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Urasawa in Photos, or, My First Post

kevin h Nov 21, 2006 12:02 AM

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...

  1. Mr Taster Nov 24, 2006 06:36 PM

    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
      kevin h Nov 24, 2006 10:24 PM

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

    2. a
      AquaW Nov 24, 2006 06:19 PM

      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
        kevin h Nov 24, 2006 10:25 PM

        Good to see you here as well! Fight on!

      2. Maxmillion Nov 23, 2006 05:44 PM

        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
          kevin h Nov 23, 2006 11:08 PM

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

        2. omotosando Nov 23, 2006 07:38 AM

          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
            kevin h Nov 23, 2006 11:06 PM

            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
              k
              kevin Nov 24, 2006 11:10 PM

              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
                l
                lizziee Nov 25, 2006 12:14 AM

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

          2. Pablo Nov 21, 2006 10:14 PM

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

            1. s
              S U Nov 21, 2006 09:44 PM

              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
                kevin h Nov 21, 2006 09:58 PM

                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
                  o
                  ostudio Nov 22, 2006 07:28 PM

                  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
                    kevin h Nov 22, 2006 07:36 PM

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

                2. o
                  ostudio Nov 21, 2006 08:38 PM

                  !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
                    kevin h Nov 21, 2006 08:44 PM

                    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. Hypnotic23 Nov 21, 2006 07:10 PM

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

                    Thank you,

                    Stuart

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Hypnotic23
                      kevin h Nov 21, 2006 07:21 PM

                      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. e
                      eileen216 Nov 21, 2006 05:31 PM

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

                      1. kare_raisu Nov 21, 2006 03:51 PM

                        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
                          m
                          Marco Polo Nov 21, 2006 04:30 PM

                          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
                            p
                            PayOrPlay Nov 21, 2006 05:55 PM

                            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
                            kevin h Nov 21, 2006 07:07 PM

                            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. c
                            cls Nov 21, 2006 02:35 PM

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

                            1. m
                              Mel Gee Nov 21, 2006 08:54 AM

                              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
                                kevin h Nov 21, 2006 07:03 PM

                                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. y
                                yen Nov 21, 2006 08:06 AM

                                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
                                  kevin h Nov 21, 2006 07:00 PM

                                  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
                                    y
                                    yen Nov 21, 2006 07:48 PM

                                    Thank you Kevin. I appreciate the assistance!

                                2. Perceptor Nov 21, 2006 07:36 AM

                                  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. modernist Nov 21, 2006 05:41 AM

                                    youre the man! great write up and pics!

                                    1. JeffW Nov 21, 2006 05:11 AM

                                      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
                                        kevin h Nov 21, 2006 06:22 AM

                                        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. SilverlakeGirl Nov 21, 2006 03:42 AM

                                        Bliss ...

                                        1. ladius Nov 21, 2006 03:22 AM

                                          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
                                            kevin h Nov 21, 2006 03:44 AM

                                            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
                                              blue room Nov 24, 2006 03:13 AM

                                              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
                                                kevin h Nov 24, 2006 06:36 AM

                                                Thanks for the info!
                                                I believe the liqueur you're referring to is Goldschläger.

                                                1. re: kevin h
                                                  blue room Nov 24, 2006 03:06 PM

                                                  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
                                                    therealbigtasty Nov 25, 2006 10:41 AM

                                                    My brain hurts merely thinking about Goldschlager...

                                            2. Rubee Nov 21, 2006 01:17 AM

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

                                              1. wilafur Nov 21, 2006 01:15 AM

                                                great report!!

                                                1. n
                                                  nancyxo Nov 21, 2006 01:06 AM

                                                  dear god, what an entry! thanks kevin!

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: nancyxo
                                                    meganinlosfeliz Nov 21, 2006 01:24 AM

                                                    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
                                                      kevin h Nov 21, 2006 01:54 AM

                                                      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
                                                        l
                                                        leun0532 Nov 21, 2006 06:36 PM

                                                        Does the $250 normal price include drinks/sake?

                                                        1. re: leun0532
                                                          kevin h Nov 21, 2006 06:44 PM

                                                          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.

                                                  2. h
                                                    henrychan888 Nov 21, 2006 12:53 AM

                                                    wow!! great photos and blog Kevin!

                                                    fight on!

                                                    henry

                                                    1. p
                                                      pizzafreak Nov 21, 2006 12:27 AM

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

                                                      1. jcwla Nov 21, 2006 12:17 AM

                                                        The definitive Urasawa report. Thanks!

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