Thursday, July 29, 2010

Special Occasion Sushi

Last night, we went to Hachi Sushi & Robata in West Los Angeles with some friends for dinner.  We sat at the bar and ordered omakase from Masa San, who is the head sushi chef.  I've been to Hachi before but only with Nobu San, who I really like; he had the most amazing knife skills that I've ever seen and always dazzled us with his omakase.  We started with a trio of sashimi: amaebi (sweet shrimp) and tomato tartare, big eye tuna with diced jalapenos and wasabi, and halibut wrapped around daikon sprouts over seaweed:
All three were really nice; I love amaebi, and I thought making it into tartare with some tomato and drizzled with olive oil was really new and interesting.  The tuna was deliciously silky and the jalapeno / wasabi really pushed it to the limits of spiciness, almost too spicy, but not quite.  The halibut was mild and comforting after the bold flavors of the first two dishes.

Next was a trio of mirugai (giant clam) in mayonnaise with asparagus and sesame, aji (spanish mackerel) with some ginger, scallions and ponzu, the fried amaebi head, and strips of tai (snapper) with seaweed:
My favorite was the mirugai in mayonnaise; I felt that it was also very unique and sesame and mayo added unusual richness that you don't usually find with sushi.

Next, we had some Santa Barbara uni (sea urchin) on top of strips of ika (squid), ikura, in a seaweed dashi broth.  I've had similar dishes elsewhere and  also make it at home, but this was one of the best; the uni was extremely fresh and sweet and the dashi broth was delicate and lovely.
Next, we had a warm dish, a miso black cod with marinated daikon and pickled ginger.  This is another dish that is common to many Japanese restaurants, but this version was also one of the best; the fish was nice and flaky and the miso just perfect, not too salty.  The pickled ginger also added a nice bite and the daikon was a mellow contrast.
 We finished with a bunch of nigiri, including tai, hamachi belly (pictured below), blue fin tuna, uni, mirugai, a negitoro handroll (fatty tuna and scallions) and a piece of tamago (egg). 
Everything was beautifully prepared; so much thought and handwork went into every dish that was presented that night.  With the exception of the handroll, everything was carefully sauced and garnished by the chef; so much thought was put into the best accompaniments to bring out the individual flavors of the fish.  We savored every bite.  Every time I've gone to Hachi, the omakase has been different, which is really nice; the chefs make an effort to tailor the experience for every group.  Last night's omakase was $75 per person (it generally ranges from $65-$75 depending on what is served); expensive, but there are a lot of places around town that are more expensive and not nearly as good.  It's definitely a special occasion type of place in a rather garish stripmall near a tanning salon, but worth a visit.  We had a couple bottles of Asahi and a bottle of 2008 Curran Gewurtztraminer from Santa Barbara with dinner.  The wine was really good but perhaps just a little too sweet for the sushi.  Next time, I'll probably stick with the traditional sake and beer.  After dinner, we came back to my place and had more wine and cocktails; a lovely Wednesday evening catching up with friends.

Hachi Sushi and Robata
12009 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 473-9603

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