Imari - Brentwood

Had no idea chef derek wilcox is leaving shoji at 69 leonard street in nyc and is coming to brentwood. @Sgee

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+Chef Schlosser

(really glad it mentions Shibumi is going to keep operating)

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Yeah he left Shoji in Mid-Dec and appears to have been getting acclimated with the local flora and fauna the past few months

It’s a badly kept secret, but Eater exposes all…

I have mixed feelings.

the good

  • anago and leek tempura
  • chicken gyoza
  • chef wilcox

the bad

  • $8 for pickles and half a bowl of average rice
  • $10 for a crappy scoop of ice cream
  • no sakura mochi
  • the obsequious owner fawning over the ig influencers

tomato with fresh yuba and sea salt

potato sa(r)ada with arabiki sausage and lettuce hearts

shima aji (nagasaki)

sergio

chicken gyoza with nira chives, miso and roasted sesame oil

anago and leek tempura

grilled striped bass with lotus root

steamed rice and tsukemono pickled vegetables

kagoshima Wagyu with fresh wasabi

milk ice cream with fresh mochi and sweet green pea

no toto

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The rare full meal with pictures from me!

Cremant de Bourgogne rose

Misuno salad with juko (baby sardines) -they were out of the tofu due to dine la

Gyoza -good but a touch over

Anago and leek tempura with sansho salt -very good

Barracuda bozushi -well balanced

Red shizo sorbet -great pairing with the raspberries

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Also had a nice Sake from Akita but can’t remember the name for the life of me. Just remember the label had red letters down the center

How was the food overall? Would you go back?

I would go back. The chef was friendly and explained the food well. Don’t know if it’s worth going too far out of your way for. Right now the food is good and has the potential to develop into something more interesting the talent is in the kitchen imo but what is the neighborhood going to want. It would be nice to see a couple more filling dishes to tie the menu together. I agree with @PorkyBelly that the rice is mediocre at best if the fixed that I would be back more often because i love plain rice with pickles -there is no reason why it shouldn’t be at Roku level. They also have Ikura they cure in house that i didn’t try that sounds interesting

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Sounds like somewhat of a different place than Derek Wilcox’s last gig in NY where I ate at the beginning of the pandemic before restaurants shut down (and before anyone really realized that NYC was in the midst of a deadly pandemic). That was a really high-end prix fixe sushi bar. Frankly, I don’t remember the rice and the sushi was really good, albeit maybe not the best I’ve ever had, but the fish soup was definitely the best I ever had. Ethereal is the only way to describe that soup. Sounds like maybe Inari is not the same high-end concept. Surprised the rice isn’t better given that Wilcox comes from a kaiseki background.

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I do want emphasize that I would go back and where I’m critical it’s because I know they can be better. I felt the food was fairly priced for the level of execution and quality.

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I never visited 69 Leonard St, but I followed them rather closely on IG.
As you mention, the food there looked like it was on a totally different level than the photos I see from Imari.

Imari seems totally dumbed down for the Brentwood crowd.

Sigh. That was what I was fearing. Sometimes it seems like we can’t have really nice things on the Westside. Also, 69 Leonard Street was quite small and I’m not sure the financials work out to do a high-end concept in a bigger space. Maybe rents are why we can’t have nice things on the Westside.

Disclaimer: I have never been to either 69 Leonard St or Imari

Having gyoza be one of the main menu items at an upscale Japanese restaurant is just strange.

I think it’s playing to the Brentwood crowd. The restaurants that so best here imo tend to be family friendly and middle of the road. Even Nagao which imari replaced was like that and always popular. Mind you they had better stuff if you knew what to ask for but mostly they sold rolls and basic nigiri.

My main hope is that they find a way to balance gyoza crowd and stuff that interests the Chef & foodies.

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