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Japanese Cuisine

Better than Botox? Agura's Collagen Terrine

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Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 8:37 AM

Here's a skin treatment that's cheaper than Botox. It's painless. Better yet, you can eat it.

It's the collagen terrine at Agura Dining in West Hollywood. Owner Yasumasa Kawabata swears that one taste is enough to make your skin more beautiful. The idea came from Kyushu, Japan's southernmost island, where he has another Agura.

There, people adore pig's feet, which are rich in collagen. They eat them barbecued yakitori style or fried. And the women boast gorgeous complexions.

click to enlarge Agura's beauty food, a collagen terrine - BARBARA HANSEN
  • Barbara Hansen
  • Agura's beauty food, a collagen terrine

Kawabata and head chef Yuji Nawata decided to make pig's feet more elegant, more "French." The result was the terrine, which they put on the menu in Kyushu and brought to the new restaurant here.

The menu describes it as "pork gelee," because that sounds so much more refined than pig's feet.

When customers learn the truth, they switch to something they know, like salmon tartare or Wagyu beef sashimi. This is an insult to a dish that takes hours to make. Nawata wants to drop it from the menu, but Kawabata insists they carry on.

It's hard to imagine such pickiness in a town where people eat grasshoppers, pork blood, tendons and yak meat. The terrine is aristocratic in comparison. It's handsome to look at, shimmering and translucent. The flavor is mild, and there's only a pleasant hint of chewiness.

Nawata cooks the pig's feet with chicken bouillon to a rich gelee. This is set until firm, then cut into bars. Each of these is topped with a slice of organic cherry tomato, a tiny piece of asparagus and a chervil sprig, held in place by a wood pick.

The dashing dark lines underneath are an umami sauce flavored with Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, shallots, parsley and capers.

Agura's collagen terrine is beautiful, and the morning after eating it, you'll be beautiful too, or so Kawabata says.

Collagen terrine is $10 at Agura Dining, 514 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood. (310) 289-1940.

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