Yamakase: secret, invite-only sushi LA

2016-02-12 19.35.24Yama-san with his best Suntory-time impression. So, for the random animal right’s activist reading this, please close your eyes or go away. This guy is infamous for serving whale at The Hump in Santa Monica to some vege-nazi’s who spit it out in the bathroom and entrapped him on video. So he went away for a while, paid the slap on the wrist penalty, and now he is back to make our bellies happy.

We actually first met him with his family at Shunji for their special NYE dinner. He had some old Riesling that had a difficult cork that was not coming out clean. Luckily, our friend Scot masterfully opened it with his Durand corkscrew. It was like taking the thorn out of the lion’s paw, as it led to the amazing dinner invitation you are about to witness for Scot’s birthday.

2016-02-12 19.04.39As our dear friend Dan likes to say, “First the wine..”This was an old Burg tour de force. Highlight was the 1966 Pouilly-Fuisse. It was oxidized heaven. It was like the essence of caramelized pecan, so golden dark, nutty, tea-like mouth feel, ethereal elegance. Very rare to have a white this old. This is what Burg is made for, standing the test of time. Four white’s, four red’s, 8 lucky fucks.

2016-02-12 19.08.08Look at him working that hunk of blue fin. I am going straight to hell, bragging about Burgundian hedonism and binge eating endangered fish.

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Amuse buche of tofu, tomato and Santa Barbara uni with special sauce. Love the play on firm but fleshy (tomato), firm but mushy (cold tofu) and just mush (uni).

2016-02-12 19.38.47Steamed abalone sampler with special sauce, mushroomy, went well with the ’93 Beaune. Again, as soft as we had in Japan, none of this hard like plastic abalone served elsewhere in the US.

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Then this uniquely chewy Mille-feuille made with dried fig skin/tamarindo like substance, if memory serves me. We had the omakase menu and there was no written description of the meal or play by play of each dish other than recall from verbal interactions with Yama-san. It  was the moistest non-dry mille-feuille, that was visually deceptive. You typically expect a viscous custard and crispy flakey pastry, yet this was crispy but did not fly apart when bitten into. Rather it had a strong integrity and uniformity, and you could set it down without it collapsing on you. The cream was cold and thick in consistency as well. I just looked at Erika in bliss as I ate this.

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Yet another specimen not seen in the US sushi arena, mantis shrimp (shako). This shrimp is traditionally brown in color and has more of a grainy/chewy consistency vs tiger shrimp or other western shrimp/prawn varieties. Amazing japanese pickles to add subtle contrast to the subtle flavor of the shrimp. Nice low key pairing.

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Japanese Ice fish with caviar and special sauce. Again, Japanese sushi item, rarely seen here.  Nicely done, love the slimy consistency, similar to the fermented squid that is usually served as an appetizer when drinking large amounts of beer at a Japanese izakaya. By the way, pay attention to the small increments of caviar and truffles that will be introduced in coming dishes. It will soon become obscene.

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Wow, Shirako. Fish sperm. More specifically sperm sacs of cod. Literal Japanese translation is ‘white children’. Taste like brains, but you don’t have to give brains to get these ‘white children’. Ok, I will just stop with the perverted double meanings as this can go on all night. Very good all jokes aside, again has the consistency of cesos (Mexican style brain tacos), or cold marinated lamb brains in olive oil as the Greeks or Armenians like to eat.2016-02-12 20.02.24

The quail eggs, soft boiled, were awaiiting for their next destination, in a spoon, next to oyster, caviar and uni. Take every gooey thing you can imagine and put them in a room to have an orgy, this is what was waiting for us in a spoon next. But before the dirty perversion, a nice palate cleanser of ice fish, wrapped in shiso with ikura.

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Now back to what we are eagerly waiting for…ouuuuuuuuu

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Next up, crab, uni and toro on toast, it’s like stoner food for sushi lovers.

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Talk about unleashing everything you got in one plate, flavors going in so many directions, couldn’t figure out what to focus on.

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Lightly seared Kobe beef sliced shabustyle with a dijonaise sauce with scallions. The rest of the Kobe was then later prepared shabu style as well as grilled with whisky. You get slapped around and thrown around with so many one two punches this meal it is like a slaughter house, it just keeps coming, and he keeps killing it dish after dish, all high-end no-holds-barred decadence. We haven’t even reached the truffles yet.

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Speaking of truffles, let’s start with the bonanza of truffles sliced samurai slaughter style over a mound of uni. This guy has no mercy and doesn’t seem to give a shit about how much he spends on our meal as he goes to town on the truffle until it drowns out the truffle.

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How about a little ice fish on the side to give it some crunch. Ok, more truffles please.

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Take that. You want more? Maybe after a couple of more teasers.

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Hokkaido scallop with olive oil and either sliced gobo or cod egg sac sliced. This meal was a while ago and I cannot cross reference it anymore. Either way it was light, sweet and amazing. He cut it out of the scallop shell and boiled it in it’s own shell. I think it also had some cumin or sansho pepper sprinkled on there with actual little shanso sprouts.

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Then, just straight blue fin chunks with caviar and green onion to clean your palate.

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The calm before the storm ends as you are piledrived with fois gras, mashed up toro and parmasan cheese. The smoothness of the foie gras, with the crumbliness and umami of the parmesan cheese grated onto your plate with the mushy/fatty toro really complemented each other nicely. 2016-02-12 21.16.31

Next up Hokkaido king crab. Not the hairy crab, which we were lucky enough to try at another Yama-san dinner in the future.

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So sweet, needs nothing to mask the flavor.

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Back to the Kobe beef cut shabu style, served shabu style with sansho peppers to tingle your mouth.

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Look at that marbling.

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Nose print of the cow to prove it’s origin.

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After flambeeing the meat with Macallan 18, chops it up only to bury it in Round Two of truffle terrorism.

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You like that, take it! I’ll give you more you dirty foodie…you want more, huh?..

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Bam! If there was ever a time to use that played out expression this was it. Macallan 18 flambeed Kobe marbled-ass beef with a truffle orgy. This should have put the lid on the coffin, but the final nails have yet to be nailed into us.

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Come to me my pretty little Predator lips looking vaginal aka-gai..my favorite freaking sushi ever, never available on the US. I almost dropped to my knees.

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Oh ya, look at how it spreads open. Gives me the chills.

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One last orgy before you go. Scot is having so much fun he’s even double fisting. No stops here, let’s pull out all the tricks and acrobatic techniques. This is like the food porn Olympics. Toro, uni, crab and foie gras hand roll. Just in case you missed something. Take that you dirty foodie, have you had enough yet?

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Blacked out windows and sign. Like a foodie massage parlor in a strip mall. We left feeling abused and violated, but already Jonesing for the next hit!


If he likes you he gives you a card to come back on your own without your host. If he doesn’t, he says that he ran out of cards, “maybe next time”. This is the closest thing to having an AMEX black card.




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