Friday, November 12, 2004

hirozen, mon amour

the restaurant i miss the most when i'm not in la is hirozen gourmet, my favourite japanese restaurant. tucked in an unassuming strip mall on beverly and orlando, it is between a store that only sells lightbulbs and a budget barber. i love it so much i cannot even talk about it. it's good. trust me.

this is my routine: i take a seat at one of the ten seats at the tiny sushi bar, if possible. if not, then one of the ten tiny, white-linened tables. make my greetings, salutations to the waitresses, busboys, chef. politely refuse any libations besides water. what would i like? sushi, please. omakase, i say. chef's selection. a troubled look always enters chef's eyes. anything? he always exclaims. anything is always confirmed. slowly he nods. hush now. he's thinking.

tonight it comes in a rush: toro, aoyagi, kampachi, sayori, hamachi with shiso and sea salt--fatty tuna belly, clam, young yellowtail, needlefish, young yellowtail with perilla leaves, lemon juice and sea salt (no soy sauce for this, please).

suzuki, iwashi, shiro maguro, scottish salmon. grilled sea bass with fresh jalapeño salt, sardine, white tuna, and a special of the day: salmon flown in just that morning.

next, not for the timid: aji, or horse mackerel, marinated in vinegar, and fresh oyster. it taste like the sea, which sometimes isn't a good thing, but in this case i was hooked.

finally, unagi and shiitake mushroom with jalapeño salt. both substantial, juicy and naturally sweet, the eel broiled to perfection, the mushroom fresh and clean.

there should have been more--he was surprised by the decision to stop--but there was a time constraint. *sigh*. next time, i won't rush the master.

there are other--amazing--items on the menu. i've had fois gras with banana, grilled ostrich, conch, and more standard fare, and everything has been exceptional. the food is always so good, the staff is so nice, and something odd invariably happens that makes my meals at hirozen seem more like adventures--andy dick staring at my cousin for half an hour while he ate; a woman sitting next to me trying everything i did and hating everything; chef contemplating giving me something created from his lunch (a ham and cheese hoagie); chef rummaging through the deep-freezer, scraping off the ice from a mysterious package, and then serving it (it was good).

hirozen, like india's grill, is also in charge of another restaurant's menu. they oversee the sushi menu at the hot celebreteria white lotus in hollywood. i imagine it's good. i wouldn't know. that's alright. i'll stick to the tried and true.

hirozen gourmet
8385 beverly blvd
los angeles 90048


Reid said...

Hi Santos,

Wonderful looking sushi...may I ask home much you paid for the tasting menu? If you ever come back here, you should go to Sushi Sasabune...that is, if you haven't been there already. The sushi is wonderful, and the last time I was there, I hate to admit, I spent upwards of $100!!! But for me, it was worth it. =)

santos. said...

hi reid

it was $160 for three of us, so it was actually somewhat reasonable. had we stayed, however, we could have topped $100 each. although, chef will cut you off if he feels you've had enough. in the nicest possible way, of course. usually it's by ending with his dessert sushi: thinly sliced fuji apple marinated in sake on rice. it's really good.

JMom said...

Hi Santos! I see you you are still eating your way through L.A. Never been to Hirozen, but I'll be sure to check them out next time I am there, which should be next summer. I will just have to ogle your blog until then.

Anthony said...

omakase every chefs dream, it says trust and complete surrender.

Maria said...

can't wait to try hirozen gourmet once this baby comes out! we'll be listening to you tomorrow night!

Anthony said...

oh btw regarding MCH just in case e-mail is elsewhere, as for sushi bars but do derive great pleasure from surprising cross genre cover versions.

carolyn said...

wow. this makes me miss home and REAL food more than ever. so which is home, guam or LA?

santos. said...

no real food where you live?! poor you!

i am at home wherever i am :-) except vegas. then i'm just visiting.

Avatar said...

Hm. Thanks for the recommendation... I'll have to try that place out next time I have a special occasion in LA.

How do you pronounce "omakase"? Is it phonetic? I want to impress the chef when I say it, not amuse him. :-)

Anonymous said...

hi avatar

it is phonetic. i usually follow it up with "whatever you want" in case i can't be understood :-)

santos. said...

oops, that was me saying that.

santos. said...

hi maria!

oops, sorry i missed your comment earlier. definitely try hirozen once the as yet un-named bairn is born. there's usually some well-behaved little ones eating dinner there, they all seem to love the food as well. foodie babes!

santos. said...

oops i did it again. reid, it was $120 not $160 for this particular meal. quite a difference, really, which would make it a much more reasonable price, considering it was split between three people. almost a bargain, really, for such quality.

santos. said...

man, i am losing my mind. or even worse, not paying attention to my credit card statements. the actual total was $98.25. i have no excuse.