Kiyokawa for Omakase
December 1, 2009
“Where do you want to go for dinner tonight?”
“8p, Kiyokawa, sushi bar, omakase.”
I guess you could consider this my first official Jonathan Gold stalking. His ebullient review on LA Weekly combined with my near obsession with sushi as of late (thanks @sinosoul) made going to Kiyokawa an easy choice.
If you’re like me, or pretty much everyone else, you will miss this place on first pass. The easiest way to find it is not to look for the restaurant itself, but to look for the Blockbuster Video store located directly across the street, or if you are familiar with it, the Beverly Hills Playhouse, both of which are across the street. Alternatively, the restaurant is at the T-intersection of Gregory Way/Robertson, so that’s another way of finding it. I pretty much covered its location using both landmarks and streets, which should suffice for both my male and female readers curious about its exact location. See, I always knew psychology would come in handy.
Kiyokawa bills itself as “natural and organic japanese restaurant” which I hope is true, considering most of my dinner would be raw. This would be my first attempt at going “organic.” And since we couldn’t both settle on an omakase course, we did what was most appropriate: order both the omakase special and the sushi omakase.
Miso soup in a wooden serving cup.
With its dark colors and minimal lighting, Kiyokawa is a good place for a date if:
A. your date
likes LOVES sushi. While Chef Satoshi-san will make a philly roll (saw it with my own eyes), don’t subject your dinner party or him to it. Just go to Kabuki or something.
B. you have some $. This isn’t Urasawa, but it also isn’t Famima.
C. you have time. A good sushi meal is meant to be a form of relaxation, not something to be rushed through. The meal is in the details, and those take time.
The location is small and intimate, but in being so allows the chef to see all of his diners, measure the tempo of the meal and control the flow of your eating experience.
But enough jabbering on my end, I’ll throw in a few random words here and there, but with all the sake we drank, it’d be easier to just show you the pictures.
Contrary to popular belief, proof that I do in fact eat vegetables.
East coast halibut, snapper, and two other cuts of fish that I cannot for the life of me remember right now.
This freshy grated wasabi was like crack, if crack could clear your sinuses. Maybe the more appropriate analogy would be “this freshly grated wasabi was like cocaine…” Nevermind.
My sashimi course included maguro, toro, uni, thin slices of halibut shaped like a rose, and mr. mackeral, in whole and sashimi.
Yuzu and wasabi waiting gracefully for Chef Satoshi-san.
Clockwise from the top: foie gras, marinated uni, snow crab nachos (my words, not the chef’s), seared halibut, oyster, and jalapeno with hamachi
Kumomoto oyster topped with caviar and gold flakes
Dude, you got fried up.
This soup was amazing. The daikon, even better. I played the whole “this daikon is just ok, don’t waste your time eating it” gig with my dinner mate. Needless to say, she wasn’t happy I left her with one daikon bite. You snooze, you lose baby!
Blowtorches are fun.
Eating this miso marinated cod was akin to eating a stick of butter, in a good way. McDonald’s needs to think about updating their filet o’ fish sandwiches with these bad boys.
Not simply content with showing us the abalone was alive and fresh (which it was), he sliced it up and served it to us. Yes, it does taste good just after the kill.
Abalone wrapped with shiso leaf topped with plum marmalade. I can’t decide if I liked this. Just a lot of things going in the mouth at once.
You know why Jonathan Gold called this a matzoh ball in his review? Because Chef Satoshi describes it that way when he serves it. I call that localization. The matzoh ball is made of scallops and tofu. Kosher? Probably not.
Clockwise from the top: tuna, super toro, halibut fin, uni, canadian salmon, and ginger. Why mention the ginger? It’s housemade and really good. You can eat it like candy.
At this point, I was stuffed, but there was still a chopped hamachi handroll to be consumed…and consumed it was.
Somehow we then got into a deep discussion around ginger. Chef disappears under the counter and produces a tin, out of which appears this piece of baby ginger. Let’s just say that the chef has a fascination that borders on obsession with ginger. Next time you’re there, ask him to let you try his baby ginger and you’ll see.
Not content to just let us walk out, Chef Satoshi-san decided to sear some super toro for us. Who’s going to decline toro???
We finally made it to dessert. While the ice cream is not housemade, the chef adds sesame to the vanilla ice cream, which makes it feel like you’re eating a chinese sesame dumpling. Score.
And while enjoying ice cream, we had a chance to chat with Chef Satoshi-san. He shared that Kiyokawa has been open for four and a half years and prior to here, he was a chef at the Ritz-Carlton in Pasadena, CA (which is now the Langham and helmed by Michael Voltaggio.) When he mentioned this, it brought up memories of Thomas Keller working as an unknown chef at Checkers in downtown LA. Look where Mr. Keller is now.
He also told us the story of Jonathan Gold’s countless visits (at least 6 based on my count), the phone call from the LA Weekly, the photos, and the anxiety of waiting for the review to go up. Business has definitely improved since the review, but the pressure to produce an exceptional dining experience has increased as well. If our dinner was any indication, he’s adjusting just fine.
How would I describe Kiyokawa in five words: delicate, intense, detailed, rich and intimate.
265 S. Robertson Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
The whole photoset is on Flickr.