Photo credit: Tomostyle
Not even a week had passed since my last visit when I made my return trip to Kiriko last Wednesday. I had originally wanted to come back later this month, but my experience during the last meal had been on my mind ever since I left the restaurant, and I felt the urge to relive it. And it’s hard to resist when it’s so damn convenient (it really is on my way home). So I placed a call to the restaurant during their break hours that day, letting them know that I was coming around 7, and they called back around 5 to confirm it.
When I got to the restaurant around 6:45, there were only a couple of parties at the bar, a couple who appeared to be regulars, and a family who was there for dineLA (in fact, most of the customers who would come later that night were there for dineLA, from what I can tell). I had my choice of seats, and I chose the exact same one as my first visit, right next to the family (with whom I chatted with briefly). I had the honor of having Tomo-san (who was my chef last time, and whose name I learned on this visit) again on this visit.
Despite being surrounded by new clientele who were there for the dineLA menu, I knew I had to get the omakase again. Tomo-san handed me this threesome first, two of which I am familiar with from the first visit. And both the ankimo and smoked salmon and mango were every bit as good as I remembered. The third item on the plate was Santa Barbara spot prawns with avocado and daikon, wrapped with Vietnamese rice paper. There was a drizzle of soy and sesame oil I believe. Very nice interpretation of a Vietnamese classic.
Santa Barbara Spot Prawn Spring Roll
Ankimo w/ Ponzu Gelee
Smoked Salmon and Mango w/ Caviar
Next up was a threesome of sashimi. The scallops with sea salt and yuzu kosho was delicious. I’m not the biggest fan of truffle oil, but the moderate use here on the red snapper was well-executed. I was expecting more of a salty hit from the bottarga (grey mullet roe), but the flavor was very subtle. And like with the pike mackerel last time, Kiriko has managed to introduce me to a new type of mackerel once again. Went very well with the ponzu.
Hokkaido Scallop w/ Sea Salt and Yuzu Kosho
Red Snapper w/ Bottarga and Truffle Oil
My third plate was another sashimi threesome. I had the albacore on the last visit, which I liked, but I found myself liking it a little more this time around. The baby yellowtail was nice and fatty (see the toro-like marbling?). And the pike mackerel had this sweet miso-esque sauce, which I thought was a nice change-up from the typical ponzu, but I think I would’ve liked it with the ponzu a bit more. And again, all of these slices of fish tasted downright fresh (I need to find of what days of the week they get their fish).
Albacore w/ Garlic Chips
Sockeye Salmon and Corn Croquette
After I quickly devoured my plates of cold dishes and sashimi, this croquette came out from the kitchen. The sockeye salmon and corn filling, however, was more like a sweet chowder – delicious! It’s like eating a fun-size version of one of those fried bread bowls of corn chowder at Taiwanese restaurants. The accompanying tonkatsu sauce wasn’t even necessary. While I’ve had limited exposure to them, the creativity and execution of the hot dishes at Kiriko was again a pleasant surprise (like the dobin mushi last time).
Golden Eye Snapper
Like last time, finishing the hot dish means that it’s time for sushi. Tomo-san gave me a golden eye snapper (kinmedai) that was dressed with a bit of soy to start it off. I’ve never had this type of snapper before, and I found myself really loving it.
(Left) Bluefin Toro, (Right) Bluefin Tuna
Second in the batting order was a pair of tuna sushi, like last time. Instead of bigeye tuna though, it was bluefin. And while the toro is the same, it wasn’t dressed in soy this time. Both of these were better than their counterparts from last time, and that’s saying a lot.
(Left) Baby Bluefin Tuna, (Right) Aji
I believe this was baby bluefin tuna tataki (at least it looked like it was in tataki form) and Spanish mackerel, both in ponzu. Again, another nice duo. The aji here was probably the best I’ve ever had.
(Left) Scallop, (Right) Amaebi
I forgot what type of scallop it was specifically, but it had some sea salt and yuzu. Delicious! And this time, I really enjoyed the amaebi. It tasted really crisp and fresh, and the liberal use of fresh wasabi was more evident on this visit. I had the head fried again.
I have a feeling that Kiriko gets their fish either Tuesday or Wednesday, because the same great sushi I had on my first visit (a Thursday) tasted even better this time around. I also liked that the uni was without seaweed, and also had some sea salt and lemon to taste.
(Left) Tamago, (Right) Anago
I had the anago last time sans the eel sauce, which was present this time. Again, the anago was really good. But I liked the one last time with sea salt a bit more. And the tamago had a pound cake-consistency and taste. Could’ve been a dessert.
At this point Tomo-san asked me if I wanted any more. I asked him if there was anything else I haven’t tried which was good that night. He immediately pulled out the hata (a type of grouper I believe) to slice. Great call, Tomo-san.
Even though I had the same number of things as my first visit, I made sure to leave room for dessert this time around (by not eating lunch). I asked Tomo-san what was his favorite, to which he referred me to the brown sugar and ginger ice cream. But he mentioned that this kabocha creme caramel was a seasonal special and I can have the ice cream on my next visit (smooth answer, Tomo-san). The creme caramel (basically a flan) really did taste like kabocha, but was very good. So was the ice cream, which surprisingly had a slight bitter aftertaste, perhaps from the caramel drizzled on top. I’m glad I saved room for dessert this time, and will do so on my future visits.
This was my second omakase in a week’s span, and I ate 22 different things on each visit. By my count, ONLY seven of those things were repeats, and out of those seven, three were slightly different variations. Amazing how creative they can get at Kiriko. I look forward to trying even more new things on my next visit (hopefully later this month), and thanks again Tomo-san! It was a pleasure, and it was nice to meet Shinji-san as well (and I hope to see Ken-san on my next visit). The creativity, execution, and even fresher fish (if you can believe it) has made me change my grade of Kiriko from an A- to an A, and this meal is probably in my top three for the year.
Chris Hei grade: A
11301 W Olympic Blvd, Ste 102
Los Angeles, CA 90064