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.

foamI 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.

round2This 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.

sashimiNext 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.

soupA small bowl of soup with pieces of sea bass and a fresh lemon on top.

oysterMore sashimi.  Oyster, halibut, fatty tuna and fresh octopus.  The fatty tuna melted in your mouth.

mushroomsA mixture of rich grilled foie gras, mushrooms and eel with a thick balsamic soy on the top with a thinly sliced strawberry.  Wow.

fishSmall 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.

spaghettiThis one dish was off the charts and the most memorable.  Her signature dish.  Super thin spaghetti topped with abalone and pickled daikon.  Intense.

beeWagu 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.

tunaSeared tuna, cucumbers, seaweed, tomatoes with a vinaigrette dribbled on top and a sake on the side.  Nice pairing.

miroRich miso with tofu skin.

sushi1Then the sushi begins.  Each piece was absolutely melt in your mouth delicious.  Halibut and toro.

sushi2Spanish mackerel and sweet shrimp.

sushi3Squid and uni.  Enough said on this.  Incredible.

greenteaThe dessert begins with a palette cleanser.  Green tea and an ice mixture.  Didn’t love this.

theirdessertShort bread cookies filled with a sweet fruit and topped with white chocolate.

cakeYet 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.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Susan Rubinsky

    Yum!!!! I looked at that fatty tuna and thought, “That must be amazing,” then went on to read your wonderful description. Thanks for sharing.

    1. jason wright

      tuna is high in mercury. i don’t eat it.

  2. Gary Chou

    This looks fantastic! I was hoping to try it when I was in town, but indeed those reservations are hard to find. And yeah, the whole women being warmer affecting the rice is BS. One of the chefs at Tanoshi (upper east side) is female and the sushi was fantastic.

  3. Mario Cantin

    What a feast, holy gee! I might borrow the line “edible art” next time I eat something well-presented.

    1. Gotham Gal

      it is a good line vs tweezer food.

  4. awaldstein

    This is almost exotic. Like a journey to a really far away place.Good share-thanks!

  5. jason wright

    “That is supposedly because women are warmer than men and because of that it affects the sushi” – i knew it.have you ever been to a restaurant accepting payment in bitcoin?

  6. pointsnfigures

    amazed at how thinly cut the slice of lemon was. don’t know if I could get my mandoline that thin, and keep my fingertips.

    1. Gotham Gal