Urasawa (LA) – Spring is in the Air
Urasawa is a celebration of the season, sometimes down to the week or day. This Spring meal was possibly my best Urasawa meal yet – everything had a lightness, and brightness, to it; perfectly complementing the beautiful Los Angeles weather.
Analyzing the food is nearly impossible. The meal, and its component dishes, are a system that can not be reduced to single elements – circular and inter-locking. The flavors are balanced, subtle, and fresh – despite some dishes approaching what could be a dangerous number of ingredients. Ingredients pop up in one dish as a primary flavor, recede to the background, and re-surface seven to ten dishes later as supporting cast. The meal is a journey with complex patterns.
I raced down to LA a day before a weekend of festivities (a friend’s bachelor party) so I could enjoy a meal at Urasawa. A trip to LA has nearly become incomplete without a visit. When I walked in, I saw Refined Palate sitting two seats down. There’s no better place to unexpectedly share a meal with friends. The sake and wine flowed freely (my hotel was a brief walk away!) for four hours.
Below is a sampling of the dishes. There were more cooked dishes and sushi – you can read the extensive list on Refined Palate’s Urasawa post. It is courtesy of her that I have descriptions below; my only intent was to take pictures and enjoy.
Okinawan Spring Seaweed – served with tiny, little shrimp and topped with Gold Flakes
Kinuta Maki – Red Snapper and Shrimp is laid on nori with shiso and then very thinly sliced daikon encases the fish to resemble a traditional maki roll. It is topped with finely grated yuzu and a slice of pickeled ginger.
Goma tofu, Kyoto-style – Tofu made from sesame seeds, stuffed with sweet Uni (urchin “roe”), topped with freshly grated wasabi and gold leaf, served in a light dashi seasoned with shoyu and mirin
Toro Tataki – Ohtoro, from Spain, lightly seared topped with Shiso no Hana flowers, Shiso buds, Radish and Gold Leaf
Uni Nikogori – Fresh Uni, Small Shrimp, Red snapper, Fish eggs served atop Yama no Imo (Japanese Mountain Yam), topped with Pure Gold Flakes.
Sashimi served in a hand carved ice bowl – consisted of Ohtoro, Red Snapper and Santa Barbara Uni placed in a manila clam shell. The wasabi is freshly grated, Hiro’s soy sauce is made by him.
Asami Age – a tempura “sandwich” of Fresh Bamboo, Shrimp Paste and more Fresh Bamboo.
Uni sushi – one of many sushi courses including, but not limited to, toro, kanpachi, tai with sundachi, spanish mackerel, squid, uni, razor clam, mushroom, kohada, needlefish, abalone, giant clam, scallop, spanish mackerel tataki, hokkaido beef (A5-10), baby shrimp, and eel.
Japanese Plum and Jelly
Urasawa is a top, if not the best, restaurant in America. It is no wonder it was voted #1 on the recent Opinionated About Dining guide. It is a must-visit for anyone that steps foot on the West Coast – your view of Japanese, and American, dining will be forever changed.