As children, we are taught to share. But as adults, although we know sharing is morally correct, there remain instances which unleash your inner selfishness. This was what I experienced when I first thought about writing a review of Kiriko. The sushi restaurant in West LA run by chef Ken Namba, is truly a gem. Everything about it is amazing. It is small, uncrowded, unpretentious and carries the freshest fish I have tasted.
Kiriko may not be a secret anymore, after Jonathan Gold's List, but it sure doesn't attract the large crowds of trendy and expensive spots like Katsuya or Nobu. Their focus is on making traditional, simple ingredients taste extraordinary. This is the place you come for Spanish mackerel sashimi and a great yellowtail scallion roll. They take pride in their attention to detail by topping their sushi with grated ginger, crispy garlic chips or sweet ponzu. They also make a few things in house such as ice cream, sorbet, and smoked salmon. If you are looking for over the top rolls and appetizers, this is not your place. Instead try Izaka-Ya by Katsu-Ya where they have yummy and fun items like spicy tuna on crispy rice, creamy rock shrimp, or the best baked crab handroll in the city. All at damn good prices. But if you want simple, delicious, mind blowing freshness, no one does it better than Kiriko.
The quality and the cuts of the fish are always the best. Last week my salmon was marbled! I had never seen anything like it. When I put it in my mouth, it literally, honest to God, melted. Like butter! And the Uni. Oooooh my most favorite and anticipated moment in the meal. The uni, (sea urchin eggs) is out of this world. It is so fresh you can taste the seawater. Some of you may be thinking this sounds unappealing. Trust me, it's not.
I didn't always like uni. It took me a few tries. My first reaction 4 years ago was"gross". The second time I thought, "eh", but by the third time I was hooked. The cravings started. It would be 2:34 pm on a Wednesday and the uni aftertaste would pop into my head. There is something about uni's aftertaste that is unusually delectable. I wanted it. Needed it. It became an obsession. Today I am ashamed to say I crave it almost daily. If it wasn't so damn expensive I think I would order a platter for myself each meal. There is nothing so tender, so delicate, creamy, and unusually sweet as fresh uni.
Last week when I finally ate it ( I save it till the end so I can savor the aftertaste) I did a happy uni dance. Don't know what that is? I didn't either. But when those tiny iridescent eggs hit my tongue, my body was compelled by my taste buds to move. The sushi chef probably thought I was a nut as I sat opposite him, closed my eyes, hopped and wiggled my shoulders in my seat while repeating "mmmm", "mmmm" "mmmm". Yeah, it's that good.
*Tip- As with all sushi restaurants, the best time to go is on a tuesday, wednesday or thursday as they will have the freshest fish and smaller crowds. This means they will have more time to spend on the careful preparation of your food. I always suggest to sit at the sushi bar.
seared golden eye snapper topped with a ponzu sauce and wasabi
Seared bluefin tuna garnished with a ponzu sauce, crispy garlic chips and topped with truffle butter
An array of live sweet shrimp, uni, salmon, and kanpachi
Ikura sushi- salmon eggs topped with a quail egg. (I have not yet worked up the courage to try this but it is my boyfriends absolute favorite)
Appetizers of soft shell crab with a ponzu garlic dipping sauce, fried shrimp heads (the remains of the live sweet shrimp deep fried) and yellowtail sashimi
Buttery salmon sushi with creamy, mouthwatering UNI. Look at the way it drips over the edge. Ooooooh sooooo tasty. I'm drooling