izakaya akatora la

izakaya akatora || 115 w. main street, alhambra, ca 91801 || (626) 943-7872

new gem by michael cardenas of innovative dining group [katana, sushi roku, boa steakhouse], and favorite trendy hot spots all across los angeles & las vegas has arrived: izakaya akatora. it’s a more casual, traditional sushi bar & izakaya feel but offering high-quality fish & tapas located in the historic city of alhambra — a city in the suburbs of la, known as the san gabriel valley.

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i aint sayin’ she’s a gold digger, but she’s only eating sashimi with gold on top.

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kinmedai. flame-torched golden eye red snapper. i ate the james bond of snappers, basically.

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omakase me pls.

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close up of the fresh, sexy oyster + uni & ikura neighbors.

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yam ice cream – a reinvented traditional japanese dessert that will make you swoon

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classic chocolate volcano done right

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remember to thank the sushi chefs

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sake to you…sake to me…

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akatora, red tiger in japanese, is named after michael’s father’s fishing boat.

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blondetourage. i’m wearing my favorite leather clutch by liucia

thanks michael for a wonderful dinner & for adding another awesome restaurant to this world! need to be back when i’m out west again [and try the foie gras]. arigatou!

for more delicious goodness, visit my post on the neighboring sushi roku in pasadena.

soto

soto || 357 6th ave., ny, ny 10014 || 212.414.3088

the worst thing is to accidentally delete a perfectly fine post on one of my favorite japanese restaurants in the city. how, why did it happen. i blame word press. let’s start the new year right by correcting what was wrong with 2014 – the mysterious case of the missing soto blog post.

anyhey, please enjoy [again], this fabulous 2-michelin starred bundle of joy. they are creative with their dishes yet maintain a sense of traditional feel to it. don’t come here if you just want fresh fish over rice balls. nope. also, be prepared to be in shocking bright lighting as it is basically broad daylight here — [perfect for foodies & obnoxious photo-taking] therefore nice, casual dress is acceptable.

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b&w tofu: sesame & soy

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snapper, refreshing

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smoked trout carpaccio, caviar, watercress

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hey flukes. don’t be so sad.

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seared halibut

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shredded surf clam prepared like a lil tiki house

one of my faves:

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uni on sweet raw ebi shrimp

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tuna tartare: chopped asian pear, tuna, pine nuts, marinated seaweed

another favorite…

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toro tartare & caviar.

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chopped kanpachi, wasabi tobiko wrapped in marble soy paper + soy mousse

third favorite dish…

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uni, caviar, snow crab, uni gel wrapped in lotus root

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grilled langoustine. call me maybe.

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green tea, strawberry, mango, vanilla, red bean, passion fruit mochi

love all the courses. it’s simply fantastic.

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sushi of gari

sushi of gari

upper east side || 402 e. 78th st., new york, ny 10075 || (212) 517-5340

this restaurant has become so popular that they now have 4 different locations in the city – the upper east side is the original that holds the michelin star rating while still preserving the traditional, casual seating arrangement. for all levels of sushi lovers, this is an omakase experience you must try in new york [if you haven’t already]. with every visit, there are new additions [and surprises] to the chef’s tasting menu, and you can let the server know specific likes & dislikes. the major buzzkill surprise for me this time was that they were out of the 3 cravings i had: mirugai [giant clam], sweet raw shrimp, & fresh toro [they only had flame-torched toro]. to be fair, it was a late monday evening — not the best for sushi. as usual, i prefer the skinnyminnie sashimi omakase: more fish, no rice.

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the sake casing matched my festive nails. fun.

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fatty salmon belly. fatty

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snapper rolls.

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tuna

the outstanding dish of the night:

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flame-torched fluke + poached quail egg + truffle oil slathered all over. sexy.

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yellowtail. weakest link of the night.

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hotate [scallop] + caviar. always a must-get for me.

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tomato tempura and salmon

second favorite of the night:

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flame-torched rare snow crab & uni – perfect.

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tuna tartare with pine nuts & deep fried seaweed chips

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uni. always a must-get.

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plum sake in the back & new sake glass for a new bottle. artwork is channeling zelda.

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marinated snapper & seawead

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topping was a mixed mushroom medley? i passed the [cooked] fish over to my comrades.

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seared toro. great but i kinda wanted super fresh raw toro. #brat

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chopped snapper + black salt. very refreshing!

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seared lobster – slightly overcooked for my raw diet

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mackerel with sesame topping. i passed on this one.

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ikura!

the ikura challenge, just like when it all started at zuma hong kong: how many salmon roe is in one order?

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separate them in groups of 10 first…

gambling is in my blood. needless to say, i won the challenge.

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kumamoto oysters, yay. my final course before tapping out.

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a pretty piece after i ended my tasting.

’twas a wonderful pre-thanksgiving stuff yourself in the face healthy, raw treat i must say. perfect for my raw diet. じゃね! [ja-ne, see you!]

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zuma hong kong

zuma hong kong || the landmark, 15 queen’s road, central, hong kong || +852 3657 6388

i love hong kong.

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the view from my room at the conrad hilton in hong kong. #love

it’s hard to find hong kong/chinese food as great as here. as much as i love the food, i still miss my raw diet so zuma is the perfect place to satisfy those cravings. this contemporary japanese restaurant and lounge located in the beautiful landmark shopping center is trendy with fresh fish, delicious drinks, and cool people, comparable to the sexy & reliably delicioius sushi roku chain of restaurants in los angeles & vegas, and the likes of novikov in london, and morimoto & catch in new york.

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leeanne my awesome jetsetting gf knows all the best places.

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the cool kids hk crew.

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some of my favorite sashimi on the platter. toro, uni, hotate, kumamoto oysters + caviar, & ikura.

gambling is in my blood.

the ikura challenge: how many eggs are there? winner is the closest guess without going over –> that’d be me. i won.

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ikura being counted with a chopstick, grouping them in 10’s. hilarious.

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me + the boys

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restroom selfie with the cool sinks, why not.

so excited that a new zuma is opening up in new york this winter.

farewell til then, zuma!

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shiki beverly hills

shiki beverly hills || 410 n. canon drive, beverly hills, ca 90210 || (310) 888-0036

part of the excitement of food documentation is when you come across a new spot that has not been overdone with hundreds, thousands of reviews prior to yours [similar to claiming ownership of new territory, minus the bloodshed]. this time, it was finding shiki beverly hills, a recent addition to the greater los angeles area since april 2014, and to [restaurant] namedrop for the obsessed snobby knowledgeable foodies, the executive chef mr. shige fujimoto has done his infamous rounds [10+ years] at matsuhisa & a notable michelin starred period at asanebo. rumor has it that he is the reason the latter had earned its star 2 years in a row. well this venture was sure to be promising.

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peaceful murals of cherry blossoms. am i in tokyo or beverly hills?

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“shiki” means four seasons. the characters on the chopsticks are the type of wood used, i’m told by one of the young, adorable staff members

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the delicate cat-like plate for the sake glass

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MUST-GET: seared wagyu beef with peach. its sister appetizer is the seabass + peach. next time…

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mixed mushroom + ohba leaf soup in stone teapot. heartwarming.

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MUST-GET [especially scallop lovers]: seared scallops over marinated plum tomatoes + ohba leaf + a perfect citrusy appetizing sauce.

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toro tartare topped with caviar + wasabi soy dressing. delicious.

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MUST-GET FAVORITE: halibut + truffles + ponzu sauce + arugula flowers = LOVE.

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if you love it, take 2 photos of it. then eat it all! :D

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miso black cod – a standard dish at many places. fish was delicious.

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grilled octopus + tomatoes + onions. not usually a fan of octopus [because i think of ursula] but this was very tasty. the tomatoes were flash fried and its texture turned into a happy mystery.

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what ursula became after king triton banished her.

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stewed wagyu beef + shishito peppers. FATTY. TENDER. GREAT.

surprises do happen: 5 of the staff surrounded me with this glorious plate, singing the happy birthday song to me. no, i was not embarrassed.

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a wonderful array of desserts for my belated birthday celebration: 1) vanilla ice cream + fresh berries // 2) passion fruit gelée + panna cotta // 3) blood orange gelée. the combo of the 3 was perfectly sized & not too heavy for the weight watchers. the palette was happy.

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happy [late] birthday to me.

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yes, it’s time for the bathroom selfie check. did i stuff myself, check. but can i still take a decent photo, check.

visit shiki beverly hills for a sophisticated but relaxed & proper japanese dining experience to impress a foodie friend with something brand new & awesome. friendship/courtship points will be given for sure. attire is business casual and the lighting is actually pretty bright [like soto ny] + perfect for food photographing without the obnoxious flash chatting with my dear friend about the details of her upcoming wedding in lake como! can’t wait to share that experience with you soon. til then, let me know what you think of shiki so i can relive my experience there! じゃあね!

sushi roku – pasadena

sushi roku || 33 miller alley, pasadena, ca 91103 || (626) 683-3000

now here’s a festive place paired with innovation, thus their appropriately self-dubbed innovative dining group. sushi roku is one of my favorites that have been around for years along with katana [my second home before moving out to ny + it’s wagyu week til march 9th!] which continues to have consistently amazing dishes. they reinvent their menu with new additions that mix classic items with edgy flavors that really excite your palette. aside from the great food, here’s a venue you can count on to look sexy, stylish, hip and complete with beautiful decor from top to bottom with great photo opps all around – selfies in the restroom will probably be more interesting than most places. feel free to wear your best to see & be seen, and maybe fall in love – this is applicable to their whole restaurant chain.

below are some of their newest items from this pre-oscar wknd treat:

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fluke topped w/kumquat, yuzu citrus, & black salt on the side


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tuna tartare with yuzu guacamole, soy truffle vinaigrette and black TRUFFLES.

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filet mignon wrapped asparagus – delicious [although i personally would have preferred the meat uncooked or seared] but texture was still great.

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lychee imperial – cocktail choice of the night – refreshing & not overly sweet.


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hot oil-seared halibut with diced chili + scallions. one of my faves.


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spicy jalapeño shots for the table!


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my favorites on this queen-sized platter: amaebi (live sweet shrimp) w/caviar, uni w/black salt, the special baby ika (squid), spanish mackerel


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girls w/the queen platter


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sweet baked shrimp over uni risotto – YUM.


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ankimo – monkfish liver pâté **fave**


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deep fried shrimp heads from our amaebi – you can eat their tentacles + whiskers! try it!


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tuna tataki + grilled shishito peppers & eggplants – enough to feed the tables around us!

“you’re so hot[ate], especially with those gold flakes & caviar on top.”

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DISH OF THE NIGHT: hotate (live scallop) topped with caviar, pink peppercorn, & gold flakes. so pretty. so delicious.


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valet car keys anyone? pls drive responsibly!

if you’re still out west, don’t miss their upcoming event at toranoko [restaurant by IDG partner michael cardenas] this friday, march 7th at 5 pm: mama musubi pop-up shop with guest appearance by london’s food freak, sir nigel white showcasing d’anconia art and sharing japanese food history.

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sushi sasabune – beverly hills

sushi sasabune || 9162 w. olympic blvd, beverly hills, ca 90212 || (310) 859-3878

“my phone died.” – that’s what she said…

i’ve got no fish to show you this time because my phone died right when my delicious dinner started. i have a few things to point out though. i enjoyed this sasabune in la [the original] much more than the one in new york. why would i ever like anything in la over ny?

1. better company
2. less claustrophobic space

this casual setting, just like in new york, helped me stick out like a silly, overdressed tourist stand out in my 6 inch michael kors + fluffy ruffly bcbgmaxazria romper. so much leg, so much heel, so much dressiness, so much too much. whatever. i wanted to look good for my fish date.

i want my mirugai and eat it too. so i did.

sushi yasuda in ny told me most japanese places in the u.s. don’t serve mirugai [jumbo clam] anymore because the chinese have almost fully monopolized the hoarding [surprise!] and the server also thought i was strange to order carb-free sashimi omakase without the rice, so he put the sushi chefs through sushi hell to make me smaller rice balls that i still wouldn’t eat, wtf. here, i had my mirugai, and loved it. i also binged on mirugai at mori sushi recently too, which i will post some cute close-ups of them soon! other favorites here that were notable: toro, abalone, ikura, uni. they were out of amaebi [live sweet shrimp] & ika [squid] when i got there :( my favorites list has trimmed down a bit, just like my circle of friends. i know what i want and i keep the good ones close. you don’t keep enemies [or irritating people] close[r] anymore – that’s such an idiotic complete effin waste of your good time outdated saying. we’re not stuck in high school mentality [although some are, unfortunately, and i hope that they will advance into adulthood]. is it terrible i’m comparing my friends to fish?

a few photos pre-phone death:

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in ny, this msg is engraved onto their glass window

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my view of the sushi bar + chefs from my table through a lovely piece of glass art

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proof i was there selfie – check.

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random msg on the chopsticks wrapper – check.

“delicate snowflakes rest on warm, sweet rice beds flavors intertwined. translucent jewel – (sliced) natural perfection – slide into my mouth. trust me!” – that’s what she said chopsticks wrapper.

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random insert of my lil boy wolfie – check. he missed me while i was at dinner.

overall, fresh, delicious + nutritious!

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