Friday, April 16, 2010

Toshi Sushi (Little Tokyo): Omakase vs "Omakase"

Craving sushi, I remembered that Toshi Sushi in downtown has received a lot of praise from fellow bloggers recently, including Sinosoul, djjewelz, and others.
We came on Easter night and the restaurant was empty. I asked to sit at the sushi bar, and the waitress asked what I was going to order. Sushi? Probably Omakase?

Then she asked what kind of omakase I'm ordering, the set or something-or-other.
Toshi Sushi offers an "Omakase" Sushi set that is printed on the menu. For $44.50 you get:
daily appetizers, asari (clam) miso soup, wagyu tataki, grilled black cod, and "most valuable 10 pieces of sushi assortment of the day", and ice cream. This is the meal that djjewelz reviewed.

OK, understandable if the place was full, but why do they care if the restaurant is empty. Moving on, I said I'll order whatever is needed for me to sit at the sushi bar.
We ended up getting a full-on omakase. Whatever Toshi-san wants.

1. We started with some appetizers: seaweed from Japan, mountain yam, shark fin, and pear.
Some of you may be furious about the sharks fin offered here, but I wasn't. I grew up loving sharkin and stil do ... A nice combination of texture here between the sticky yam and seaweed and the crisper pear and sharkfin.

2. Halibut with marinated seaweed.
This first sushi course is a wonderful introduction of the freshness of the sushi we were about to have and the subtlety of Toshi-san's touch.

3. Bluefin tuna from Spain (that I forgot to take a photo of).
It's smooth and fatty, amazingly so for a non-toro tuna.

4. Snapper from Japan.
Fresh and chewy. The marinade is light and not overwhelming.

5. Deep fried octopus.
Chewy texture. The batter is a bit salty and greasy but the dish overall is good and flavorful.

6. Mackerel with marinated seaweed.
The mackerel has a natural saltiness. Both the flavor and texture are quite nice.

7. Chu-toro bluefin tuna from Spain.
This piece was not too fatty but still melts in your mouth and has that nice oily flavor. And of course, fresh.

8. Here we moved back to a lighter set of appetizers. A trio of dishes:

Sea cucumber
Nice and crunchy, surprisingly so as usually cooked sea cucumber is very fatty and tendon-like. Still, if you're used to sea cucumber you would enjoy this and otherwise it might be too weird.

Kumamoto oysters.
This has a bit too much sauce for my taste.

Baby squids.

Sweet and slimy. Loved it.

9. Now we're back to the fattier and heavier side of the meal, starting with Hamachi belly.
My favorite, always. Fatty but still a bit chewy. Nice flavor

Next came the most memorable and unique dish of the night:
10. Slowly baked bluefin tuna cheek.
This was my first time having cooked bluefin tuna cheek and it was amazing. It was tender but a bit chewy and meaty, had lots of flavor, a lot of oil. Excellent. If Toshi has this when you go, do try it.

11. O-toro (again, forgot to take a photo. Guess I was hungry!)
Melts in your mouth, definitely much fattier than the chu-toro.

12. Seared salmon belly with foie gras.
Fat on fat. Oh yes. The texture and flavor combinations are great, in that fatty melt-in-your-mouth-save-my-heart kind of way.

Because my companion loves his tamagoyaki, he asked for an order. Instead, we were given a tasting of three tamagoyakis:
13. Tamagoyaki with seaweed powder, tamagoyaki with yam, shiso, and plum, and a regular tamagoyaki.
In those Japanese comics or drama people always argue whether or not they like the salty or sweet tamagoyaki. Well, here we have both and more.

14. Aji from Japan.
The sushi here is never overwhelmed by sauces.

15. To finish up, I had an order of really sweet uni (Santa Barbara) while my not-an-uni-lover-companion had some ikura.
16. Followed by an order of unagi.
Nicely seared meaty unagi and again, not doused in too much sauce.

Brown rice tea to cleanse off.

Most people would count uni or unagi as their “dessert” but we have such a sweet tooth interesting so we got a couple:

“Chocolate Souffle”
It’s a perfectly fine dessert but I do not think this is a proper soufflé. This isn’t the first time I encounter “soufflés” at Japanese restaurants (and beyond) though. The vanilla mochi ice cream, though, was quite good and noticeably fresher than ones you get at the grocery stores (prompting us to walk across the street to Mikawaya!)

Panna CottaThis dessert worked better than the soufflé for us.

This meal wasn't $44.50. Obviously, right? That would've been amazing. Still, we got away with ~$80 per person after tax and tips which I still think was a great deal considering what we ate.
I was quite impressed with the quality of the sushi we had, and that baked bluefin tuna cheeks? Incredible.

Toshi Sushi
359 E 1st St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 680-4166
www.sushicateringtoshi.com
Toshi Sushi on Urbanspoon

5 comments:

Andi?

When I got to the end of the post and found out that didn't cost 44.50 I was a sad panda.

Still looks delicious though.

Marie

Love raw sea cucumber! Yum to the meal overall, too. :)

burumun

Andi? Haha sorry about that! I'm sure the $44.50 meal is delicious, too (or so I've heard)!

Exile Kiss

Hi burumun,

Great review. :) Thanks for the info on this place. I've passed by this place so many times and never wanted to try it until your post. The price is great for all the food you got, and like you, I love Hamachi Toro! :)

SinoSoul

Very odd. Never happened like that before. Granted, the sushi bar is always packed, but I've never been turned away when there are 2 open seats... so sorry lah!

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