n/Naka is an extraordinary restaurant. Chef Niki Nakayama is a fantastic chef who uses A+ ingredients with a perfect balance of flavors that is plated with incredible artistry. She began her career at Takao, our favorite sushi restaurant in Los Angeles. In fact we were the first customers at Takao.
From their website: “Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, chef Niki Nakayama began her career at the renowned Takao restaurant in Brentwood, working under the guidance of esteemed chefs Takao Izumida and Morihiro Onodera. Committed to exploring new techniques, Niki embarked on a three-year working tour throughout Japan, sampling her way through different regional flavors and immersing herself in the essentials of Japanese cuisine, both traditional and cutting-edge. While working at Shirakawa-Ya Ryokan, (Japanese inn owned by relatives) Niki trained under chef Masa Sato in the art of kaiseki the traditional Japanese culinary practice that emphasizes the balance and seasonality of a dish.”
We had champagne to start, then a chablis from their list, a glass of sake and finally red wine.
Champagne – BYO
Red Wine – BYO
We chose the premium Kaiseki menu. This was very expensive but it was an extraordinary experience. I asked them to send me the menu and they did. I have copied it exactly. Basically I will let the photos tell the story.
(A PAIRING OF SOMETHING COMMON AND SOMETHING UNIQUE)
BLUFIN TORO TARTAR, SEA URCHIN, POTATO CHIP
SNOWCRAB WITH IKURA, ENGLISH PEA SOUP
(SEASONAL INGREDIENTS PRESENTED AS AN APPETIZER)
CALAMARI WITH BLUECRAB SQUID INK SAUCE, FRIED RENKON LOTUS ROOT WITH LOBSTER
BLACKCOD MARINATED MISO, SEA JELLY FISH WITH GINGER AND SOY SAUCE
This was unbelievable – absolutely perfect. The lobster was deep fried and you dipped it in the aoli sauce. You then took the quail egg and mixed it with the squid sauce and then ate the calamari. The jelly fish was like a palate cleanser.
(MODERN INTERPRETATION OF SASHIMI)
FRESH JAPANESE SCALLOP, BLACK TRUFFLE, HONEY TRUFFLE, PONZU, GOLD FLAKE
Owan “Still Water”
HUDSON VALLEY FOIE GRAS, DASHI
OH TORO, SHIMA AJI, HIRAME, SHIGOKU OYSTER, NAMA TAKO
AYU WITH SAUTEED FOIE GRAS SET WITH COMPRESSED WATER MELON
BALSAMIC SOY SAUCE
KEGANI/ HAIRY CRAB, SHITAKE, MITSUBA, DASHI
(NOT BOUND BY TRADITION, THE CHEF’S CHOICE DISH)
SPAGHETTINI WITH ABALONE, PICKLED COD ROE, BURGUNDY TRUFFLES
JAPAN MATSUZAKA WAGYU BEEF A5
HOTARU IKA, JAPANESE CUCUMBER, WAKAME, YUZU MISO
YUZU OMOI , KYOTO, JAPAN
(RICE DISH- SUSHI)
AKAMUTSU, TORO, AMAEBI, AJI, IKA, UNI
MELON SORBET, ROSE ALMOND MILK GRANITA
POPCORN ICE CREAM, MALTED MERINGUE, CARAMEL ANISE, CHOCOLATE RAISIN
Bottom line: This is an extraordinary restaurant with a talented and dedicated chef with a service team that is equally dedicated. Just be forewarned this is very expensive.