Penultimate Meal in LA
February 28, 2015
"Here?" said the Uber driver. "You sure?"
From the outside N/Naka does not look like a restaurant. It's just another nondescript building on a nondescript stretch of Overland Avenue in a nondescript section of West L.A. Inside, however, is one of the most luxurious restaurants in the city, a simple but serene setting where some twenty lucky people are treated to an extraordinary experience.
Niki Nakayama creates a long, languorous meal of modern kaiseki, a ritual meat of seasonal dishes intended as a kind of edible poetry.
Sakizuke (something common and something uncommon):
A single kumamoto oyster with a bit of uni, cured salmon roe, a bit of fennel from the chef's garden.
Zensai – main seasonal ingredients served as appetizers:
Fried lotus root at the top, very rare duck on the right. But the most exciting part of this dish is the squiggle of squid ink that, mixed into the quail egg yolk, becomes an intensely delicious sauce for the octopus hiding beneath that nasturtium leaf.
Hokkaido scallop and a bit of pomelo strewn with leaves and flowers from the chef's garden.
Owan – still water
Served on top of a flame, this little bit of sea trout slowly heated in its white miso sauce. A lovely play of temperatures, the fish still cool in the hot sauce.
Tsukuri – sashimi
Many delicious little bites here, but the special treat was that Alaskan crab leg on the left: translucent, tender and sweet. It did not resemble, in any way the stringy frozen crab legs you may have tasted elsewhere.
Yakimono – traditionally a grilled dish, although this fish was fried int he most ethereal manner, along with a single fat fried ginko nut.
Mushimono: steamed dish
Crab chawan mushi, rich with uni.
For me the most astonishing dish of the evening. This pasta was perfectly al dente, vibrant, almost alive in the mouth. The pickled cod roe was a perfect textural contrast.
Niku – meat course
Wagyu cooked on a hot stone. The evening's least interesting offering.
Sunomono – vinegared salad
Firefly squid, sliced kumquat, flowers.
Followed by a rice dish.
The sushi, tonight, is:
Sayori, giant clam
Ama ebi, uni.
Matcha– green tea
Mizumono – dessert.
A tart, icy granita, and
This little cannoli.
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Penultimate? Then, what was the last dinner? Thanks
My final LA dinner was a review meal with Jonathan Gold in Baldwin Hills. It was great – and you’ll read about it. But not here…..
I recently had dinner here for my birthday, and really, I don’t have words to describe just how amazingly delicate *and* deeply flavored every bite was. Just amazing – so glad you are singing the chef’s praises so that she gets the recognition she so deserves.