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Urasawa in Photos, or, My First Post

Long time lurker, first time poster here.

What better way to start off on Chowhound than with a photo essay of one of the most famous restaurants in LA...

What was funny was that when Urasawa saw me taking out the camera, he asked if I was going to post the photos on Chowhound. I wasn't planning to originally, but look at me now lol.

See here: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fus...

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  1. The definitive Urasawa report. Thanks!

    1. BRAVO!! You have definitely whetted my appetite. Going to save up some money and do it. Thanks for a great post.

      1. wow!! great photos and blog Kevin!

        fight on!

        henry

        1. dear god, what an entry! thanks kevin!

          4 Replies
          1. re: nancyxo

            I have always longed to know what goes on inside L.A.'s sushi mecca. Now I know! And definitely want to go. Thank you so very much for sharing it with us. A couple questions - is it a set price or is there just a minimum of $250 per person (or is it more?) I doubt I could eat all that you were served, so I wondered whether people tell them when to stop or not.

            1. re: meganinlosfeliz

              Thanks Megan! From everything I've seen, the "normal" set price is indeed $250pp. However, I've heard unconfirmed reports that it can go higher if there are "special" items, such as fugu. With regard to your second question, we actually told Urasawa to stop, but not because we were full, but out of courtesy (we could've finished his entire case of fish that night if we had kept going!). Actually, I found that it wasn't that much food and could have gone for a Double-Double afterwards, with plenty of room to spare. ;)

              1. re: kevin h

                Does the $250 normal price include drinks/sake?

                1. re: leun0532

                  Unfortunately it does not. Evian was $8 a bottle and I don't think they serve tap water. Take a look at the wine/sake list I posted for an idea of the prices. I believe we paid around $150 for sake while the Dom I brought myself; no corkage is nice.

            1. Damn - another reason a Boston Chowhound could be jealous of the West Coast'ers. That's excellent Kevin!

              1. Wow, great pics and write up. Thank you for sharing!

                Just wondering, what does the gold foil taste like? Does it add a flavor? Or is it purely for show? As you can tell, I've never had the pleasure of trying it.

                5 Replies
                1. re: ladius

                  Glad you enjoyed the pics! I could not discern any notable taste from the gold leaf. I believe it is there simply to enhance the appearance and luxuriousness of the dish.

                  1. re: ladius

                    Gold foil, or leaf, is not really "edible" like a pear is edible. You get no nutrition from it, it doesn't dissolve or break down in your stomach. It just stays inert pure gold until it's...gone from you. It won't hurt you, but it isn't food.
                    There is a liqueur called "Goldwasser" I think, with little bits of gold in the bottle to be shaken like a snow dome and poured. Very pretty and Christmasy.
                    (kevin, this post was a vacation to L.A.!, thank you!)

                    1. re: blue room

                      Thanks for the info!
                      I believe the liqueur you're referring to is Goldschl├Ąger.

                      1. re: kevin h

                        Thanks for your info too!
                        I did not know about Goldschlager, but I see now that it is a cinnamon flavored drink with gold. Goldwasser has caraway seed and orange peel flavors with gold.

                        1. re: blue room

                          My brain hurts merely thinking about Goldschlager...

                    1. Such fun to have read your post---or should I say to have LOOKED at your post! Spousal unit and I dined at Urasawa this last Saturday. It was our third experience at Urasawa and it was utterly sublime. Our first dinner had us taking copious notes on each course. Our second dinner had our friends doing the same, as well as taking pics. When we went 2 nights ago for my birthday, we simply indulged and luxuriated without any chronicling of Hiro's awesome talent with pictures or writing. Your post with it's pictures was the capper to my birthday because you let me relive the night.

                      Thank you so much,
                      Jeff

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JeffW

                        You're quite welcome Jeff! On subsequent visits to Urasawa, I too hope to delight in the experience unencumbered by photo- and note-taking.

                      2. youre the man! great write up and pics!

                        1. Kevin H..
                          hands down the BEST urasawa report i have EVER seen...
                          excellent work and thank you so much for taking the time to share with us

                          Perceptor

                          1. Kevin,

                            Great job man. Amazing first post - hope that isnt the last time you post! I just emailed it to 5 friends hoping someone will fly to LA with me to try it out!

                            A few questions - from the detail of your pictures and descriptions, it obviously seems like Urasawa is very receptive to photo's and explanation. How did you approach this, or was it just assumed on his part that pictures were part of the whole experience? Did he provide the intimate details of each dish (location of the fish for example), or is that part of your knowledge /researched. Lastly, was tip expected or given? I was always told in Asian cultures, if the chef is the owner, then you do not tip him. Not sure how it would work here.

                            Response is appreciated!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: yen

                              Yes I definitely hope to post more! In the LA area, I plan to do CUT, Providence, Spago, and Studio in the future.

                              As for the photos, I believe Urasawa is quite used to them, as he is even aware of people posting pictures on this very board! At the beginning of the meal, I just briefly mentioned that I'd be taking photos and notes of the meal and he seemed to have no problem. As for the details of each dish, Urasawa did provide the majority of the information; I did however fill in some missing pieces via Google and Wikipedia. Finally, with regard to tip, I was not aware of the chef/owner rule; we tipped around 28% I believe. I wouldn't recommend not tipping there. ;)

                              1. re: kevin h

                                Thank you Kevin. I appreciate the assistance!

                            2. That's a great report, and it motivated me to read Irene Virbila's original review again. (See: http://www.calendarlive.com/dining/10...

                              )

                              My favorite passage:

                              "When we sit down, ... [Urasawa] tells me Masa was in town a couple of weeks ago and they went to Lawry's on La Cienega together. The image of the two of them sitting down before a spinning salad and a chef in white gloves carving a hunk of prime rib from that gleaming cart makes me smile.

                              "'Masa likes meat,' he chortles."

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Mel Gee

                                Yes Virbila's review helped inspire me as well! It was the first one I read about Urasawa and I remember the passage about Lawry's vividly.

                              2. What an amazing first post! Please go to more restaurants, and keep it up.

                                1. I am particularly intrigued by the tamagoyaki. Previous Urasawa posters have also mentioned this culinary delight which has sparked me interest in the technique, ingredients involved in this version.

                                  It truly resembles the Japanese-Portuguese Castella confection - in its airness and cake-like appearance.

                                  Has any Urasawa diners inquired as to Hiro's Tamagoyaki methodology?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: kare_raisu

                                    I didn't get much details on how it is prepared, but he is clearly very proud of his tamago and said that it takes something like two hours to bake it. It was the best I ever had -- dense and flavorful.

                                    1. re: Marco Polo

                                      I have not (yet) been lucky enough to eat at Urasawa (I actually had to TURN DOWN an invitation a couple of months ago, if you can believe it), but I was struck that Urasawa's tamago visually resembles the wonderful sponge-cakey tamago at Kiriko. For those who've been to both, how do they compare?

                                      While I'm at it, let me join the chorus of applause for *kevin h*; this was an amazing post, especially for a first post. I also forwarded it to several friends. Hope to see a lot more. (And for those who haven't notice, kevin h clearly has the makings of a great Chowhound, since his other 2 posts so far relate to fishburgers and tacos)!

                                    2. re: kare_raisu

                                      I've never had Castella so I can't compare the two directly, but on cursory glance they do look quite similar. And indeed the tamago was more akin to a cake than an omelet.

                                      Unfortunately I did not inquire as to how Urasawa prepares it.

                                    3. Awesome pictures and review. Hope to see more reviews from you. Thank you for sharing. ^^

                                      1. Incredible photos, how much did this meal cost you for one person?

                                        Thank you,

                                        Stuart

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Hypnotic23

                                          Stuart, it came out to an average of $368pp. This included tax, a generous tip, Evian, and four small bottles of sake. I brought the Dom Perignon myself and there was no corkage.

                                        2. !excellent post kevin! thank you.
                                          I dined at Urasawa last month (for the first time) and had such a memorable experience.
                                          Of course it is alot of money, but I like you really felt that it was worth every penny.
                                          It is such a rarity to find a chef with such a holistic view of his art-down to every minute detail...i.e. I noted the beautiful chrysanthemum flowers behind his counter that evening and he said that he buys the flowers downtown at the flower market himself and arranges the Ikebana. I appreciate that he is so sincere, friendly and easy to talk to also.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ostudio

                                            Yes I also noticed the chrysanthemum flowers throughout the restaurant, from the entrance to the ice buckets to the ikebana and even the food itself (sashimi and dumpling). It is indeed an experience worth every penny.

                                          2. Thanks for all the lovely photos kevin. Now I'm thinking up an excuse for a trip down to SoCal for a celebratory meal! Do you happen to know how far in advance Urasawa gets booked up? Thanks!

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: S U

                                              We were able to secure reservations approximately three weeks in advance. Unfortunately, I do not know if that's the general case however.

                                              1. re: S U

                                                I think it all depends if you want a reservation for a weeknight or weekend.
                                                I made my reservation for a saturday night only 2 weeks in advance.

                                                1. re: ostudio

                                                  Yes, our reservation was also for Saturday night, which I would assume is the hardest time to get.

                                              2. Awesome pics Kevin, you tortured me very well! I can't wait to go back to the finest dining on the planet!

                                                1. Kevin H, the photos were so incredible, I'm wondering what kind of camera you were using? Digital or old-fashioned?

                                                  I had been to the old Ginza Sushi-Ko many times and have been waiting for someone to convince me that Urasawa was a worthy successor and worth the money, and now you have. Can't wait to go.

                                                  By the way, I'm sure that they were not the least nonplussed by the shutterbugging. I remember being taken by Japanese friends to a very exclusive restaurant in a chichi Tokyo neighborhood and being a bit surprised when patrons started whipping out their cameras (more to photograph each other dining, rather than the food). That was basically my introduction to the Japanese love affair with the camera. After that, I stopped being self-conscious about lugging a camera around Tokyo and fearing that I would look like a dumb tourist.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: omotosando

                                                    I was actually using a digital: the Fuji FinePix F30, a compact camera well-known for its low noise levels at high ISO. All of the photos were taken at ISO 800 with no flash. I'm glad to hear that they were probably not offended by my constant snapping!

                                                    Also, I would have loved to have gone to Ginza, but that was before my time (was still a poor student). I guess I'll just have to go to Masa now to see what I was missing!

                                                    1. re: kevin h

                                                      from one kevin to another, great photos, and yes, the fact that you didn't use a flash made the photos that much and considerably better. i hate flash but that's another matter altogether.

                                                      the frothy green tea is what sold me on urasawa. i gotta get there myself, bu don't know if i can rationalize the cost

                                                      has anyone been for lunch and is it sort of the same elaborate meal as at dinner but cheaper?

                                                      1. re: kevin h

                                                        Lunch is the same price as dinner and equally as wonderful - by reservation only.

                                                  2. Wonderful write up with excellent and detailed photos. Thanks, Kevin.

                                                    BTW -- at the end of your review you write "Hiro-san recommended two restaurants in the LA area: Angelini Osteria for Italian and the modern French eatery Sona."

                                                    I don't think you will get many arguments here on the boards about those two places. They happen to be two of my favourites.

                                                    Thanks again for your exhaustive report.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Maxmillion

                                                      You're welcome Max! I have indeed heard many good things about those two eateries.

                                                    2. Great write-up & photos (though you've already heard me mention this elsewhere) -- welcome to CH as well. And all those ootoro dishes is making my tastebuds drool, while the environmentalist side of me is screaming "oh, the horror!"

                                                      ~AquaW
                                                      http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: AquaW

                                                        Good to see you here as well! Fight on!

                                                      2. Fantastic report!

                                                        Very interesting to see how the menu has evolved since my visit about a year and a half ago:

                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/62955...

                                                        Mr Taster

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                          Great write-up! It looks as though the number of courses have gone down in recent times unfortunately.