If Donald Trump ever decides to put a sushi bar in Hollywood, he will have a hard time trying to outdo the Kress. Nightclub-cum-Sushi Bar, the Kress has given Hollywood a completely new category of luxury entertainment and excess. Woohoo!
The Kress is 4 stories huge, encompassing 38,000 square feet. It includes many private party rooms, all exquisitely apportioned with luxurious furnishings. The roof deck has cabanas and 360 degree views of Hollywood.
I could go on and on about the incredible interior, the result of a $26MM effort. The sushi bar itself is on level 2, and is completely open and overlooks the lower level. Off to the side is a “private table” that can seat around 10-12 that is completely enclosed in glass. We sat in the lower level. This is worth calling out because the ladies sat at the back of the table, our backs to the outside. The gentlemen sat with a direct view of Hollywood Blvd. That translated into the guys finding themselves frequently watching the special view of the unique and often strategically attired pedestrians which distracted them from the restaurant (and their wives). We ladies, on the other hand, found ourselves signing release forms as they were filming “The Hills” (yes, all the stars were at the bar) while we were there and the back of our heads were captured via a street camera. Watch for us in an upcoming episode. Don’t blink or you might miss it…
Being that this is a foodie blog, I should finally get to it. The executive chef is Troy Thompson, whom you might recall from Jer-Ne (Ritz in the Marina) a little while back. The Venetian’s David Burke also helps run the restaurant. Their menu has a very asian-influence; (check it out on Eater. Kress Menu) There is lots of creativity here and it is worth exploring. But the real draw is the sashimi and sushi. To be very clear, don’t be fooled by the venue. This is NOT “white boy sushi.” They take pride in carefully sourcing their fish (mostly from Japan) in a way that few sushi chefs do. They have a staff of renowned Japanese sushi chefs, including Travis Kamiyama, the executive sushi chef.
First, some bread was brought to the table. One of our waiters,
probably new to this style of food, described a Papadum and Naan (accompanied by a light and tasty black bean dip) as “Chinese
bread.” That was funny. But in general, the service was quite good,
with well-coordinated presentations of covered dishes that were
dramatically and simultaneously opened.
Our table shared the most delectable sashimi I have had since Urasawa. Each piece of fish was a jewel. Each piece was near perfection, not only in flavor but also in cut, texture, and presentation. Certainly the toro was sublime. The snapper (tai) and kampachi easily rivaled what we had at Urasawa. But for me, the live abalone was particularly memorable. Much better than abalone I have had at other places, it had the texture of Mirugai (giant geoduck clam) but yet had a certain softness and mellow flavor without any trace of fishiness. However, the grand slam of the night was the live sweet shrimp (Ama Ebi). I better clarify; if you have read some of my other postings, you may recall that typically when I say “live” the creature is still moving. In this case, this was handled behind the bar. What was presented to us was a huge, succulent (not still moving) headless shrimp topped with Oscetra caviar and gold flakes. When you bit into it it popped and crunched like a cooked shrimp it was so fresh, yet it still had the texture and intense flavor you would expect from premium ama ebi. My mouth is watering now.
We followed the sashimi with an 8-course tasting menu. I won’t list them all here, just the ones that made an impression, as a few items were quite remarkable. First item was a Grilled Quail and Lobster Terrine. It was actually close to a pate in presentation. THe lobster was perfectly cooked and the flavors blended nicely. This was an excellent Asian fusion dish. Another dish was the Aji Burger Cake on melted tomato and mustard. I never would have ordered this. And I would have been wrong. I expected the oily aji to overpower, but it was amazingly delicate. The texture was similar to a very crabby crab cake. The heirloom tomato underneath it was perfectly cooked so it mellowed while still retaining its form. Seasoning was spot on.
The dish I expected to most love was a bit of a letdown. The Wild Boston Blue Fin Toro on a Hot Rock with Sizzling Oils arrived at the table already overcooked. The flesh was already white thru the center of the fish. I will chalk this one up to opening pains.
At this point we supplemented the tasting menu with a little sushi. I just had to try their rice, as they have an actual rice polisher on the premises. Plus, they buy only the most top of the line nori. It did not disappoint. The vinegar/sugar seasoning was ever so slightly strong for me, but I did recognize and appreciate the authentic preparation.
Coffee and Coke Rubbed Moulard Duck Breast with Port Wine Cherries and Chanterelles was also overcooked for my palette. The duck should have been rare to medium rare. This was well into medium and was a bit tough. The sauce was interesting and a great justification to drink pinot, but it is not something I would order again.
Dessert was light and perfect: Coconut Sorbet over a poached peach with Creme Anglaise.
My biggest worry is that Kress can’t be both an amazing A list Hollywood nightclub as well as a top-of-the-line sushi bar. Go now while they are deciding, in case the sushi loses. Be sure to bring your xtra large wallet. The sushi is not quite as expensive as Urasawa, but it’s really up there.
6608 Hollywood Blvd