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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sushi at Jinpachi: Excellent and Expensive

I found a great new neighborhood sushi joint in Jinpachi. Not everyday prices for sure, but it's obviously a place that takes its sushi seriously. It's low-key but most importantly, serves fresh fish with warm rice in its sushi. I'm partial to this new style of warm rice + sushi. I wasn't crazy about the fact that most of its offerings (I didn't do omakase because it was my first time and wanted to check it out) had some kind of sauce drizzled on it. Still, the fish was very fresh and I'd definitely like to return for more.

Strangely enough, when we ordered a-la-carte and got an order of blue fin tuna, toro (fatty tuna) and hamachi (yellow tail), they gave us the toro first, which seems counter intuitive considering toro is the mother of all buttery tunas and serving it first would make anyone appreciate the lesser quality tuna served next less.

In any case, toro (right) was good but not as good as in other comparable establishments like Hiko or even Sushi Zo. It came drizzled with soy sauce with freshly grated wasabi inside. Loved the warm rice too.
Not surprisingly, the blue fin tuna (left) that was served immediately afterwards didn't really do it for me. It's like serving a Corona after having Hitachino Classic Pale Ale, which incidentally I was drinking this very evening.

But I digress. The hamachi, or yellow tail, was excellent. It too came with a bit of soy sauce drizzled on top, but it tasted so fresh that I hardly cared.

I'm also particular about the accompanying pickled ginger and that was very good too. No funky smell coming from some pickling issues.

Once I built up some confidence on the quality of the fish served here, I moved on riskier picks like scallop and Spanish mackerel, both of which were recommended by the chef, by which time I trusted. The scallop (right) that came with rock salt and beautiful specks of yuzu rind jewels was excellent. I'm not a big fan of shellfish sushi, not least because it's hard to find good ones, but this was well worth the risk.
The Spanish mackerel (top picture) was an even bigger risk in the sense that even at Hiko, my favorite sushi joint in LA, this sushi would more often than not come out fishy. But this one didn't have a hint of fishiness and the grated ginger and minced green onions it came topped with complemented well with the fresh flavor of the fish.

Then I got my standards like uni (sea urchin), blue crab handroll and last but not least, anago (salt water eel). The uni (left) was also excellent, albeit drizzled once again with soy sauce. The seaweed the warm rice was wrapped in was extremely crispy and I could tell it was very good quality seaweed.

The crab handroll was equally stellar. The crab was sweet and the warm rice wrapped in the seaweed was the perfect combination. I could have this for lunch every day.

The last one I had was anago, or salt water eel, which comes with the syrupy brown sauce that's slightly salty and sweet used for unagi. The flesh of the anago was so incredibly soft it (excuse the cliche) did melt in your mouth.

I also liked the beer selection. As much as I like Sapporo served in an ice cold glass straight out of a cooler, I can't help but love what's probably my favorite Japanese beer of all time, Hitachino Classic Pale Ale that has the cutest little owl on the bottle. But more importantly, it's fantastic beer that goes so well with sushi. The perfect pairing if ever there was one.

I'll be returning, probably for another special occasion. Prices are a bit steep for every day sushi. A meal for two with one beer came out to about $55 per person. I hear that omakase is $100 per person. I may just try that next time. Now I gotta find an excuse. It's very quaint and quiet. If you're looking for a scene, this isn't the place for you. I didn't like the fact that it also serves a lot of cooked dishes and the omakase also includes cooked dishes, which to me, seems so much like a contradiction. I came for sushi, not cooked foods! Anyhow, that's my rant. Enjoy!

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