Showing posts with label toro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label toro. Show all posts

Monday, July 17, 2017

Tapas Tasting at Toro, a Boston Mainstay

I have long wanted to try Toro. This tapas bar from duo Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette has been around for many years (since 2005), but there's still always a long wait every night since they don't take reservations, even after they've opened other locations in New York and Bangkok. I finally went to try it when I saw a Gilt City voucher for it. The voucher for a tasting menu wasn't cheap at $100 but it was 8 courses including wine pairing, but the best part is that it allows you to make a reservation! If you've never used Gilt City, you can save $25 off your first order with my invite link.

The tapas tasting started with a Tortilla Espanola (egg, onion, potato, nettle, aioli). A nice rendition of the traditional Spanish dish. The ratio between egg and potato is just right.
Uni Bocadillo (pressed uni sandwich, miso butter, pickled mustard seeds)
This is similar to the uni sandwich at Coppa. Of course, I'm always happy to get uni on a tasting menu.

Since my friend is kosher, we got different third courses - I wanted at least one porky dish. I got the Jamon Blanco (Toast with lardo, marinated Jonah crab, black garlic, crispy shallots and avocado)
While this wasn't what I had in mind when I wanted a "pork" dish, I enjoyed the toast regardless.

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 ...


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.

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.
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.
Finally my friend arrives and our meal starts with a light, bright sashimi of Fluke
 Followed by a fattier Baja California Swordfish with caramelized onion dressing and soy sauce
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
The first time I've had sashimi with black sesame, and I certainly enjoyed the unusual combination.

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.

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

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).
The crisp jellyfish was a nice opener to whet your appetite.
Sashimi plate of tuna and octopus before moving on to nigiri sushi
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.
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)
Fresh and firm squid on top of a shiso leaf.

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

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.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Omakase at Sushi Kimagure (Pasadena)

I used to complain that there was no stellar sushi in Pasadena, but that was before Sushi Kimagure moved in. The man behind Kimagure is Ike-san from the beloved Sushi Ike that was in Hollywood. The day he decided to shutter his Hollywood spot and open up in Pasadena was a good day for us.

Dining at the sushi bar at Kimagure is by reservation only, and considering our 7pm party did not leave until near closing time, there's probably only one seating per night.

It was my long awaited first visit so of course we had omakase. We didn't get Ike-san as our itamae that night but our meal was still excellent.

It was impressive to watch how fast these sushi chefs were working, especially considering their age!

To start, a vegetable potato salad
Most places may save toro towards the end of a meal, but here they dive directly into bluefin tuna (maguro) and toro as your first pieces.

The toro was superb
Sushi is not just about the fresh fish, but the rice as well, and here at Kimagure they are both excellent. It's not the warm rice of Nozawa (which I sometimes think is too warm and detracts from the fish) but it still melts in your mouth.
Next was another one of my favorite cuts, hamachi belly

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
Toshi Sushi on Urbanspoon

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