Friday, December 08, 2006

Tofu and Toto

Yeah, I have not made any progress on the yoke sweater so I am going to blog about food again.

We returned to Yuzu last night for omakase. Perhaps they should call it omigod. It was a fantastic eight course meal. After course 5 or 6, they actually asked us if we were getting full. If not, they could make us a sashimi platter before the finale.

Last time, we looked jealously at the diners who had called ahead to order omakase. This time, we began with a seared albacore salad and continued with cold water ahi sashimi with avocados. The huge seared scallop wrapped in toasted nori was a disappointment only because we both compared it to the seared scallop appetizer at the sadly defunct Lavande in Santa Monica.

The tofu in broth with prawns made up for the scallop. A ceramic charcoal grill arrived with 4 cubes of Kobe beef and strips of japanese eggplant, all simmering in an orange sauce (mango? squash? we couldn't tell), perched atop a magnolia leaf imported from Japan. Let's enjoy this meal and not think about the climate altering effect of flying all these ingredients from Japan.

I watched Mark pop a cube in his mouth, close his eyes and chew with a look of sublime bliss on his face. This is quite a contrast to the time in grad school that I watched two young men eat a 128 oz steak each at the Traildust because, if they could finish it and hold it down, their meal would be free. Oh, why didn't I look away? The sight still haunts me. I will take the four perfectly enjoyed cubes over the massive quantity any day.

We thought the grilled dish would be the highlight of the meal until the iron bowl of sizzling rice came out. The waitress motioned us to lean back and then poured a dungeness crab broth (with many bits of crab) over the egg and rice confection. Although it was my favorite dish of the night, I was too full to eat more than a fraction of it. We decided to go back and order that dish another night.

We sadly reminisced about the shuttered Umenohana (Tofu Kaiseki) restaurant. We normally avoid Beverly Hills, but when we read Irene Virbila's rave review, we made reservations there for our next splurge meal. (The review was pulled from the LA Times website when the restaurent closed but it is still mentioned in this article about new Asian food in LA.) Scroll down the first Umenohana link to see the wooden chest that they use to serve several of the courses. Open the drawers for a surprise treat in each one--an eastern Advent calendar.

Scroll further down to see the interior shots. Umenohana was the most beautiful restaurant I had ever seen. It was like an art gallery. I took a circuitous route to the restroom just so I could admire all the artwork.

The restroom at Umenohana was memorable because it was my first encounter with a Toto washlet. I had thought my sister was a bit over the top when she blogged about her Toto lost. But once I experienced it, I could understand her enthusiasm.

Anyway, we are determined to support Yuzu so that it doesn't go the way of Lavande and Umenohana. Hmm, doesn't umenohana mean plum blossom?

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