It’s been a while since we last visited Chef Yamamoto at Yamakase. On our previous visit, the ichigen-san okotowari (by invitation only) restaurant was still in operating its original location on National Boulevard. Since then, Yamakase has relocated to a new location in West L.A. According to Yama-san, another welcome change is the addition of a liquor license - So yes, once again, you CAN have beer, sake, and wine with your stupendous Yamakse meal!
Goma (sesame) tofu with San Diego uni (sea urchin roe)… One of the few Los Angeles chefs to use the more subtly-flavored San Diego sea urchin, Yama-san creates a gentle yet rich starter to set the tone for the meal to come. The sesame-sauce uni combination is really wonderful.
Salted French butter, layered with dried fig, toasted almond, topped with truffled sea salt… Yama-san whips up sometime strange yet delicious combinations of tastes and textures - This one works beautifully.
Karasumi (salted cod roe) with shiroebi (white shrimp) from Toyama Bay… Gorgeous.
The 2014 Rombauer really paired well with the food on this evening…
Wakayama (baby peach), shako (mantis prawn) with its own roe, akagai (red clam), nori (seaweed) & goma (sesame), in ponzu… Fantastic. Shako is a rare treat here in the U.S., and to enjoy it with the roe is almost beyond imagination.
Kumamoto oyster, poached quail egg, Hokkaido uni (sea urchin roe) & osetra caviar from Kazakhstan… Without any doubt - One of THE BEST bites of 2016!
Hamo (pike eel) with shiro miso (sweet white miso) & furikake (Japanese seasoning)… If there’s a premium ingredient in season (as the hamo indeed was), Yama-san will try and incorporate it into his omakase.
Frozen toro (fatty tuna belly), blue crab, uni toast… Another wacky combination which happens to hits it out of the park… Superb.
Hotategai (scallop) from Hokkaido, with basil jalapeño sauce… My word. Where does Yama-san get these intriguing and unorthodox combinations?!
Baby sardines, housemade tofu, bafun uni from Hokkaido, junsai (water shield), chives & summer truffles… I don’t think Yama-san gave us enough truffle on this serving…
Gohan (rice) with honmaguro akami (lean bluefin tuna), Japanese mustard gravy, pickled nasu (Japanese eggplant)… WOW!
Tofu, Parmigiano-Reggiano, minced toro, blue crab, soft quail egg, foie gras… TOO MUCH GOODNESS!!!
Hanasaki-gani (spiny king crab) from Hokkaido… The meat from wonderful critters have a rich, briny taste. I have not seen this crab in a sushi bar outside of Japan (until tonight)! Pure deliciousness…
Kurobuta (Japanese Berkshire black pork), ebi (prawn) and hanasaki-gani ramen, topped with chives & inari (fried tofu)…
Check out the huge decadent bites of premium crustacean in this ramen… Incredible!
Outstanding ramen. The broth was slow-cooked with all the richness of the kurobuta pork and seafood shells in a wonderful mix.
Wagyu (Japanese beef) from Miyazaki Prefecture is next. But first, to prove the provenance of the cattle, a certificate is presented…
“Meat & Potatoes”: Seared grade A5 wagyu with summer truffle, pepper… Sublime. I think THIS is the perfect way to enjoy the full richness of Japanese beef.
Draft birru (beer)…
Nigiri is up next - Yama-san & assistant are plating it out…
Honmaguro akami, kinmedai (golden eye snapper), hamachi (yellowtail) & honmaguro o-toro (fatty bluefin tuna belly)… The shari (sushi rice) was truly top echelon, and ever-so-slightly warmer than ambient, which made for a delicious bite.
San Diego uni, blue crab, shiso leaf & toro temaki (hand-rolls)… Are you kidding me?! This hand-roll was so outrageously fabulous, we each ordered two!!!
Wakayama sorbet… Whoa - May I have another gallon of this utterly refreshing, fruity, gently sweet yet supremely satisfying dessert?!
Verdict: Yamakase delivers yet another top notch omakase, with the usual knockout flavors. Uncle Yama is obviously trying to awash his customer’s palates in complete euphoria using a dizzying array of well-known (and not-so-ordinary) crowd-pleasers. It’s an over-the-top experience, to be sure, but hey, as our party finally spilled out into the mini-mall parking lot that fateful night, we were nothing but smiles.
Gochisosama deshita, Yama-san. You will always be my favorite crazy Japanese uncle.