Category Archives: Los Angeles restaurants

Bacaro LA Wine Bar

Bacaro, dear Bacaro, how do I count the ways I love you? Now people, I’m not usually prone to hyperbole but Bacaro LA Wine Bar is the Ryan Gosling of L.A. restaurants. There, I said it. It’s nice to look at, yes; but visually isn’t as stunning as, let’s say…Johnny Depp.  But beneath the unassuming exterior lies so much more….much, much more. A swirling tornado of creativity? A bubbling caldron of passion for the culinary arts? Mountains of the kind of kitchen confidence that only grandmothers wielding 100-year old cast iron skillets possess?  Although Ryan Gosling may answer “yes” to the first question, Bacaro gives a thumbs up to all three. Continue reading

BLD Restaurant’s Tweet-A-Dish

I was going to call this post, “The One With The Terrible Photos” but I didn’t want to turn you away before you could get an idea of how wonderful the food at BLD Restaurant is.  So, I changed it to what you see above, and you’ll simply have to close your eyes and imagine the lovely plates of food I’m going to tell you about, because clearly these photos do them no justice whatsoever.  Trust me.

Do you tweet?  I have to admit, I’m slightly addicted to the social networking site, Twitter.  It’s a great way to converse (albeit in 140 characters or less!) with fellow food bloggers, chefs, hospitality publicists and other people who share my love of food and dining in our great city.  Many restaurants have started to use Twitter to promote special happy hours or menu items, and BLD Restaurant took it one step further and created a weekly Twitter contest called Tweet-A-Dish.  All you have to do is think of what you’d like to eat for dinner and tweet it at @BLDchefD.  If Chef Diana Stavaridish chooses your idea, she’ll put it on the menu that Thursday night and you + 1 guest eat for free.  Pretty cool, right?  It’s like owning your own restaurant and having an item placed on the menu especially for you.  What do Kobe Bryant and you have in common?  You get a customized dish at a cool, Los Angeles restaurant on the menu.  Ok, I think you get the idea.

Last week, I was waiting in the car while J mailed out a package from the UPS store, and I saw Chef Diana’s tweet to send in ideas for this week’s Tweet-A-Dish.  I didn’t even take a second to think before tweeting, “A really good ahi burger…fine dice, rare w Asian seasoning and a tangy Asian slaw on a whole grain bun.  Sweet potato fries.”  I’m not sure what came over me, but I guess that’s what my stomach was craving, so I hoped for the best and went on with my business for the day.

The next day, I got the tweet from Chef Diana saying I’d won this week’s Tweet-A-Dish, and that she would be making a take on my idea and to please call the restaurant to book my reservation.  Yay!  I wasted no time in making the call, and before we knew it we were on our way to BLD for the much-anticipated tuna burger.

The waiter handed us a menu, and I saw that my item was the Plat du Jour-  Albacore Tuna Burger with Asian Cabbage Slaw, Chili Aioli, Sunchoke Chips.  I’ll totally geek out and say I was thrilled- I mean, how many chances do you get to actually have an item on any menu, ever?  I didn’t even need to look at the rest of the menu because, um, hello- I knew what I was gettin’.  J, on the other hand, opted for something else so we could share two different dishes.

My albacore burger came piled high with Asian-style slaw.  The minute I picked it up I could smell the familiar aromas of garlic, ginger, sesame…it reminded me of the gyoza filling my mom made while I was growing up.  It tasted even better, with a slight kick from the creamy aioli and a brightness from the rice vinegar in the slaw.  It was everything I ever wanted in a burger, for sure.  The sunchoke chips were a real surprise- I’d only had sunchokes once, and decided I wasn’t a huge fan because of their crunchy texture.  However, when deep fried, the natural sugars come out and bring a nice, earthy sweetness to them, similar to taro chips.  I didn’t leave a single one in the tiny cast iron pot they came in.

J’s Barbecue Tofu Chopped Salad was delicious: an array of vegetables, quinoa, black beans and corn sat beneath thick slabs of seasoned tofu drenched in BBQ.  It was like California on a plate, and we finished every bite of that, too.

To end the meal, we shared two warm, chewy chocolate chip cookies sandwiched with oatmeal brown butter ice cream.  Yes, OATMEAL BROWN BUTTER ICE CREAM.  Genius, right?  It’s even better when melting off the edge of a freshly baked cookie.  It’s almost illegal, it’s so good.

Once again, I wish the photos better reflected the meal we had, but you can go and see for yourself- just tweet @BLDchefD a dish you’re craving and maybe she’ll make it for you!  The Tweet-A-Dish is definitely one of the more fun Twitter campaigns there, and I encourage you to participate.

Ok, now go tweet!

Blog slump + Bottega Louie

Holy cupcakes- it’s been forever since the last blog post! It isn’t that I haven’t cooked or eaten lately; I just feel like I’m in a bit of a blogging slump. J, ever helpful, often calls out “did you take a photo?” before taking a bite of anything, and I just respond by shrugging and digging in. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it could be that I’ve been really enjoying some nice, post-work bike rides to the Rose Bowl with J, so by the time we get home and eat, it’s late and I’m too hungry to stop for photos! Oh, and Gossip Girl might be on TV (don’t judge!).

Anyway, one afternoon a few weeks back, we decided to ride our bikes from our home in Highland Park to downtown, to check out Bottega Louie, a new restaurant/bakery/deli/bar/cafe that had just opened. It took us just over an hour to get there, and we purchased a couple of mini sandwiches and were satisfied, but not necessarily wowed. The space was gorgeous with high ceilings, and the display cases boasted all kinds of goodies, but we felt the staff just didn’t seem to really know what they were doing. On more than one occasion during our first visit we’d see nervous employees milling about, not quite sure what they were supposed to be doing.

We decided to give it another go, this time for dinner, and were so happy we did. The staff seemed to have worked out the kinks and were working together in harmony, and we were seated right away at a cozy back table. On our first visit I’d seen the pizza oven and knew we’d have to try one of their pies. We ordered the arugula salad, the portabello “fries” and the margherita. All were superb- the baby arugula was spicy and fresh, portabello strips deep fried to perfection and pizza thin, crisp and topped with a light hand. We were thrilled.

We went back and were as pleased with the second visit, and this time I finally whipped out the camera. Since we’d already tried the pizza we wanted to check out their other offerings.

Our new favorite rosé, from the Bastianich family:

We once again ordered the arugula salad and it was as perfect as the first time:

The arancini were good, but not as good as the ones at Terroni’s:

The carmelized green beans were beautifully browned, some blackened, and totally delicious:

The Fettucini Belmondo was as simple as it gets, and was delicious and fresh:

Everything was good, but I think the real winner is the pizza, which we’ll be back for repeatedly (along with that arugula salad!).

We decided to skip the plated desserts and opted to buy a couple of canelés from the bakery to take home. We’d bought one canelé on our first visit and were totally, utterly hooked. It was quite possibly the best canelé I’d ever eaten- slightly crisp and carmelized on the outside and tenderly moist on the inside. We picked out one vanilla and one orange canelé and I handed the cashier at my credit card.

After two swipes, the cashier apologized and said that the machine had been wonky all day and wasn’t reading my card. I handed her another, and, after two attempts it went through. This entire process took about 90 seconds and I was too busy gawking at all of the food in the display cases to really even pay attention. The staff acted like they’d killed my goldfish, and, having overheard me telling my husband earlier that I should have gotten a pisachio eclair, asked me to wait while they got something for me for my “trouble.” I tried to tell them that it was no big deal and it really wasn’t any trouble but they insisted and handed me a large box. I felt awful so I tried to give it back and they just kept insisting, smiling and winking that I’d be happy when I opened it.

So, was I happy? You tell me:

I mean, holy cow. Let’s take inventory here: two chocolate macarons, one vanilla macaron, a madeline, one giant brownie, a blueberry scone and my beloved canelé! By the way, I ate the pisachio eclair in the car so it isn’t pictured (I know, I’m a pig! But it was a mini eclair!) but get a load of these sweet treats! All because it took four attempts to swipe my credit card? I still felt bad about it but they seemed like they really wanted to, so of course J and I sampled some of the treats and I took the rest to work. The canelés are still my favorite, but the chocolate macarons were pretty amazing too.

Check out this perfectly made canelé

I mean, they had me at marghertia……. but now, I guess they complete me.

Bottega Louie
700 S Grand
Los Angeles, CA 90017
213 802 1470

Tasca Wine Bar

Disclaimer: I suck at taking photos in dark restaurants so please excuse the fuzzy photography!

I rarely eat dinner out west of Los Feliz, which automatically leaves out many of this city’s best restaurants. I wish I felt more motivated to make the drive from my Eastside home, but my love of wine and non-love of a DUI pretty much keep me close to home. Call it lazy, call it lushy, call it whatever- it’s something that, as a food lover, I’m a little embarrassed to admit and I spend way too much time trying to find new restaurants to hit on the Eastside instead of driving the 10 extra miles to go anywhere beyond Silverlake.

Well, a visit to Tasca Wine Bar has changed all that- not only because I must return multiple times to that establishment, but also because it ignited the motivation to get off my butt and explore another area of town.

Tasca………..where do I begin? For frequent readers (all three of you) of this blog, my love of small plates and tapas is a familiar theme throughout Tuna Toast. I almost always prefer to share a few appetizers than to order one main plate of food for myself. I am on the constant lookout for fantastic hors d’œuvre or inventive mini foods on menus and have been constantly disappointed at the lack of anything resembling a tapas bar near my home. Vertical Wine Bistro is one of the few shining examples, but there’s only so many times one can go to the same place each week.

Ok, back to the review. Tasca Wine Bar is located on West 3rd street in the cluster of many beloved restaurants. We walked in and were immediately struck by the cozy atmosphere and friendly staff. There’s a long bar and the instant I laid eyes on it I knew I wanted to sit there instead of at a table. We took two seats at the near end of the bar and looked over the menu. Ah, the menu………..I couldn’t have written a more Tuna Toast Fantasy Menu myself. Lots of small plates dominated the menu and J and I spent quite a bit of time trying to narrow it down to a non-gluttonous number. Our friendly bartender poured us some prosecco, we finally put in our order and waited for the tapas parade to start as we munched on thinly sliced bread dipped in pungent olive tapenade.

We started with the ceviche, which came nestled on a bed of micro arugula and topped with a generous slice of avocado. J took one bite and immediately stated that he loved it. It was perfectly balanced and with just the right amount of acidity and not a hint of fishiness. It was mild, mellow and the perfect way to whet our appetites for the dishes to come.

Next came the Gambas Al Ajillo- sautéed shrimp in garlic sauce. Six large shrimp came swimming in a pink-hued sauce that just demanded bread to sop up all it’s delicious garlicness with. All I can say is that this dish should be on every tapas menu in the city. Savory, perfectly cooked and just mouthwateringly, bowl-lickin’ good.

Our next dish was courtesy of our bartender who, when I ordered the Croquettas de Pollo (chicken and bacon croquettes, romesco sauce), recommended that I get the Arancini (wild mushroom risotto fritters, truffled sauce) instead. She was so confident that we’d be blown away by the arancini that we obliged, and thank goodness we did. Two perfectly round, deep fried balls of risotto came out and they were heavenly. Light and creamy on the inside, they were what I had hoped my dense and unflavorful risotto balls I had made a couple weeks back would taste like. The only downside is that now I dream about them.

The Moules Frites were good, but we didn’t find them to be anything special. J wasn’t keen on the fries which he found to be not of the skinny, shoestring variety which often come with mussels. Being a fan of anything deep fried and salty, I munched on a few but wanted to save my room in my stomach for the next course.

We ordered one thing off of the specials menu- handmade gnocchi with a rabbit ragu as well as a couple glasses of red. The gnocchi were light and airy pillows of soft potato pasta- I just love homemade gnocchi and they are so much better than the store bought variety. The rabbit ragu suffered slightly from too much salt, but we polished off the entire plate anyway.

Wanting to end the meal on a sweet note, we had the chocolate mousse. Dense yet airy at the same time, the dark chocolate concoction caused J and I to once again display our gluttony as we pretty much scraped every last bit of it from the glass. The tawny port J ordered was a nice compliment to the bittersweet dessert.

So here I am, writing about this a few days later and I feel a tinge of heartbreak that such a restaurant doesn’t exist near my house. Don’t get me wrong- Tasca will be visited again and again by yours truly- but I live between two areas (Eagle Rock and Pasadena) that need a place like this. I’ve pretty much given up on Old Town with its chain restaurants and yogurt shops, but maybe Eagle Rock could be the birthplace of a truly good tapas and wine bar? I hear rumblings of something in Echo Park so there’s hope, but I would love nothing more than to see a few more of these kinds of places pop up on the Eastside.

Speaking of tapas- I am leaving for my very first trip to South America in a week. We will be in Bogota, Buenos Aires and Santiago. If anyone has recommendations – tapas bars specifically—I’d love to hear them!

Tasca Wine Bar

8108 W. 3rd St.

Los Angeles, CA

323 951 9890

Restaurant Review: Katsuya Hollywood

My best friend M and I decided to hit the new Katsuya Hollywood this past Saturday for a little girls’ night sushi. Wait, not little girls night but a little night of sushi for us girls. Ok, glad I cleared that up. Although I’m usually wary of flashy, over-hyped restaurants, I know that Katsuya has grown into an empire based on the popularity of his Studio City restaurant which J and I used to frequent years ago. We’d live for the famous baked crab roll wrapped on soy paper and would save up just to go. Of course, it’s been a long time since those days and a visit to that original location a year ago should have given me a hint that things were on the decline: the waitress kept practically barking at us about what we wanted to order, people waiting for a seat were hovering so closely I could feel their body heat and the “crispy” rice cakes were hot and soggy. But hey- that is the Studio City location, not the big, huge, multimillion dollar Hollywood one! Despite that last awful visit to the other location, I decided to try the new one anyway.

Well, big mistake. I know, I know- it isn’t right to write too many negative comments after only one visit to a restaurant and I’m sure I’ll get reamed by some readers, but here goes. The place has been so hyped and the Katsuya name is so well known that I expected more than what I got for my money.

The restaurant is absolutely gorgeous- all shiny glass, muted candlelight, a gigantic centerpiece of sake tubs in the middle of the sushi bar- it’s breathtaking. We were led past the bar which, at 7:00 PM, was already buzzing and into the main room where we were seated at the sushi bar, like we requested. There is about one sushi chef for every four sushi bar customers, we were pleased to see, so we checked out the menu as my tummy grumbled. Katusya offers a nice selection of sushi, sashimi, hot and cold appetizers and a several different set menus. M and I knew we wanted sushi to be the focus and would maybe order a couple of appetizers from the kitchen. Our waiter was nice and a bit overzealous in his effort to try and make recommendations, but when we asked him which of the seven or so sake options were the driest, he seemed puzzled and avoided the question with a nervous giggle. There aren’t many lower priced sake options- with the house sake coming in at $24 for a 300ml bottle. I ordered one, M got her Asahi Super Dry and we hunkered down for what we hoped was some great sushi.

Our sushi chef, L, stood about 3 feet in front of us on the other side of the counter, but due to the music and overall noise in the place, we had to wave at him to get his attention. When we did, he seemed awfully nervous. When I said “Blue crab roll please” he turned for a minute and said “Oh sorry, we’re out of that.” Um, I’m sorry- at 7:00 PM on a Saturday night? So I ordered the aji (Spanish mackerel) and M started with the kanpachi (amberjack). When L opened his giant rice maker to scoop out some rice, I knew we had a problem. Big, billowing wafts of steam rose up beyond the stacked sake tubs, and the resulting sushi was warm and mushy. M looked at me and said “ok, we’re not ordering any more of this” but we were freakin’ starving and had already valet’d the car so we were determined to eat something else. I saw that the obviously-on-a-first-date-annoying-guy-and-ambivalent-girl next to us had a plate of rock shrimp tempura in a creamy sauce, so we ordered that from the kitchen. We had also ordered the spicy tuna on crispy rice which had just arrived- and same thing- the rice was bordering on hot and was definitely mushy.

Cold fish + hot rice = unhappy tastebuds

I decided to at least get my beloved baked crab roll- after all, I have such great memories of it. Same problem- that damned hot and sticky rice reared it’s ugly head yet again, and a side of “spicy” mayo had barely enough heat to register on a baby’s tongue. Yeah I know, I know- I’m getting too sarcastic but I feel myself getting annoyed just writing this. Luckily the rock shrimp tempura in creamy sauce was good- but not any better than my neighborhood sushi joint, Z Sushi, makes it. We slurped down our drinks and sat there, hungry.

M wanted dessert so we opted to share the vanilla tempura ice cream. Hey- who can screw up ICE CREAM, right? Well, the limp, soggy tempura “crust” that encapsulated the ball of ice cream was clearly made ahead of time and put back into the freezer. Isn’t the entire point of tempura ice cream the contrast of hot and crunchy with cool and creamy? It’s like that El Torito dessert where they deep fry ice cream in a tortilla shell and douse it with cinnamon sugar. But it wasn’t. So we called over a manager and he just stared at me, took the dish in hand and said curtly, “Would you like something else?” I said no and asked for the check as M stared at me in disbelief. It isn’t like I asked for his first born to sacrifice, but his icy cool demeanor was enough to keep that ice cream rock solid. He must have realized his error, however, because 5 minutes (and no check) later, he scampered back to us and said, “I guess our version of tempura ice cream is a bit, er, spongier than other restaurants” and smiled. Oh yeah- when one thinks of tempura, they think “spongy.” “Just get me the check you clown,” I said. Ok, well I didn’t say that but lemme tell ya- I was THIS close.

Soggy, solid mass of icy cold tempura

As I waited for the check, I glanced around and realized that it was me who was at fault. I should have never gone to a restaurant whose demographic I just do not fit into. Sure, I’m in my early 30′s, work in the entertainment business and like to get my drink on (which I’m guessing hits the Katsuya demo right on the head). The problem is, I actually LIKE TO EAT GOOD FOOD. Especially Japanese food, and even more so, SUSHI. I mean, I was literally surrounded by aging entertainment execs who were trying desperately to appear cool to their jailbait dates and young, spiky-haired dudes reeking of Axe body spray sporting awful dress shirts etched with dragon designs yapping on their Blackberry Pearls. To translate- I was in HELL. My hell, to be exact. At the end of the day, I would actually put up with some of this BS if it meant I’d get a chance to consume a fabulous meal, but I’m guessing one won’t be found at Katsuya Hollywood.

Sorry for the lack of photos, but I was just too irked to snap any more!

Katsuya, 6300 Hollywood Blvd (at Vine), Hollywood, 323-871-8777

Restaurant Review: Osteria Mozza

We finally made it out to Osteria Mozza a couple of weeks ago. The much-hyped, Mario Batali/Nancy Silverton-owned restaurant has been the hardest table in town to get, so we wanted to wait a bit before making our way over there. Normally a place with so much hype ends up not being able to live up to it, and although there are undoubtedly a few detractors out there, we had a wonderful experience. I thoroughly enjoyed every single dish, but the stars of the menu, for me, were the pastas. Oh, the pasta at Osteria Mozza………..I could eat those dishes every day and never get tired of them. Also, now’s a good time for the disclaimer- these photos are crap. As the evening wore on and it got darker and darker, I just didn’t want to use my flash so unfortunately, most of the photos came out too dark and fuzzy.

The restaurant itself is gorgeous- bustling and warm, busy but comfortable….it’s so very New York and I fell in love with the chocolate brown and pale blue color scheme. The bar is among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen…..gleaming bottles of liquor sat on high shelves which also showcased the many different shapes of wine glasses and goblets.

So- we started our meal with a nice amuse of mozzarella wrapped with basil and prosciutto which was a nice way to kick off the meal. Having been seated at the mozzarella bar, we could watch Nancy Silverton and her chefs prepare the small plates of bruschetta-like dishes which was very entertaining. In fact, I think I’d like to sit at the bar on future visits to the restaurant. Our waiter informed us that everything needed to be ordered at once, so we chose carefully. We picked a couple of things from the antipasti, a couple of pastas and a couple of mains. After taking a sip of the Brunello that J ordered (sorry- can’t recall the name now!) we sat back and spied on what seemed to be the entire staff of Bastide who were sitting at nearby tables. They seemed to be having a jolly good time, and the value of the bottles of wine and liquor on their tables was enough to send ten kids to college. Ok, I joke but they were getting pretty serious with their libations. And why not? If I worked at one of the most touted French restaurants in Los Angeles (which is set to re-open sometime soon), I’d get my drink on at what some would call the best Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. Damn, I wish I was European;)!

My plate with the octopus and burrata crostini

Ricotta with honey and hazelnuts

Onto the food. We got our grilled octopus with celery and potatoes since I’d heard so much about it, and it was as tender and delicious as people had described. We had to get the crostini topped with caramelized shallots, escarole, bacon and that lovely burrata that shows up on many of Nancy Silverton’s menus, and well, I mean how on earth could you go wrong with that combo on crusty bread? The kitchen sent out some fresh ricotta with honey and toasted hazelnuts which came with the same crusty bread… Those hazelnuts were some of the freshest, crunchiest and most flavorful I’ve ever had. A true winner.

Ravioli with ricotta, egg and browned butter

Orecchiette with crumbled sausage and swiss chard

Pockets of heaven……..

Now for the pastas: my friend Mika and I had eyed a patron eating the ravioli while waiting for our table, and we had to practically tie our hands to our sides so we wouldn’t reach out and grab it off his plate. Just imagine one, giant yet delicately-skinned ravioli swimming in brown butter and sage, filled with creamy ricotta and a single, gorgeous runny egg yolk that runs all over the pasta and cheese once you cut into it. Um yeah………we almost squealed out loud when we saw the near-orange yolk mix with the rich butter. It tasted as good as it looked and we just wished that we’d ordered two instead of one. The homemade orecchiette with crumbled sausage and swiss chard was spicy, fatty and chewy- and I mean all of that in the best way possible. My absolute favorite was the agnolotti- tiny pockets of pasta filled with braised meat. Little pockets of heaven, actually.

Fish….branzino, I think


For our secondi we had the branzino (I think) which was roasted with lemon and mint. The fish was perfectly cooked but the mint was a bit overpowering for my taste. The steak was mouthwateringly delicious and nicely rare. Side dishes included the cannelinni beans with roasted tomatoes- simple, light and delicious- and the roasted potatoes which were shatteringly crisp on the outside, warm and tender on the inside. I don’t even want to know how much olive oil it took to make those potatoes so crisp but they were divine.

At this point you’re probably wondering how on earth we still kept eating, but we couldn’t pass up dessert. We shared the torta della Nonna which really reminded me of a Japanese cheesecake- not too sweet, but creamy and slightly lemony. Topped with pine nuts, Mika and I devoured the whole thing while J tried to get bites in between.

During the entire meal, I kept looking around and the beautiful interior, the bustling mozzarella bar and the waiters putting finishing touches on the dishes at a table set up with various condiments and additions. The vibe in Osteria Mozza is indescribable and just very different from a lot of Los Angeles restaurants- I can’t put it into words other than to say it’s way more East Coast-style. Everyone is buzzing, eating, chatting and there’s a palpable energy that seems rare in this town……I don’t know exactly what it is but I look forward to returning to get another dose of it.

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 297-0100,

Sushi Ike, Hollywood

I love sushi. In fact, I think sushi is my favorite food on the planet. The older I get, the more I grow to love it, crave it, need it on a weekly basis. Luckily it’s healthy and there is a lot of variety so it never gets old. Unluckily, it isn’t cheap so it’s quite an expensive habit to have. Fortunately there are a few reasonably priced yet high-quality sushi places in town so I don’t always have to fork over a kidney to get my nigiri fix.

Amuse bouche

One of those places is Sushi Ike in Hollywood, about a mile or so from my office. I’d always heard about how fresh and reasonable it was but never got around to trying it until a couple of weeks ago. We had one of our cars in the shop so J picked me up from work and we wanted to wait the traffic out so I thought it was the perfect change to try Sushi Ike. By the way, it’s pronounced “Ee-ke,” not “Ike” like in “Mike & Ikes.”


We pulled into the unassuming strip mall on the corner of Gower and Sunset and were lucky enough to be the 3rd couple there (after another 20 minutes, the place was PACKED!). We sat down at the small sushi counter, were given wet towels and ordered two iced green teas while the sushi chef gave us a small amuse bouche of fried salmon marinated in rice vinegar- YUM. My mom makes a similar dish with iwashi so it reminded me of her.


Our sushi chef (not Ike-san, who was working the middle of the counter and all smiles) was nice but very serious, not really chatting with us and focusing on making each nigiri perfect with the smallest amount of rice possible (which is a good thing- too much rice just fills you up). We started with a well-marbled piece of salmon, which was delicious. We then had halibut brushed with yuzu and lemon, scallop with shiso leaf and very fresh aji with ponzu and ginger.

Hotate with shiso

We saw that most people had been ordering the sliced octopus, so we got one as well. The chef took out a pre-boiled tentacle and tossed it on a grill for about 5 minutes. After slicing into nice thin strips, he drizzled it with lemon and salt and presented to us. One bite of this and I knew we were hooked. It was as tender as a baby’s butt. Ok, well I’ve never eaten a baby’s butt but you know what I mean- if you blindfolded any octopus-hater and had them take a bite of this, they’d be converted. It was as soft and tender as dark meat chicken but still had the subtle taste of both sea and grill. I asked Ike-san how on earth they got it to such a texture, and he revealed that they boil the raw octopus in green tea and adzuki beans. Apparently something in the beans is the key to tenderness. Maybe I should give a bag to a particularly tough and chewy coworker who could try a little tenderness as well.

The magical fire…

Grilled tako

We ordered a “una-kyu” which is Japanese slang for a unagi cucumber roll. Once again, the chef tossed the unagi on the same grill- no toaster oven here- and it made for a slightly charred and utterly delicious eel which matched so well with the cool, crunchy cucumber. We finished off with the anago, which was also made on the grill and unlike any anago I’d had before. It was slightly crisp yet melting on the inside and brushed with the slightest coating of sweet sauce.


I’m glad we discovered such a fresh and simple sushi place close to work. You won’t get any fancy rolls at this place- just good, fresh fish and the best grilled octopus I’ve ever had.


Sushi Ike
6051 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA