Ototo - Echo Park | Opening 5/22/2019

Courtney runs arguably the best sake service in LA at Tsubaki.
Very curious to see what Ototo will grow into.

This is a must-visit for anyone interested in sake/shochu.
Check out this menu!

ATTN: @beefnoguy

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ODE TO MOS BURGER :grin:

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And Scribd even includes a picture of the famed ototo toilet.

Must… Resist… Toilet humor…

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Nice! Let’s all do a meetup sometime when I can visit SoCal again :grin:

The sake from the menu that catches this sake geek’s eye is Sempuku 千福 from Hiroshima prefecture. Imported via the unpopular Wine Of Japan label, it is certainly not for the faint of heart: 85% polish ratio and featuring a heirloom sake rice Shinriki. On top of that it is a Muroka Genshu Kimoto (written in kanji on the bottle, Kimoto is not even mentioned in a English on the back label!) with about 19% alcohol and very high acidity. However it is a touch tempered by the softwater feel and interestingly some minerality that is signature to some of the greats in Hiroshima sake. Throw in some good bitterness, astringency, a slight yogurt or savory yakult like feel somewhere for the package! This is the only exported sake where you can feel the power of Shinriki sake rice that’s more accessible and versatile. (As much as I love Tatsuriki Jingu Shinriki Junmai Daiginjo aged ten years before release, it’s not an everyday option :sweat_smile:)

If you are a serious red wine drinker this one is so full bodied and so well structured, and easier to understand. Perfect izakaya sake and with deep fried stuff. This sake and brewery is the closest thing to Taketsuru, which is a very cult sake brewery in Hiroshima prefecture (with family ties to Taketsuru whiskey) but sadly nothing from Taketsuru sake is exported.

Built also to be served warmed although the warmest I’ve tried is closer to room temperature.

I hope Ototo do oden well. There are two perfect classic sake for oden: Kikuhime Yamahai Junmai, and Kenbishi Kuromatsu, and these are even better warmed. If not Denshu will always work.

Funny I didn’t think of toilet… mamamama, ototo toto…

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Love Oden. Hard to find around here.

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I got lunch here yesterday. I never ate here before despite it being so close to me; it was not very vegetarian-friendly pre-COVID. But I guess with the pandemic, they started including more non-meat/fish dishes in their to-go menu to expand their possible customer base, which is good news for me.


tomato tofu donburi - Rice bowl with fruit tomatoes, soft Meiji tofu, ginger, scallions, nori, sansho.

Tomatoes, silken meiji tofu and nori sound kind of plain but these flavors all worked really well together. The rice was subtly seasoned and the tomatoes had tasted pickled-like they were soaked in mirin maybe. The tomatoes were really sweet and savory and I’m normally indifferent to tomatoes. They gave a lot of tomatoes so I was able to have one in almost every bite. Soft tofu mixed very well into the rice. My order was missing scallions but it was still good without them. The portion was also huge, so the QPR was worth it to me ($13).


strawberry daifuku & magical grapes daifuku - Soft mochi stuffed with sweet white bean paste and Chino Farms strawberry/Soft mochi stuffed with sweet white bean paste and super sweet Magical Grapes muscat grape

These were smaller than I thought they would be, but still really good. A thin layer of sweetened white bean paste was enough, because the fruit is the part meant to shine. Mochi outer layer was perfectly chewy and soft. The grape one was good, but I feel like the grape flavor didn’t stand out as much against the white bean paste the way the strawberry did.


matcha cream puff (with a bite taken out of it already, whoops)

Also really good. The whipped cream on top tasted a little tangy, like it had creme fraiche in it instead of only regular whipped cream. Matcha cream on the inside was really subtle, so you really got more of the matcha flavor from the powder sprinkled on top. The craquelin topping was not too sweet or thick. Different style of cream puff from Patisserie Chantilly but still quite good (and a lot closer to me than Lomita).


anmitsu - A classic Japanese summer dessert that dates back to the Meiji period (late 19th century).
A mix of soba tea kanten jellies, pomegranate mochi, orange, fresh pomegranates from K and K Ranch. Vegan and gluten free.

I put this in the fridge for a few hours because it had warmed up a little from the walk from Ototo to my apartment, and when I tried it later it was very refreshing. At $7, it seems pricey but there’s a lot of craft involved in all the pieces in here. It almost reminds me of Vietnamese che desserts, since it basically looks like a dessert soup. The little pomegranate mochi balls were still soft even after a few hours in the fridge. The tea kanten jellies had a slight toasted/smokey flavor that helped offset the sweetness of the red bean paste and the fruits. Loved all the different textures together. I would love to see more variations on anmitsu from Ototo. Was really tempted to put a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top and mix it all together (maybe next time).

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So glad you enjoyed the Tomato Tofu Donburi! My partner is also vegetarian, so we’ve had to side step everything with dashi when we go together, but the vegetable dishes at Tsubaki/Ototo have always been bangers. Chef Namba really knows his ways around tomatoes, and we’ve really enjoyed the Fruit Tomato Kimchi, Sugar Snap Peas, and Onigiri.

Great report!

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Have the exact same comment about strawberries vs. grapes daifuku. Both good but for me the strawberries really stood out more.

As a side note for any sake lovers in the area, Ototo has consistently carried a very interesting selection of sake throughout the pandemic! I’ve made more special trips to fill my fridge beyond capacity than I’d like to admit. They just restocked 4 different bottles from Senkin, two of which I’ve tried before and quiet enjoyed. They are also doing Sake Sunday schools over Instagram which are pretty fun to participate in and try different sake without having to buy full bottles since they decant them for you.

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Strawberry daifuku back in stock! Like the last few weeks, they will sell out. Cream puff flavor this week is passion fruit. And a new item of almond tofu with melon? :open_mouth: Who’s banging it with Needle’s almond jello? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:




https://www.ototola.shop/ototo-aozora
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Oh my… I picked a bad weekend not to have a trip to LA planned… :sob: The sake tasting even has two of my favorites in it!

denshu sighting!

image

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I’ve had the Yuki No Bosha based on @beefnoguy‘s recs! It’s delish.

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Please also try

https://www.ototola.shop/s/order?location=11eab80195ec85119f5154ab3a322722

Takenotsuyu ‘Hakuro Suishu’ Junmai Ginjo Muroka Nama Genshu

Sawahime Yamahai Junmai - supposed to be brilliant warmed but also very good at room temperature. And brewery recommends pairing this with unagi or anago. But you can have with a wide variety of food from salads to grilled items. If you enjoyed Yuki No Bosha Yamahai Junmai, you’ll like this one too. Different styles though.

Kaze No Mori Black and Alpha 3 (this one I haven’t tried but have heard great things) are also worth trying.

Other than Sawahime, bring a cold bag to transport back and store in refrigerator.

I haven’t had Denshu in a while, the last three bottles I had were not good for me (different releases within the same year, very disappointing)…but I’m curious to see if the batches have improved since when I had it earlier on I loved it too…so will get one again from my local izakaya next time.

When it gets colder though, that Kamoizumi Shusen Junmai Ginjo at $38 is going to be super good value for 900 mL…but it needs to be heated to about 113 F for best results (difference is literally night vs day of warm vs cold/room temperature).

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I haven’t drunk Denshu in a couple years. But, as you know, the US allotment is always allocated so I wanted to point it out to anyone that might have been looking for it.

I’m a biiiig fan of Shusen. If anyone just doesn’t get it when they hear sakes described as “umami” , try Shusen. I think of it as shiitake water. I agree, it is most delicious from room temp to warm.

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Denshu has been, to me, more accessible than before to general retail. Last year the only place I ever saw it at was at the restaurant Hayato. This year, it was available at Hi Time Wine in Costa Mesa and this might actually be the second time Ototo has had it in stock. I’m not sure where you could find this in LA last year but it seems like more places offer it. Not sure whether this means allocation increased or if the allocation is being spread out among more venues.

On a side note and using Hi Time Wine as my example since I regularly check their inventory, there generally seems to be more retail selection vs. last year. Hi Time now has Kaze no Mori in stock, which I didn’t see before, and there’s even a Super 7 up for grabs if you’re baller enough. Could be just that distributors finally made their way down to them but I wonder if the pandemic might be driving traditional venues to lower purchasing and drive distributors to spread out a bit.

A lot of restaurants carry reduced stock of sake for obvious reasons…not many people buying sake in general to go unless it’s a brand they recognize or love, or depending on the price point, as well as how much effort a restaurant puts in to market their sake selections and ability to pair.

So World Sake/Kerry Tamura has to find other venues to sell inventory (Denshu, Tedorigawa, Kokuryu, Dewazakura etc) that restaurants would have otherwise purchased for dine in (where they cannot now) including wine shops for more exposure. I think LA has better availability for sure now. Sake sales are definitely down by a lot and breweries are hurting in Japan so they have to get super creative. Shipments have reduced and this year’s available fall draft sakes have reduced quite a lot. Fifth Taste has been working extra hard to get their portfolio into LA/OC and they’re doing very well to start (Sushi Tama, n/Naka, Hi Time, Ototo/Tsubaki, Shibumi to name a few). In addition to Kaze No Mori, there are other nama sake in the portfolio, as well as pasteurized sake from Kid, Manzairaku, Nishide etc.

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