Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Twelve Courses Of Omakase: Azami Sushi Cafe, West Hollywood



On trendy-as-hell Melrose Avenue, the last thing you'd expect to find is good food, let alone sushi. Melrose is a place for going shopping in heels, or maybe a tube top to show off your latest visit to the tanning salon, or maybe your best butt-crack jeans that reveal the tat on your lower back that you got on your birthday last year...why? Because Melrose is a place to be seen, that's why. This is where, each year, thousands of eager young ladies (and men!) from all parts of the world flock to to be hip and fashionable if for only a short period of time. They can shop at many-a designer knockoff boutique, picking out the clothes that no one in their town of B.F.E., USA has, and get the brainwashing talk by those sleazy boutique salespeople when they're forced to walk out of their mirrorless fitting room to look at themselves in the mirror: "Oh darling, that looks soooo hot on you..." Yeah right, blow me.

So yes, it surprises me to find, amongst all that sleaze and cheese, something good...something real! Last night, as a treat to me because I completed my first week at my new job, and well, just for the hell of it, my dear fiance took me out for omakase at Azami Sushi located on none other than our favorite trendoid street, Melrose Avenue! I'd heard some pretty decent things about this place and so despite the location, we thought we'd give it a try.

Azami's not located right smack dab in the middle of the trendy action--it's kind of near the end of where the stretch of hipness stops--so you won't hear deafening house music coming from the shop next door. You will, however, hear the powerful, yet feminine sounds of "Irashaimase!" welcoming you as you walk in. That's 'cause Azami is run by women--it's owned by women, the sushi chefs are women, the waitstaff are women. Forget the
Spice Girls, or the Powerpuff Girls, this is the real thing. This is girl power.


Girl power!

It was a truly enjoyable meal consisting of quality ingredients, a meal which was made even better by owner/chef Nakayama's friendly and informative guidance, not to mention mad knife skills. We were asked what we liked and didn't like; each course was described in detail as it was presented, along with her notes as to if the fish was already seasoned and whether or not to dip it in soy sauce. Each course was paced perfectly, allowing time to truly savor each bite. Oh, and not a bad deal either at about $35-$45 per person for omakase.

And so, in the spirit of the holiday season, and in honor of the wonderful omakase experience I had at Azami, I now present to you a little song I wrote. It's called "The Twelve Courses of Omakase", and it's sung just like "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Sing along, won't you?

By the first course omakase, Azami made for me some tuna avocado crispies.


(These were called "Crispies": lip smackingly good minced tuna and avocado atop crispy fried soy paper)

By the second course omakase, Azami made for me peppercorn kanpachi,
and some tuna avocado crispies.



(Delicate kanpachi slices seasoned with spicy pink peppercorns and ponzu sauce)

By the third course omakase, Azami made for me bluefin tuna sushi,
peppercorn kanpachi,
and some tuna avocado crispies.



(Ruby red, melt in your mouth bluefin tuna)

By the fourth course omakase, Azami made for me Japanese snapper,
bluefin tuna sushi,
peppercorn kanpachi,
and some tuna avocado crispies.



(Japanese snapper with lemon and sea salt proves that things from the sea are your friends)

By the fifth course omakase, Azami made for me Spanish mack-e-REL!
Japanese snapper,
bluefin tuna sushi,
peppercorn kanpachi,
and some tuna avocado crispies.


(Spanish mackerel dappered and sharpened up by some scallions and shiso leaf)

By the sixth course omakase, Azami made for me yellowtail belly,
Spanish mack-e-REL!
Japanese snapper,
bluefin tuna sushi,
peppercorn kanpachi,
and some tuna avocado crispies.



(The striated belly of the yellowtail...yum!)

By the seventh course omakase, Azami made for me sea scallop sushi,
yellowtail belly,
Spanish mack-e-REL!
Japanese snapper,
bluefin tuna sushi,
peppercorn kanpachi,
and some tuna avocado crispies.


(More lemon and sea salt used to dress up this globulous sea scallop...mmm, briny!)

By the eighth course omakase, Azami made for me seared albacore,
sea scallop sushi,
yellowtail belly,
Spanish mack-e-REL!
Japanese snapper,
bluefin tuna sushi,
peppercorn kanpachi,
and some tuna avocado crispies.



(Soft to the bite albacore dressed up with chopped scallions and a light coating of tangy ponzu sauce)

By the ninth course omakase, Azami made for me bluefin toro sushi,
seared albacore,
sea scallop sushi,
yellowtail belly,
Spanish mack-e-REL!
Japanese snapper,
bluefin tuna sushi,
peppercorn kanpachi,
and some tuna avocado crispies.


(OK, so I expected the bluefin toro to have more white fat marbling going on, but it was still tender, tender, tender!!!)

By the tenth course omakase, Azami made for me sushi made of uni,
bluefin toro sushi,
seared albacore,
sea scallop sushi,
yellowtail belly,
Spanish mack-e-REL!
Japanese snapper,
bluefin tuna sushi,
peppercorn kanpachi,
and some tuna avocado crispies.



(The brain-like texture of uni scares some people off, but not me!)

By the eleventh course omakase, Azami made for me yummy unagi,
sushi made of uni,
bluefin toro sushi,
seared albacore,
sea scallop sushi,
yellowtail belly,
Spanish mack-e-REL!
Japanese snapper,
bluefin tuna sushi,
peppercorn kanpachi,
and some tuna avocado crispies.


(I'm not usually a big fan of unagi because most places drown it in sauce, but this one was good--not too saucy and browned in just the right places)

By the twelfth course omakase, Azami made for me one blue crab hand roll,
yummy unagi,
sushi made of uni,
bluefin toro sushi,
seared albacore,
sea scallop sushi,
yellowtail belly,
Spanish mack-e-REL!
Japanese snapper,
bluefin tuna sushi,
peppercorn kanpachi,
and some tuna avocado crispies.


(Chef Nakayama gives you a choice of hand or cut roll to end the meal--I chose a hand roll made of creamy, flaky blue crab and cool avocado.)

Now wasn't that fun? Now it can be tons more fun if you just get your trendy ass down to Melrose and avoid buying designer knockoffs and talking to the cheesy salespeople over Euro-house music, and instead, spend your hard-earned cash at Azami where I guarantee, the gratification will be much, much greater.

Azami Sushi Cafe
7160 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 939-3816

11 comments:

BoLA said...

I love it!!! Have you heard of the 12 Days of Christmas, Hawaiian style?! ;) Mmm...this place looks absolutely delish! How does it stand against Sasabune???

Daily Gluttony said...

Kristy,

I've never heard the 12 Days of Xmas Hawaiian style--do share!

I've never been to Sasabune--it's on my list of places to try!

Kirk said...

The best part of the Hawaiian twelve days of Christmas ise the Three Dried Squid.....Very delightful post, Pam!

elmomonster said...

Omaka-saaaay, that was a creative spin on a Christmas classic! Who wants a partridge in a pear tree anyway? Gimme a pear tree and put the partridge in a cage!

That meal looked fabulous! And a reasonable price to boot!

eatdrinknbmerry said...

pamela, 10+ points for creativity in this posting. or actually a star for you on those elementary school progress charts. we should write the "Twelve Days of Cantonese Christmas"... i'll give you a hint, we can include:

-white rabbit candy
-those chinese new year caramel candies
wrapped in red foil
-apples and oranges from the most recent 'baai-sun" ceremony

oh yeah, how full were you after this meal? i wanna try the 12 courses.

Daily Gluttony said...

Kirk,

Thanks! I'll be waiting for a full version of the Hawaiian 12 Days of Xmas somewhere on your blog in the near future!

Elmo,

Well said!Don't gimmee no bird in no tree!

Dylan,

And like Kirk, I'll be waiting for your version (the Chinese version!) of the 12 days of Xmas on your blog sometime soon!

BoLA said...

here's the link to the "12 Days of Christmas local style":
http://www.melekalikimaka.com/12days.htm
(except the version I know has "10 cans of spam" instead of beer - for the kiddies that is)

LACheesemonger said...

Well thankfully my mother grew up in another age, pre-marketing BS. While her family on both sides where Catholic, none of this 12days of Cantonese Christmas; and I don't think they had any of that hocus-pocus, really annoying 'pigeon' Engrish, hip-hop Hawaiian slang BS going, until after she left during WWII. At least not among the Chinese section of Diamond Head she grew up around.

The DTV ladle is getting really dented up good, from needing to whack DL upside her head so often these days (and here I thought it would see most use in taking out those meanie Anon's). Sometime before Christmas, I'll post a nice long entry to DL's Mori review from Oct. Link to nice huge pix of Kiriko & Shibucho takeout...which cost a good deal more than your fancier looking omakase meal.

That toro looks like it could be chutoro (which is all they serve at Echigo, btw). Chutoro costs less than otoro, is a little more flavorful, but with slightly less fat (much better than most Spanish farm raised, chewy Otoro stuff they sell for $40-60/lb at Mitsuwa mkts).

I tend to be more of purist, make it simple as possible; when it comes to really fresh sushi. But the tread around LA's sushi chefs is to make the presentation iCandy, and in doing so sometimes the delicate and delicious simplicity of the fresh fish gets overpowered by pretty garni :(. I prefer Kanpachi as simple as possible, because this variety of amberjack/yellowtail has a lower fat content than hamachi. I would have preferred those peppercorns on the yellowtail 'toro' you had.

I also prefer the more traditional presentation of the handroll, as a roll, not a snow cone (which generally causes me to make a big mess when eating, due to that shape... hey, I'm a butthead slob sometimes ;) ).

For you education Pam, I present the same two links that DL constantly ignores (see, all that rejection from DL, works to my advantage, I'm getting that "crying. miserable, I've been wronged by a woman- Korean guy look" down pat. So I'll be able to garner sympathy from and get all the hot babes when I visit the restaurant/bars of Seoul, lol )

Sushi 101 with Chip-san, scientific names, and different descriptions of detailed cuts of different Japanese names for amberjack & bluefin tuna

Nice pictures of many of the common and less common fish in the Sushi Galleries (along with description of the uhhh, cod sperm, whatever-turns-you-on Jerome on CHLA tried to order at Sasabune...btw, Pam gets upset a bit more than I do when faced with lousy servers, yet I walked out of Sasabune, before ever sitting down, due to the utterly contemptuous, inattentive young Japanese-American Nazi-soup-kitchen hostess/waitress they had seating people for lunch the only time I went there... no need for me to put up with such BS, too many other good sushi restaurants that are as good, if not better for quality of sushi).

Last but not least, (geez, DL's really not going to like me anymore with all the dissing I do to her on DG ;)... oh well, you win some, you lose some ), Sarah's posted one of the most hilariously WRONG videos on Japanese 'culture' and sushi etiquette I've ever seen over on slashfood. It's all most racist in the misinformation put into that video. Though I particularly like the way they have the two guys in close up, eating sushi the wrong way with 3-fingers, head 'cocked' back at 45 degree angle, and then kind of slowly withdrawing, and sucking on a middle finger as it leaves their lips. Might not be as overtly sexual as Cameron Richardson in the Carl's Jr. "Bull' commercial, but it's still quite naughty! Me, I must have been seduced by Sarah into drinking some hallucinogenic hard-liquor concoction of her's...cause now the Butthead in me wants to order that "Bart" cut-roll sushi they show at the end, lol.

I think, maybe Sarah, just posted the link to that 8min video, cause they use the word 'delicious' more than once ;) "It's delicious Taisho" (yeah, but after that Taisho wipes his whole upper body with the towel, will they 'reuse' it and place it next to your Japanese footwear platter, which when sprayed for SARS, you'll then wear home???

Absolutely the most ridiculously wrong sushi vid I've ever seen... now I need to go pop in a XXX J-pr0n DVD and get some halfway decent 'Japanese culture' lol. yeah, I almost died in laughter watching the 'endangered species' part---we certainly have an overpopulation of common ground squirrels in LA; hmm, so do the tres chic cognoscenti in-the-know have Tiger penis sushi??? ;)

Forget the PowerPuff grrrls, Gwen Stefani's over the hill now too. It's retro Gongals/Yamambas

"Until very recently there were no age laws for pornograph and the nude photography of young woman in Japan. The selling of these photos in magazines and books was a thriving industry. The cultural aspects of this is hard for American minds to understand. It's been said that the Japanese govenment only put these laws into effect because they were concerned about the US' perception ofthem as perverts. As I have said the Japanese worship youth like a religion. Youth is a symbol of renewal and has deeper cultural meanings than in the US. Abiet it has been polluted.

What, Japanese men are perverts; why I never, it's just shocking in such a culture of manners and respect, Doh! ;) (now what was Sarah's cybercrush guy, 'Yongfook' saying about that 'Bukkake' stuff...geez, I don't even know if I spelled it right, what is it anyway ;), I should ask Sarah ??? )

GroomLeader said...

I just got back from LA, and Azami was the first place we went. And the omikase was absolutely divine! I second the recommednation to go there, as soon as possible, to taste the best sushi anywhere!

rduht said...

We always Wow Power Leveling and world of warcraft gold

Dazy said...

We don't go dine-in there regularly since it is not close to our place. I make it a point to come every time I'm in the neighborhood. We get filled up and usually have leftovers to take home.