Niseko, Japan: Outstanding Kaiseki at Sobatei Rakuichi

Soba Master and Owner of Rakuichi

We were closing out an epic week of snowboarding and skiing some serious powder in Niseko, Japan, when on our last night we visited Rakuichi, the 12-seat kaiseki restaurant at the foot of Annupuri resort. During lunchtime, I hear Tatsuru and Midori Rai have quite a queue as they keep service strictly to soba. While absolutely every plate was pristinely and passionately prepared, soba was definitely the centerpiece of our multi-course dinner.

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Tokyo, Japan: Mind-blowing Sushi at Sushisho Masa

Chef Masakatsu Oka

I think I am ruined. I have had sushi in Japan and it was phenomenal. It was the best sushi I have ever had; nay, it was the best meal I have had in my entire life. It surpassed my wildest dreams, if they knew at which point to even begin.

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi Opens Today

There are pivotal moments in a sushi lover’s life. Sukiyabashi Jiro is one of those famed restaurants that I have aspirations of eating at in the case that I not only make it to Japan, but have the money (Â¥30,000, or $360) to put up for – at maximum – 20 minutes of the best fish I’ve ever had in my life.

(The closest experience to this has to have been my last meal at Sushi Nozawa – now closed - which clocked in at about 30 minutes and not a minute longer. Warm rice with excellent fish, yes. Jiro’s? No. )

The 10-seat, 3-star Michelin starred Sukiyabashi Jiro is helmed by Jiro Ono, the first sushi chef and oldest chef to be awarded the honor. Jiro Dreams of Sushi is 81 minutes of pure food porn laying the foundation for Jiro’s life story, including the pursuit of literal perfection of his craft and the contingent (and not-so-contingent) roles of his sons and apprentices. It’s an intriguing perspective into Japanese culture and the evolution of its food.

New York opened last week, and finally Los Angeles has its chance – specifically on the Westside at the Nuart. For tonight’s showtimes, filmmaker David Gelb will appear in person for a Q&A after the 7:30pm show and to introduce the 9:40pm show. Tomorrow (Saturday, March 17), he’ll do another Q&A after the 7:30pm show and introduce the 9:40pm show. You can also check out Food GPS’ excellent Q&A with the guy.

And I would be negligent if I didn’t recommend that you be prepared to visit a decent sushi place before or after the movie – so you’re not left hungry and envious, or shall we say, “hangry” (personal experience). While there is no Jiro in LA, perhaps try a SUGARfish location, Sushi Central (Palms) or Sushi Park (Sunset Blvd, WeHo) for some unadulterated omakase nigiri made by chefs who, at the very least, say “no california roll or spicy tuna?”

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Opening March 16, 2012:

Nuart Theatre
10850 W Pico Blvd Suite 520
Los Angeles, CA 90064
310.281.8223

Opening March 23, 2012:

Laemmle NoHo 7
5240 Lankershim Boulevard
San Fernando Valley, CA 91601
310.478.3836

Playhouse 7 Cinemas
673 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91101
626.844.6500

The Gift of Food For Japan Cocktail Benefit: Tuesday, April 26, 2011

PRISM | Photo: Joshua White

Next week, Umamimart, Yamazaki Whiskey, Eveleigh and a host of other sponsors will be holding a cocktail benefit at PRISM in West Hollywood to benefit Second Harvest of Japan – Japan’s first food bank providing direct relief to the survivors of the recent disasters. Proceeds will go towards soup kitchens and food banks to assist the 220,000 people currently in emergency housing as they transition into long-term housing and children gear up for the new school year.

Getting involved with Japan relief is none easier than purchasing a $50 advance ticket ($75 at the door) to the cocktail benefit, which will kick off at 6 PM next Tuesday with Yamazaki highballs, Eveleigh appetizers and Fruit & Flour desserts. Exclusive limited edition posters and T-shirts by Clare Rojas will be available for sale, with proceeds also going toward Second Harvest. You’ll get great views of Sunset Strip from atop the roof of PRISM.

At 9 PM, you’ll move into neighboring Eveleigh’s own, lovely back patio for a reception with hosted cocktails by SKYY, Partida Tequila and Combier. Starting at 10 PM, the cash bar will open and all proceeds will also go toward Second Harvest.

What a great way to help Japan out by giving to a Tokyo-based organization – with Yamazaki Whiskey and Eveleigh appetizers, to boot. San Francisco’s inaugural event raised over $10,000 and the goal for next Tuesday is $20,000. Be sure to get your tickets (receipts are issued immediately via email). I’ll see you there.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

6 PM

Tickets

PRISM
8746 W Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Eveleigh
8752 W. Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Drink To Japan at Cube and Eagle Rock Brewery

Eagle Rock Brewery Growler - Credit to Guzzle & Nosh (http://guzzlenosh.com/)

We all know about the tragedy that continues to unfold in Japan. As Japan endures aftershocks and the rest of the world does everything in her power – but seemingly never enough – to help the Land of the Rising Sun, we can see that at least some of our going-out dollars go towards relief.

Fortunately, two of my favorite sources of wine and beer in town have kicked off benefits where 50% or even 100% of proceeds from sales will go to Japan.

Cube (Today – Tuesday, March 29th, 2011):

Cube will donate 100% of proceeds from sales of the following three red wines by the glass to the American Red Cross’ disaster relief programs in Japan:

  • 2006 Brigaldara Amarone ($18)
  • 2008 Nicodemi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($10)
  • 2009 Zuani Collio Bianco ($12)

All three wines will be distinguished on Cube’s wines by the glass (vini al bicchieri) list with a ‘+’.

UPDATE: Cube has just added 2 pastas to the Red Cross – Japan benefit menu: Maltagliati with Oxtail Ragu and Red Cow Parmesan, Gnocchi with Lamb Sausage Bolognese and Red Cow Parmasan. They both are dressed in red sauces in keeping with their “RED for RED” Japan relief theme. So enjoy either (or both?) of these delicious pastas and wash it down with a RED for RED wine while knowing those dollars will help with disaster relief.

Eagle Rock Brewery(Today at 4 PM – Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 6 PM):

Raise a pint of Solidarity for Japan in Eagle Rock Brewery’s own taproom. They’ll be donating 50% of proceeds from every pint of the dark mild ale sold to UNICEF’s efforts to help the children in Japan who have been impacted by the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.

So get out there and make every liquid dollar count towards Japan earthquake and tsunami relief. You might as well support local biz and enjoy some solid wines and beers while you’re at it.

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Cube benefit: Today – Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cube
615 N. La Brea Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.939.1148

Eagle Rock Brewery benefit: Today at 4 PM – Sunday, March 27, 2011

Taproom Hours
Wed – Sat: 4-10 PM
Sun: 12 – 6 PM

Eagle Rock Brewery
3056 Roswell Street
Los Angeles, CA 90065
323.257.7866