is much more regimented. It has a single seating and all dishes are served simultaneously. It certainly has a top-end restaurant feel about it, from the service to the entire experience. I did not write a review last time, so this time it was definitely necessary to redress that omission.

Like last time, I waited in the crowded waiting area along those hoping for a table at the popular Sugarfish — within which Nozawa Bar is located. We were all herded into the back room as a group and took our places around the 8-seat sushi bar, where Chef Fujita greeted us. He remembered me from my last visit.

As tonight I was staying nearby and not driving, I happily drank a generous amount of sake through this omakase. Chef was on good form, joking with the customers and chatting with me about sourcing and so forth. It was an excellent evening of wonderful seafood at the hands of a brilliant sushi chef.

01-jellyfish

The first course, traditional here, is jellyfish. I always hear people a little apprehensive about this start, but I love it. Textured and sliced well to absorb the sauce deeply, a nice start like always.

02-maguro_crab_tako

Course two was a sashimi delight, comprised of hon maguro of an Equadorian big-eye, some Alaskan king crab, slices of fabulous tako (octopus) from Japan, and a touch of wakame seaweed. Watching Chef Fujita work on these was a pleasure, and he joked around a lot with the diners over the octopus tentacle.

03-toro

Next up was a bright piece of toro, also from an Equadorian big-eye. Excellent, with just enough texture for the melt-in-your-mouth fattiness. We are now in the main part of the meal, the nigiri adventure.

04-isaki

Following that was a rarer item on menus in the US, isaki — or the grunt. This was a beautiful piece of fish, almost looks like a thinly sliced pata negra. It was smooth and hints of the sea, an excellent piece! One of the reasons I like Nozawa Bar, like Kiriko, is the use of less-than-common-in-America items.

05-ika

Next up was the humble squid, a nice piece. I enjoy the texture of these things, and Chef keeping the skin on was a nice touch.

06-uni

No need description for this wonderful piece of Santa Barbara uni. Excellent, just melts with goodness in your mouth. Some of the diners passed on this dish, to our shock, so, as with a few more dishes down the line, they were shared with other diners. This was excellent.

07-hotate

Lucky number 7 was hotate, a sweet piece of scallop from Hokkaido. A nice generous size, large enough to extract get the sweetness out of the entire piece. Fabulous stuff.

08-akamutsu

I enjoyed more sake as we continued into a fabulous piece of akamutsu, or ruby snapper. You don’t get these deep-sea treats too often, and it was excellent.

09-katsuo

Next up was katsuo, or skipjack. This deep-red tuna was excellent, with a richness that is quite different from the more typical types of tuna.

10-yamaimo

The half-way point of the meal is marked by another “usual” for Chef Fujita, the yamaimo (mountain yam) handroll, with some shiso leaf and ume (plum) sauce. I’m not a big fan of this yam as it is like an odd poi from Hawai’ian cuisine but textured…hard to describe.

11-oysters

We continued into the second half of the meal temporarily departing from the nigiri, and we are presented with some excellent oysters — kumamoto, kusshi & shigoku. Now oysters are terribly subjective so I won’t discuss the three in detail, but I know kusshi are very popular out in the West Coast. I felt the sauce was unnecessary, as the oysters were fresh and very tasty on their own.

12-ankimo

We continued with the detour as the next course was ankimo, or monkfish liver. Several diners were not sure about this, but they seemed to like it. I enjoy these things, but probably don’t hold it to as high of regard as most Japanese cuisine connoseurs. Nice though.

13-sawara

Next was a return to nigiri, and in fine fashion with sawara, or Spanish mackerel. This was an extremly rich piece from the waters off Boston, and I immediately had a flashback to some of the richest mackerel I’ve had over the years. This was fabulous and rich, the way I love my mackerel!

14-maine_lobster

Following that amazing piece was a rarity in a sushi environment, a piece of Maine lobster. It was nice, but for some reason this is one of those things I prefer cooked. Nevertheless it was an excellent piece.

15-soft_clam

Next up we moved into the bivalves and a nice soft clam from waters near Boston again — like the Spanish mackerel. I really enjoy my bivalves, especially ones with texture, and this was excellent. Several diners had bivalve allergies, so I got some extras here. Lucky me!

16-ikura

More sake, to help wash down the extra clams and the next piece — ikura. I like how Chef made this item, purposely overloading so the extra eggs tumble down off the mountain like a mini avalanche of goodness. They are like little treats after the main piece. Of course Chef uses proper roe, not the over-salted crap you get at 99.9% of sushi places. I love these. Usually my “dessert” piece, but this worked great now!

17-ebi

Continuing with our feast, next was a large local shrimp. Nice and sweet, I enjoyed this more than the lobster earlier. At this point I actually bought some of the other diners a round, as they often fed me things they didn’t eat. So unlike last time, when I was done with the planned course, I did not have to order extras.

18-tachiuo

Next up was the tachiuo, or the beltfish. Nice to be back on the fish, as this was a nice piece of an under-appreciated fish.

 19-lobster

The next item told me we were very close to the end, as were presented with a Maine lobster handroll. Nice and rich, this was a nice set-up piece. And we all know what the final item is…

20-tamago

I usually don’t like tamago but this was a nice ending, with a touch of apricot injected ito the fold of the egg. And after this I was quite full, having had some “extras” from other diners. Mmm…

I enjoyed some dessert but by now I was just basking in the afterglow of the fabulous seafood. I kept chatting with Chef for a bit until he made sure everyone was full and happy before departing, and I took my leave soon after that. Another excellent omakase!

Nozawa Bar is more regimented and less flexible, but it’s good fun. Chef Fujita is always in good humour, and by end of the evening you make new friends. Service is excellent, and the quality is top notch. It’s the place to take sushi lovers that demand a Michelin-level of service and environment, a quiet back room like a peaceful oasis in a chaotic and noisy desert.

Fabulous. You’ll love it. Prices are fixed and there’s a no-tip policy, so you know what you’re in for. Pricey, but worth it. I think it’s better than most of the other over-the-top omakase places in LA and through the country. A must. And frankly, Chef Fujita is more fun than most of them. That counts a lot over 20 courses…

menu

Nozawa Bar
212 North Cañon Drive
Beverly Hills, California

Review: Sake House Miro

19 June 2014
Los Angeles

I knew the Uruguay-England match was starting at midday here in California, but as the day was somewhat busy, I had to find somewhere to watch near Wilshire Boulevard. So I took a long lunch and stopped at a place I had found by accident online earlier in the morning, and went for it — Sake House Miro, on La Brea just off Wilshire.

I walked into the very unpretentious place and sat down, eyes on the game that had started on the big TV, with a ice cold Asahi in my hand pretty quickly, and I relaxed. I was expecting England to fall badly, and had bet a friend the match will have either Rooney sent off or Joe Hart concede a howler. Either way, it should be entertaining in a Schadenfreude way.

This eatery, obviously meant for drinking as well, is a cute space that wouldn’t look out of place near a commuter station in Tokyo. I focused on the excellent robata selection and ordered several for lunch as I watched the match and enjoyed the beer. The first to arrive were the okra and garlic skewers.

okra-garlic

The okra were a little under-done, but that’s fine as otherwise it would have been gooey. The garlic was nice, especially with some of the other items I ordered. I *love* garlic…

pork_belly-salmon_belly

The pork belly on the left were divine, rich and fabulous. The salmon belly on the right were luscious and decadent, melting in one’s mouth. These were utterly scandalous to eat! I could have ordered 5 more of each easily!!!

chicken_cartilage

The last of the skewers I ordered was the chicken cartilage. I love these, the meat juicy and the cartilage crunchy. Done perfectly from Jidori chicken, these were fabulous. Now I was still hungry, as the second half was just moving along, so I ordered more. I could have, as I said, order tons more of skewers, but decided to be more diverse.

I enjoyed a dark beer as the next part of my large lunch appeared, the octopus pancakes, tako yaki.

octopus_balls

These balls (more balls than the described “pancake” on the menu) were large and very filling, but I didn’t think it was cooked very well; it was a little inconsistent. The second — and last — dish came just after.

black_pork_sausage

Obviously these are the black pork sausages. Nice and tasty as they are always. That was nice, though it was less enjoyable after Rooney’s goal… I figured I should stop with the food since I had a big dinner coming, so I enjoyed my beer as the match continued.

I was tempted to order a few more skewers as the clock ticked, but resisted, as I had to run immediately after the final whistle. And after the 2nd Uruguay goal, I settled up my bill and headed out upon hearing the final whistle, knowing I lost my bet…

This was a nice lunch, although I have to say the robata was by far better. The pork belly and salmon belly were utterly decadent and rich, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Those will bring me back again, and hopefully in the evening when I have time to sample more food and the excellent sake selection.

Check this place out, it’s a good one.

Sake House Miro
809 S. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA

Review #2: Kiriko

18 June 2014
Los Angeles

I made my way once again across the country and spent a few days in LA, a city that I have a love-hate relationship with. So many things here annoy me, but there are a few restaurants that I just love so much I have to visit whenever I get the chance. For this week-long trip, the first (of several) restaurants I returned to was Kiriko (here is my review from my wonderful sushi omakase last time in LA).

I have had two amazingly good omakase experiences in the past and was hoping for another. I relaxed at the sushi bar and enjoyed some sake as I prepared for a wonderful dining experience that would last the next few hours. First up was house-made tofu.

01-tofu_bonito

Nice palate cleanser as we moved into some exquisite items in the omakase, starting with a fabulous seafood plate.

02-clam-mackerel_bone-dungeness_crab

The clam on the left was fabulous, as the different parts of the bivalve brought out different textures and flavours to explore. The mackerel in the centre was tasty, accentuated by a clever addition of its deep-fried spine in between slices of the fish. And finally, a generous piece of sweet dungeness crab graced with roe. Wow, an excellent start by any means!

Following these nice items I was presented with yet another plate of assorted goodness.

03-scallops_2_way-king_salmon-squid

This plate featured two different preparations of Hokkaido scallops — the sweetness coming out in both the sashimi and the sear. In the middle a nice piece of king salmon, very tasty. Then finally the squid; tentacles torched to perfection, and a wonderful slice sitting in a rich uni sauce. Mmm…fabulous stuff.

The next was a bit of a miss for me, the grilled sweetfish.

04-sweetfish

The bony fish was rather hard to eat with chopsticks, tho the fish was tasty. Too bony, I wish they had fried it a bit more so the spines could be consumed too. In any case, the focus now moves to nigiri, starting with a beautiful piece of hon maguro (tuna)…

Where is it? Well, let me cut in a little here. I retired my Samsung Galaxy S-3 after 2+ years. The camera was also going a bit funny with lighting. I upgraded to a Galaxy S-5, and this was my first outing with it. Little did I know they tinkered with the focusing to such an extent that it really screws up how I take food pictures…and the tuna photos all came out horrible… But it was nice…

Next up was the madai, or or the red snapper. An excellent piece, richer than usual. I am afraid the photos all came out rather out-of-focus, again the damn camera. I tinkered with it a little at this point and hoped it would be easier. I wish I had known these 2 pieces didn’t come out…would have taken a few more.

07-suzuki

Following next was the suzuki, or seabass. Not the most tasty fish on its own, but worked very well here with a little garnishing.

08-chutoro

Then we got a beautiful piece of chu-toro, which tasted delicious. Not overwhelming, but had enough texture. A nice piece.

09-akagai

Next up was akagai, or red clam. These are extremely hard to get in the US due to various issues, and this was a rare opportunity to enjoy these bivalves.

The next piece of sushi delight was the gindara, or sablefish. Once again, the photo did not focus right, so sorry about that… But the fish was excellent, and was a very photogenic presentation, so I’m really ticked at this camera…but live and learn…

11-uni

Now we have a beautiful uni, prepared in both methods that are common in sushi bars around the world. Excellent stuff from Santa Barbara, creamy and flavourful. What a treat.

12-kenmedai

Next piece is a beautiful kenmedai, or a goldeneye bream. Beautiful colour on this fish, and the flavour was delicate but nuanced.

13-ebi

We then come to the ebi now, which was again separated like last time. The sushi was very nice, the shrimp mildly sweet and flavourful; the head, deep fried, fantastic. I can eat dozens of these heads!

14-smoked_salmon

In between the ebi two-parter the interlude was a nice smoked salmon. Not my favourite, but this was done well.

15-shimaaji

Next came shimaaji (striped jack). Again, not one of my favourite fishes, but today was excellent. Richer than usual, it was an excellent piece. More sake and I was having a great time, as I know they usually plan for 20 dishes — I had just finished #15.

16-ika

#16 was ika (squid), in a very cute presentation with a uni piggy-back. A nice combination, a throw-back to the slice of ika in the uni sauce at the start of this omakase. Mmm…almost a “naughty-and-nice” kinda thing.

The next piece was mirugai, but sadly the photo for the clam failed. As I go through my photos from that night as I write this review, it really ticks me off. Damn camera…I hope I fixed the focus and lag-time tho…

18-seared_toro

Back to a camera non-fail, now a beautiful seared toro…this was fantastic. Now I’m usually not a “seared toro” guy, but this was beautiful…worked perfectly. I was loving this…

Chef was pretty much happy and asked if I had any requests, so first I decided on the o-toro. A wonderful, rich piece of tuna belly goodness…and of course (Sod’s and Murphy’s Laws in 1 go), the camera focus fails and all it shows is a white goopy thing that could have fed Gwyneth Paltrow…so sorry, no photo…

20-tako

The fail ended again with the 2nd request of tako. I love octopus, and this was a nice piece. I like it with texture, not too pampered. This was perfect.

21-anago

Next up was a nice anago (eel), done the way I like it — just sea salt and a wee brush of sauce. Maybe a little flaky, but was good. And finally, I brought myself to a close at this point with my usual…

22-ikura

Yep, the ikura, my usual dessert course. A nice end to an excellent dinner. I slowly drank the last of my sake, chatting with the staff and chef. What a wonderful dinner once again, satisfying all my cravings for amazing sushi.

Kiriko should definitely be a destination for all true sushi lovers, for those who really desire amazing quality seafood with excellent creativity and diversity that rewards those who are more adventurous. The more you know about a real sushi experience in Japan, the more you will appreciate what Kiriko does.

I enjoyed this a little differently from last time. I ate more last time, and I drank more this time. But the flavours tonight, starting from the opening dishes, were just fantastic. Each time I’m here I am surprised, and also delighted.

I can’t wait to get back to LA again for another go here. I can put up with all the BS in SoCal for a short time if I get to have such a wonderful omakase.

Kiriko
11301 Olympic Blvd
West Lost Angeles, California