Friday, June 15, 2012

Tasting Menu at Shunji (West LA)

Shunji is one of the hot recent restaurant openings, with Chef Shunji Nakao's serving his "contemporary" omakase in an inconspicuous stand-alone building on Pico Blvd. There are only a handful of tables and a few seats at the sushi bar, and the chef prepared most of the dishes personally (some get fired in the kitchen).

His printed menu looks like the standard Japanese restaurant, but we had read about his omakase (the omakase was not printed on the menu) and just asked for that.

As an amuse bouche, a small bowl of jelly with cucumber and vinegar sauce


Next is a plate of small bites of vegetables, ankimo topped with caviar, a ball of purple potato with blue cheese and persimmon, and sweet potato with feta and truffle
Unsure if we were supposed to eat these in a particular order, we moved in one direction and it moves from rich (ankimo) to the palate cleansing, crisp, unadorned vegetables to the creamy potatoes

The scallop sashimi, topped with arugula flower, was so fresh

Followed by a trio of sashimi: octopus with salt, blue fin tuna, kanpachi
All of them were fresh, but I loved the texture of the kanpachi in particular.

From here we moved on to more adventurous flavors.
Bamboo shoots were served with a bowl of uni and sauce made of cherry clams
The thick clam sauce had such strong flavors. If you were to make a concentrate of the flavors of the ocean, that might've been it. Between the sauce and the buttery uni, a bite of bamboo shoots was necessary.

Baby abalone and a bowl of thin slices of squid with squid ink, uni, truffle, quail egg
The squid was thinly sliced to resemble pasta and it was divine mixed in with the uni and quail egg. The chewy baby abalone seemed "standard" until you realize it was also served with the gonad!

Japanese eggplant, miso, rock shrimp tempura, shiitake, green onion

Grilled, marinated Kinki Fish (similar to red snapper)
The kinki fish was very meaty but it was well-prepared and retained its juices.

The last course was a soup of steamed black cod, mizuna, shiitake, and enoki
I loved the squid with uni dish, but this may be my favorite dish of the night. It was extremely comforting and nourishing while leaving you with a light, clean feeling. It was not just the contents but the light broth itself was excellent. I hope he has a pot of this ready on the winter nights.

After the last course, the chef asked us if we wanted any sushi. I had not realized that the tasting menu/omakase doesn't include sushi! We were pretty full already, but I had been eyeing one particular sushi after seeing our neighbor eat it: Marinated Scottish salmon
The marinated salmon was deliciously fatty and almost resemble eating a piece of smoked salmon. I need to try more of his sushi obviously, but the marinated salmon was a great teaser. Now that I know the omakase does not include sushi, next time I will make a special visit to try his sushi!

12244 W Pico Blvd
 Los Angeles, CA 90064
(310) 826-4737
Shunji Japanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon


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