Osaka: You May Have to Swim to Get In
Osaka, the new Japanese-Peruvian place in Hollywood, has the scariest entrance. It's very dark, and you have to cross over stepping stones in a pool of rippling black water. I subconsciously felt drawn to fall, and all the time I was in there, I worried about how I would get out -- dry.
Osaka is part of a chain founded in Peru. The look was designed by Kristopher Keith of SpaceCraft (probably a good swimmer).
There are nice touches inside, like an overhead rope motif inspired by the ropes of Peruvian fishing boats. The food is Peruvian-Asian fusion, predominantly Japanese, but also with touches of Thai and other cuisines.
It's a small plates place with the expected Peruvian ceviche, tiraditos, anticuchos and cute miniature causitas. But also fish in a banana leaf with anticucho sauce and coconut reduction, miso-truffled American Kobe skirt steak with Peruvian potatoes, Parmesan scallops, grilled octopus with sweet miso paste and duck confit with miso oranges and caramelized onions.
There's a sushi bar where you can order ceviche sushi, made of shrimp coated with quinoa, tuna tiradito and ceviche sauce. And for dessert, you could have red tea crème brûlée or fried banana rolls with lúcuma ice cream.
The long narrow bar, which parallels the dining room, has as many variations on the Pisco sour as you could want. But the basic sour is the winner. It's shaken "dry," meaning without ice, and then again with ice, emerging from the shaker with a hefty head of foam. A drop of Angostura in the center identifies it as truly Peruvian.
But don't drink too many, or you may wind up in the drink on the way out.
Read more from Barbara Hansen at www.TableConversation.com, www.EatMx.com, @food and wine gal and Facebook.
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