Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The past, deliciously present

Reading The East Is West: The Best Chinese Restaurants in Southern California started me daydreaming of meals gone by.
There are probably more Chinese in Los Angeles than in any metropolitan area outside of China. (The same very likely could be said of Mexicans, Iranians, Koreans, Japanese and more, which is what makes Los Angeles the best international eating city in the world.)
You will get no argument here.

Last week, I failed what should have been a routine lab test, which sent me on a whole 'nother merry go round of lab tests. Mark could tell I needed cheering up. He booked dinner for two at Yuzu, a newish washoku restaurant (traditional Japanese simple food with exquisitely fresh and high quality ingredients). It is in the mixed-use complex kitty corner from American Honda Motor Co. HQ and down the road from Toyota USA HQ in Torrance.

As soon as I stepped in, I was transported out of my everyday existence. The interior is every bit as hip, cool and sexy as mentioned in reviews by Counter Intelligence and Daily Gluttony. It had an abundance of dark polished wood, like a wooden Ryokan in my imagination, but it also had ultra modern and sleek details. The look is organic modern. It is light years away from the decor of medical waiting rooms and my workplace.

The clientele was just as described in the other reviews. The tables were all full of Japanese businessmen in dark suits. The wide bar in the center of the restaurant was inhabited by hip young Japanese professionals with multi-hued hair in colors that do not exist in nature. For most of the night, Mark and I were the only ones in the restaurant who didn't speak Japanese. (In fact, Mark was the only non-Asian person.)

Yeah, but what about the food?

Mark wanted to order omikase, chef's choice. The hostess explained that, unfortunately, the large parties had all booked way in advance and requested omikase, taxing the chef to the limit. He simply could not accomodate any more omikase clients that night.

Then a young man with slightly better english came over and tried to explain the menu us. He suggested that we order one small plate from each of the categories in the menu. We did and the food came out in roughly the order they appeared in the menu. (The menu order is carefully designed specifically to balance the flavors.)


We started with the tofu salad which was just creamy fresh tofu topped with scallions. We were told (with gestures) NOT to put soy sauce on it. That would be sacrilege. Order it and you will know what I mean.

We ordered a few other dishes recommended by Linda Burum in Counter Intelligence, honey-marinated Berkshire pork loin and soba with crossbred duck. We also ordered the fried oysters dusted in panko recommended by the Daily Gluttony (click the link below to see the picture of the dish). As she would put it, those oysters were phat.

We capped the night with sesame ice cream, a very nonpedestrian dessert with a very bland description. Not only was the ice cream superbly flavored with sesame throughout, but the most amazing black sesame seed sauce had been drizzled across the top. As you would expect, the presentation of every dish was every bit as deliciously beautiful as the flavors.

Just writing about it, I decided to call to reserve omikase for tomorrow night.

The East Is West: The Best Chinese Restaurants in Southern California
Daily Gluttony

Counter Intelligence: The past, deliciously present
Check the weather station at American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Torrance, CA

I didn't have a camera with me last week. But the food at Yuzu reminded me of a meal my cousin treated me to at the revolving restaurant in Sapporo. It, too, features many small courses of fantastic ingredients, beautifully presented. I will post those pictures instead. The meal at Yuzu was much, much more reasonably priced than the meal in Sapporo-not even factoring in airfare.

That's the "american cousin" and 6 of her cousins in Sapporo. That's all folks.


  1. Sounds like a fabulous restaurant! I had to crack up about the "young men with hair colors not found in nature" bit - my husband and I were just at a new sushi restaurant last Saturday and this was definitely the case for the majority of the male employees there! It looked great on them though as they were all so cute.

  2. Anonymous10:02

    Mmmm, yummm! sounds fabulous and was probably just what you needed.


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