Monday, January 14, 2013

Hamasaku's New Executive Chef Wonny Lee

Michael Ovitz Hamasaku
Tucked away in a corner of a West L.A. strip mall is one of Los Angeles' greatest culinary secrets:  Hamasaku, the self-described "Japanese-Californian" sushi restaurant owned by Michael Ovitz.  Well known throughout the entertainment industry, Hamasaku was recently voted by Gayot as one of the top Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles.  The restaurant is renowned for its reverence of Japanese tradition fused with a passion for invention and innovation, two seemingly contradictory paths that marry into extraordinary food.

If you've been lucky enough to dine at Hamasaku in the past, you might want to stop by again soon, as the menu has undergone a transformation under new Executive Chef Wonny Lee.  While the 60+ popular rolls "remain tucked away, available to those regulars who can't live without them", Lee has added an exciting fusion of new dishes.  Hailing from The Bazaar, Lee's creations "involve a subtle weave of modernist techniques and European influence."

"We came to see what the chef was cooking on Hamasaku's invitation and found takoyaki remixed into creamy, crisp arancini, spherified salmon roe and salmon cured quickly with a handheld, wood chip-loaded smoking gun, yellowtail belly topped with yuzu foam and yellowtail sashimi wrapped in shishitos. Halibut nigiri arrives topped with anume gel and a delicate shiso leaf."

"Recalling a dish the city loves at Lukshon, Lee has chicken legs stripped to the plump thigh and smothered in Korean gochujang. Recalling a David Chang signature, Hamasaku offers bao enfolding kakuni pork belly and pickle, its construction more restrained and direct, the bao a bit more stiff and starchy. A sashimi plate offers unagi topped with microfilm of lardo, upping umami in a pleasurable hit that recalls the lardo-laced uni Michael White makes at Manhattan's Marea." 

If that doesn't sound delicious, make sure you leave room for dessert, created with equal attention to detail and exquisite flavors as are the entrees.  Pictured below is an Almond financier with lemon curd ice cream, D'anjou pear, and yuzu caramel.  Yum.

Michael Ovitz dessert at Hamasaku

We'll be featuring more information on Hamasaku in the coming weeks, meanwhile read the entire article in Los Angeles Grubstreet: Bazaar-Vet Wonny Lee Brings Modernist Lilt to Hamasaku.

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