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Shibumi's Heavenly Japanese Cuisine in the Heart of Los Angeles


Silky Egg TofuSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiSilky Egg TofuSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiFresh Nori & WasabiSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiDavid SchlosserSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiDried fish skeletonsSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiKumquats and Pussy WillowSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiSaladSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiWatercressSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiAvocadoSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiMinimalist designSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiJapanese Sea-Bream SashimiSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiVintage glasswareSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiBartender Eric CacioppoSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiUmami MartiniSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiAbaloneSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiGingerSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & WasabiGingerSilky Egg Tofu, Uni, Fresh Nori & Wasabi

From a distance, Shibumi looks a little like the fanciest dive bar in America. The new downtown restaurant is not a dive bar at all. That it feels like a lair you could slither into adds hugely to its appeal, but the dark minimalism of the place speaks to a more meticulous ambition than just making your dive-bar-loving soul feel ecstatically at home. While original plans for Shibumi focused on more formal kaiseki, a ritualized multi-course Japanese meal, Chef David Schlosser has settled for now on kappo-style cooking and service, which shares some of kaiseki’s focus on seasonality and various cooking methods but not necessarily the set course menu. The one defining aspect of a kappo restaurant is that the chef cooks in front of the customers, usually at a bar or counter. 

Here, uni comes draped across a small block of egg tofu that has been doused in a slurry made from fresh nori, and the dish provides three kinds of silkiness and two kinds of creaminess that reverberate against one another in ways that are almost musical. Grilled pork and beef are presented so simply but are of such high quality and have been cooked so well that you’re forced to ponder the elemental wonder of deeply flavored flesh and fat, its animal funk and tang. 
Shibumi is the result of one chef’s years-long quest come to fruition, a singular focus on bringing something precious carefully across an ocean and laying it in front of us.

Read L.A. Weekly's restaurant review here.