If you've found yourself gazing longingly at the pretty fish sign outside of Mori Sushi every time you're on that oddly grungy section of Pico near Exposition, dreaming of sushi while stuck in the rush hour crawl, you are not alone. Sure, the restaurant's still there, but Morihiro Onodera is not, having sold the restaurant in 2011. But he didn't leave town, and he didn't retire from cooking: Instead he's been making stunning pottery, which you might have eaten from at Melisse or Providence or Il Grano. Or La Botte, where you might want to make a reservation this Friday or Saturday night.
Because for two nights, on Oct. 18 and 19, Onodera and La Botte chef-owner Stefano De Lorenzo will be cooking dinner together at the Santa Monica restaurant. It will be, as you might expect, a combination of the backgrounds, talents, specialties and interests of these two much-lauded chefs (Michelin stars, many years in the kitchens), a shared ode to both Japanese and Italian cuisines.
Although both chefs have been cooking in Los Angeles for years and years, De Lorenzo is from Cortina d'Ampezzo, in Northern Italy; Onodera is from Fujisawa, in Iwate prefecture.
Titled Chef2, the 10-course dinner will run you $125 (not including wine), but when you consider the chefs and the ingredients — and the sheer number of courses — this might seem a bargain. Particularly since not only will you get to eat some pretty glorious food but you'll also get to meet the ridiculously talented chefs who are cooking your dinner.
So what's on the menu? Abalone; Matsutake mushrooms with Parmesan broth; trout, morels and shiitakes; white truffle risotto with seaweed broth; lasagna; duck ravioli with Tokyo negi, espresso sauce and grapes; almond milk sorbet; branzino with tomato water; oxtail with daikon and nasturtium flowers; and mushroom gelato.
Among the sourcing notes is one of particular interest: The rice is Onodera's, from the first crop grown at his rice farm in Uruguay. And, of course, all the courses will be served on Onodera's ceramic dishes, made at his studio in Pasadena.
See also: Morihiro Onodera: The Chef Throws Pots
The dinners are Oct. 18 and 19, and seatings are available from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations are required and available online through OpenTable. For a fun preview and some background information, check out this video: