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May 11, 2008 07:18 PM

Dinner Omakase at Kiriko

We ventured to Sawtelle last night with the intention of eating at Orris, but with a long wait, and two hungry kids in tow, we opted for Kiriko. Without reservations, they were still able to squeeze us in to the large table in the back where you sit on the raised floor.

I've never had dinner omakase at Kiriko before; the last lunch omakase I had was amazing but was almost exclusively sushi. This time we told our server to bring us an assortment of whatever the chef wanted to serve us. It was a wonderful experience.

We started out with homemade tofu with bonito flake on top. Lovely, and I know the kids would eat this everyday if it tasted this good. We were then served amberjack sashimi -- much larger than the portion one gets at Zo, and topped with some sort of gelee that I couldn't identify. Scrumptious.

Next was a beautifully presented platter of softshell crab with a dipping sauce.

At this point I asked for some ginger to help with the different flavors we were getting. The kids, who had ordered teriyaki chicken and california roll, were also nibbling off of our plates (their teriyaki chicken by the way is wonderful in case you go to Kiriko with someone who doesn't like fish) and almost preferring our dinner to theirs. My youngest particularly liked the next dish which was again an artfully presented small plate of two types of sashimi: spanish mackerel, atop a dried fish fin and tail (which she devoured), and bonito, which had a wonderful, almost steak like texture and taste to it. The presentation of all these dishes was really lovely and added to the experience.

Next came a platter of four types of sushi -- scallop, salmon with caviar on top, tuna and sweet shrimp. These were all excellent and fairly large pieces; but I think Sushi Zo has the edge in quality, particularly with the salmon.

The last sushi plate consisted of red snapper, toro, seared barracuda (marinated in kelp)and sea urchin. At the very end the fried shrimp heads appeared -- yum! I am pretty sure we stopped quite a bit earlier than many as we didn't get their house smoked salmon nor a crab hand roll. The two omakase ran us $155.

For dessert we had blood orange sorbet and a scoop of their honey vanilla ice cream with berries on top. Their ice creams and sorbets are all house made I believe. The total for dinner before tip was $225. Happy early Mothers Day, we decided.

In comparing to Zo, it's a very different experience -- more varied in types of food offered (obviously with cooked dishes being very available) and with more of an eye to beautiful presentation. I think the fish quality at Zo is higher though.

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  1. Glad to hear you enjoyed it... I really think Kiriko is great but seems to get little love on this board. I know it's a competitive market here but Kiriko is consistantly on their game. With Bar Hayama just up the street a few blocks, this now make two places on that street that do sushi and sashimi well, plus a broader menu that compliments these standards...

    3 Replies
    1. re: bulavinaka

      How does Bar Hayama compare to Kiriko in terms of quality, service price and atmosphere? Is this in the old Sasabune spot?

      1. re: NAspy

        Yes, it's right by Orris... It feels bigger. The quality is high - it can be a mixed crowd but lots of Japanese ex-pats enjoy this place because of the good mix of menu items as well as the quality. The servers are very nice and attentive - Bar Hayama is big on sake - they like to make suggestions for pairings so that alone brings the attention level up. I would rank the sushi a little more standard than Kiriko but the quality of the fish very good. They do some of the standard rolls - they're not so proud. Prices are about the same - maybe a little higher because the portions for the other cooked food items tend to be on the smaller side.

        1. re: bulavinaka

          I forgot to mention the seating outside around the outdoor firepit - kinda unique for this neighborhood...

    2. I really don't get the hype about Orris - It is mediocre food at best, and a horrible wait at worst.

      Kiriko trumps Orris anyday in my book anyways. Lord knows I've given Orris it's fair share of chances to impress me (4 prior visits, on weekdays and weekends), but it just hasn't.

      IMHO, Kiriko even beats Zo outright, when Ken-san is on his game (which is 80%-90% of the time).

      3 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        Orris vs Kiriko is apples vs oranges

        1. re: budlit

          Agreed about apples v oranges. Original poster simply mentioned both establishments, and that's why I chose to mention both in my reply. I shall amend my original statement to:

          The food at Orris is mediocre. Period. I don't understand why it deserves the props it gets on this board.

          1. re: J.L.

            In total agreement about Orris being a C student when it comes to food.

      2. How was the service and the pace of your meal?

        1. We recently tried omakase at Kiriko. They gave us all kinds of toro and wagyu beef dishes. It was incredibly delicious. However, we didn't realize we had to tell them when to stop. We had a friend visiting from out of town and just kept chatting and eating. Finally, they were closing shop, and when the bill came, we almost fell off our chairs. It was about three times your bill. What is the proper etiquette for determining the number of omakase courses in advance or putting a cap on what you want to spend? I had heard that Kiriko has an omakase lunch for $30.

          3 Replies
          1. re: grubtrotters

            a similar thing happened to me at kiriko for the lunch omakase.
            they didn't tell us when the fixed price omakase was over and just kept feeding us.
            the tab was a multiple of the menu price, and was an unwelcome surprise.

            1. re: grubtrotters

              Sounds like an expensive lesson to learn. Unless it is a set omakase (like the Kiriko omakase lunch special), you will have to ask any sushi chef serving omakase when you want to stop. As for trying to rein in the cost, in the past, I've asked Ken (the head chef at Kiriko) if he could do an omakase for a certain amount. One time, I was going to treat my mother for omakase dinner and she brought my brother along. Out of concern for the additional cost, I asked if we could have an omakase for $75 per person, which Ken said would be fine. When we hit that amount, he told us that he was done (so my mother and brother never knew about the price limit) and we then were able to choose if we wanted anything else.

              1. re: Jwsel

                Bingo! Nothing wrong with establishing the game rules ahead of time... Some itamae can be quite extravagant if you're buying them drinks as well... If you leave it up to them and if the bar has, say, 30-year old scotch, expect that to be added to your tab as well. Best to order what YOU want the itamae to drink as long as he is okay with it...

            2. The sesame ice cream here is delicious. It has a very deep sesame flavor that I haven't found anywhere else.

              1 Reply
              1. re: lil mikey

                Ice creams at Kiriko are all homemade. Their truffle ice cream (when in season) is mindblowingly good.