I’ve been kind of sleeping on this one, because we are already half-way through the first of two weeks of this season‘s restaurant week. But don’t let me be the example, because if there are a couple restaurants in LA you’ve been meaning to check out, now is the time to see if they’re participating in Dine LA. From the Quickfire Challenges that have been held around the city (and culminating last night with Chef Eric GreenspanÂ of The Foundry on MelroseÂ winning the dessert challenge finale) to the incentive to dine at least three times with your American Express (but not before registering your card here), there has been a good amount of hoopla surrounding this fall’s Restaurant Week installment. You get a prix fixe 3 courses for varying price points.
So, if you have an American Express and plan on dining out at least three times, be sure to register it because if you spend at least $21 each time, you’ll get a $20 statement credit.
Of course, not all restaurants nor menus are considered equal. I browsed the list and pulled the ones that I’d be most interested in. Keep in mind there are three different price points each for lunch ($16, $22, $28) and dinner ($26, $34, $44) – and not all restaurants serve a Dine LA prix fixe for both. I also highlighted a menu item that particularly piqued my interest.
The Bazaar by Jose Andres ($$$) – Catalan Pork Sausage Bistro LQ ($$) – Ham Hock District ($$) – Venison Chile Relleno Drago Centro ($$$) – Veal Osso Bucco Eva ($$) – Cod and Caponata FIG Santa Monica ($$) – Red Beet Risotto The Foundry on Melrose ($$$) – Miso Honey Glazed Duck Laxy Ox Canteen ($) – Veal Breast with Pee Wee Potato Salad Locanda del Lago ($$) – Lobster-Dill-Ricotta Ravioli Ortega 120 ($) – Petite Sterling Silver, Pasilla Pepper, Queso Oaxaca, Red Chile Potato Hash Petrossian ($$$) – Crab Risotto Piccolo ($$$) – Pumpkin pasta w/Black Truffle Filling RH Restaurant ($$) – Roasted Boothbay Harbor Lobster Rivera ($$$) – Banana leaf-braised pork shoulder Urban Noodle ($) – Urban Noodle House Special Noodles
I admit, there is no way I’m going to make it out to half on my list so I’m leaving it up to you. They are all restaurants that I’ve had good experiences at so you can call these educated guesses. So get out there and experiment. You’d be remiss to not take the opportunity to try the restaurants you’ve always been curious about.
It was a February night in Palms when I joined a few other writers in a lesson on sake by none other than Sake Master Yuji Matsumoto. The featured brewer was Dassai, who only makes Junmai Daiginjo sake – pure sake (no added alcohol) made withÂ at least 50% polished rice grain.
It was my first time at Sushi Central and though I could appreciate the casual atmosphere – IÂ won’t be fooled again by the inconspicuous signage nor strip mall placement. It was all about the fish, and thanks to their good sushi that I could really and truly appreciate the sake we were tasting. I plan to return for the omakase when I get my next sushi kick.
We were graced by the presence of Kazuhiro Sakurai, the Dassai representative and 4th generation Vice President of the brewery, who flew in to personally tell us about his family’s sakes. Sushi chef Philip Yi (once a challenged chef in Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!) was gracious throughout the night and wowed us with his extremely good sushi. For starters, the slightly-smoky, ultra-tenderÂ OnoÂ (Yi’s self-describedÂ “crack” fish)Â left us eager for the night to come. Our saucers remained untouched and unused the entire night, leaving the chef full reign over our tastebuds with no adulteration by added wasabi nor soy sauce.
We started off our sake tasting with the most refined sake of the night, the 23 Dassai Junmai Daiginjo ($80) – which I thought was unusual at the time since I’m accustomed to working up to the highest quality from the low. Later, the order would make sense. The ultra-smooth sake was so clean and so delicious and went well with the yellowtail it was paired with. Light sake paired with a white fish – it was perfectly complimentary.
After that came the 50 Dassai, which was still very smooth but had a little bit more acidity since less of the rice grain was polished away. This was perfect because when paired with salmon belly sushi, it cut across the fattier fish – but the sake still had a good amount of finesse. Perfectly paired sake and sushi is a truly heavenly thing.
Next was the Saba, or Japanese Mackerel (title picture) – which is a saltier, less fatty fish and went well with the 39 Dassai – a variety which isn’t available in the United States. We also tried a very lightly-carbonated, unfiltered version of the 50 Dassai – only available Stateside and perfectly complimented sushi chef Philip Yi’s spicy tuna roll. Before this night, I had shunned spicy tuna rolls – but there was excellent tuna, very little mayo and a good amount of spice in the roll; I could truly appreciate the ingredients in this version of what is typically regarded as “filler appetizer!”