Showing posts with label sushi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sushi. Show all posts

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Totoyama: Sushi and Ramen in the Heart of Hollywood

Let's face it, Hollywood Blvd is not typically what comes to mind when thinking of a place to eat, unless I happen to be catching a show at the Pantages or drinking nearby. But recently I was invited to check out Totoyama Sushi and Ramen, a casual Japanese spot in the same complex as Greenleaf and Pressed Juicery. There's no Hollywood glitz at Totoyama, but the space is nice and comfortable, and the food was surprisingly good and prices were affordable!

Totoyama usually offers an omakase with 10 pieces of nigiri and miso soup and edamame for $48, but they also had a sampler of Japanese fish. I got the Japanese fish sampler combo for $58 which included 4 different 2pcs nigiri and one piece of uni.
Totoyama
I thought it was quite a good deal 9 pieces which included uni! Each sushi was dressed individually. I believe I opted for the aji (mackerel), kanpachi, sea bream, and since they were out of one item I had the salmon.

My friend got the spicy miso ramen ($13) which had a rich and flavorful broth, and pretty spicy. Too spicy for me, but she quite enjoyed it.
Totoyama

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 22, 2018

Sakana Sushi Lounge (Downtown LA)

by @discovering_LA

I recently visited Sakana Sushi Lounge in DTLA. It is located on 9th street just east of FIDM. Fortunately, Joe owns a lot of parking lots in downtown LA and I was able to find parking a block away from the restaurant. Sakana Sushi Lounge has a hip and modern decor. Effective use of wood, glass and color make for a classy interior. The dining room seating is a combination of comfortable tables and booths. Decorative steel chain curtains give window seat customers some additional privacy.

We started with deviled eggs.

The eggs were soaked in soy sauce and were topped with a nicely whipped mixture containing the egg yolks. The salmon roe on top gave it a nice presentation and boost of flavor.

The tempura cauliflower is the perfect dish for vegetarians. The cauliflower is coated with tempura batter and lightly fried. It is topped with sriracha aioli. The serving size is quite generous and this could almost make a meal for one.

A nice assortment of nigiri followed: hamachi, toro, uni, hotate, sake and kazunoko.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Earl's Kitchen + Bar Heats Up the Prudential Center

Earls Kitchen + Bar is a Canadian-based restaurant chain that has made its way to a number of US cities. I haven't had the chance to check any of them out before, but I was recently invited to the opening party of the new location at The Prudential Location.

What I was surprised to see, and one of the coolest part of Earls at The Pru is the Cocktail Lab downstairs, where they will feature guest bartenders from all around the city.
Earls Prudential
The Goddess Manhattan, created by one of the restaurant's regular bartenders, was one of the bloggers' favorites of the night.
Earls Prudential
Other rotating bartenders who was also behind the bar that night were Will Isaza and Melinda Johnson-Maddox. I'm definitely excited about coming back to check out the Cocktail Lab and see who's behind the bar!                                                                                                                               
Earls Prudential
We also tried some bites off the menu during the party, including the Spicy Tuna Sushi Press (spicy soy marinated tuna, chives, nori, avocado, pickled ginger pressed on sushi rice, topped with sriracha mayo)
Earls Prudential
The tuna was served aburi-style, a.k.a. seared.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Michael Mina and Ken Tominaga's PABU Opens in Downtown Boston

PABU Boston at Millennium Tower from Chefs Michael Mina and Ken Tominaga officially opens today, November 1! PABU is located on the second floor of the Millennium Tower in downtown Boston, right by the Downtown Crossing T station. The restaurant will be serving sushi, izakaya-style dishes, robata, hot pot, and plenty of cocktails and sake.
PABU
Chef Michael Mina was a fan of Chef Ken Tominaga's original restaurant, Hana, in Sonoma County, which opened more than 2 dozen years ago. They finally partnered for the opening of PABU in San Francisco, and the partnership continues since.

The cold plates section includes the "Happy Spoon Oyster", of which we got a whole tower of during the opening party.

PABU

Happy Spoon oyster (uni, ikura, tobiko, ponzu creme fraiche, $9)
PABU
Among the hot dishes, you'll find okonomiyaki, chawanmushi, seared foie gras and more. We tried the Chicken karaage (ginger-soy marinade, spicy mayo, $12)
PABU
During the party, we also had the lucky chance to see chef Ken Tominaga in action, breaking down a 240-lb blue fin tuna for our consumption (we didn't eat the whole thing, don't worry).
PABU

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Roku Sunset, IDG's Newest Flagship Restaurant in West Hollywood

by Bryan Tsunoda @btsunoda

West Hollywood or “WeHo” has become an interesting intersection for me. More of my co-workers select WeHo as their place to call home. In addition, I have been receiving way more invites to dine at WeHo restaurants. I was fortunate to be invited to one of the hottest restaurants, Roku Sunset.

Due to the large front windows, the interior is full of natural light. Combined with the fact that their is spacious seating available, Roku Sunset is extremely welcoming. It’s certainly bodes well for someone trying to impress their date.

I typically lean towards sake when I eat Japanese seafood. After perusing the drink list, I decided it was only fitting to start with a sake flight. After all, it was an easy way to sample different types of sake.
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The traditional sake sampler consisted of three premium samples: Ken Sword Daiginjo, Yuki No Bosha, and Shichi Hon Yari. The Ken Sword Daiginjo was probably the driest of the group. The Yuki No Bosha was fruity and had notes of banana and strawberries. The Shichi Hon Yari was the most interesting as it was very rustic and earthy.


I began my meal with the bluefin tuna.
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 It was combined with diced avocados, tomatoes, shaved parmesan and shaved truffles. I was initially skeptical about mixing bluefin with parmesan, but overall the combination of flavors worked very well.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Searching for Good Sushi: Cafe Sushi (Cambridge, MA)

I've been on the hunt for good sushi in Boston, but I had put off Cafe Sushi for a bit because someone said the omakase was too expensive. I finally made it there, though, and this Harvard Square sushi joint was packed! As it turns out, you don't have to break the bank to eat here. I didn't get the omakase but you can have good sushi relatively for a relatively affordable price with their samplers.

The first is their Signature Sampler, which gives you chef's selection of five of their signature sushi creations for $15. At $3 per piece, it was a nice value.

Cafe Sushi

Among the signature pieces we got were the Salmon Aburi (seared salmon belly, aburi ponzu, negi),
Gomadare Branzino (European seabass, iced onion, sesame sauce), Maguro-zuke (house cured tuna with yuzu kosho), among others. These pieces are $3-3.50 if you order them a la carte.
Cafe Sushi

These signature creations add a unique touch to the nigiri - for example, the sesame sauce on the seabass was one I particularly enjoyed. The fish itself was great, fresh and definitely some of the best I've had in Boston.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good and Cheap Sushi in Boston! Ebi Sushi (Somerville, MA)

Have you heard me complain about the lack of cheap sushi in Boston yet? Sure, you can get good sushi at O Ya, but I don't really feel like dropping $200+ all the time. I tried a couple other highly rated places that were either not good or pretty good but overpriced - but I kept hearing about Ebi Sushi and finally made it out to Somerville, now that the snow is (mostly gone).

I normally don't order "sushi combo" but I made an exception here and it turned out to be a great deal!

Ebi Sushi
The reason I made an exception was because I was talking to the sushi chef (Jose, whom I later found out was actually one of the owners. Yes, he's not Japanese, but he's got quite a few years of experience behind sushi bars). He told me the specials for the day and I started asking him whether or not I could get this fish in the combo or that fish or this cut. And he said yes to all of them.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sushi Rolls at KazuNori (Downtown LA)

I'm already a fan of Sugarfish since it gives you access to good, affordable sushi. Even there, the hand rolls have a special place of their own since Nozawa uses a special seaweed that's really crispy - they always tell you to eat it immediately since the seaweed gets soggy fast. Now, the same company opened up KazuNori in downtown LA, specializing just in these hand rolls.

Just like Sugarfish, the menu is more or less set - you can get a set of 3, 4, or 5 hand rolls. Hand rolls are even cheaper, and the set of 5 hand rolls are only $17.50! I thought I'd be hungry after, so I ordered an extra one, but honestly I was quite full ...

KazuNori

Friday, November 7, 2014

Blue C Sushi's Conveyor Belt Empire

Blue C Sushi, the conveyor belt, or kaiten, sushi restaurant from Seattle is taking over Southern California starting from Hollywood and a new location in Newport Beach. They upped the kaiten sushi game with the atmosphere and decor. It is no way a substitute for the great purist sushi places, but a fun place to go when you have friends who won't eat the traditional sushi.

As usual, the items on the conveyor belt are color coded, each color referring to a price point. You can find the more popular nigiri sushi like salmon and tuna, along with fusion rolls like the 
BLT roll with lettuce, tomato, bacon, and marmalade.  
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The quality of the sushi here tends to be better than other kaiten sushi places, though the price also tends to be higher. You'll find your basic nigiri sushi and the typical rolls along with their specialty rolls like this spicy tuna served on crispy rice.
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If you don't want to grab sushi from the conveyor belt or don't see the item you want, you can always order them from the sushi chefs or servers. I had quite a few of the freshly made nigiri sushi that they made directly, including Madai (seabream) with shiso and lemon, albacore, and Seared black cod with yuzu.
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Madai with shiso and lemon
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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Omakase at Q Sushi (Downtown Los Angeles)

One of the latest high end sushi restaurants to open in Los Angeles is Q Sushi in downtown. It's a quiet dining experience: he interior is stark, but certainly well thought out and elegant. The man behind the operation is Chef Hiroyuki Naruke who ran a small sushi bar in Tokyo but moved to Los Angeles after the tsunami in 2011.

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When you arrive, the only menu you'll be given is the drink menu of wines and sake. Your dinner will be the chef's choice omakase.
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Q has been called the most traditional, "real edomae" sushi in LA, which focuses on the flavors of the fish rather than the rice or condiments (says the J Gold). I suppose it's true that LA has had a fascination with sushi rice since the days of the Sushi Nazi.

Waiting for my perpetually late LA friend, my sushi chef (not Naruke) entertains me by showing me their wasabi from Shizuoka. Just like the restaurant, chef Naruke is a quiet man and he oversees everything even when he's not making the sushi.
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Finally my friend arrives and our meal starts with a light, bright sashimi of Fluke
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 Followed by a fattier Baja California Swordfish with caramelized onion dressing and soy sauce
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The touch of the dressing and sauces here are delicate, not a drizzle more that might overpower the fish.

Next: Japanese red snapper in homemade black sesame paste, garnished with gold flake
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The first time I've had sashimi with black sesame, and I certainly enjoyed the unusual combination.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Omakase at O Ya (Boston, MA)

When I asked for sushi recommendation, the name that kept popping up was O Ya - with the warning that it's expensive. Indeed, although you can order a la carte at O Ya, the full omakase runs about $250 and the smaller tasting menu $180. But I have to try it, right? I sat at the counter where I can see the chefs at work. My friend was late so I was getting hungry watching all the foie gras sushi being fired out ...

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Finally my friend came and we opted for the smaller omakase menu. As expected, it started with a fresh Kumamoto Oyster (watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette)
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Then, we proceeded with the nigiri courses. What makes O Ya different is the sauces he puts on the nigiri sushi. They're not just soy sauce or yuzu, but you can find things like Hamachi with spicy banana pepper mousse
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I loved the texture of the seared hamachi and the banana pepper mousse worked well, although it slightly overwhelmed the hamachi flavor. Maybe slightly less mousse on top?

Things like banana pepper mousse doesn't mean that O Ya veers completely from the traditional, though. Our next course is a Salmon with unfiltered wheat soy moromi
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Moromi is a term you may hear in sake brewing, and I believe it basically means the unrefined or unfiltered mash of grain that is undergoing fermentation. I enjoyed the earthy flavor with the fatty salmon.

The next bite is an indulgence: Santa Barbara sea urchin and Russian Osetra caviar
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An unbeatable combination, of course.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Awesome Affordable Sushi at Sushi Nozomi (Torrance, CA)

It's easy to spend over $100 on a sushi omakase, and while some of them are certainly worth the money, you can't do that too often. Instead, most of us frequent the mid-tier, affordable sushi joints - some of which provide really good value for the money. The best value for sushi omakase may well be Sushi Nozomi down in Torrance. The "chef's choice" or omakase is only $38 for 10 pieces of sushi plus a negi-toro roll and we're talking fresh fish, some of which are pretty hard to find in town!

Each omakase starts with a bowl of miso soup.

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When I visited, the omakase included a piece of Halibut fin, topped with yuzu
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Blue nose. This fish looks similar to a bass or grouper, leaner than the former but fattier than the latter.
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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chaya Downtown Introduces Kaisen Seafood Menu

Following its popularity at the San Francisco location, Chaya Downtown recently launched a Kaisen (seafood) menu.

We had a tasting of the Kaisen menu (and more), starting with the Uni and oyster shooter (Pacific oyster with sakura shio ponzu, ikura, momiji, seaweed). To the right is an amuse bouche of crispy uni tofu (made with uni puree), topped with soft scrambled egg and Santa Barbara uni. Yep, the uni is also mixed inside the tofu, not just on top!

Sea Urchin
What a perfect plate of starters for an uni lover like me.

The Kaisen platter is $62 for a small or $120 for a large one. Served in a beautiful box filled with ice, the platter is certainly eye catching. Want to impress a client or a date? Get one of these!
Kaisen
The platter includes Shigoku and Kusshi oysters, sushi rolls, and a bunch of ceviche and other raw seafood dishes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sushi Omakase and More at Hamasaku

Full disclaimer: I came here on a hosted media lunch, but I had also come back twice after that on my own dime (granted one of them was using the 30% off from the awesome Blackboard Eats). Hamasaku in West LA has actually been open for many years and is a Zagat favorite, but for some reason I hadn't really heard much about it and had not been until I was invited in. I've missed out! This place was great.

The omakase listed on the menu ($75) actually includes a lot of cooked items, so here's a tip: Go on any other day but Monday and sit at the sushi bar, preferably in front of the sushi chef, Yoya, who used to work at Sashi in Manhattan Beach.

My sushi lunch omakase started with some Uni with fried Yuba (tofu skin)

Uni Yuba
Big uni pieces and so fresh, but the best part is the contrast with the crunchy yuba. What a wonderful start to my lunch!

Next, a sashimi plate of: Blue fin tuna, aji snapper, young king mackerel, octopus. Served with kabosu (a sort of citrus) paste
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Agedashi tofu. I always love the delicately fried agedashi tofu and the broth
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 Big eye tuna from Hawaii
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This tuna is very rich and fatty, almost like a chu-toro. Loved it. For the sushi they use haiga-mai (half-milled) rice. It's half way between brown and white rice so it has more nutrients than white rice but tastes just like white rice.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

An Intimate Sushi Omakase Experience at Nozawa Bar (Beverly Hills)

When they built Sugarfish in Beverly Hills, they had planned for Nozawa Bar all along and kept a room in the back for that sole purpose. Now, Nozawa Bar is open and taking reservations for ten people, two seatings per night for a sushi omakase experience. It's not Nozawa wielding the knife, but Osamu Fujita has long worked with Nozawa and has his stamp of approval. After my omakase meal there, I would say perhaps the setting and timing actually allows for a more refined experience than the busy Sushi Nozawa was in Studio City.

I knew my sushi, or thought I did, but for more than a couple of courses at Nozawa Bar I had a few moments where I went "no way, that wasn't ...". There were moments of learning that season really matters, and preparation matters. More on that later, on to the meal first. 

As I said, there are two seatings per night for everyone (at 6PM and 8:30PM), so don't be late! I was five minutes late and missed Fujita-san slicing up the jelly fish for the first course. I didn't miss eating the course, though, luckily (everyone is served the courses at the same time).
jellyfish
The crisp jellyfish was a nice opener to whet your appetite.
Sashimi plate of tuna and octopus before moving on to nigiri sushi
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The nigiri courses start out with a bang with the chu toro. This a blue fin tuna chu toro, although the fattiness is close to oo toro.
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Just like Nozawa's style, the rice is served slightly warm so that the sushi feels like it's melting in your mouth.

Ika (squid)
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Fresh and firm squid on top of a shiso leaf.

Switching to the opposite spectrum of texture is a perfectly creamy Santa Barbara uni
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A generous serving of it, too!

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