18 June 2014
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.
Nice palate cleanser as we moved into some exquisite items in the omakase, starting with a fabulous seafood plate.
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.
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.
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.
Following next was the suzuki, or seabass. Not the most tasty fish on its own, but worked very well here with a little garnishing.
Then we got a beautiful piece of chu-toro, which tasted delicious. Not overwhelming, but had enough texture. A nice piece.
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…
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.
Next piece is a beautiful kenmedai, or a goldeneye bream. Beautiful colour on this fish, and the flavour was delicate but nuanced.
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!
In between the ebi two-parter the interlude was a nice smoked salmon. Not my favourite, but this was done well.
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 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…
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…
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.
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…
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.
11301 Olympic Blvd
West Lost Angeles, California