It has been a magnificent--albeit expensive--year for Downtown sushi lovers.
Nipping on the heels of Zo is another luxurious, monosyllabic, omakase-only temple of sushi. Simply titled, Q.
It's the work of Hiroyuki Naruke, a chef who was coaxed from his intimate Edomae restaurant in Tokyo, Nogizaka Sushi Yuki, by a trio of enterprising (and food-loving) lawyers just months ago.
Nestled quietly away from the clamor of 7th Avenue outside, Q's wood-paneled interior is an idyllic Japanese dream accented by small bowls of ankimo (monkfish liver) and seared toro with fermented sansho peppercorn paste.
It was those little nuances during the omakase ($165 per person) that captured our hearts: Naruke opts for less common San Diego uni, rather than Santa Barbara, preferring its more complex flavor. The soy sauce is custom-blended by a revered Japanese producer, though the sushi rice--seasoned with nothing but red vinegar and sea salt--is sourced from the Golden State.
"California rice is very good," says Naruke with a nod.
Hiro-san behind the bar (Photo: Q)
Among the wave of gem-like nigiri are much rarer ingredients, such as marinated gizzard shad, tiny white shrimp from Japan's Toyama Bay, or halibut fin cured between sheets of kombu.
There's no dessert on the menu, but ask for the tofu misozuke ($5) and you'll be rewarded with a rich square of bean curd marinated for weeks in sweet miso paste, aged until it develops the buttery texture of soft French cheese.
After our meal, an astonished group of diners-turned-fangirls demanded to know where Naruke was staying.
Naruke replied with a chuckle, "Why does everyone here want to know what part of L.A. you live in?"