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Spring Omakase at Yamakase: A Pictorial Essay

J.L. Apr 20, 2014 12:06 AM

Verdict: Yamakase simply aims to please, and (as usual) Yama-san hits it out of the park. Despite its casual vibe, it definitely feels decadent just to be eating here. I will always appreciate the extremely generous use of 3 types of uni (Santa Barbara, San Diego, and Japanese bafun uni), as well as black truffle, and white summer truffle.

Highlights: Kuruma ebi here is the among the best in town. Yama-san also prepared an extremely simple yet joyous bowl of shoyu ramen with duck breast, hama hama oysters and chopped chives. The akami was superb. Gently sauteed Japanese wagyu from Miyazaki Prefecture with summer truffle shavings did not suck at all.

... But all of the above items paled in comparison to J.L.'s "Bite of the Month": Yama-san's creation, which I named "The Yamakase Toro Spam Crostini". This is toasted bread on the bottom, featuring blue crab, bafun uni from Japan, topped with 2 thin pieces of o-toro from Spain (which made it looks like Spam, garnished with giant shavings of summer white truffle. It was divine.

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  1. Tripeler RE: J.L. Apr 20, 2014 01:27 AM

    Stunning assortment, fantastic photos.

    1. j
      jessejames RE: J.L. Apr 20, 2014 07:54 AM

      Looks a lot better than spam. Delish.

      1. n
        ns1 RE: J.L. Apr 20, 2014 08:49 AM

        Do want but man that seems like a lot of food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ns1
          kevin RE: ns1 Apr 20, 2014 09:18 AM

          And it makes Shunji look like even more of a bargain.

        2. k
          kevin RE: J.L. Apr 20, 2014 09:30 AM

          You had me at that Uni topped with slabs of toro topped with shaved truffles thing.

          1. JeffW RE: J.L. Apr 20, 2014 10:37 AM

            Good morning J.L. Your review was stunning, and based on our 2 visits to this special restaurant, you were 100% accurate. Yama remains my personal top of the heap temple for exquisite fish.
            Cheers and thanks for sharing.

            1. y
              young_chower RE: J.L. Apr 20, 2014 10:40 AM


              1. k
                kevin RE: J.L. Apr 20, 2014 11:52 AM

                Yes. JL. What was the damages ????

                Btw, can we specifically request that at least that particular dish be part of the extensive and expansive omakase meal ?????

                Thanks man.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kevin
                  J.L. RE: kevin Apr 20, 2014 06:50 PM

                  Yama-san remember the likes/dislikes of his returning customers.

                  You are welcome to make certain requests at time of reservation. And if it's in season, then Yama-san does try to go out of his way to make your dreams become reality.

                2. s
                  Sgee RE: J.L. Apr 20, 2014 01:09 PM

                  PURE DECADENCE!

                  1. J.L. RE: J.L. Apr 20, 2014 06:47 PM

                    Thanks for your kind words, everybody!

                    The meal clocked in around $250 per person, all said and done.

                    Definitely not for the faint of wallet, but consider this: Given the sourcing of the ingredients and how generously Yama-san treats his customers, I felt that the price point is excellent.

                    1. c
                      chrishei RE: J.L. Apr 21, 2014 08:05 AM

                      Quick question: do you just text him for reservations? I have the card w/ his number, but I feel uncomfortable doing it because I've only been there once. Should I just make it via the website again?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: chrishei
                        J.L. RE: chrishei Apr 21, 2014 09:21 AM

                        Just call the number. That's what it's for.

                        1. re: J.L.
                          chrishei RE: J.L. Apr 21, 2014 10:32 AM

                          I'm just shy ok? :)

                          1. re: chrishei
                            kevin RE: chrishei Apr 21, 2014 11:04 AM

                            You don't have to be shy to text. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          2. re: J.L.
                            kevin RE: J.L. Apr 21, 2014 11:11 AM

                            And is it possible to go just for that dish ?????

                            1. re: kevin
                              J.L. RE: kevin Apr 21, 2014 02:36 PM

                              Unfortunately kevin, this is an omakase meal. You go (and you pay) for the whole thing, not just one dish.

                        2. f
                          foodiemahoodie RE: J.L. Apr 21, 2014 11:10 AM

                          Nice! Have to go back.

                          1. t
                            TailbackU RE: J.L. Apr 21, 2014 11:41 AM

                            thanks for the report. I wasn't sure this place was still business as usual given his legal troubles.

                            What did you have to drink? The generous BYOB policy should definitely be taken into account when factoring price of meals here given that you can bring any bottles you want w/o a fee.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: TailbackU
                              kevin RE: TailbackU Apr 21, 2014 11:42 AM

                              Legal troubles ?????????????

                              What ????

                              1. re: kevin
                                TailbackU RE: kevin Apr 21, 2014 01:43 PM

                                You didn't know?


                              2. re: TailbackU
                                J.L. RE: TailbackU Apr 21, 2014 03:42 PM

                                Our libations for the evening included:

                                - 2007 Maison Perrier-Jou√ęt Grand Brut champagne as an aperatif.

                                - Dassai 23 junmai daiginjo for the pre-nigiri courses

                                - Yalumba Museum Reserve for dessert

                                Superb food, attentive service.

                                And I would be lying if I told you I wasn't aware of his legal issues (specifically his upcoming sentencing). Though, as a guest in his house, I certainly did not feel there was any need to broach the topic during our dinner.

                              3. K K RE: J.L. Apr 21, 2014 12:26 PM


                                What happened with the crab mustard/kani miso of the kegani? Did the chef use it somewhere else? I thought it was used in the crostini/fish bruschetta, but you said it was blue crab.

                                Also did they serve the kegani with a side of vinegared dip sauce (kani su?)

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: K K
                                  J.L. RE: K K Apr 21, 2014 03:48 PM

                                  Hello K K! As always, you demonstrate such astuteness in your comments.

                                  Yes, in photo #3, kegani kani miso served as the plate's "base dipping sauce" for our trio of uni, kuruma ebi and akagai.

                                  The kegani was served to us SANS kani su, but I felt that the freshly steamed crab meat was so delicate that even (the already-light) kani su would have detracted from its finesse on the palate. However, ever the gracious host, Yama-san did have it on hand, in case a guest were to ask for it.

                                  1. re: J.L.
                                    K K RE: J.L. Apr 22, 2014 09:32 AM

                                    Thanks! Yes, very true freshly steamed kegani would be best enjoyed as is. But if cooled to room temperature or serving as a cold crab side dish, then perhaps the kani su would work there (in the case of where I had it served cold/room temp as an app in Hong Kong's Ginza Iwa), or if the crab was pre-frozen.

                                    Photo #5 - is that shirako? What was sprinkled on top of it?

                                    Photo #7 - what is the substance that looks like the egg white looking material on top of the two pieces of hotaru-ika? Is it some mixture of kegani miso and whisked egg or egg white that was blowtorch seared (in which case tastes like heaven)?

                                    Photo 19: Shirauo?

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