Showing posts with label sea urchin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sea urchin. Show all posts

Monday, May 7, 2018

Omakase at the Hidden Sushi | Bar (Encino, CA)

I heard about a sushi bar in Encino with a name pretty impossible to google: Sushi | Bar. This is Phillip Frankland Lee's hidden omakase-only sushi bar behind Woodley Proper in Encino. Sushi | Bar has two seatings per night and only seats eight people at a time. Reservations for the night opens at 10 am that morning on their website (EDIT: Sushi|Bar now takes reservations up to 2 weeks in advance!)

Sushi | Bar is hidden inside Woodley Proper. You check in at Woodley Proper and wait at the bar with a welcome cocktail before the party is escorted to the secret room. Sushi | Bar is not a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant. Phillip Frankland Lee and his team serves up a creative 17-course omakase of sushi with unusual garnishes and preparations.

We chatted with the sushi chefs and other diners and the 17 courses and their drink pairings come and go in rapid succession. I wasn't able to take detailed notes of every single preparations and photos of all the dishes, unfortunately, but here are what you might expect out of this wonderful and unique omakase experience.

We started with a West Coast oyster with whipped nigorizake and caviar, among other ingredients. I opted for the drink pairing which mixed in sake, beer, and cocktails - starting with sake to pair with the oysters.

There's the Purple Peruvian scallop with noc chuom and leche de tigre
Sushi Bar

Oo-toro, pineapple, brown sugar, wasabi, soy
Sushi Bar

White prawn from the Gulf of Mexico marinated for 3 days in chermoula. The prawn was oasted, then topped with dehydrated matcha, kelp, wasabi, and soy
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The prawn was paired with a cocktail made with Japanese whisky, port, lemon, matcha, kelp, soy - the three ingredients matched the garnish on the prawn sushi itself.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Pasta and More at Testa in DTLA (Los Angeles, CA)

I've been seeing photos of this one uni pasta dish from a new restaurant in downtown LA called Testa. I saw it on all the LA bloggers' feed that I just had to go try it! After all, I absolutely love uni.
I was invited to dinner at Testa, so of course I jumped on the chance.

We started dinner with some Hamachi crudo, orange conserva, champagne vinaigrette, yuzu kosho, fried shallot
Testa
This was a great start to our meal. The garnish did not overpower the delicate hamachi.

Our next appetizer is a heavier dish, that I had to order because I'm a corn fiend.
Crispy polenta, roasted yellow corn, shallots, garlic, tomatillo poblano, spiced aioli, cotija cheese ($12)
Testa
Bold flavors paired with this crispy polenta dish. A very satisfying and comforting plate and a fun fusion of Mexican street corn /elote with the Italian polenta.

Next is what we came for: Spaghettini, sea urchin, katsuobushi dashi ($23)
Testa

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Thai-Inspired Poke at Okipoki (Downtown LA)

If you hadn't noticed, there's been a lot of poke shops opening in LA last year. I mean A LOT. I love poke and all, but some point you think to yourself, do we really need another poke place? Among all these, it's great when you encounter one that does things a bit differently. Mix it up a little.
Okipoki in downtown LA does just that, in my opinion. Instead of the usual traditional poke bowl (they have that, too), I believe the point of Okipoki is the way they infuse other cuisine's flavors into it. The chef is Thai, so you'll see some Thai influences in some of these poke bowls.

I started lunch with the Nani Moana Shooter (uni, tuna tartare, scallop, roe, creme fraiche, $6) - a great bite filled with my favorite things.

Okipoki

Another appetizer: Shrimpin Ain't Easy (shrimp, masago, nori, togarashi, hawaiian roll, $4.50)
Shrimp Roll

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Udon and Uni at Marugame Monzo (Downtown LA)

When Marugame Monzo opened in Little Tokyo, I was excited for two things. First, the handmade udon means I don't have to drive to Torrance for good udon! Second, two words: uni udon.

Yep, one of the signature items is the Sea Urchin (Uni) Cream udon ($15.95)

Marugame Monzo
Perfectly chewy udon, creamy sauce, uni. I mean, what's not to like? During my first visit with a couple of friends, we barely tried anything else because we all wanted to order this.

The glass windows of the kitchen let you see the udon making in action.
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Trust me, having freshly made noodles of any kind (soba, pasta, and yes, udon) makes a huge difference!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Coppa (Boston, MA)

Among the Boston restaurant that my LA friends recommended to me was Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette's Coppa. Chef Jamie Bissonnette won the James Beard award for Best Chef in the Northeast region this year. I was pretty excited to try this place and it didn't disappoint.

Coppa was smaller and more casual than I had expected; a cozy enoteca in the South End with reasonable prices.

I started with the Sea urchin panino with lonza and mustard seeds

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Even though the uni flavor wasn't that strong here, I loved it nonetheless since it worked nicely with the lonza (cured pork tenderloin, also known as lomo) sandwiched between thin, crunchy bread.

This was followed up by the Beef heart pastrami crostini
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It did not taste as offal-y or gamy as I had expected, but it was tender and flavorful.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fickle's New Spring Menu + $100 Gift Certificate Giveaway!

Little Tokyo is not just for ramen and sushi. There's plenty of diversity in the restaurants that have popped up there recently.

At Fickle, you will find a range of items from shrimp cocktails to Vietnamese style noodles. From the new spring menu, I liked the Kampuchia Shrimp with Pickled Carrot and Cilantro, Black Pepper and Lime Vinaigrette. Dip them generously in the sauce.

Shrimp
I also knew I had to get Santa Barbara Uni Bún (Cold Vermicelli Noodles, Mint, Cucumber, Nuoc Mam)
Uni Bun
Executive Chef James Ta played around with the basic components of the Vietnamese Bún (that means noodles, not "bun") by adding one of my favorite ingredients, sea urchin! It works quite well with refreshingly clean noodles and cucumber.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

DTLA's Hot Spot: Faith and Flower

The huge space that was Towne in the WaterMarke Tower has turned into one of the hottest restaurants in Los Angeles. Faith & Flower is the newest project from David Bernahl and Rob Weakley (LA Food and Wine, 1833), and Stephane Bombet (formerly a partner of Picca and all of Ricardo Zarate's restaurants). Faith & Flower's kitchen is headed by Executive Chef Michael Hung whom they had recruited from San Francisco who has previously worked with Traci des Jardins.

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The interior is one of the most impressive in LA as well. An eye-catching chandelier greets you as you walk into their beautiful spacious dining room. The sleek bar to the left is decorated with a mural from street artist Robert Vargas.
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I love how the menu is inserted into a gorgeous bound book.
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The content of the book is mostly gibberish but look through it to find some gems (like a quote from Louis C.K.)

For appetizers, don't miss the New York Steak Tartare, uni cream, kombu seaweed, black sesame ($14)
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The combination of two of my favorite foods, beef tartare and uni, was amazing and brought together well by the crispy rice chips.

People were raving about the sea urchin toast, but alas, I couldn't have it that night. The chef had sent back the uni he got because he wasn't happy with the quality. I'm glad he has high standards though, I'll just have to return for the uni toast. Instead, I tried the Dungeness Crab Toast with jicama, pickled sea beans, green goddess aioli ($15)
Crab Toast

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

MeroToro: Bringing Baja to Mexico City

Why would one eat Baja seafood in Mexico City? Why, because the chef is Jair Tellez, of course! His outpost in the Condesa neighborhood, MeroToro, has brought Jair Tellez to the top of the culinary scene in Mexico City, and I got to experience it first hand when I tagged along to Mexico City with Street Gourmet LA.

I was extra lucky because we had so many sea urchin dishes that night! We started with this beautiful dish of Baja uni and barnacles with uni consommé, radish, and cherry tomatoes

Merotoro
Served with a light tostada as a vehicle.
Merotoro
Even though Baja sea urchin is only on the second tier in quality, Chef Tellez wanted to promote domestic ingredients and prepares it such that it melds the flavors of Baja seafood beautifully.

Next: more Baja sea urchin w cucumber
Merotoro

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Top 12 Spots to Get Uni and Ramen in Los Angeles

These two "collections" of favorites list I made for Foodie.com are for those looking to pig out!

You should know by now how much I love uni or sea urchin, so here are my 12 favorite spots to get dishes made with uni, or just to get fresh uni in the shell.


Best ramen in LA? That is a controversial topic indeed, but to create a list of the top 12 was actually pretty hard! We have a lot of great ramen places, but apparently there still can be more. Some of these places are actually my favorite places for tsukemen and not ramen, but close enough :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Osawa Upgrades Old Shaab Location in Pasadena

When Shaab shuttered it left Pasadena devoid of shabu shabu. Now Osawa has taken over the exact same spot, serving shabu Shabu, sushi, and otsumami (small plates). Osawa is owned by Sayuri Tachibe, the wife of Chaya's corporate chef, Shigefumi Tachibe.


I went with Wandering Chopsticks who I know doesn't drink much so I ordered something sweeter that she can enjoy, a yuzu sake called Aladdin. Definitely easy to drink.
There's also blood orange lemonade for those who don't drink at all.
We started with some otsumami. I had been eyeing the beef tongue with Furofuki daikon radish and shaved kelp ($11)
I wondered if this was a common combination. I've never had shaved kelp (as opposed to dried) and like bonito flakes, when they get wet they clump together making it hard to separate with your chopsticks, but overall I liked this interesting dish. The beef tongue was quite tender and I'm partial to daikon.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Must Try: Allumette (Echo Park)

Allumette started as a weekly pop up in Echo Park's Allston Yacht Club, which the 24-year old Chef Miles Thompson (or is he 25 now?) called the Vagrancy Project. After a while, the AYC owners decided to redo the whole restaurant with Thompson in charge. So Allumette was born, and it is inarguably one of the best new restaurants in LA!

To start my hosted dinner, the chef sent out a house-made focaccia with potato mascarpone butter, which was so intriguing my mouth couldn't decide if it was potato, cheese, or butter.

Potato Mascarpone

Be sure to start your meal with one the crudos. There seems to always be a touch of sweet fruit to his dishes. The Pink snapper with kanzuri (Japanese chili paste with yuzu) and white soy is enhanced by cherimoya ($15).
Crudo

I loved the live scallop tartare, strawberry, truffle, elderflower ($17)
Scallop
Other than the strawberry, there were also small pieces of organic lime in the dish, sweeter with a more subtle tartness than what I was used to. Both lovely accompaniments to the scallop.

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The bar program at Allumette should not be overlooked. Serena Herrick, formerly of Harvard and Stone, has devised a wonderful cocktail list to please a range of palates. Fans of strong aromatic drinks should try the Negroni Sbagliato #2 (Punt e Mes, Aperol, Graham Beck brut, sage leaves) - $10

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

La Guerrerense (Ensenada): Sea Urchin and More Tostada Cart

During the Baja FAM Media Trip, I was most excited about La Guerrerense in Ensenada. It was all due to Glutster's teaser messages about uni tostada!

Sabina Bandera has operated this street cart in the same location for the past 33 years. Talk about an established business. We parked our big bus around the corner and rushed to the little cart.
On a board next to the cart, they have posted various articles about them including one stating that La Guerrerense is chef Benito Molina(of Silvestre, Muelle 3, and La Manzanilla)'s favorite lunch spot.

The crispy corn tostadas can be topped with various seafood offerings. Since the 25 or so of us are here on a strict food marathon schedule (with spatial limitation in the stomach), Sabina tops each tostada with two toppings of our choosings.

For my first one I went with uni/sea urchin(erizo) and sea cucumber ceviche.
The uni was heaven in my mouth. The flavors, the texture contrast with the crispy tostada, the spice. O-M-G. This was worth every word of the hype.
The sea cucumber was also delicious, with a very chewy texture. Compared to the creamy sea urchin, this had a milder flavor with the limes and onions - not really to say that the flavor was mild at all.

Next I had the fish pate and cod (bacalao)
Another amazing creation here. The creamy pate is one of my favorites here while the spicier bacalao was many people's favorite.

Street Gourmet LA scored himself some pismo clams in the shell which looked mighty delicious so I scored a photo of it. Here's the pismo clams, almeja preparada(prepared clam), with a light cocktail sauce on one side and a lime and salsa huichol on the other side (thank you Street Gourmet LA for the info!)

After putting one of the various salsa offered, of course things got a bit spicy, so when Glutster told me that they had a good barley drink, I spared no time in getting me a cup.
Cold and creamy barley milk. This was sweet and refreshing and totally saved me from crying from spiciness.

Since some of the others claimed that the sea snail (caracol) was one of their favorites, I was feeling rather bummed for not having tried it. But lucky me, Sabina was passing out a plate of sea snails for us to sample!
I'm so glad I tried this - I would've regretted not having tried something this good. The sea snail was fresh, with a chewy but "meatier" texture compared to the rest, and a very nice flavor coming from both the snail itself. and the spicy sauce drenching it.

If you're ever in Ensenada, La Guerrerense is not to be missed!

La Guerrerense
Corner of Calle Primera/Alvarado
Ensenada, Baja, Mexico

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