HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

Totoraku!

r
rvd72 Aug 30, 2011 11:38 AM

Ok, it's been awhile since I've posted in here. I'm on another site a lot more often these days. But it is nice to see that CH finally changed their UI so it's somewhat useable and readable now (yeah it's been that long).

I think I first read about this mysterious restaurant here. But then I started seeing some reviews over on another site which got my interest up. Unfortunately, I asked around but nobody in my circle of friends and acquaintances could get me into this restaurant. A few times, I made a quick post over at a social networking site along the lines of "Anyone have a contact that can get me into Totoraku? If you don't know what I'm talking about, move along...." but I guess everyone would just move along.

I did get a few requests from friends along the lines of "if you get in, take me!"

There are 2 types of people in this world...those who have dined at Totoraku and those who wish they can dine at Totoraku. Until Friday night, I was of the latter...but after Friday night, I am now of the former!

The food was fairly similar to the course laid out by the others in the reviews here. We started with a plate of assorted appetizers. We then had some raw beef and beef tataki plates. The binchotan grill came out and we then grilled tongue, filet mignon, inside/outside rib eye, kalbi, skirt steak, etc. We also had the awesome tomato salad, vegetables, etc. We got there at 7:30 and stumbled out the door at around 11:30.

A few things that I'd like to point out though.

1) I love Japanese people. They are so cute in how they act and talk. It's such a pleasure and I love it. They remind me of hello kitty, kerropi, and the rest of the sanrio characters. Chef Kaz Oyama-san and his wife and workers all exemplified the great Japanese culture of being absolutely polite, humble, and just so freaking cutesy. Love it!

2) I shared a glass of my French wine with both chef Oyama-san and one of the waitresses and they both loved it with a "oishii desu!" Totally made my day that they liked my wine. It wasn't one of the crazy expensive wines that were on the wall but it was a fairly respectable (at least for me), Baron Rothschild 2003. It needed some decanting but we didn't have one so it wasn't as good as it could have been, 2003 wasn't so great of a year, etc. but oh well.

3) I have had a lot of beef in my day and this experience was awesome. There are individual slices of meat at various places around LA and the world that come close (e.g. unmarinated short ribs at Park's, special JB at mapo in Gardena, wagyu kobe beef at Cut, kkot deung shim at moo deung san in Seoul, Korea) but to have it all in one place is awesome!

I had some great company and the 7 of us (including a couple of girls who didn't drink much) polished off a tremendous amount of wine including champagne, reisling, rose, merlot, cab sauv, bordeaux, and finally...a port.

Sure the price is a little high but you're really getting top quality meat here. I believe chef Oyama-san simply throws out a lot of meat that he deems unworthy. I also don't think he necessarily makes a lot of money here so treat this as the awesome experience that it is and give them a proper "itadakimasu" when you start your mean because you are humbly receiving...

And in the end? I GOT HIS CARD! I'm in.

So who wants to go??? I can take you...:)

-----
Totoraku
10610 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

 
 
 
 
  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. J.L. RE: rvd72 Aug 30, 2011 12:05 PM

    Thanks for reminding me... Always an epic meal at Totoraku. Friends are visiting me from out of town, and I've been meaning to make another reservation with Oyama-san!

    -----
    Totoraku
    10610 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

    1. r
      rickym13 RE: rvd72 Aug 30, 2011 12:39 PM

      been a while since been there and it is good...but is it really worth $200 per after tax and tip?

      1. k
        kevin RE: rvd72 Aug 30, 2011 12:51 PM

        it's been a few years since i've been but if i'm not mistaken if you just have beers, it could come out to 350 for two people.

        darn, i may have to take you up on your offer, since i lost his business card (and i did it keep that plastic, almost see through business card for quite some time).

        btw, his whit chocolate rasberry ice cream is beyond awesome to cap the night off, and his raw beef sashimi and tartares are simply wondrous like the freshest, best tuna sashimi.

        1. r
          rvd72 RE: rvd72 Aug 30, 2011 01:36 PM

          It was $180/person after tax and tip.

          I don't think you actually have to show them the card when you walk in. I think you just need his card to make a reservation because his phone number is on it but you can get his number from anywhere on the internet.

          However, you will have to tell him how he knows you...when you last visited, with whom, etc.

          A lot of people gripe and moan about his "invitation only" policy but I actually understand the policy now that I have dined there.

          Sure, the food is great and the meat is awesome. But this type of meal and meat isn't for everyone. There were 3 raw meat dishes to start as well as some exotic meats such as cow tongue, etc. I absolutely ate and loved it all but I know many people (my wife, my parents, most of my friends, etc.) who are much more squeamish about their food and will not eat raw beef, will not eat beef tongue, etc. For those people, it's much better to just take them to Korean BBQ or Cut (steak) or something like that. A random person walking in or a person making a reservation because they "heard" that it's a great place for meat can be disappointed. But sure, this does make it difficult for those of us who are foodies and know exactly what we'd be getting into yet still can't go there...

          Chef Kaz Oyama-san runs a very special restaurant and this policy is really the only want to ensure that every guest comes in knowing what to expect and leaves happy.

          In any case, I have a short list of friends who want to go so it looks like I'll be back maybe once a month or so!

          1 Reply
          1. re: rvd72
            k
            kevin RE: rvd72 Aug 30, 2011 01:41 PM

            i even liked how he walked out to the door with us as we exited his restaurant, and chatted with us, wished us well, and yes, he is beyond humble and very youthful.

            yeah, i can mention to him the details of whn i last went (the only time) with my Japanese friend.

          2. TonyC RE: rvd72 Aug 30, 2011 02:38 PM

            There are 2 types of people in this world...those who have dined at Totoraku and those who wish they can dine at Totoraku.
            =============
            Correction, there's the 3rd: those who just don't care either way.

            I "wish" there's an edible Filipino restaurant in LA; Totoraku never even crosses my mind. Glad to hear the the beef eaten during that intoxicating wine dinner was great though.

            -----
            Totoraku
            10610 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

            4 Replies
            1. re: TonyC
              n
              ns1 RE: TonyC Aug 30, 2011 03:24 PM

              "I "wish" there's an edible Filipino restaurant in LA; Totoraku never even crosses my mind. "

              not sure how these 2 statements are related.

              -----
              Totoraku
              10610 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

              1. re: TonyC
                r
                rvd72 RE: TonyC Aug 30, 2011 09:57 PM

                The "2 types" things was said in jest. I am trying to get some "funny" clicks over there on that review...

                Foodies in general are just way too serious. At the end of the day, it's all just food and the point is to tickle our senses...taste buds, sight, smell, touch, even hearing...

                It's not *that* hard to get a reservation at Totoraku. The internet is full of people who scammed their way in.

                -----
                Totoraku
                10610 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                1. re: rvd72
                  r
                  rvd72 RE: rvd72 Aug 31, 2011 12:22 AM

                  of course i don't condone scamming your way in. just ask around and find a friend if you really want to go. if you don't have a friend...befriend me :)

                  1. re: rvd72
                    k
                    kevin RE: rvd72 Aug 31, 2011 12:44 PM

                    im gonna have to befriend you rvd72, considering i lost my card (or rather misplaced it) and he probably doesn't remmeber me after close to threeyears.

              2. Porthos RE: rvd72 Aug 30, 2011 03:17 PM

                I'm starting to wonder, has anyone dined there NOT gotten the card?

                I don't know how keen his memory is, but I doubt he would remember me 2 years later even though I was given a card...

                3 Replies
                1. re: Porthos
                  k
                  kevin RE: Porthos Aug 30, 2011 03:41 PM

                  i agree too, i think i was there in the summer of 2009

                  1. re: Porthos
                    J.L. RE: Porthos Aug 30, 2011 05:18 PM

                    I am aware of an unlucky few who didn't get his business card after their meals there. It is not common, but also it is not a given that you'll be invited back.

                    But having said that, every one of my previous dining companions at Totoraku has received a business card from Kaz-san.

                    From my experiences in dining in Japan, you should mention something unique about yourself in your banter with the owner during the inaugural visit, so they can remember you the next time when you try to make the next reservation. You'd be surprised how good a proprietor's memories can be...

                    -----
                    Totoraku
                    10610 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                    1. re: Porthos
                      r
                      rvd72 RE: Porthos Aug 30, 2011 10:12 PM

                      i know a few people who didn't get the card. those are people who went there but just went as guests and didn't really get into the experience, etc.

                      i have one friend who is a waiter at a japanese restaurant and he went with some of the chefs but he basically just sat there and ate the food so he didn't make any kind of impression on the chef, etc. he didn't get a card.

                    2. l
                      lismimi RE: rvd72 Mar 21, 2013 01:38 PM

                      Hi rvd and fellow Totoraku lovers,

                      I have been trying for years to score a reservation. I didn't want to be that chick looking to food blogs but any advice for a fellow foodie? I am literally dying to go and everytime I read something about it I just want to cry tears of longing! I cannot for the life of me find someone who's gotten in.

                      If you or anyone has some suggestions please please help a sister out!

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: lismimi
                        k
                        kevin RE: lismimi Mar 21, 2013 05:10 PM

                        Yeah, try and see if you can go with someone who has gone before or some businesses may entertain clients there.

                        Sadly, I have misplaced or lost the vaunt business card.

                        It's good, but very heavy. You are warned.

                        Or if you treat me to dinner there perhaps I can arrange the reservation. (But I'm not completely positive that I can still garner that reservation).

                        1. re: kevin
                          Servorg RE: kevin Mar 21, 2013 05:54 PM

                          Go to Yamakase. Casually mention to those guys that you want to go. See if they offer to "arrange" it themselves or someone else around you offers...

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/893437

                          1. re: Servorg
                            k
                            kevin RE: Servorg Mar 21, 2013 05:59 PM

                            Have you been to either totoraku or yamakase yet ?

                            You a fan of either. These days I'd be more up for a tasteful sushi and seafood dinner than pounds of meat.

                            1. re: kevin
                              Servorg RE: kevin Mar 21, 2013 06:05 PM

                              Too rich for my blood..although I went to Pann's last night and had a patty melt.

                              1. re: Servorg
                                k
                                kevin RE: Servorg Mar 21, 2013 06:39 PM

                                I have been hankering for a patty melt there for the past few days, and it is possibly one of the most unfucking believably delicious dishes in LA by far.

                                But I have to watch the heart these days. Perhaps tomorrow, it's after all a friday funday, right ?

                                1. re: Servorg
                                  k
                                  kevin RE: Servorg Mar 21, 2013 06:41 PM

                                  The way that juicy patty dripping purest juices melds with the melted American (and these days I even despise American) with those griddled, slightly frazzled brown onions is an unmitigated work of art deserved of houndly veneration.

                              2. re: Servorg
                                t
                                Thor123 RE: Servorg Mar 21, 2013 06:13 PM

                                Supposed to go to Yamakase next week, though struggling with the excess. Leaving it up to my buddy and trying not to focus my wife.

                          2. t
                            taester00 RE: rvd72 Mar 21, 2013 06:14 PM

                            HELP!!!! My wife and I live about 500 yards from this place and we and a friend of ours have desperately been trying to find a way in!! I am a chef and I can truly appreciate someone who has enough passion in their craft to cast aside the frivolities of building a pretentious restaurant to showcase their food. I can't stand the fact that possibly one of the best restaurants in LA may be yards away from me and I can't get in.....

                            I don't think you can really put a price on an amazing dining experience such as this. Please let me know If we might be able to accompany you and we anxiously await your response. Fingers crossed!!

                            Show Hidden Posts