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18: Matsuhisa's Yellowtail Scallion Donburi

Matsuhisa's yellowtail scallion donburi
Matsuhisa's yellowtail scallion donburi
A. Scattergood

Celebrating this year's Best of L.A. issue -- now out in print and online -- we're counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.

18: Matsuhisa's Yellowtail Scallion Donburi.

You may be able to eat chef Nobu Matsuhisa's stunning Peruvian-influenced Japanese cuisine at one of his many restaurants around the world, the Nobus in Aspen or the Bahamas or London or Milan or Greece or Tokyo. (One could go on.) Or at one of the two Nobus in Los Angeles, either the palace on La Cienega in what was once L'Orangerie, or the newly opened beachside fish museum in Malibu, which Matsuhisa had built right on the Pacific. One might consider it the anti-Gladstones.

But if you want to experience the chef's food in a somewhat more comforting environment, you might stroll in off the street some lunchtime -- no reservations, no valet needed -- and sit down at the sushi bar at Matsuhisa. Matsuhisa is the chef's original restaurant, which he opened in 1987 and almost closed in 2006 when he and business partner Robert de Niro opened the Nobu just up the street. They didn't close it, for which both its regulars and the rest of the city should be profoundly grateful.

Here you can see evidence of Nobu before he became, well, Nobu. The place is simple and unpretentious, with lots of pale wood and colorful drawings of fish on the walls and friendly servers who are more than happy to let you sit at the bar and eat donburi. Because while you can order the famous Nobu dishes here too -- the black cod with miso, the tiradito, the bento box warm chocolate soufflé cake -- you can also order a simple rice bowl and a cup of tea, in much the same way that you can, after all the flash and fanfare of Tokyo's famous Tsukiji fish market, stop for donburi at one of the little stalls that surround the furious action of the fishmongers.

Donburi, which is both the name of the bowl itself and the rice bowl dish, at Matsuhisa come in many forms: You can get tekka or toro donburi, bowls with sea urchin or unagi, with halibut cheeks or tempura or beef katsu, even squid pasta or mussels in spicy garlic sauce. But my favorite is the donburi with a fine dice of raw yellowtail and thinly sliced scallions, atop rice so perfectly cooked it's reason alone to order the dish. Very faintly warm, the grains fit together like some lovely jigsaw under the utterly fresh fish -- a chiffonade of nori, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, a tangle of daikon, a shiso leaf and a thin wedge of lemon the only other accompaniments. Add some soy sauce if you like, or ask for a bit of fresh wasabi.

Maybe later you can dress up and go eat fluke sashimi on the beach, but it's nice to know that you can eat Nobu's beautiful food this way. A bowl of rice. A cup of tea.

100: Lukshon's Dan Dan Noodles

99: Cemita de Milanesa at Cemitas Poblanos Elviritas #1

98: Chichen Itza's Cochinita Pibil

97: Tsukemen at Tsujita L.A.

96: La Cevicheria's Bloody Clam Ceviche

95: Duck Shawarma at Momed

94: Peruvian Chicken at Pollo a la Brasa

93: Squash Blossom Quesadilla at Antojitos Carmen

92: Thai Boat Noodles at Pa-Ord

91: Baco Mercat's Bazole

90: Furikake Kettle Corn at A-Frame

89: Live Santa Barbara Spot Prawns at Providence

88: Fried Pig Tails at Night + Market

87: Egg Salad Sandwich at Euro Pane

86: Galbi Jjim at Soban

85: Truffle Honey-Laced Fried Chicken at Manhattan Beach Post

84: Mool Naeng Myun at Yu Chic Naeng Myun

83: Chicken Vampiro at Mexicali Taco & Co

82: Sooo Cali Dog at Dog Haus

81: White Anchovy, Tomato and Fresno Chile Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza

80: Shu Mai at Elite Restaurant

79: Tandoori Chicken at Al-Watan

78: Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding at The Hungry Cat

77: Agedashi Tofu at Izakaya Bincho

76: Pork Chop at Salt's Cure

75: Porcetto at Sotto

74: The Sea Urchin Tostada at La Guerrerense

73: Wood-Roasted English Peas at Tar & Roses

72: Persian Mulberries at Weiser Family Farms

71: Hunan-Style Preserved Pork with Tofu at Hunan Chilli King

70: Brisket Banh Mi at Gjelina Take Away

69: Yukhwe Bibimbap at Oo-Kook Korean BBQ

68: Lamb Pie at Beijing Pie House

67: Son of a Gun's Uni and Burrata

66: Pastrami Reuben at Art's Delicatessen

65: Beef Koobideh at Kabab Mahaleh

64: The Whipper Burger at Hawkins House of Burgers

63: Slippery Shrimp at Yang Chow

62: Whole Channel Island Red Sea Urchin at Water Grill

61: Going Dutch Panini at Bread Lounge

60: Huckleberry's Green Eggs & Ham

59: Pickled Watermelon Salad at L&E Oyster Bar

58: Spaghettini with Abalone, Pickled Cod Roe and Truffles at n/naka

57: Brown Brown Bread Ice Cream at Scoops Westside

56: Smothered Chicken at R and R Soul Food

55: Duck Fried Rice at Jar

54: Taco Sampler at Guisados

53: The Sycamore Kitchen's Double BLT-A Sandwich

52: House Wonton Soup at China Cafe

51: Almond Croissant at Proof Bakery

50: The Southern Fry at Plan Check Kitchen + Bar

49: The Dodger Dog at Dodger Stadium

48: Papaya Salad at Krua Siri

47: Lucky Baldwins' Traditional Full English Breakfast

46: Edomae Tendon Bowl at Hannosuke

45: The Pescado Zarandeado at Coni'Seafood

44: Hot Wings at Beer Belly

43: Raw Kale Salad at Elf Cafe

42: Steak Tartare Tacos at MessHall

41: Banh Mi at Buu Dien

40: Sicilian Slice at Pizzanista

39: Grilled Baby Goat T-bone at Mozza's Scuola di Pizza Salumi Bar

38: Papri Chaat at Jay Bharat

37: The Island Combo at TiGeorges' Chicken

36: Tacos Al Pastor at Tacos Leo

35: "Sandwich" at Roma Italian Deli

34: Bossam at Kobawoo House

33: Cauliflower T-Bone at Superba Snack Bar

32: Pupusa Revuelta at Atlacatl

31: Bonjiri Yakitori at Kokekokko

30: Crispy Pork with Morning Glory at Crispy Pork Gang & Grill

29: Sashimi Special at Sushi Gen

28: Tamal de Mole Negro at Guelaguetza

27: The Hickoryburger at Apple Pan

26: Lobster Thermidor at Musso & Frank's

25: Poached Pear Coupe at Tavern

24: Coconut Bavarois at Red Medicine

23: The Tasting Kitchen's Pork Rillettes

22: Beef Ribs at Bludso's BBQ

21: Anson Mills Grits & Eggs at Milo & Olive

20: Lamb Dip at Philippe the Original

19: Salsa de Chorizo Con Cesina at Gish Bac


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miles
Matsuhisa

129 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

310-659-9639

www.nobumatsuhisa.com


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