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.
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.
9669 S. Santa Monica Bl. #2
Beverly Hills, CA 90210