Archive for the 'Japanese' Category

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Yama Seafood – San Gabriel

Yama Seafood - San Gabriel

My Besh friend alerted me to the awesomeness of Yama Seafood in her recent write up, “Yama Seafood L.A. Fish Market is a Godsend for the Sushi Addict” on L.A. Weekly’s Squid Ink blog.

While The Astronomer was away for an out-of-town wedding this past weekend, I made elaborate plans to finally watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi while indulging in pristine sashimi from Yama. What better way to spend a lazy Sunday, right?

Yama Seafood - San Gabriel

Yama ain’t much to look at from the outside, or the inside for that matter, but the people who run the three-decade-old market are super-sweet, and the fishes are as fresh as billed.

Yama Seafood - San Gabriel

I made my way to the fish counter upon arriving at Yama. Three people were ahead of me in line, and it took a solid 20 minutes before I was served because the sashimi here is sliced and assembled to order.

There’s no menu, little signage, and just a bit of English spoken at the market, so I gestured and nodded to indicate the type and size of fish that I desired. I was only buying sushi for one, so two small fillets of salmon and yellowtail were more than enough to satisfy.

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Nozawa Bar – Los Angeles (Beverly Hills)

Nozawa Bar - Beverly Hills

Say hello to Nozawa Bar, a hyper-intimate sushi destination that refines and redefines Chef Kazunori Nozawa’s signature “Trust Me” experience.

Tucked behind a door marked “Staff Only” at Beverly Hill’s SugarFISH, Nozawa Bar serves pristine sushi in sparse and compact quarters. The space between itamae and diner is never more than an arm’s length.

Nozawa Bar - Beverly Hills

Nozawa Bar serves a twenty-course omakase twice a night, Monday through Saturday at 6 and 8:30 PM. The cost per person is $150, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Each course is served to all ten diners at once, making substitutions and special requests mostly impossible.

Prior to taking the helm at Nozawa Bar, Chef Osamu Fuji, a long-time friend and colleague of Chef Nozawa, opened Japanese restaurants across the U.S. and served as corporate chef for a number of large hotels.

Nozawa Bar - Beverly Hills

The Astronomer and I reserved two seats for the later seating on a recent Saturday night. Fellow diners included a mix of longtime Sushi Nozawa fans, as well as first-timers like us. The mood in the room was stiff at the start, but eased into casual banter by night’s end, with Chef Fuji cracking jokes left and right.

The omakase opened with a tangy seaweed salad dressed in rice vinegar and generously topped with sweet hunks of Dungeness crab.

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Sushi Kimagure – Pasadena

Sushi Kimagure - Pasadena | Omakase

I lost my notes after dining at Sushi Kimagure; it was a digital file on my phone and now it’s gone.

Considering the extensive backlog of material that I’m currently blogging my way through, I could’ve forgone a write-up, but after some thought, I decided to proceed since my meal here was less about the fishes that were present and more about the fishes that weren’t present.

Sushi Kimagure - Pasadena | Omakase

As an enthusiastic and frequent sushi eater, I’ve been thinking a lot about Bluefin Tuna. It’s delicious, yes, but also an endangered species. My dinner at Sushi Kimagure marked my very first omakase where I explicitly requested that no Bluefin be served. In all honesty, it was really hard to get the words out, especially with the language barrier, but I’m glad that I insisted because it would be a travesty if future generations of food lovers couldn’t indulge in toro. The temporary sacrifice was worth it.

Dining with me this evening was my mother, who didn’t have any special requests when it came to her omakase.  I’m not quite ready to impose my values on her yet, even though she’s been imposing hers on me for the past 31 years.

Sushi Kimagure - Pasadena | Omakase

While Sushi Kimagure serves swoon-worth chirashi at lunchtime, dinner is a strictly omakase affair. Mom and I both selected the “Matsu” ($85), the most extensive and expensive option that includes seven different courses: Seafood Salad, Broiled, Sashimi, Fried, Sushi, Soup, and Dessert. We opted to sit at a cozy table rather than at the bar tonight.

Dinner began with a beautifully arranged and impeccably fresh seafood salad with scallops, shrimp, salmon, and seaweed.

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Marugame Monzo – Los Angeles (Downtown)

Marugame Monzo - Little Tokyo - Los Angeles

I fell hard and fast for Marugame Monzo’s made-from-scratch udon noodles. As a testament to my infatuation, I haven’t dined on sushi or ramen while visiting Little Tokyo since the shop opened a few months back. It’s been pure, unadulterated affection for these chubby darlings from the start.

Marugame Monzo - Little Tokyo - Los Angeles

According to a write up by Miles Clements on the subject, the man behind the magnificent noodles is the restaurant’s general manager Kenji Tateishi. Marugame Monzo is his first stateside restaurant after training in Japan.

Marugame Monzo - Little Tokyo - Los Angeles

The process of transforming a hunk of tough dough into slurp-able strands is simply mesmerizing. The glass-encased workshop guarantees that nearly every seat in the house has a stellar view of the magic in progress from start to finish.

I was seated near the front door on my first visit and at the bar on my second. The latter’s so-close-I-can-almost-taste-it access was much preferred.

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