Wednesday, April 28, 2010

West LA: WakaSan

Omakse? What's omakase? It's a way of dining by the Japanese which you essentially let the chef decide on what you should eat, determined by the ingredients and what the chef felt like making that day. In most Japanese restaurants, a good omakse can run from $65 to even $300! So when I heard that WakaSan in West LA had omakase for $40, I jumped at the chance and went with a group of friends.

That night, Waka-san (the chef!) prepared our 9 course omakase and it was amazing. For $40, the quality of the dishes is fairly high and even though there weren't any crazy or high class ingredients, it still blew away many of the Japanese restaurants that I've tried.

929 Westwood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Quite a small restaurant actually, no more than 7-8 tables.

stella rosa
We were able to bring our own wine to celebrate our friend's birthday! $10 corkage fee though!

cold dishes
Cold dishes started out the night for us. The spinach with bonito flakes in broth was so simple yet so full of flavor. Really light and refreshing.

stewed conch & seaweed
The 2nd cold dish was stewed conch with seaweed. Conch isn't something people usually eat but again, light and refreshing.

3rd course: egg tofu with salmon roe in broth. Yea devoured this in a few seconds hahaha. Love the saltiness of the salmon roe.

4th course: Tuna, baby yellowtail, and sea bass sashimi! Fish was fairly fresh and the sea bass was interesting since I never had it raw, but it was good.

5th course: grilled mackerel, bamboo shoots, and serrano chili. Very simple and I love the oily mackerel. The bamboo shoots was flavored perfectly as well.

crab korokke & yellowtail salad
6th course: crab korokke with hamachi salad. One of my favorite of the night. The croquette was fried to a crispy golden brown and the salad was a total surprise. The house dressing is so good that I can seriously just drink it straight up.

crab korokke
Creamy delicious goodness!

hamburger steak
7th course: hamburger steak with egg on a hot sizzling cast iron. I love Japanese hamburger steaks and Waka-san makes one of the best I've had. Once you break apart the egg and the yolk comes running out and it hits the cast iron, seriously music to my ears :]

rice with mushroom
8th course: mushroom rice with miso soup. Really good earthy flavors from the rice.

tofu cheesecake
9th: tofu cheesecake with strawberry jam. Yea, tofu cheesecake. It had such a soft texture and it really felt like you were eating a soft tofu... but it tasted like cheesecake!

sake & beer
Of course, after dinner we sat around and decided to order a bottle of sake and a pitcher of beer. The sake's name literally means "Drunk Whale" hahaha.

Of course, also had to get a snack to go along with the alcohol. Every since I had those chicken meatballs in Taiwan, I've been addicted to them so we got the chicken meatballs. Love the glaze on it. Interestingly, it came with a raw egg yolk on the side for us to dip with. Never knew that it was such a good combination!

I think it's the experience of omakse that makes everything that much better. Waka-san doesn't blow you away with crazy combinations or unique dishes but everything is done in a way that makes it possible to pay only $40 for a 8-9 course meal. Thanks Waka-san, for an awesome meal and your hospitality!