Showing posts with label uni. Show all posts
Showing posts with label uni. Show all posts

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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Come for K BBQ, Stay for Uni and Bone Marrow at Hanjip (Culver City, CA)

There's a hot new Korean BBQ spot in town and it's in Culver City. Hanjip is the new restaurant from restaurateur Stephane Bombet and Chef Chris Oh (from Seoul Sausage).

Hanjip
While Chris Oh is mostly doing traditional Korean BBQ and other Korean dishes, he's elevating the soups and stews using bone marrow stock, perfecting side dishes with unusual ingredients, and using very high quality meats.

Hanjip
Most of the banchans are the traditional ones: kimchi, bean sprouts, fish cakes, and the like. There are pickled perilla leaves to eat with the grilled meat and some super fresh tomatoes, just lightly marinated.
Hanjip
I loved the dried squid probably the best.
Hanjip
You can get dishes a la carte or as a combo at Hanjip, and they use high quality ingredients that you can taste on your first bite of meat. For the pork dishes, you have to try the marinated pork shoulder ($26)
Hanjip

Roasted Cumin Spice Lamb ($22) - with spices similar to what you'll find at Xinjiang restaurants or at Feng Mao.
Hanjip

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, March 15, 2015

Food Preview: Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert

by: guest blogger @iam_robot

The Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert is back for its fifth year, and this year’s celebrity chef and culinary master includes Iron Chef Cat Cora, Award- winning pastry chef Gale Gand, Broke Williamson, Ari Taymor, Zack Bruell, and Brian Malarkey, among others.

Aiming to benefit The Friends of James Beard Foundation, these chefs will educate attendees with cooking demos, unique exhibits, and various industry panels on March 27 – 29 in Palm Desert’s famed El Paseo shopping district. And let’s not forget about the Grand Tasting event – sip, nosh, and party your way through the heat with more than 70 premium spirits/wines/ beers and 50 premier Palm Desert-area restaurants.

Last week I had a chance to sample of the wonderful bites and wines to be featured at this desert food festival. There were many memorable dishes but my favorite was the English muffin with burrata, caviar & licorice herbs by Ari Taymor of Alma (named “Best Restaurant in America” by Bon Appetit).

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This dish is the ultimate comfort food – Initially I was over the moon with the fresh briny character of the uni but as I chewed through, I loved the flavor mesh of the burrata creaminess and subtle saltiness from the caviar. Everything gels like a perfect symphony on top of this bite-size pillow soft English muffin. I could eat a tub of these!

My other highlight was Brooke Williamson’s (of The Tripel, Hudson House, and Playa Provisions) Gougere - a baked savory choux pastry made of choux dough mixed with cheese. It was buttery goodness – I had to jot down the step by step when she was demonstrating.
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Brooke Williamson demonstrating her gougere recipe

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!

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 22, 2014

Saint Martha: An Ode to the Patron Saint in Koreatown

An unexpected wine bar has opened in the heart of Koreatown with Tart's Chef Nick Erven (formerly Messhall) and sommelier Mary Thompson (formerly Rivera). The warm gougeres is just an amuse of the surprising and delectable dishes to come.

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The appetizer puts almost all that is good on one plate - and it worked with the steak and oyster tartare and champagne sabayon, served with hot bone marrow beignets ($13)
Steak Oyster Tartare
Steak and oyster tartare: the combination of these two raw delicacies  was one of those "why didn't I think of that before?" moment.

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Sommelier Mary Thompson has done a wonderful job with the wine list, and the servers know their stuff, too. I told my waitress what I liked and she recommended a lovely, crisp, 2012 Wagner Stempel Weissburgunder, Rheinhessen from Germany. This is one of the best new whites I've tried lately.

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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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Caviar at Happy Hour? Only at Petrossian (West Hollywood, CA)

There are plenty of happy hours in Los Angeles, but where would you find caviar on the happy hour menu? Well, at Petrossian - the renowned caviar purveyor - of course you would. For happy hour drinks you can get either the caviar cocktail or vodka at a discounted price, or $6 wines.

Let's talk about the food! Last year I put Petrossian's lobster roll as one of the best bites I had that year. The lobster roll was topped with sea urchin and caviar!

For happy hour, you can get a mini version:
Mini Lobster Roll, topped with Sea Urchin, Caviar, Fennel, Daikon, Chives, Parsley, Brioche Roll, Lemongrass & Garlic Aioli, French Fries ($15)

Caviar Lobster Roll
I went for a media preview so they had cut up the mini lobster roll into smaller pieces for us to taste. It's just as good as I remembered and made me want to come back in for a full size!

Other offerings include Tarte Aux Pommes de Terre (Potato Tart, Crème Fraiche, 20g Transmontanus Caviar - $24)
Latkes
The crispy potato tarts remind me of latkes - but topped with caviar makes it that much better, of course.

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 :)

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).
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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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