N-naka is not an easy reservation to get. My sister-in-law made it about 3 months ago to celebrate my brother’s bday (and sisters). They are born two years and one day apart. What is unique about N-naka is several things. A woman run Japanese restaurant. Very rare. Every notice that there are no woman sushi chefs? That is supposedly because women are warmer than men and because of that it affects the sushi. Sounds to me more like a male dominated industry. Although women are slowly making a change. There is a woman only sushi restaurant in Tokyo and there is of course N-Naka.
The chef, Niki Nakayama spent 3 years traveling through Japan and became immersed in art of kaiseki. When we were in Japan a few years back we had a few kaiseki meals in Kyoto. Very seasonal and well thought out from start to finish. This was the same experience. Unique and elegant. As my brother deemed the meal; edible art.
I will try and describe each dish but to be honest it was very hard to understand the woman who oversaw our meal. Heavy Japanese accent. Pieces of sea conch sitting at the bottom of the shell with a roasted Konbu soup poured over it. A Konbu dashi foam over the top and a small serving of caviar on the side. You take the spoon and mix in the caviar and the meal begins.
This is a variety of small appetizers. Japanese jelly lobster and monkfish liver pate to spread over the piece of toast. In the middle is a small white package stuffed with sauteed mushrooms. You take out the mushrooms, squeeze the lemon over it and then mix with the spoonful of uni sauce. Absolutely delicious. Last is the grilled shrimp with a ponzu sauce on top.
Next out is sashimi. Thinly sliced pieces of scallop and yellowtail with a variety of different sauces to dip the fish in. Puree avocado, red pepper gellee and more. The sauces were each incredibly powerful and layered for those small amounts.
A small bowl of soup with pieces of sea bass and a fresh lemon on top.
More sashimi. Oyster, halibut, fatty tuna and fresh octopus. The fatty tuna melted in your mouth.
A mixture of rich grilled foie gras, mushrooms and eel with a thick balsamic soy on the top with a thinly sliced strawberry. Wow.
Small piece of black cod topped with a Japanese eggplant puree, deep fried rice paper and Japanese cabbage puree. I love just having a few bites.
This one dish was off the charts and the most memorable. Her signature dish. Super thin spaghetti topped with abalone and pickled daikon. Intense.
Wagu beef. This beef had so much flavor. It was rich and melted in your mouth. The portion is ample. Topped with a beet chip and cauliflower.
Seared tuna, cucumbers, seaweed, tomatoes with a vinaigrette dribbled on top and a sake on the side. Nice pairing.
Rich miso with tofu skin.
Then the sushi begins. Each piece was absolutely melt in your mouth delicious. Halibut and toro.
Spanish mackerel and sweet shrimp.
Squid and uni. Enough said on this. Incredible.
The dessert begins with a palette cleanser. Green tea and an ice mixture. Didn’t love this.
Short bread cookies filled with a sweet fruit and topped with white chocolate.
Yet the best of the best was the chocolate cake my sister-in-law brought. Crossword themed (we are all obsessed). It pushed us over the top and we continued to talk about the cake the rest of the weekend.
Quite the experience. Glad we went. The chef came out to wish my brother and sister a happy birthday which was definitely a nice bonus. A little gem inside LA.