Urasawa (LA) – Serene Refined Elegance

Urasawa is the most refined Japanese restaurant in the country. The chef, Hiro, trained under the now-infamous Masa (most expensive restaurant in the country, blah, blah) but he has certainly eclipsed his teacher. His fish is not the very best (that designation is only reserved for Sawa Sushi and Kuruma Zushi), his rice second to Sushi Yasuda, the cooked dishes second only to Masa, but the sum at Urasawa is far greater than its parts.

The food is deeply personal – this is the closest you’ll get to experiencing a chef’s cuisine. It’s a one-man show from reservations to daily flower arrangements to ice carving to preparing the dishes. Hiro tastes every ingredient on *every* dish that gets served – inferior ingredients are discarded, fish is trimmed, etc. No corner is cut. The dishes have a refinement only seen in the world’s greatest kitchens. This is very special dining.

This was my 4th trip to Urasawa. It wasn’t my favorite meal but even a lesser meal at Urasawa will eclipse nearly any other Japanese restaurant in this country.

The Highlights

Turnip filled w/ Seafood Paste

This was quite spectacular. If you look closely, you’ll notice Hiro intricately carves each radish (!) before boiling it. The end dish is delicate and light.

Urasawa (Los Angeles) - Turnip filled w/ Seafood Paste

The Santa Barbera Spot Prawn sushi

Cut live, as most things at Urasawa are, was spectacular – very sweet w/ an intense prawn taste. It may have been better than the Monterey Bay prawns served at Manresa (which are a personal favorite of mine.)

Seared Pike Mackerel w/ Shiso sushi

Pristine fish w/ a quick sear – here’s an action shot

Urasawa (Los Angeles) - Seared Pike Mackerel w/ Shiso sushi

The Entire Menu

1. Toro w/ radish
Urasawa (Los Angeles) - Toro w/ radish

2. Uni / Egg custard w/ Shrimp & Salmon Eggs
The salmon eggs had a quick burst and provided some briny counterpoint to the sweeter uni/egg custard. The shrimp was not as good as the first time I’ve had this dish but still perfectly acceptable.

Urasawa (Los Angeles) - Uni / Egg custard w/ Shrimp & Salmon Eggs

3. Miso Abalone
Delicious.

Urasawa (Los Angeles) - Miso Abalone

4. Toro, Red Snapper, & Spanish Mackerel sashimi
High quality fish in an ice-carved boat.

Urasawa (Los Angeles) - Toro, Red Snapper, & Spanish Mackerel sashimi

5. Turnip w/ Seafood paste
See description and photo under Highlights.

6. Japanese Sirloin
This wasn’t my favorite – a touch dry without much beef flavor.

Urasawa (Los Angeles) - Japanese Sirloin

7. Toro seared on stone
Very fatty toro + very hot stone = very caramelized decadent buttery fish.

Urasawa (Los Angeles) - Toro seared on stone

8. Toro, Japanese Beef, & Foie Shabu Shabu
Hot broth and various raw ingredients you cook yourself. This is always one of my favorite dishes. Look at the marbeling on this beef (no, it’s not Kobe.)

Urasawa (Los Angeles) - Toro, Japanese Beef, & Foie Shabu Shabu

Urasawa (Los Angeles) - Toro, Japanese Beef, & Foie Shabu ShabuToro, Japanese Beef, & Foie Shabu Shabu

Urasawa (Los Angeles) - Toro, Japanese Beef, & Foie Shabu Shabu

And then there’s the sushi – you won’t leave on an empty stomach. Below is an example shot – each sushi comes one piece at a time:

Urasawa (Los Angeles) - Sushi

The rice is warm, just ever so-slightly sweet, with a nice touch of vinegar.

  • 9. Toro
  • 10. Grilled toro
  • 11. Tuna
  • 12. Aji
  • 13. Shrimp
  • 14. Needlefish
  • 15. Shitake mushroom
  • 16. Uni
  • 17. Spanich mackerel
  • 18. Santa Barbera Prawn
  • 19. Seared Pike Mackerel w/ Shiso
  • 20. Eel
  • 21. Seared Pike (encore – although he was reluctant to serve it b/c he used the best parts of the fish w/ the previous piece.)
  • 22. Fresh Fruit
  • 23. Sesame Ice Cream w/ Green Tea

Urasawa is very special. Easily a top-10 restaurant in the US (and it probably breaks my top 5.) Eating @ Urasawa is the closest you can get to peeking inside the soul of a chef.

- chuck

  • tina

    Hello, I am writing about Urasawa in an article and am in need for hi res pictures. where did you find yours? I tried contacting rest but they haven’t responded.

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