Totoraku: Chef Kaz Oyama-san’s hidden restaurant
DISCLAIMER: Phone died on me this dinner… so I couldn’t write any notes and I had to steal some photos from friend’s FB. My apology for the shitty review and photo. Chef Oyama-san deserves better, but at least you get an idea for the place. Kevin Eats has an awesome review for this place.
Outside: The restaurant is locked and the sign says “Teriyaki Pico House.” This place is reservation-only and the craziest thing is that not anybody can call in for a reservation. You have to know the chef or go in with a person who got a business card from the chef before. You will be denied if you call in for a reservation and he does not remember you. Luckily, a friend’s friend had a connection to get us all in. You would never guess that you will have one of the best yakiniku in the US at this place.
Beef tataki and Beef Throat: Never had beef throat in my life, but this was fantastic. Almost like eating sashimi! Evidently, it takes couple cows to get enough meat to fill that small bowl shown in the photo. After the meal, the waitress asks what you liked and you can ask for seconds on anything. We chose this and another plate of beef tongue and Rib Eye lol.
Following photos are the various cuts that were served to us. The subsequent dishes came out immediately after the waitress confirmed that the last dish was completed. Meats included Filet Mignon, Inside Ribeye, Outside Ribeye, Shortrib, and Skirt Steak. Each one was surprisingly different in its own way. Waitress kindly explained to us how to cook it and which sauce to use. Talking to the chef, he apparently traveled all over the country to try hundreds of different beefs. He finally came across one that was close to high quality beef he had in Japan. Obviously, the details are highly classified.
The bill was quite ridiculous. Yes, it was about $200 per person (+wine I bought at Vons), but the meal was excellent and I never experienced anything like it before. If you have the opportunity to check it out, I definitely recommend trying it at least once. The plus side is that it is BYOB with no corkage fee, so go ahead and drink whatever and however much you want (although you probably want to remember the mad expensive dinner). Bonus points for offering good-ass red wine to chef Oyama. He comes around at the end of your meal to show his appreciation and to get to know his customers. He’s more comfortable speaking Japanese, but he’s a super funny guy.