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SoaG, Shunji, Zo, Go, Tar & Roses

Son of a Gun
Bulgarini Gelato HQ
Shunji with PeterCC and chrishei
Maison Giraud
Kobawoo (posted in DotM)
Sushi Zo DTLA
Four Seas
Sweet Rose Creamery (posted in PeterCC's thread)
Go's Mart with PeterCC
Tar & Roses with Ciao Bob
Freddie Small's

Son of a Gun: I had planned on the chicken sandwich, but confronted with the menu I couldn't make up my mind and asked my server to send out some dishes. The mini lobster roll came on warm, fluffy brioche, with crunchy crisps, but sadly the lobster itself was overshadowed by the sauce. PeterCC's observation is spot-on: delicious, but would probably have been better naked. Gem lettuce salad was a shining example of how to do it right: just the four ingredients listed on the menu - leaves, beets, creme fraiche, bread crumbs - but all of them working together. The shrimp toast was very deceiving: tiny on the plate, but seriously filling. Here, the runny, slightly sweet sriracha mayo was the star. Then some really fresh dungeness crab wrapped in daikon, like mini spring rolls, with a delicious yuzu sauce. Finally, the frozen lime yogurt, also wonderfully light. And I'm a real sucker for meringue, which they smear on the edge of the bowl and toast. I wouldn't say this was as mind-blowing as my Animal visit, but enjoyable nonetheless. Many thanks to George for taking such great care of me.

Bulgarini Gelato HQ: There's no indication from the outside of the wonders that lie within. After I explained to Jose (where's Leo these days?) that I was from out of town, he insisted that I sample everything, which I dutifully did. I was *floored*. The flavors were striking - everything tasted of its true underlying ingredient. I settled on a first round of chocolate orange, salted chocolate and macadamia and a second round of blood orange and pear. The two chocolates were entirely distinct, so rich, but balanced with the macadamia. The fruits were crisp but sweet, and so fresh. At no point did any of it become too samey, as many ice creams do. Absolutely terrific, and well worth it. No photo of round two, too busy chatting with Jose about the shop.


Son of a Gun
8370 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Bulgarini Gelato
749 E Altadena Dr, Altadena, CA 91001

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  1. Shunji: After all the jokes about this place being like Cheers, I thought it appropriate to ask some regulars along for dinner. And since I had mostly sushi on my last visit, I thought a full-on omakase was in order. So nearly a month ago I called up Yuko-san and booked the counter for PeterCC, chrishei and myself. Shunji-san pulled out all the stops for this one. We had a zensai of bleu cheese balls, dense ankimo, tako, roe, and persimmon; a beautifully fresh dungeness crab with its innards; lobster tartare on a base of crunchy radish; a dobin mushi with delicious matsutake; and - kevin may want to sit down for this one - the legendary truffle gohan, a dish so wonderfully fragrant that I closed my eyes and banged my fist on the counter a few times for lack of any other way to express my appreciation. And who can resist a round of Shunji-san's nigiri. Sanma, oki-aji and iwashi, each with its own beautiful knife work and perfectly formed shari. What makes everything even more special is how much work and love goes into even the smallest piece: the slices of ocra, the cut of the tako, the little block of roe, the decoration on the ankimo, the flakes on the lobster. When JGold wrote "You do not expect the same care to be taken with a carrot", he nailed it. Shunji-san cares about every detail. And of course Yuko-san was as welcoming and accommodating as ever, always checking on us and sharing a laugh. If you're not already breaking down their door for a meal, you should be. Many, many thanks to them for another outstanding dinner, and the highlight of my trip yet again. And thanks to Peter and Chris for sharing the experience with me (bunch of darned enablers!). They'll no doubt have much better photos and details, so I fully expect them to post up.


    Shunji Japanese Cuisine
    12244 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

    7 Replies
    1. re: stravaigint

      Congrats on getting that gohan!

      Banging good indeed.

      1. re: Porthos

        And I still gotta get my grimy, pudgy little hands on some truffle gohan.

      2. re: stravaigint

        Damn, I really missed out. It looks really fucking great.

        And Pete I guess you are off the hook now since someone else has reported on the dinner. :)

        1. re: kevin

          We tried to get you to come!

          And he's not off the hook - he takes much nicer pictures and writes way more eloquently than me.

        2. re: stravaigint

          That truffle gohan was amazing, as was your itinerary and experiences. Glad to have shared it with you! Will get around to writing about it this week. Too bad I couldn't join you guys for Tar & Roses - I'm sure that was great too.

          1. re: chrishei

            Oh, and I forgot to say thanks for the beer! That was a nice change from the nama biru.

            1. re: stravaigint

              My pleasure. I thought it went pretty well with what we had.

        3. Luckily, I was sitting down for it rather than having my eyes glued to my not so smart phone while walking.

          Oh, man. And you got the lobster tartare with shaved truffles too.

          I'm speechless and envious. Kicking myself right about now.

          1. You guys hit up the black truffles in the truffle gohan right ?

            What was the ensuing damages ????

            1. Maison Giraud: It is criminal, absolutely *criminal* that there aren't lines out the door at this place. J.L. mentioned it in my last trip report and, expecting to do the SF thing and line up, I got there at 7:45am only to find it empty. But this place gets it. This is how you make a croissant. Flakey on the outside, unbelievably rich and buttery all the way through, delicious filling, and in a manageable size, i..e., a proper French pain au chocolat. Giraud is a genius. And call me old fashioned, but I appreciated the white linen, the properly attired waiters, and the pastry basket. I went slightly overboard and ordered a brioche and pear and apricot pastries too, with the latter being divine. Thank you so much Ethan for the service and J.L. and everybody else who recommended this!


              Maison Giraud
              1032 Swarthmore Ave, Pacific Plsds, CA 90272

              1 Reply
              1. Sushi Zo DTLA:

                Late to the party as always, a month after J.L. went and two days after KevinEats. My dinner progressed in much the same fashion, so not too much to add here, except that I seemed to eat more than either of them :)

                I love the new place. His stone counter is gorgeous and the all-steel "case" is a nice touch. And the crockery is beautiful, each plate a work of art. If I'm nit-picking, then maybe it's a touch too bright in there, and some dimmer, ambient lighting on the customer side might help, but otherwise they've done a great job with the space.

                I was lucky enough to be seated directly in front of the great man himself, with Toshi working on his right and Masa on his left. Throughout the meal, he was warm, gracious and smiling. And he's genuinely funny too: when the couple next to me asked how they prepared the tako, Masa said they spank it, at which point Keizo-san chimed in and said "10 times on top, 6 times on bottom!".

                Regarding the food itself, everything was wonderful, and I'll just mention some highlights.The aforementioned tako is absolutely fantastic, and I agree with the other reviews that this is the best tako nigiri I've had. It is steamed and beautifully soft but not mushy. The double-decker uni was delicious, and his engawa was just the right texture. And that baby squid noodle with uni, wow!

                There is a lot of truffle salt, but that's how he works, and I don't mind it at all. And his shari is of the warm variety, but not overly so, and nicely packed compared with that other place *coughcough*.

                Service was wonderul, and Mami-san was the consummate host, really charming and helpful. Overall a true delight.


                Sushi Zo
                334 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90013

                5 Replies
                  1. re: chrishei

                    I saw his knives come out, and I saw him use them, but whether he used them on *my* neta I can't say for sure.

                    BTW I just realized I'm missing a chutoro temaki photo! It was served after the anago, right before the bonus rounds.

                    PS are you reading CH while eating 101 Express :P

                    1. re: stravaigint

                      What's neta ?

                      Another word for sushi ?

                      And can you list the price for this meal as well as Shunji ?

                      Thanks bro.

                      1. re: kevin

                        Wikipedia says:

                        "Nigirizushi (握り寿司, "hand-pressed sushi") consists of an oblong mound of sushi rice that the chef presses into a small rectangular box between the palms of the hands, usually with a bit of wasabi, and a topping (the neta) draped over it.

                        Neta are typically fish such as salmon, tuna or other seafood. Certain toppings are typically bound to the rice with a thin strip of nori, most commonly octopus (tako), freshwater eel (unagi), sea eel (anago), squid (ika), and sweet egg (tamago). When ordered separately, nigiri is generally served in pairs.

                      2. re: stravaigint

                        Not today. But I did eat some of the leftovers for dinner last night, and have enough for dinner tonight as well :)

                  2. Go's Mart:

                    For those of you discussing gold flake in the other thread, it's about to get bling in here...

                    Peter very kindly agreed to drive up and meet me for lunch. I arrived quite early, which turned out to be a good thing because at 11:50 there was a line, and at noon on the dot the door opened and everyone stormed in to grab a seat at the bar.

                    We opted for omakase, but Go-san will do a la carte from an extensive whiteboard (and of course many off-menu specials), which is what his regulars did.

                    Items were served in courses (or flights as Peter cleverly called them) of similar fish, and each course was dressed appropriately. For example, one dish with four pieces of white fish with lime and pepper, another dish with three types of tuna with gold flake and caviar. I know Peter will do a *much* better job at describing everything (and he's chomping at the bit to post his review), so I'll just hit the highlights.

                    Engawa is a favorite of mine, and Go-san sourced it from karei (flounder). Beautifully chewy. Delicate awabi (abalone) was made rich by its kimo (liver), served on top. His ankimo was sweet but rich, and resulted in more fist pounding. And his kohada was life changing; perfectly cured, and the best piece I've had this year.

                    As you can see from the pics, there was a a bit of gold and caviar, and truffle oil was liberally sprinkled over many pieces. Like Keizo-san's truffle salt, I don't mind it at all, and I don't find it overpowering. It's not edomae, but that's not why you come here.

                    Go-san is quite the character. Once he saw that we were polite and knew what we were doing, he opened up and laughed with us (as he did with his regulars). Oscar worked the back, helping Go-san with his preparations, and Jean-san played the wonderful host.

                    A note on his pacing for visitors. Go-san takes his time, and he will not be rushed. Patience is key. Peter had to run for his long trip to SJ, and I must thank him again for managing to stay for nearly three hours so that we could experience as much as possible.

                    OT: a dance studio has opened up between Go's Mart and the Papa John's on the corner. We will see how long their loud music lasts. I suspect they will lose this battle...


                    Go's Mart
                    22330 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, CA 91303

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: stravaigint

                      I LOVE GO'S MART.

                      In case that was not known earlier.

                      And before Shunji entered the scene I think it was my favorite in town.

                      One thing I really like about Go-san is he does have a great sense of humor, he'll joke around with you, and it's very very very laidback in contrast to other sushis.

                      If you even want a spicey tuna roll, he'll serve it.

                      But if you want some shirako or in past seasons some fugu (I think), he would serve that too.

                      So you can go here with novice sushi eaters too.

                      But I always go for the good stuff. It's easy to be a regular here.

                      1. re: stravaigint


                        What dish is picture #3, #8 ?

                        And how much were the cost of these meals so far ?

                        1. re: kevin

                          #3 is ebiko (shrimp roe). #8 was ankimo.

                          1. re: PeterCC

                            And No. 15 from the Zo pictures ? It looks like the uni mixed with shredded squid "noodles" but I can't seem to make out the noodles. Maybe it's something else.

                            How were the fucking damages at go's mart. 175 per ? no drinks ????

                            How much was the Shunji truffle gohan/omakase dinner ?

                            Thanks Pete.

                        2. re: stravaigint

                          Great pics of all your visits, stravaigint! I especially like the Zo ones. I've been swamped at work, so I'm not sure when I'll post my review, but thanks for the kind words. :-)

                          1. Tar & Roses:

                            This had been on my radar due to rave reviews, but wasn't actually on my itinerary for this trip until Ciao Bob suggested it. And I'm so glad that he did, especially for one dish in particular which has stuck with me over the last week.

                            Seated in the beautiful outdoor area, we kicked things off with a Duvel Blond and a nice copper Gavroche. There was also a bottle of Gruet Brut Rose later on, which might explain some fuzziness surrounding the exact order of the dishes, all of which were selected by our server Abraham.

                            Atlantic sardine crostini was a great way to start, with some beautifully cured fish and fresh avocado on delicious toasted sourdough. Thin slices of pickled onion and some lime cut the oiliness perfectly.

                            Pork chicharones, an oft-mentioned favorite, came with thick, fatty cubes of rind. Onion made a reappearance, this time as whole pickled pearl onions, slightly sweet, with pieces of fig.

                            I'm drawing a bit of a blank on the lamb heart kabobs, which I think means they were fine, but perhaps overshadowed by the other dishes.

                            Wood roasted clams came in a deliciously rich chorizo vinaigrette. This also came with toasted sourdough, which made for an excellent mop.

                            Charred gem lettuce was a stunner, even after Son of a Gun's take. This version came with crispy, flavorful strips of pancetta, crumbled blue cheese and dates (which I insisted were figs...I blame the alcohol). I was still nibbling on bits of pancetta long after Bob had admitted defeat.

                            Wood roasted cauliflower was my least favorite dish. Nothing wrong with it, but like the lamb heart, it didn't knock my socks off. Apparently it came with anchovy pesto and pine nuts, but I don't remember those at all.

                            And finally the highlight, the beef "pho-paccio". Wafer thin slices of beef, basil, cilantro and chili arranged flat instead of in a broth. Dare I use the word "deconstructed" *ducks*. Kirschner has exploded a bowl of pho onto a plate. It reminds me of the toffee dish at Saison and the rice crispies at Crenn, in that it totally throws you for a loop, but it works. I'm still tasting pho a week later.

                            Many thanks to Bob for suggesting it and joining me, and also to Abraham and Johnnie for the great service.


                            Tar & Roses
                            602 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: stravaigint

                              Anyone try the wood fired goat or paella supper at Tar & Roses? They look very tempting.

                              1. re: Porthos


                                Paella - loved it - but I am not "qualified" to comment and/or contrast it to the world's best paellas. It was about a year and a half ago and it was really, really delicious.

                                Goat - long story that ends with 'No, I have not tried it." Basically, a group of about 10 of us reserved it for a Saturday night, but somebody at T&R forgot to place the order to the goat-guy/gal. The restaurant was terribly embarrassed when they realized the mistake that Saturday AM. They ended up comping a good portion of a giant (and excellent) meal that we had that evening, but we never got around to re-ordering the goat. I am...ummm....game....for it anytime, if you want to put together a gaggle of goat-heads, Porthos!

                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                  Gaggle of goat heads ????

                                  Won't Shunji miss you that evening ?

                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                    CB. You're qualified enough for me! What was in the paella?

                                    I'm actually wondering if they would let me do both paella AND goat for a family dinner of 3... ;-)

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      Well, if Bob joins you, then you've got a family dinner for 4.

                                      1. re: Porthos

                                        If the paella is good, I can go into "Kobayashi mode" and polish off one of those bad boys on my own.

                                        1. re: J.L.

                                          Still waiting on those Valencia paella recs. Just sayin'... ;-)

                                        2. re: Porthos

                                          Well it has been a while.
                                          Lots of seafood. Do not recall chicken thighs, do remember unusually nice peas.