Echigo Sushi

Restaurant: Echigo

Location: 12217 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 201. Los Angeles, CA 90025. (310) 820-9787

Date: October 27, 2011

Cuisine: Japanese Sushi

Rating: Very good warm-rice style sushi

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Back when my office was at the Watergarden in Santa Monica Echigo was one of my regular lunch haunts. The chef studied under Nozawa and is stylistically related to nearby Sasabune. They both follow the “warm rice” school of sushi (which I believe originates in Osaka prefecture. The rice is warmer and less sticky than Tokyo-style sushi. It tastes really good this way, but has some tendency to fall apart on the way to the mouth.


The lunch menu has two choices, the lunch special for $14 and the omakase. Below is the union (both) of each. The lunch special is by far the best deal (6-7 years ago it was even $9!).


Fresh ground wasabi and pickled ginger. These photos were taken on the iPhone 4S which does pretty well in good light. A few missed photos were purloined from the web.


Skipjack tuna with a bit of sauce.


Medium (chu) toro.


Hamachi (yellowtail).


Halibut, which itself doesn’t have much flavor, but the vinegary sauce does.


Tai (red snapper).


Scallop. One of my favorites.


Salmon with a bit of kelp and sesame.


Bonito, also delicious.


Albacore.


Kanpachi (young yellowtail). With a bright vinegary sauce.


Ono.


Shimaji (stripped jack).


Butterfish. This is an Echigo specialty. A firm fish with miso based sauce.


Uni (sea urchin).


And the now classic Nozawa blue crab hand roll (I ate two and could have had more).

Echigo is a hair below a few of the very top lunch LA sushi places (Sushi Sushi, Mori, Go, Kiriko etc), but it offers pretty good relative value, and on the absolute scale top sushi, far above the generic touristy sushi joint. Getting the Omakase at dinner at the sushi bar is an even higher caliber experience.

For more LA area sushi, see here.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Go Go Go Sushi!

Restaurant: Go’s Mart [1, 2]

Location: 22330 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, CA 91303  818.704.1459

Date: May 28, 2011

Cuisine: Japanese Sushi

Rating: Possibly LA’s best sushi!

ANY CHARACTER HERE

The Food Club has been talking about taking a trip to Go’s Mart for months, but we finally got around to organizing it. For those of you who don’t know, Go’s Mart is a tiny strip mall joint in Canoga Park with some of the best sushi in the entire LA area. Go has a unique take on the art, as you will see below. My partner in crime, Erick, has been coming here for over ten years and he called Go (the owner/chef) up and arranged for a “special” omakase for us. For scheduling reasons we decided on a very long Saturday lunch.


So I went down tot he cellar and prepped the above lineup of sushi friendly wines, mostly whites and a couple lighter red Burgundies. Go doesn’t have a liquor license, so there is no corkage!


The storefront is about as unassuming as can be.


The master behind his counter.


Most people sit at the cramped little sushi bar.


Go’s has pretty much NO decor. It started as a Japanese market and they still sell various drinks and products.


Oddly, this includes video tapes — and what appears to be racy Japanese video tapes at that! Who even has a VCR in 2011?


We had the table (about half of it shown).


This unusual Spanish white earn 92 from Parker, “The 2007 Gorvia Blanco was sourced from a single 3 acre vineyard planted exclusively to the indigenous variety Dona Blanca (used in the past mostly for grappa production or as a table grape). Medium straw-colored, it reveals aromas of apple, pear, slate/mineral, citrus, and acacia. Crisp, concentrated, and intense (in the style of top-level unoaked Chablis), in the mouth it is vibrant, complex, and impeccably balanced. It should provide both intellectual and sensual pleasure for another 5-6 years.”


Ginger.


We open with a kind of sunomono. Pickled cucumbers, very orange salmon, shrimp, bonito flakes, flying fish eggs. It had a strong vinegar tang of course.

Then a lovely preparation of Akimo (monkfish liver). Sweet fermented miso sauce, sesame, seaweed, goji berries, gold flakes (Go loves gold flakes). This was wonderful.

Finished off the first wine already.

From my cellar, parker gives this Rhone white 95 points. “The 2007 Chateauneuf du Pape blanc is even better. Meriting the same rating as I gave it last year, it is a delicious, beautifully textured, light gold-colored white revealing plenty of white peach, apricot, nectarine, and honeysuckle notes as well as a distinctive florality and minerality. More honeyed and fuller-bodied than its 2008 counterpart, it should drink beautifully for 7-8 years, then go into an oxidative state. It is somewhat of a gamble as to what will happen thereafter. Beaucastel’s limited production luxury cuvee first produced in 1986 is their 100% Roussanne Vieilles Vignes offering. Fifty percent is barrel-fermented in one-year-old barrels, but no new oak is utilized.”


Kani (king crab) with fresh Japanese scallop in an uni (sea urchin) sauce and topped with real caviar. Erick licked his plate. The scallop and the uni were particularly wonderful.


The first round of Go’s unique take on regular sushi. Starting with the pink one on the right, and proceeding clockwise: Kime-Tai (special red snapper), butter fish with kelp, halibut with kelp, and kanpachi (young yellowtail). Everything was dusted with a bit of ancient sea salt, some of the fish had shiso, some yuzu, some the marinated kelp. You can see the little dark sliver of fresh black truffle on all the fish except the kanpachi. Not only was each piece of fish exceptionally fresh, but the additional elements gave them a unique (and complex) flavor profile.


Two of our friends even brought their four year old. She didn’t eat the omakase 🙂 But she did handle the LONG (4-5 hour) meal pretty darn well.


Santa Barbara jumbo prawn, uni, caviar. These were all females, with the roe (the red stuff). This was a succulent bit of prawn, but of course the uni/caviar thing just boosted it.


A fantastic Burgundy, Parker gives it 92, but I’d give it more like a 94. “The 2003 Clos Vougeot explodes from the glass with licorice, dark cherries, and a myriad of spices. A wine of considerable depth, it is packed with suave black fruits immersed in chocolate. Well-structured, ripe, and exceptionally long, it will merit a higher score if its alcoholic warmth is absorbed into the wine with time (something that sometimes occurs with Pinot Noirs). Projected maturity: 2008-2017.”


Oooh Toro, two ways. On top is O-toro (special extra fatty tuna belly) with onions and caviar. On the bottom is kawagishi toro (shredded) with sweet sauce, stronger onions, and gold flakes. Both were amazing, but the o-toro was mind blowing.


Scottish salmon, look how orange this stuff is! The one on top is smoked, the bottom raw. Both have a little bit of onion and are dusted with hibiscus salt. The smoked one tasted like lox sushi.


For a lunch party where half the people are going back to work afterward (Uncharted 3 has a big E3 deadline coming soon and many are Naughty Dogs), we cruised through the wine fast enough. 2003 Vosne-Romanee clos du chateau monopole, domaine du comte liger-belair.


On the left Saba (mackerel) and on the right seki-aji (mackerel from Kyushu, considered the best). The saba had truffle, and the second goji berry, which gave it a bit of a sour and salty taste. Great examples of these fish, and continuing Go’s interesting arrangement of flavors.


“Special albacore roll.” Slightly spicy crab wrapped in avocado and albacore and topped with toasted garlic. I’m not normally a crazy roll fan, but for this I made an exception!


Starting at the right (pink one) and going clockwise: ebi (sweet shrimp) with gold and salt, japanese scallop with yuzu and caviar, geoduck giant clam with shiso, and Santa Barbara abalone (with truffle). Yum!


The ebi heads return in fried form.


The cooking process weakens the molecular bonds in the complex sugar that makes up the shrimp shell, allowing to just be crunched whole. We left a few antennae behind.


Seared toro with gold and sweet ponzu. What can you say, excellent. Although, I do prefer it raw.


Our four year-old got this interesting sushi lollipop.


Blue crab hand roll. These had little sprigs of truffle in them, which took the whole thing to another level.


Starting with the darker fish on the right. Snapper, flounder fin (yuzu and salt), black cod (salt and kelp), and flounder body. Many of these (all but the black cod) had shiso, all were dusted in the hibiscus salt. I’m not a flounder connoisseur, but I was told that the fin (behind soft) was some of the best that can be had. Go’s prep certainly livens up even these “dull” whitefish. Of course the fish itself was impeccable.


Scallops with flying fish eggs and truffle in a truffle sauce. Yummy!

The 2003 Walter J. Oster Riesling Auslese. I got this at the winery in 2005. As we wound down the wine this sweeter take went perfectly.


The “volcano!”


I’m not exactly sure what was inside, but it was some kind of whitefish, real crab and seaweed, along with seaweed, sesame, flying fish eggs, and lots of dynamite. The whole thing was pretty damn tasty!


In the front snow crab, and the back kani (alaskan king crab) with uni and caviar. Well, if top grade crab isn’t good enough: add uni and caviar!


Two kinds of eel. Unagi (freshwater) and Anago (sea). Both in the sweet sauce, with a bit of kelp. Great eel!


Kanpachi (young yellowtail), with shiso, truffle, and yuzo.


And finally another round of Toro because we couldn’t resist!


Go finishes up with a bit of fruit drizzled in sweetened condensed milk. Very nice finisher. There are oranges, rasberries, strawberries, golden-berries, mulberries and blueberries.


Some of the fish in the cabinet. You can see the toros in the middle front.


More fish.

Close up on the toro.


Prawns and scallops.

So I do have to say that Go is some of the best Sushi in the city, and by extension all America. It’s up there with Urwasawa, although more straight sushi oriented (even if with unique flavors). Less traditional than Sushi Sushi, but blows away Sushi Zo and Sasabune (not that they aren’t great too on the scale of things).

And as an extra bonus there was a Chinese foot massage place right next door where we waited out our buzz for only $19.99 an hour!

A second Go Sushi review, here.

For more LA Sushi, click here.

For other Foodie Club meals (all crazy great) see here.

Sushi Glutton – Takao Three

Restaurant: Takao [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Location: 11656 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049. (310) 207-8636

Date: May 15, 2011

Cuisine: Japanese / Sushi

Rating: 9/10 creative “new style” sushi

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I’ve already covered Takao in some detail HERE and then separately here, but we went back (we go often) and I built another “custom omakase” trying some different things. The full menu and some information on the history of the place can be found through the first link.


House cold sake. Masumi “Okuden-Kanzukuri” Nagano prefecture.


Heirloom totmato salad with sesame dressing.


Tai (red snapper), with garlic, salt, red peppercorn, onions, olive oil. A very bright flavor, and the peppercorns, not spicy at all, add a nice textural component.


Seared bonito sashimi with scallions and ginger in ponzu.


Miso soup. I think if you ask they have a couple different types. This is the basic scallion and tofu.


Uni (sea urchin) tempura with shiso leaf and seaweed. Sea salt.


There is also the classic tempura dipping sauce.


Here is a closeup of one of the Uni fries. This stuff is yummy! With the crunch of the fry, the minty flavor of the shiso and the briney soft taste/texture of the sea urchin pairing wonderfully.


“Scottish Salmon ‘to-ban’ Taki.” Salmon and vegetables cooked on Japanese earthenware ‘to-ban’ with special Miso sauce.


Rock Shrimp Tempura Dynamite. The underlying component is in itself tasty. Sweet rock shrimp perfectly fried. Then you ad some dynamite with it’s zesty zing and it gets even better. For those not in the know Dynamite is a warm sauce consisting of mayo, sriarcha hot sauce, and masago semlt roe.


The big sushi plate. This was all mine! And so were most of the preceding dishes.


Kani (Alaskan king crab) sushi.


Japanese scallop sushi (raw).


On the bottom, Ika (squid), perfect chewy pasty texture. Underneath was shiso leaf.


Scottish Salmon.


Kanpachi (young yellowtail).


Uni (sea urchin — from Santa Barbara).


kura (salmon eggs).


O-toro (ultra fatty tuna belly). Like butter!


Unagi (fresh water eel) BBQ, with sweet BBQ sauce.


Tamago (sweet egg omelet) sushi.

And this wraps up the custom omakase.

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Below is the Salmon Terriyaki “set dinner,” it comes with everything shown.


Salad.


Mixed tempura.


Miso soup.


Salmon Terriyaki.


Rice.


Choice of dessert, in this case vanilla mochi balls (ice cream coated in sweetened pounded rice).


The chefs at work, Takao himself on the right.

For more LA area sushi, see here.

Sushi Sushi – Small Omakase

Restaurant: Sushi Sushi [12, 3, 4]

Location: 326 1/2 Beverly Dr. Beverly Hills, CA 90212. (310) 277-1165

Date: May 10, 2011

Cuisine: Japanese Sushi

Rating: Old school sushi – fantastic fish and presentation!

ANY CHARACTER HERE

I had the sushi craving and went back again to my new favorite sushi place, Sushi Sushi. Since I have previous tried ala carte, the medium omakase and the giant omakase, I figured I’d give the small omakase a try for completeness. Here is the pictorial record.


We begin with a lovely little sashimi plate. Two items instead of three with the bigger omakases.


Spanish mackerel.


And a slightly different variation on the plate.


Seared bonito, with miso vinagrete (common to both plates). This was delicous, melt in your mouth. I enjoy the extra textural components of the various garnishes too.


Santa Barbara uni (sea urchin). It tops a pile of squid bits and includes pickles and wasabi. The combo is delicious, and all texture.


The rounds of regular sushi begins. Note that all the sushi here has been pre-applied with sauce, even when it’s just soy sauce. This red yummy is maguro (Blue fin tuna). This is some of the best tuna I’ve ever had, totally melts in the mouth.


Tai (Red Snapper), with a ponzu and shavings of the yuzu. This is a lighter fish, but I’m very partial to it.


O-toro, the top grade fatty toro. It melted in the mouse like butter. Always one of my (and everyone else’s) favorites.


“Buri yellowtail.” A special high end type of Hamachi.


This was a piece of scottish salmon. One of the best pieces of salmon I’ve ever had. Incredible!


Aji (Spanish Mackerel) on the left, with only the very slightest bit of fishy. Again, a great mackerel. Shimaji mackerel on the right.


On the left Ebi (sweet shrimp) and on the right Japanese scallop. Both wonderful.


Ikura (salmon roe). Perfectly fresh, with just the slightest hint of brine (good). Wonderfully taught, they explode in the mouth like little brine balls.


They say you should judge a sushi chef by his tamago (sweet omelet). By those standards Sushi Sushi rules.


Diced Toro handroll. This shiso leaf and shaved yuzu inside, which added texture, tang, and the exotic and wonderful flavor of the leaf.


Unagi (Fresh water eel). BBQ, with the sweet eel sauce. This was some damn fine eel, as good a piece as I’ve had.


Shirasu. Dried anchovies with plum and shiso. Very interesting and different tasty. Salty and sour.


These last two handrolls were extra, and not included in the Omakase. This one is Mentaiko, cpicy cod fish egg. This is a big slab of cod row, very salty and fishy.

King crab handroll, more approachable than the previous two.

After this extensive survey at Sushi Sushi, trying all three omakases, I’ve concluded that the medium one is the best deal hands down. It is only $15 more than this small one, and has numerous extra dishes. The grand one, while better than the medium (bigger) is only very very slightly different.

Check out more LA Sushi reviews here.

Sushi Sushi Sushi

Restaurant: Sushi Sushi [1, 2, 3, 4]

Location: 326 1/2 Beverly Dr. Beverly Hills, CA 90212. (310) 277-1165

Date: March 30, 2011

Cuisine: Japanese Sushi

Rating: Old school sushi – fantastic fish and presentation!

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Sushi Sushi is fast becoming one of my preferred sushi places. I had actually intended to try out Sushi Zo, but they were closed for the week so I had to “settle” for this new favorite. We decided to try out the “large omakase” this time, as I had done both ala carte (HERE) and the medium one (HERE). It was great as expected, although not much different than the medium, which I think is a better value.

One of the chefs with the big slab of home ground real wasabi. This is one of many ways in which the men are separated from the boys. Accept no powdered green stuff.

Japanese bonito sashimi, lightly seared. Marinated seaweed and pickles. Soft and flavorful.

This device is used to shave the daikon radish into long paper-like strips.

Each of us got slightly different sashimi plates. This one is the “no sea urchin” version.

Ankimo (monkfish liver), with scallions and pickles in a ponzu. Perfectly fresh, with that rich creamy texture that it’s supposed to have, a hint of grainy, a hint of fishy,  but very mild (no such thing as monkfish liver with NO taste of the sea — what would be the point of that?)

Raw Japanese scallops with salmon roe.

Saba Mackerel with miso paste.

The urchin plate, only the middle is different.

Two kinds of uni (sea urchin). Santa Barbara and Japanese. It tops a pile of squid bits and includes pickles and wasabi. The combo is delicious, and all texture.

The rounds of regular sushi begins. Note that all the sushi here has been pre-applied with sauce, even when it’s just soy sauce. This red yummy is maguro (Blue fin tuna). This is some of the best tuna I’ve ever had, totally melts in the mouth.

Yuzu, Japanese citrus. Shavings or juice from this little fruit are added to a number of dishes. The chef keeps it sitting on the freezer pipes in the fish case so it’s easy to shave.

Tai (Red Snapper), with a ponzu and shavings of the yuzu. This is a lighter fish, but I’m very partial to it.

Chu-toro (medium grade fatty tuna belly). This is also melt in the mouth amazing.

Kampachi (young yellowtail). Like Himachi, but more tender.

The chu-toro was just a warmup for this o-toro, the even more fatty toro. It melted in the mouse like butter. Always one of my (and everyone else’s) favorites.

Some very specific kind of yellowtail, “vury yellowtail?” It was hard to remember the exact name. But it was darn good.

This was a piece of scottish salmon. One of the best pieces of salmon I’ve ever had. Incredible!

Aji (Spanish Mackerel), with only the very slightest bit of fishy. Again, a great mackerel. Somehow I missed the photo of it AGAIN!

Kohada (Japanese Herring) This was great herring, but is certainly a bit fishy — herring always is.

Saba mackerel, not as good as the Spanish one, but nothing to mock either. There is a bit of “batera” seaweed on top and some pepper.

A fiery new dish in the works.

Seared toro on the bottom, scottish salmon on top. Both delectable. They taste very different half cooked. Warm, fattier, with a bit fo char flavor.

Another round of sashimi. Sweet shrimp, Japanese scallop, giant clam, and taco (octopus). Are were prefect examples of the breed, and doused with a little bit of yuzu (just the fruit, not with the pepper) to test them up. The shrimp had a wasabi “ebi brain” sauce. This is really a mix of shrimp guys (liver). Sounds awful, but tastes good.

And it continues.

Ikura (salmon roe). Perfectly fresh, with just the slightest hint of brine (good). Wonderfully taught, they explode in the mouth like little brine balls.

They say you should judge a sushi chef by his tamago (sweet omelet). By those standards Sushi Sushi rules.

Kampachi cheek. This was marinated in one of those sweet broths I would frequently get in Japan. There was a bit of bone but the meat was incredibly soft (consistency like tuna fish?) and delectable. I really enjoyed the heavily marinated root vegetable. I don’t remember what these are, but I’d get them in Japan all the time.

Asari miso (clam broth miso soup). This is a very light miso, with a clam brothy quality. Not too salty, very nice.

Uni (sea urchin) sushi. I can’t get enough of this. It amazes me to think that even just a couple years ago (bear in mind that I have been eating sushi since 1978) I didn’t like the stuff.

Diced Toro handroll. This shiso leaf and shaved yuzu inside, which added texture, tang, and the exotic and wonderful flavor of the leaf.

Unagi (Fresh water eel). BBQ, with the sweet eel sauce. This was some damn fine eel, as good a piece as I’ve had.

The omakase included dessert, this concoction of fruit, green tea ice cream, green tea panna cotta, sweet bean sauce, and whipped cream. Oh yes, and with a “mens pocky” as garnish and corn flakes underneath. Pretty good, and all Japanese.

If  you like sushi —  and how doesn’t? — then you owe it to yourself to try Sushi Sushi. This is some seriously good fish.

CLICK HERE for a review of the Sushi Sushi medium omakase.

CLICK HERE for a review of Sushi Sushi ala carte.

Or here for the LA sushi page.

Parlez Vu Modern?

Restaurant: Vu [1, 2]

Location: 14160 Palaway Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292 310.439.3033

Date: March 25, 2011

Cuisine: Modern

Rating: Very creative, worth a trip, but needs a little tuning up

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Vu is a new place in Marina Del Rey. While I lived there in 1997-1998 MDR was a bit of a culinary wasteland. It hasn’t exactly had a renaissance, but it is improving, and Vu is certainly an example of that. This place is nicely situated along the Marina with good views — sort of oddly tucked into the ground floor of some apartment or office building — and it’s got very novel and even somewhat molecular food. There’s a lot of ambition here on the menu, and I give them an A for effort. But they need to tune it up a bit to rich the heights possible with this sort of cuisine. In LA, the current molecular champ (and there aren’t many contenders) is The Bazaar, and it’s tasting room Saam. This type of cuisine originated in Spain, and you can see some native examples HERE or HERE.


The menu offers both extensive small plates (front) and a few entrees and desserts (back). As I’ve said again and again, I love the small plate format.

The bread is homemade cornbread, with jalapeño butter. I approve. As a partial southerner, I love cornbread, and this was a good example of type.

The drink menus. The wine was all California, which is hard for me, a dedicated European Wine lover.

2009 Brander Sauvignon Blanc. Despite being New World, I enjoyed it, much like a good Sancerre.

““Reconstructed” Caprese Salad, balsamic-injected cherry tomatoes, basil-infused fresh mozzarella, red hawaiian sea salt, micro basil.” This was my wife’s favorite. A tad too much tomato for me (being a tomato hater). The texture was really neat though, almost like a merengue.

Hamachi, bbq spice, collard green fluid gel, micro cilantro.” I was a bit disappointed with this dish. Maybe it needed a slightly better grade of fish, maybe more spice, but it didn’t have as much flavor as I would have expected.

Grilled Cheese, toasted brioche, “midnight moon”, tomato jam, micro basil.” Overall nice. The sauce was very pomodoro sauce like. The cheese was maybe a bit tangy for the combo somehow, but good.

“Peas & Carrots, carrot noodles, pea puree, carrot chips.” The textures here were really neat (particularly the chips). The overall flavor was pleasant but very subtle and muted.

“Chicken-Fried Watermelon, pickled ring.” The fry here was great fry, and since you can fry anything it more or less worked. It was a little odd or surprising to bite into fry and get watermelon, but as I said, it was great fry.

“Lobster Tail, citrus, popcorn jello, fritos.” My favorite dish hands down. The raw lobster had a really nice texture, like raw scallop, and the crunchy crisp of the fritos really went nicely. Overall it showed off both the subtle lobster flavor and had a bit of zing (from the citrus I assume).

“Lamb “Lollipops” sweet tea poached, rosemary, roasted grape relish.” My second favorite. Very nice and meaty. Not a middle eastern lamb flavor as I might expected, but very tasty nonetheless.

“Buttermilk Panna Cotta, liquid nitrogen coke-a-cola, carbonated blackberries.” This was a little bit of a disappointment. I guess it should have been sweeter to my taste. The Panna Cotta itself was a little sour, like a yogourt and/or I expected the coke-a-cola topping to be VERY sweet to counter (it was instead subtle). The blackberries I loved. They had some serious zing. Overall it was pleasant, but it could have been great.

The view is, for the most part, very nice.

The menu here at Vu is really interesting and innovative. It has a good format (with lots of small plates) and is well priced. But I think the kitchen needs to tune things up a bit. I’m not exactly sure where the issue is, but the dishes were often just nice instead of wow — and it seemed they could be wow. It might be ingredients in a couple cases (like the Hamachi), or maybe it’s just a certain amount of zest or the ratios. The flavors were often a bit muted for my taste. It’s even possible that this is just a slightly flat execution by the kitchen (and the test recipes are good). This kind of cooking needs to really balance the flavors and have the whole thing jam through. Saam is a great example of this. At our tasting menu there a couple weeks ago, nearly every dish jumped off the plate and straight into your hind-brain.

But I very much applaud the effort, far too many restaurants churn out the same boring stuff. So I’ll check back again and see how things have developed.

Check out a second review at Vu here.

Takao Two

Restaurant: Takao [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Location: 11656 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049. (310) 207-8636

Date: March 13, 2011

Cuisine: Japanese / Sushi

Rating: 9/10 creative “new style” sushi

_

I’ve already covered Takao in some detail HERE, but we went back (we go often) and I built another “custom omakase” trying some different things. The full menu and some information on the history of the place can be found through the above link.

House cold sake. Masumi “Okuden-Kanzukuri” Nagano prefecture.

Miso soup. I think if you ask they have a couple different types. This is the basic scallion and tofu.

Big eye tuna sashimi. This displays the fish at it’s finest.

Wild Japanese Scallop sashimi. I love good scallops. These had that pleasant meaty texture, and the soft “scallopy” flavor.

Tai (red snapper), with garlic, salt, red peppercorn, onions, olive oil. A very bright flavor, and the peppercorns, not spicy at all, add a nice textural component.

Main lobster tempura (1/2). Takao has a lot of interesting tempuras. Uni (my second favorite), sardine, crab, unusual seafood pancake with shiso, and more. This is a decadent favorite of mine, and in a half portion is pretty reasonable.

Rock Shrimp Tempura Dynamite. The underlying component is in itself tasty. Sweet rock shrimp perfectly fried. Then you ad some dynamite with it’s zesty zing and it gets even better. For those not in the know Dynamite is a warm sauce consisting of mayo, sriarcha hot sauce, and masago semlt roe.

This is a very traditional Japanese egg custard with bits of mushroom, shrimp, and white fish baked inside. It has a very subtle mellow eggy flavor I find nostalgic from my many trips to Japan.

Just some of the sushi.

In the very front, Wild Japanese Scallop sushi. Behind that next to the wasabi is Tai (red snapper).

In the back, chu-toro (fatty tuna belly). Melts in your mouth!

Salmon of course.

Kanpachi (young yellow tail).

In the center, Ika (squid), perfect chewy pasty texture.

And fresh raw Tako (octopus). Most places serve it only frozen/cooked. This had a bit of yuzu on it, delicious.

On the left, Ikura (salmon eggs), and on the right Uni (Santa Barbara Sea Urchin). Both delicious.

Albacore with a bit of ginger and scallions.

Salmon tempura cut roll (technically for my two year old).

A bit more sushi. In the back grilled Unagi (fresh water eel) rolls, and Hamachi (yellowtail) and scallion rolls.

Kani (Alaskan king crab) sushi.

Tamago (sweet egg omelet) sushi.

And some vanilla mochi balls (ice cream covered with sweetened pounded rice). The red stuff is strawberry sauce.

Takao is top flight as always. I tend to enjoy ordering ala carte like this best, but it’s actually more expensive than getting an omakase, perhaps because I order a lot more sushi.

For my LA Sushi index, click here.