Kiyokawa

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Every time Lawrence is in town, we choose a different sushi restaurant to try, because everyone knows that sushi in LA >>> Norcal, and both of us are big sushi aficionados. Between the two of us, we had already visited the likes of Urasawa, Kiriko, and Sushi Zo. Next up on our list was a choice between Kiyokawa and Mori Sushi, and I suggested the former because it looked more casual and Lawrence had to rush to a party right after dinner (he even packed extra tank tops – we’ll be political here with the word usage). I feel that Kiyokawa is still coasting below the radar, while other more prominent and “sexier” sushi places take their turns under the spotlight. But the restaurant does have a big fan in Go(l)d himself, and SinoSoul recommended the place to me a while back too.

I had made the reservation a few days before our dinner, but the entire sushi bar had been booked up (*gasp*). Undeterred, we settled for the table and still ordered the omakase. The two of us were actually given a nice four-top isolated at the front right side of the restaurant, which gave it a private-room-type of feeling with all the plants and decorations surrounding the table. Sexy man date: check. Each of us ordered a beer to start off, then the magic show began…

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Forgive me if I’m lacking on accuracy and details, as I didn’t take any notes and this dinner was 3+ months ago. But the presentation in this first course was quite…whimsical. Opening up the “sandals,” each of us received a fried ball of tofu and whitefish (forgot to ask what fish). The batter was very light (might have been rice flour – had a rice cracker-like texture), and the flavor was pretty mild. But a nice amuse of sorts to start the meal.

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Next up was a trio of sashimi combinations inside of different citrus “cups.” On the left, we had a halibut sashimi + sunomono. The middle was smoked salmon with red onions I believe. And the right had some lightly-cooked shrimp not quite small enough to be considered a tartare. Simple enough, but refreshing. And I actually used a little of the juice from the “lids” to add a welcoming acidity to the sashimi.

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Nemo accompanied the next course, which was a duo of amaebi and hama hama oyster. The amaebi was very fresh (the tentacles were still moving – always a joy to see), and the oyster went well with the ponzu and a tiny bit of uni. After I finished, the head was brought back fried for me, with a dash of sea salt on the side instead of the usual ponzu- nicely done.

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We were indeed enjoying life, but this next course further attributes to our joy that night. It was abalone done three ways: sashimi, grilled/sauteed(?), and fried. The awabi sashimi was fresh, as expected. Not sure if the top right one was grilled or sauteed, but had a nice kick from the yuzukosho(?). The fried one was good too, but paled in comparison to the other two preparations.

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Next up was a trio of sashimi: kanpachi, bigeye tuna, and scallop. All three variations were indeed fresh, but while I appreciated that and enjoyed myself, it just seemed a bit…boring here. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by my repeat trips to Kiriko and Shunji.

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This was kind of like an oden, with a cooked daikon radish sitting in a light dashi, and topped with uni and a dollop of red miso. Not a showy dish (especially if you take the uni out of it), but I always appreciate a good dashi (I usually gush over the one at Shunji’s).

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To end the omakase, we received a plate of sushi. I’m still terrible at identifying fishes (so please feel free to correct me, because I’m sure I’ll get at least one wrong), but I believe this was (from left to right): albacore, aji, hamachi, buri, and salmon. Basically, this was the sashimi trio – fresh, solid, and just a bit uninspiring. Now I know we can do better than this…

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…so I asked for another five-some of sushi. When asked what kind of sushi we wanted, I just said to have Sato-san (chef/owner) choose for us. And lo and behold, here was a plate of beauty. From the left: bluefin tuna (w/ caviar and gold flakes), fresh octopus, saba, tai, and…foie gras (w/ truffle and a nice glaze that wasn’t too sweet)!!! Much more impressive than the last plate. Four of them were on the specials board I believe, and the fifth…it was after July 1st, I’ll leave it at that (just a note – we technically didn’t order the foie gras, and it wasn’t on the menus, so they technically weren’t selling it either :P). I guess they finally knew we were serious :)

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Dessert was black sesame ice cream and yuzu sorbet. Standard, but a nice ending.

I really wished we had sat at the bar, because Sato-san seems like an artist at work from afar. He appears to work at a meticulous pace, taking his time with precise cutting and strongly emphasizing the plating. Just a couple of minor “complaints” which weren’t really such, as how are they supposed to know what we like and know when it was our first time there. That’s why being the itamae-patron relationship and being a regular at a sushi restaurant is essential to one’s evolution as a sushi diner. Your palate and knowledge increases and the chefs’ familiarity with you increases as well. I doubt they’ll remember me, but I look forward to my next omakase at Kiyokawa – that is, if I can find the time and money to fit it in between my scheduled visits of Kiriko and Shunji, as well as numerous other sushi restaurants I want to try. Sugar mama applications are available upon request…

Chris Hei grade: A-

Kiyokawa
265 S Robertson Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 358-1900

Kiyokawa  Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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