Following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, chef Hiroyuki Naruke could no longer operate his six-seat sushi bar in Roppongi, Tokyo. Fortunately, three attorneys from the Quinn Emanuel law firm, particularly Ryan Goldstein, a partner at its Tokyo office, couldn't live without Hiro's sushi. You now can find Hiro at Q (named after Quinn) on Seventh Street in downtown L.A., across from Bottega Louie, staring intently at his knife through his white-rimmed glasses.
The cuisine, which changes daily based on what's fresh at the fish markets, is Edomae-style: Sashimi is soaked in vinegar, as is the rice (no sugar added). The 26-seat restaurant brings together Japanese tradition and modernity with dozens of glowing orbs that hover over the sushi bar, wood accents and Zaisu chairs.
The otsumami (first course) features Kumamoto oysters from Washington with shredded daikon and yuzu; katsuo (bonito), flown in from the Tsukiji fish market in Japan, with chiba (homemade onion and soy); otoro (fatty tuna) from Spain; and ankimo (monkfish liver). The nigiri portion begins with hirame (fluke) and moves along to idiot fish (yes, idiot fish) and Santa Barbara abalone, cooked in sake for eight hours. But the kohada is really the one to look out for: “It makes or breaks the sushi bar,” a server says, “It needs to be exactly the perfect mixture of vinegar and salt.”
Sous chef Ruiz Mateo, formerly of Nobu and Katsuya, is honored to be working with Hiro. Originally from East Los Angeles, Mateo, who is Peruvian and Japanese (and has picked up enough Japanese to communicate well with Hiro), has been practicing the fine art of sushi making for more than 16 years.
“It takes six to seven years just to learn the basics of sushi,” Mateo says. “I dream of opening my own French/Japanese restaurant in a couple of years.” While we wait for that development, there's much nigiri to be had at Q, and sparkling sake to wash it down with.
The omakase dinner is $165 per person, not including beverages or tip. Business hours are 6-11 p.m., with the last seating at 9:30 p.m.
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