Ordinary takeout Japanese by day…incredible tasting sensation by night. Niki Nakayama is the chef and master of one of the most spectacular tasting menus I have had in quite some time. Disclaimer: This is only meant for the pure foodie. If you are hung up on atmosphere and a pedigree wine list, not to mention if you are put off by the drive to Arcadia, this is not your scene. If it is all about the food, read on…
For $80/pp, experience a painstakingly prepared 8 course dinner with the finest quality ingredients assembled using traditional French, Japanese, and even molecular gastronomy techniques. Her emphasis is on seafood, and the sushi and sashimi courses are comparable in quality to some of the top sushi places in town. The cooked dishes are also unique and take on some of the gentle fusion elements I have seen at places like Urasawa and Shibucho. (eg Truffles yes, Jalapenos no.)
Here is the rundown of our dinner: (See pictures, below)
1) Blue Fin TarTare – This is not your run of the mill chopped tuna that is sually from the stuff that didn’t make the cut for the sashimi. It posessed beautiful flavor and texture. Plus, the avocado “pearl” that was dropped on top and “exploded” onto the fish was a lovely and poignant touch.
2)Three Kumomoto Oysters – Again, extraordinarily fresh and perfect, there were three toppings: a. Ponzu and orange, b. Yuzu and Salt, Orange Pearls and Ponzu. Again, another molecular gastronomy technique was utilized to create the pearls (sodium alginate/calcium bath) c. Soy-Dashi blend
3) Sashimi course: Uni, Japanese Hotate (Scallop), O-Toro, Japanese Snapper. OMG the uni was perfect. I was so hoping to get more…
4) Chawan Mushi (Japanese Egg Custard): An extraordinary example. Smooth, silky, like a flan. But with King Crab and Black Truffle shavings. Very soothing in texture and stimulating in flavor
5) Unagi (Eel) Risotto with lobe of Foie Gras: Eel sauce really tempers Foie Gras nicely. I can’t believe I haven’t seen this done before. I guess I have to get out more.
6) Truffled Mashed Potato, Kobe (Wagyu) Beef, Maitake mushrooms. Sounds much “bigger” than it tasted. Flavors were actually delicate and the texture of the beef was…sensual
7) Sushi Time! Scottish Salmon, Kampachi, Aji, YT Belly, Albacore, and more UNI
7a. We asked and she let us order another order of uni sushi a la carte. Heaven…
8) Dessert: Green Tea Creme Brulee and a Chestnut crepe with mandarin. Again: Light but distinct flavor and contrasting textures were the perfect ending to this meal.
I can’t wait to go back and do it again
BYOB – bring the good stuff; I suggest both white and red Burgundy, of course. Service was attentive and thoughtful. This is not a big meal – we were not stuffed afterwards, we probably could have eaten another course. But don’t they say Americans eat too much?
Inaka Seafood Gourmet838 S Baldwin Ave
Arcadia, CA 91007