Review #3: Kiriko

8 January 2016

My body was not enjoying this unexpected LA trip. Considering I was in Tbilisi just 10 days ago, I’ve made a 12-hour time change. Bodies usually don’t like such things, even if done in steps… So this day was a bit slow. I had a few errands to run as I relocate back south of the Valley for my flight out tomorrow.

I decided on dinner at one of my “safe” places again — which I do when I am stressed. This time it’s Kiriko again for sushi — one of very few places I will eat sushi outside of Japan. I’ve had good meals there in the past, but it’s also very busy when the chefs are forced to waste time to make California rolls and other stupid maki rolls for idiots at tables. And tonight is Friday…

I got there at about 6.30pm and it was already somewhat busy. Again, very few — if any — were doing omakase sushi. I was the only. I can see the chefs were extremely busy already…doesn’t bode well. But I sat at what has become a usual spot for me and ordered my sake and the meal soon began.

Of course my first treat was the wasabi…real wasabi is such a joy… I love snacking at them between pieces. Yes, I eat raw wasabi. The first piece arrived, madai.

01-madai

An okay piece of sea bream, nothing too special. Then the tuna pair…

2a

 

The akami was very tasty, and the chu-toro wasn’t bad. Again, nothing special, especially considering my recent Japan trip. Next up, shima-aji and kampachi.

03-shimaaji-kampachi

I’m not a fan of these duo pieces service, but they need to do this as they need to make those damn maki rolls and pieces for people ordering a la carte at tables. In fact, the interruptions were annoying, and got more annoying as the night went on. The striped jack was not bad, and the amberjack was nice and tasty. Next up, kue and king salmon.

04-kue-king salmon

The grouper was nothing too exciting to be honest, and I’m not a fan of salmon sushi usually but this was a nice piece. I still rather have this piece fried or seared tho… In any case, then next up was hirame and katsuo.

05-hirame-katsuo

The flounder is the usual “opening” piece during my Tokyo trips, and it’s a simple plain thing. The bonito was actually very nice, the best piece so far. Then another interruption before a very nice amaebi.

06a-amaebi

This prawn was very tasty, love it when it’s raw like this. Taste the real sweetness. Then they asked how I’d like the head, and tempura is easiest, so…

06b-amaebi

Okay, perhaps under-done a little bit, the neck shell was a little hard to eat still. Oh well, but it was good of a set. Then next up was a trio…

07-saba-kohada-aji

I went right to left, starting with the not-bad aji (horse mackerel). Then the bland kohada (gizzard shad), blander than usual… Then a nice saba (mackerel). I went in order for a purpose, as I knew the mackerel would be best and strongest tasting. Then another “break” in food…

Usually I’d drink on the breaks, but I’m driving and jetlagged, so was doing the sake far slower than usual. Then back to some food after another annoying break. I don’t mind slow but steady incoming pieces, but this was like “eat half a dozen, digest, and I’ll be back” mode, which is so not good… But was it worth the wait, seeing what the next piece was? I cheered when it arrived…

08-nodoguro

Nodoguro, my favourite sushi fish. The black-throat perch is one of the most awesome things I’ve eaten (remembering them in Japan, especially the amazing tempura version at Hiroshima’s Tenko Honten, one of the 10 best things I ate in 2015). But this piece was small and fibrous. Sure, good oil, but this was NOT a good piece… A fluke? I was starting to sour on this meal to be honest…

09-ika

Next up the humble ika. Not bad, with wee shiso between the squid and rice. Then we have our first “comparison” selection, this of uni.

10-uni

Both from San Diego, but dressed differently. I always like this with wee sea salt. Both were nice. Then next was the tairagai.

11-tairagai

This was a nice cut of the pen-shell clam, beautiful and very tasty. One of the best pieces of the night of one of my favourite bivalves. Then another wee break…before we go to kinmedai.

12-kinmedai

I’m not a big fan of the golden eye snapper, and this piece did little to change that. The fish seems very mediocre today, just not quite there. Then another bivalve, aoyagi.

13-aoyagi

I like clams, and surf clam, albeit humble, is always welcome. But this was a beautiful slice, and extremely photogenic. Tasty too. The non-fish items have been excellent tonight, in contrast…

After a wee break…another one…this place is getting busy and too many people from tables ordering boring stuff making the sushi chefs way too busy. This is why I’m souring on doing another omakase here. Just not the right feel… Perhaps better to just revisit Bar Nozawa next time back in LA… Next up is a duo of anago.

14-anago

One is sea salt, one is sauce. Both were again very mediocre… I really miss the amazing anago from Sushi Masuda about a month ago in Tokyo, one of the 10 best meals of 2015… Sigh, I really shouldn’t compare this to Tokyo, as it’ll just make me sadder… Next up, iwashi.

15-iwashi

Sardine is not something you see too often on a sushi menu, but it was done well. Perhaps way too much ginger in the slit, but was good. Then next up, tako.

16-tako

I found this presentation interesting, the big slice. It was very juicy and easy to eat, and I can see people getting into this from this method of presentation. Very nice. Then at this point chef asked how I was doing, and I said I was nearly done — and just had a handful of requests to finish this meal.

So after a little bit of rest, and finishing the sake (switching to tea now), the first of the final set arrived…and I’m sure you guessed it.

17-nodoguro

Nodoguro again. Again, not great. Not as fibrous as the last one, but just not a good cut. What a shame… Then next up, katsuo.

18-katsuo

The bonito this time was not as good as the first serving. Nowhere near that amazing, amazing thing at Harutaka in Tokyo a few weeks ago…one of the 10 best things I ate in 2015… Again, I gotta stop this comparison…

Then the humble ikura to close this night of savouries…

19-ikura

…and the obligatory tamago, which was actually rather awful…

20-tamago

Well. I was not very thrilled by this dinner as you can see. The fish was mediocre, but the non-fish items were quite good. The nodoguro was very disappointing. The crazy amount of distraction really ruined the flow to the point it was not enjoyable. And to add insult to injury, this dinner cost more than all of my recent Tokyo sushi meals…

I’m sorry, but once again one of my “safe” places has failed me. I think this may be the last time I walk in the door here. And with Il Grano, my favourite place in the world now consigned to history, I think my days eating in West Los Angeles may be near an end…

Not a great way to start 2016…not at all…

Kiriko
11301 Olympic Blvd
West Lost Angeles, California

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One thought on “Review #3: Kiriko

  1. Pingback: Review: 15 East | melhuang1972

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