Yakiniku Yazawa: A Pictorial Essay [LONG review]

Japanese beef. For many meat connoisseurs, the very mention of wagyu conjures up images of specially bred cattle leading sybaritic lives, often involving daily bovine massages and beer served routinely with their meals. All this pampering of the animal is, of course, supposed to yield an ultra-premium, luxurious tasting beef which is prized the world over.

But where to try Japanese beef in Los Angeles? Well, luckily for us in America, the ban on importation of Japanese beef was lifted some 3 years ago. Since then, many eateries now feature beef from Japan in one form or another. But aside from Kaz Oyama’s “Temple of Beef” Totoraku on Pico Boulevard, it has been hard to find more than just one or two cuts of Japanese beef in any single restaurant.

Until now.

Yazawa is a well-known purveyor of beef in Japan, also operating high-end yakiniku restaurants in Tokyo, Singapore, and Milan. Because it has secured a continuous supply chain of A5-quality wagyu from cattle farmers in Japan, Yazawa is able to consistently offer a multitude of different cuts of the famed Japanese beef in each of their dining rooms. To offer contrasts for the discerning diner, Yazawa also features U.S. beef cuts on its Beverly Hills menu as well.

Having just opened last month in the space formerly occupied by BierBeisl on Santa Monica Boulevard (and without much marketing), Yazawa Beverly Hills is already doing brisk business. It seems Angelenos can’t get enough of yakiniku. Fellow Angelenos CiaoBob and kevin joined myself for a first meal here. (Kudos to CB for treating us to a nice bottle of 2012 Jordan from his private cellar!)

Green salad: Hey, mom always told us to eat enough veggies. With the impending beef orgy almost upon us, this was a wise move…

Kawaba Snow Weizen: A nice blondie to start the night…

Yazawa Potato Salad, with potato, onion, wagyu & carrot: Yes, there was wagyu beef in the potato salad. Yum…

Assorted Kimchi, with Chinese cabbage, radish & yamaimo (Japanese mountain yam): DAMN! This was some really great kimchi! The kimchi was super when paired with the beer…

Three appetizers: Tataki “Ponzu Sauce”, Wagyu Tartar with egg yolk & Wagyu Bresaola: It all looked and tasted wonderful (close-ups below…).

Appetizer #1, Tataki “Ponzu Sauce”, thin-sliced seared wagyu with ponzu gelee & sliced onions…

Appetizer #2, Wagyu Tartar with egg yolk: Simple and tasty…

Appetizer #3, Wagyu Bresaola, dry aged & salted: Wonderful. So far everything has been very good - So good, in fact, we ordered another appetizer!

Appetizer #4, Wagyu Tartar with uni & truffle oil: Wowee wow wow - Whatever you think of truffle oil, it worked well in this dish.

… and now, on to the main event. May the beef-fest commence! Two dipping standard sauces (clear dashi & Yazawa BBQ sauce) were brought out - Both were excellent and complemented the beef dishes to optimum effect.

Yazawa Cut Harami (sliced outside skirt, U.S.) with salt & Yazawa Cut Tongue (U.S.): These American-sourced cuts were a nice start to the evening (the rest of the beef for night was to be sourced from Japan)…


“Yazawa-Yaki” (sirloin): HOLY COW!!! Served with beaten egg for dipping, this was probably my best bite of beef in Los Angeles in 2015 - Just an incredibly tasty, tender, beefy experience… A “MUST-GET”!


Yazawa Kalbi (short rib), with sauce: Terrific!


Zabuton (chuck-eye): Tender!

Yazawa Rib-Eye (two types): Maki-Loin & Rib-Shin: Relatively well-marbled cuts, pre-marinated. Oishi…


Chateaubriand (filet): With each Japanese cow only yielding a few ounces of this precious cut, this was a rare treat indeed! And it did not disappoint - We each received two pieces: One piece lightly, and another piece medium. Both levels of cooking were stupendous.


Whew! Time for a veggie break!

Sauteed Assorted Vegetables, with kabocha, cucumber, okra, gobo, and leek: Much-needed after all that meat…

Garlic Japanese Wagyu Rice, served in a hot clay pot and cooked tableside: Reminiscent of bibimbap, this was awesome.

Toro Sushi: Raw wagyu nigiri with marinade: Delicious… Not a bad way to end the “meaty” portion of the meal!

Dessert: House-made Annin Tofu (almond jelly) with Kuromitsu, Green Tea Ice Cream & Vanilla Ice Cream: A light, refreshing way to end the evening…

Overall, I was truly impressed. Enjoying beef of this variety and quality usually require getting on a plane to Japan. But with Yazawa, this is no longer necessary.

Service was outstanding, and all of our cuts of meat were happily and expertly cooked at our table-grill by our server (though repeat customers can certainly cook their own cuts to their liking). All questions are encouraged, as the staff and management at Yazawa are keenly interested in the diners learning more about the beef in general.

Some of you may ask how this compares with the food at Totoraku. I would say it’s different - Yazawa employs a gas grill for cooking, while Oyama-san uses binchotan (Japanese charcoal) grilling for his beef, which imparts its own character to the meat. The marinades are also different between the two restaurants. I’m just so pleased that this level of refined Japanese cuisine is more common in our city now. With its position as a dominant and ever up-and-coming Pacific Rim city, Los Angeles is poised to hopefully attract more high-caliber authentic Asian dining in the near future.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Yakinku Yazawa
9669 S. Santa Monica Bl. #2
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310.275.2914
web: yazawameat.com

9 Likes

Was that the omakase? Did you need second dinner afterwards?

Omakase plus some a la carte. I was stuffed to the gills afterwards.

Thanks for the report, nigiri wagyu looks killer, thought it was otoro at first glance. looks like a great addition to our dining scene.

Christ on a rubber crutch. I got the meat sweats just looking at those pics.
Nice job!

The pricing doesn’t look too bad either.

It was a great meal.
Other than the goofy, kitschy factor of Totoraku (and the charcoal), I preferred the meal at Yazawa to Totoraku.
The price is less, the quality is more consistent, and the ambiance, well, 'nuff said.
OTOH, Yazawa is very new, and (for now) building business by investing heavily in quality over price (IMHO) while Totoraku has been slinging this stuff for much longer. I suspect it will be tough for Yazawa to maintain this pristine quality at those prices, in such a small place unless they are selling big wines at big prices.
PS, JL, unlike me that Jordan seems to be getting younger; wasn’t it like '09,? I think :smile:

What was the price per person?

Fantastic photos and reporting! Love all the details too!

I just located the menu

http://yazawameat.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Yazawa-Menu-2.pdf

Surprised at the lack of Japanese whiskey varieties, and horumon…

The sake selection is small yet eclectic…you have mostly fairly common varieties, then a significant jump to the rare Zankyo Super 8 (Nizawa / Hakurakusei) and yes polished to 8%…, and a very “reasonable price” at $900 (considering Wally’s sells it for $1500!).

I really hate answering this question.
It is so variable, depending on how much one orders to eat and drink. Also we brought a bottle of wine and I cannot recall if we were charged corkage.
That said, in this rare case, since I made the assertion that I think - for now - it is a bargain, I feel a modicum of responsibility to answer: Figure 100-150 for food alone. But it could be more or less.

I believe you are correct on the date of that bottle, CB. That wonderful Jordan possesses amnestic properties too, it seems… :wink:

That’s pretty fair considering I spent close to that much at Jumbo in Tokyo (a highly regarded yakiniku restaurant).

I’ve been to Yazawa’s Burger and Steak concept as well so I’m looking forward to trying their own yakiniku concept.

Ok I just got home from dinner here. So. amazing.

1 Like

This report was not for the Omakase menu was it?

I went Saturday here and got the omakase, it seems like it was a lot more meat than in this review, though a decent amount of similarity.

I agree that the sirloin in egg is great, but my favorite bite was sliced brisket, which was nearly pure fat seemingly, but seared for 1-2 second on each side really something. The wagyu sushi was also a strangely tasty bite, and was super happy we added that to the omakase.

I completely disagree about this though:

I thought that was the worst thing I have tasted in a long time. Completely hamfisted with a ridiculous amount of truffle oil…a ghastly explosion of salt, and icky, cloying “truffleness”. If I had not been with dining companions, I would have exploded at being served something so awful at a restaurant. It completely destroyed the uni and beef and made me throw up in my mouth a bit.

Due to that dish, I am convinced that there is not really much culinary talent behind this place. It’s more of a business success than a food one (the very pedestrian, lackluster tan tan noodles also made me think this, but were at least edible). They’ve got the hyper-efficient A5 Wagyu supply chain that’s globalized now, and they’ve developed a cute little chain menu to go with it, and they give you some kitsch glasses to drink sake out of, etc… It’s all very fun. Ultimately, you pay $150++ per person for the curiosity of eating a meal of prized beef. Everything good about the place is in how they’ve sourced this beef, and they do it fine it seems. But I wouldn’t even say I ate my favorite wagyu preparation here.

It seemed like pretty much all, or certainly the majority of the meat had some kind of marinade… so how much are you really seeing the meat “by itself”? idk. For me, I can’t see returning. It did not feel like proper dining really to me, but I guess I like more significant variety.

If you absolutely LOVE wagyu, and you enjoy this kind of one-note experience, it’s probably one of the best places you can go.

We wandered over to Spago for some Riesling, salmon pizza, and dessert after. The bread basket alone at Spago had more variety haha (Ok that’s a joke for those who are offended by now, the bread basket at Spago is ridiculously generous with a ton of varieties of bread for those that don’t know). For me, the salmon pizza and 29-year old Reisling were more memorable than anything at Yazawa.

But I don’t get the sense that the place is trying to be a great restaurant, just a great Wagyu delivery system, and so I am sure they have succeeded in their goals; the lovers will love them, and the hater’s will probably still go at least once to see what the hell it’s like to eat nearly only red meat and sake for an entire meal.

I think my one serious gripe is that if you order omakase, they don’t give you any sides… it would amplify the experience tremendously if they would pick out sides and make more of a meal out of it… but as I’ve said, it doesn’t seem they are trying to be a great restaurant, so I suppose that’s not much of an issue shrugs

Just a different perspective for anyone else wondering more about what to expect from this place.

I agree about the truffle oil - I did not like that part of the meal. It ruined the uni and the tartare for me.