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Kiriko dinner omakase - finally (but I'll make this relatively short).

  • k

One appetizer plate: smoked salmon wrapped around sweet mango topped with caviar, ankimo lobe topped with ponzu jelly, and a mashed fish appetizer (almost gritty like liver).

Next appetizer plate: bonito sashimi with garlic chips and ponzu, kanpachi sashimi, and razor-thin sliced scallops topped with a dab of wasabi and lemon juice.

Each of the pieces of seafood on each of these plates were very tiny.

Sushi (I may be forgetting one or two pieces and these are not in the proper order necessarily):

One piece of blue fin. One piece of chu-toro.

One piece of salmon sushi. One piece of king salmon sushi.

One piece of sardine sushi.

One piece of albacore belly sushi. One piece of yellowtail sushi.

One piece of kinki sushi.

One piece of salmon eggs wrapped in nori. One piece of sea urchin.

One blue crab handroll.

One piece of tamago.

One piece of live sweet shrimp.

One piece of the fried shrimp heads.

One large order of sake Ozai or Oraki (sp ?)

Two thin slices of halibut sashimi topped with smashed black truffle (which I added to the omakase).

Scoop of matcha green tea ice cream (also added to the omakase).

The meal was pretty good overall, and I'm glad I finally tried the dinner omakase but it's just not worth it for the price. And for relatively the same price if not cheaper, I could have had a much more exceptional meal at Shunji's, which in my opinion now has some of the best sushi in town even beyond his cooked dishes.

The hits for me of the Kiriko meal were:

the Hokkaido scallop sushi which was deliciously fresh and sweet.

The Uni which tasted perfectly of the sea and was just appropriately briny.

The standard smoked salmon wrapped around mango.

The tamago which I always love since this is my kind of tamago, or rather the sponge-cake like tamago.

Most of the sushi left me non-plused except the few mentioned above. But the prices at least to me did not warrant the higher prices here.

Though, truth to tell, I'm not a regular or frequent patron of Kiriko especially not during the dinner hour so perhaps my omakase was not as exceptional as others. Once again, at this price range, I'd rather stick to my other favorites around town. Yet, I might visit again just if I'm ordering a few pieces and maybe an appetizer plate. Or more likely during the lunch hour.

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  1. kevin, if you are going to mention the price at least a couple of times, without spelling out what that price was, it just confuses the hell out of me...

    6 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      100 spot per, without tax, tip, the sake, the added piece of halibut, and without the desserts.

      1. re: kevin

        Then I don't know if I agree about the price being out of line, given my experiences at Zo and Mori...and I've always been very happy with my fish experience at Kiriko.

        1. re: kevin

          So like, 150pp after everything? LOL

          1. re: ns1

            More but I'll have to check my bill.

            Servorg, my price req't is more along the cheaper end, so yeah, I'm sure many others will disagree with me. My friend had mentioned that if the whole meal was about 25 to 30 bucks per person less than it would be just about right. Still expensive but commensurate with the quality of the food, service, et al.

            1. re: ns1

              Yes, ns1, a little bit more than that all in, maybe 160. Yet, it is no laughing matter.

              1. re: kevin

                This is why I don't eat (expensive) sushi anymore lol

        2. I agree with your Kiriko and price assessment. It costs the same as Mori and Zo and I feel it's a step down.

          It's important to note much of the fish you had was the cheaper stuff: salmon, albacore, bonito, kinki, yellowtail (assuming farmed hamachi and not wild buri). For the same price at Mori, you're getting buri belly, bluefin chu toro or otoro, Hokkaido uni, barracuda, etc.

          25 Replies
          1. re: Porthos

            I even commented to my friend about the Hokkaido uni at Mori.

            But unless I made a mistake on my original post above, I did have one piece of blue fin and one piece of chu-toro, which usually I love but here the quality was just not up to par with the other toro(s) that I have had around town. But yes most of the fish was not the real heavy hitter stuff.

            Once again, I favorites of the evening where the Hokkaido scallop (though two very very very thin slices as sashimi), the uni (from San Diego), the smoked salmon wrapped mango topped with the caviar, and of course the tamago. But the tamago as well as the majority of the other dishes were not high ticket items.

            1. re: kevin

              That San Diego uni is great, huh?

              1. re: J.L.

                My mistake. Hokkaido scallops and San Diego uni.

            2. re: Porthos

              If you start off by getting a dish that has mango with your fish, you kind of know what direction your meal is going... not good.

              1. re: AyrtonS

                Kiriko's house-smoked salmon wrapped mango (topped with caviar) is one of Ken-san's signature dishes. I don't personally care for it, but it's an interesting idea.

                1. re: PeterCC

                  Yes, I know mango sounds like one of those roll type factories but that is severely not even close to the case over here.

                  1. re: kevin

                    I have had it many times and don't dislike it, but would prefer to just have the smoke salmon w/o the mango. Can never bring myself to tell them to leave it off, the combo being their signature dish and all. Glad others find it so enjoyable!

                2. re: AyrtonS

                  Look, I enjoy a good traditional sushi meal just as much as the next guy (many of you familiar with my posts know that I eat sushi dinner omakases regularly at both Kiriko and Mori). When I walk into Kiriko, I'm NOT expecting traditional sushi at all. Having said that, I will say that the mango & (house-smoked) salmon & caviar dish at Kiriko really, really works for my palate. I greatly look forward to this dish every time I dine at Kiriko, even though salmon doesn't even belong at an edomae sushi bar (of which Kiriko is not, in any case).

                  People need to be aware that what you're getting at Kiriko is NOT edomae sushi. They don't advertise themselves as a bastion of traditional sushi. Far from it. What Ken-san and his crew at Kiriko DO excel at is sushi (with really great fresh seafood), with a modern / creative flair. If you're gonna dissect the essences of local sushi-yas like we do on this board, then it's not fair to say "Mori is better than Kiriko" or "Kiriko is better than Mori". They're just different cats. I've taken Japanese friends to both Mori and Kiriko, and gotten wonderful compliments from both.

                  1. re: J.L.

                    Not sure if any of the top tier sushi joints in Southern California can be considered "traditional", even Mori serves up various carpaccios, miso/mustard sauce and balsamic vinegar in their omakase dishes. I do not dislike the salmon/mango dish, just that it's not particularly creative or of signature dish stature for a place some consider to be among the best in town. More like something Bobby Flay would whip up if mango was the secret ingredient or something you'd find at the likes of Katsuya or Sushi Stop. Descriptions such as "interesting" (usually not complimentary) and "weird" seem appropriate.

                    The sushi at Kiriko, unlike some the dishes that come before it, are fairly "traditional" and not fusion, so a fair comparison can be made with others in town. As others here have mentioned, the sushi at Kiriko is a step down. Nothing particularly wrong with it, just that at the same price point, there are better sushi to be had. Even Urasawa's sushi (not the Kaiseki dishes) have a lot of room for improvement. Can't explain it, top quality ingredients, but just not that good.

                    That's what makes a good sushi place so special and rare. Just fish and rice, but an art form to get it just right. Since sushi take up a big chunk of an omakase meal, it makes or breaks the overall experience for me.

                    1. re: AyrtonS

                      I respect a purist's standpoint.

                      Where do you like to have sushi? Anywhere in L.A. where they get the fish and rice "just right"?

                      1. re: J.L.

                        Not really a purist, but when you get creative and fusion-y, some dishes work and some just don't. Enjoy your extensive reviews and your pallet must be second to none, but the OP seems to be on the right track with his overall review, which some here (including you) seem to disagree with?

                        I go to the same sushi places you do (though might get banned from Kiriko now!), but as for great sushi in Los Angeles, don't think it exist as of now. Mori-Lite (new ownership) might be close but not quite.

                      2. re: AyrtonS

                        "Even Urasawa's sushi (not the Kaiseki dishes) have a lot of room for improvement."

                        That now makes exactly 2 of us in all of SoCal that feel this way.

                        1. re: Porthos

                          I've actually heard that sentiment several times, that while Urasawa's overall experience and quality of food is tops, that its sushi, compared on its own to the best sushi in L.A., in Japan, what have you, Urasawa's sushi isn't at their level.

                          1. re: PeterCC

                            Maybe it's the fact that even an accomplished chef can't master the cooked dishes, appetizer plates while still making exceptional sushi at the same time. So maybe the chef at Urasawa is more of a kaiseki-style chef than a sushi chef.

                            For instance, I have never been to Jiro in Tokyo, but he does only one thing and one thing only: sushi. And supposedly that's as close to perfect as one will see.

                            So Urasawa (though i haven't been) is trying to do many things very well, at the same time, which is a herculean task even for the most accomplished chefs in the world.

                            1. re: kevin

                              I actually have been to Jiro. I felt his sushi was oversauced and the service too rushed. His son's place in Roppongi Hills was a much better experience.

                              The best edomae sushi I've ever had was at Sushi Sawada, in Ginza.

                              And now, back to your regularly scheduled program in L.A...

                              1. re: J.L.

                                Jiro sounds like the nozawa of japan in that case (i'm hoping this statement is not sacriligious).

                                also, was Sawada like Jiro but less heavily sauced and even fresher fish, cheaper prices too ?

                                i remember his younger son's place in roppongi hills from the doc.

                          2. re: Porthos

                            "That now makes exactly 2 of us in all of SoCal that feel this way."

                            But I'll bet that we disagree on the salmon/mango dish though.....

                              1. re: Porthos

                                Wow, two in a row! Double or nothing on disagreement over the Katsuya and Sushi Stop (but NOT Bobby Flay) parallel?

                                1. re: AyrtonS

                                  Never been to Sushi Stop but I can see where you are coming from regarding Katsuya and Flay.

                                  I haven't been to Kiriko for 3 years now. Back then I didn't get mango with smoked salmon. Just smoked salmon. I've had some really good stuff there like ayu, matsutake dobinmushi, shirako and live shako. But it has fallen out of my rotation for the reasons you and Kevin list. Since Mori retired, I go to Shunji for sushi these days.

                          3. re: AyrtonS

                            I have to completely disagree on criticism of the smoked salmon and mango with caviar. There's nothing remotely similar at Katsuya and to suggest of all places, Sushi Stop? That's so far off the mark, unless you consider the dish on par with something like spicy tuna on crispy rice. It may not be for everyone, but that doesn't equate it to being 'non-creative.' As mentioned elsewhere, it's a reinterpretation of melon and prosciutto - sweet, savory, salty. You'd be hard pressed to find something as good as just the smoked salmon component. Unless you equate all smoked salmon as lox.

                            1. re: prawn

                              Yes, the smoke salmon stands on it's own. Now, maybe salmon with melon....

                            2. re: AyrtonS

                              Sushi Sushi on Beverly Dr is pretty darn traditional, if my memory serves me well.

                            3. re: J.L.

                              My Japanese friend and me really liked the mango and smoked salmon dish, and if you happen to be crunched for cash, it will work just fine sans the caviar topping.

                        2. We agree to agree Kevin. I like Kiriko - but at those prices - you might as well go the next step up at Mori and/or Zo.

                          Zo seems friendlier lately - I think they must read these things. But 150 bucks for lunch? Man, I can get a 10 course meal at Melisse for that kinda scratch. And that's a 3 hour extravaganza with the input of a dozen people or so. Sorry, but when Melisse - considered one fo the most expensive restaurant in the country - is a relative bargain - something is amiss. I love great sushi, but damn, they really make you pay for it.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: foodiemahoodie

                            It wasn't lunch though. This was a dinner omakase if that helps matters. Maybe also I'm perturbed my the factor that Kiriko is pretty busy especially on Friday and Saturday nights and even on Sunday nights when I went and could not garner a spot at the sushi bar so I had an abbreviated collection of dishes.

                            I think my favorite in town at the moment especially when you consider West LA/Santa Monica/Beverly Hills/Hollywood would have to be Shunji's by far. I guess I really like the food, atmosphere, service, and the fact that there's real person attention there even if it gets slightly busy.

                            I'm probably one of the few naysayers (not an extreme naysayers mind you, I still enjoyed the meal), but yeah somewhat a naysayer nonetheless.

                            1. re: kevin

                              I've had mediocre meals there at night. As I said in a post some time ago - I had two friends bring me there promising a fantastic experience. Both times they two different people) (were disappointed (one was a restauranteur, the other a Japanise foodie).

                              I've only had the lunch omakase at Kiriko. I think the cheaper one is the way to go. (like 40 bucks) I've taken friends who don't really know food - and they're very impressed. (you know, where you need a place last minute and know you can get in).

                              Earlier this year I took the Japanese foodie to Mori - and she brought some insanely killer sake along and shared it with the chefs. We went through three or four bottles. It was quite the party! She absolutely flipped for the food.

                              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                A lot of people do love Mori. Though I have not been since the changeover.

                                You might be right. That for 40 bucks or even say 50 bucks for a lunch omakase it's not half bad. But at dinner, when I'm spending 160 bucks for dinner all in, it better be pretty fucking spectacular. Just my opinion. Kind of the knock your socks of mental state, which did not occur in my recent Kiriko visit.

                                Yet I do still have to say I will be back for a light lunch or light dinner including the tamago, a couple slice of the halibut w black truffles or white truffles, the smoked salmon, and the fresh hokkaido scallops. and of course, the white truffle ice cream if i make it there for their season again.

                                1. re: kevin

                                  Did you make a reservation for the bar for your dinner? Based on the slow service during busy dinner hours, I would definitely not opt for the full omakase if it's not at the bar. I've enjoyed every set lunch omakase I've had there, because it's not as busy as it is for dinner, and the itamae can focus his attention on you. Actually, I really enjoyed my full omakase at lunch a few months ago (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/860971), and it was more affordable as well.

                                  1. re: PeterCC

                                    Yep, the sushi bar. and it was during the dinner hour.

                                    Was your lunch omakase, the full-on one, above 100 bucks per person before tax tipe etc ? thanks.

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      It was $108 before sake/tax/tip.

                          2. What night did you go? I was there Saturday night for Omakase and did not get any salmon, bummer! But, what we did get was outstanding (4th time doing Omakase here and for us, it's always a winner). I'd have to look back at my pictures to get a better idea of everything we ate (I had 3 large sakes) but it sounds like we had some similar and different items. That's one of the things I love about Kiriko. Every single time the Omakase is like a brand new experience.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Clyde

                              I see, when you get a chance list out what you had and how much it costed before tax, tip, etc and not including the sake or beers/other drinks if you happened to have ordered those too.