n/naka — Los Angeles (12/2016)


Chef Niki Nakayama and n/naka were the subject of the 3rd episode of the first season of Netflix’s Chef’s Table documentaries. They take reservations up to three months in advance according to current policy.  When I had made reservations, I thought it was a rolling 6-week advance with release on a Sunday.  In any event, I managed to secure a reservation for a Friday evening for two.  I was accompanied by a friend who lives in L.A.  The restaurant itself is located in a somewhat inconspicuous part of the city, in between Westwood and Culver City.

They offer two tasting menus:  regular and vegetarian.  We both went with the regular menu. And, unfortunately, I had forgotten to bring my macro lens, so the photos are not as good as I wanted them to be.

For beverages, there was an ample selection of sake by the glass, and a nice selection of wines by the glass, appropriately with more whites than reds on the list.  I went with the Riesling.

The first presentation was mussel surrounded by mussel foam.  This was served with potato purée, a touch of shiso oil, crispy onions, crême fraiche, and white sturgeon caviar.  Finally, there was a garnish of nasturtium leaf and a viola petal.

The next presentation was quite elaborate.  There was snow crab, truffles, maitake mushroom tempura, fresh octopus curry, sea salted halibut with a little spice, and a pickled crab apple to finish up with at the end.

This course featured seared kampachi in a modern form of sashimi.  It was braised with fermented garlic oil and garnished with vegetables from the chef’s garden.  There were dots of red pepper gelée on the right and strokes of nori and beets purées.  Finally, there was a bit of ponzu to use for dipping as well.

For the full write-up, click here.

Morimoto — Maui (2/2015)


A last-minute trip to Maui and the desire to check out the relatively new Andaz Maui led me to have dinner at the Morimoto restaurant on Maui since it’s on property at the Andaz.  Their website indicated that they offered an Omakase tasting menu, and they were easy enough to book online via Opentable.com.  It sounded like a place where modernist techniques would be used to some extent to prepare some of the dishes.

The restaurant has both outdoor and indoor seating – I opted for sitting inside since it had been a little breezy during the day.  The restaurant is located in a building separate from the hotel between the hotel and the beach among the multi-level pools.

Their wine list offered a set of premium pours, so I decided to try the white burgundy on the list.  It was a good choice even if it started to taste oaky to me as the meal progressed and the temperature of the wine warmed.  I thought they were generous with the 2 oz. pour, perhaps in part because they had tried to squeeze out the pour with an empty nitrogen canister and had to swap mid-pour.

For the full write-up, click here.