Hirozen Gourmet is a perfect example of why you can only find the best sushi in the U.S. in Los Angeles. Located in a mini-mall on an average corner of Beverly Blvd. (here, actually), Hiroji Obayashi’s 20 year old restaurant puts out consistently excellent food with a creative and colorful flair. I have enjoyed the delights of Hirozen many times and have never had anything but a great meal.
Obayashisan’s philosophy is “food is for the human relation,” meaning that a meal is the connective tissue of society around which one creates a gathering of people to share their lives with one another. His food expresses his philosophy in the way it surprises without demanding center stage, delights without showing off and sublimely satiates without overpowering. In a city of many options for outstanding sushi, Hirozen Gourmet enters its third decade still standing out from the crowd.
Cucumber sunomono - sliced cucumbers, seaweed and shoots in rice vinegar with lemon; a light, refreshing start to any sushi meal
L-R: Tai - japanese snapper with sea salt and mint; Loup de Mer w/ yuzu-kosho and sea salt; Dorade - French Snapper w/ sea salt
L-R: Blue Fine Tuna with soy sauce and wasabi; Hirame with ponzu and green onion
L-R: Tasmanian Sea Trout with ponzu and scallion; Aji - spanish mackerel with fresh ginger and scallion; White Salmon with scallion; the best trio of the meal, 3 smokey, creamy delicious pieces of fish
Albacore Clear Roll - albacore, avocado, mango, cucumber in clear rice paper
Another highlight, the Wagyu - grilled sake-kasu japanese beef - was perfectly cooked tender, and delicately seasoned sweet and salty
L-R: Kampachi - amberjack (or baby yellowtail) with yuzu-kosho; Mirugai- jumbo clam with mint; Yari-Ika - fresh squid with ginger; a return to light and citrus flavours
L-R: Spicy grilled yellow tail with scallion; Uni - Santa Barbara Sea Urchin; Unagi - fresh water eel with eel sauce; finishing the meal with a tour of flavors, from rich to briney sea to a savory, sweet, grilled dessert
Posted in Restaurants
Tagged Aji, Albacore, Amerjack, Avocado, Baby Yellowtail, Blue Fin Tuna, Cucumber, Dorade, Eel Sauce, Food, Fresh Water Eel, Ginger, Hirame, Hirozen, Jumbo Clam, Kampachi, Lemon, Los Angeles, Loup de Mer, Mango, Mint, Mirugai, Obayashi, Ponzu, Rice Paper, Rice Vinegar, Sake-Kasu, Santa Barbara, Scallion, Sea Salt, Sea Urchin, Seaweed, Snapper, Soy Sauce, Spanish Mackerel, Squid, Sunomono, Sushi, Tai, Tazmanian Sea Trout, Unagi, Uni, Wagyu, Wasabi, White Salmon, Yari-Ika, Yellow, Yellowtail, Yuzu-Kosho
Chad and Sasha with master chef/owner Gianni Bonaccorsi
Il Ridotto is a little restaurant located on a precious square (more of a triangle) behind Piazza San Marco, located here. There are a few excellent enotecas nearby, including one catty corner to the restaurant also owned by Bonaccorsi called Aciugheta (it means “anchovies”). Sasha and I ordered the Chef’s testing menu (which had a wonderful description that I wish I had written down); at E50, it’s a feast and a bargain. The amuse bouche was potato wrapped roasted prawn on a bed of creamed potatoes, extra virgin and chive. The prawn was succulent and full of flavor and the crunch of the julienned potato wrapping combined with the cloud-like creamed potato was a winning combination.
Amuse Bouche @ Il Ridotto
Next up, I had a “fantasie di pesci” appetizer of warm and raw crudo. This included razorfish in a pepper salsa, cuttlefish with potatoes, mackerel with pickled beet, tuna, and one other fish that I can’t recall.
Sasha’s appetizer was a tower of beef tartar. The layers of tartar are presented on top of perfectly crisp and round toast and aretopped with a hard boiled quail’s egg. Accompanying this dish was a light salad of arugula with extra virgin and balsamic. The tartar was silky and flavorful.
For the pasta course, I was treated to a seafood risotto featuring branzino and octopus. The risotto was a perfect al dente and the flavor was rich and yet subtle. What really made this dish was the raspberry in the center. The berry was perfectly ripe and just a bit cooked so that when I touched it with my fork it easily came apart. The fruit cut each bite of risotto and added a wow factor without overpowering the delicate flavors of the pasta.
Sasha was treated to a luxurious tagliolini with Piedmontese “Fassone” meat ragu. Fassone beef, rasied in Piedmonte, is renowned for its lean and delicious flavor. Again, the freshly made pasta was perfectly cooked and the ragu expertly seasoned. The Fassone was not only amazingly tender, but its delicate, sweet and savory flavor made this ragu very light.
Fassone - You Can't Touch This
We were so focused on enjoying our meal that we forgot to take pictures when the next course arrived and just started eating (which accounts for the state you see in the following photos). Up next for me was a breaded Dorade with asparagus puree and roasted carrot and zucchini. I was again amazed by the maestro’s ability to make what I expected to be a heavy dish taste so light. The puree was soft and sweet and perfectly complimented the fish. The breading did not taste fried, but almost as if the fish were born that way. The texture was as if the fish were steamed.
Sasha’s beef braised in red wine was served with creamed potatoes with extra virgin and chives. Another hearty dish prepared with a light touch. The beef bowed tenderly to the slightest touch of a fork and melted with each bite. Combined bites with the cloud-like potatoes produced a rich, sweet and savory experience.
Are you drooling yet?
We were already screaming for mercy, but Bonaccorsi would not stop. From Sicily came the Cassata Cheesecake with Cassata Gelato and a chocolate flan with vanilla gelato. I don’t think I have ever tasted anything like the Cassata Cheesecake with its tiramisu texture. Coffees were served along with four kinds of sugar.
Ever seen pink sugar?
Posted in Restaurants
Tagged Beef Tartar, Bonaccorsi, Braised Beef, Branzino, Cassata, Cheesecake, Chocoloate Flan, Creamed Potatoes, Crudo, Dorade, Extra Virgin, Fassone, Fine Dining, Food, Gelato, Italy, Octopus, Pink Sugar, Ragu, Raspberry, Risotto, San Marco, Tagliolini, Tiramisu, Venice, Zucchini Puree