Friday, January 22, 2010

Kabuki ups the Japanese crunch factor

Mizuna salad with grapefruit and pine nuts makes a good accompaniment to rich seafood dishes.

It's strange, I like my Thai food fiery and as authentic as possible; ditto Chinese. But for some reason, I love nearly all iterations of Japanese food -- salty snacks from convenience stores, decent supermarket sushi and bento boxes, even, years ago, the tempura combo meal from Mako in Los Feliz that used to be about $2.99.
So I also have a soft spot for places like Tokyo Table and Kabuki that introduce ingredients like mayo and cheese to their Japanese food while keeping a Japanese devotion to fresh fish and savory flavors. I was invited to join several food bloggers at the Sunset & Vine Kabuki outpost for a media preview of new dishes that appeal even more to the Western palate than the usual all-encompassing menu. Ginger shrimp on crispy rice topped with a crispy cloud

Sushi purists might want to avert their eyes while I list some of the new items:
- Baja Roll, with fresh tomato salsa placed on top of a spicy krab roll base
- Vegas Roll, a mixture of cream cheese and salmon, fried in a light tempura batter
- Lasagna Roll, featuring three layers of parmesan, mozzarella, and cream cheese on top of a traditional California roll with crab and avocado.Cured salmon with kiwi and orange

I'm guessing an order came down from the head office to make sure nearly every dish except the traditional sushi and sashimi have lots of crunch and something sweet.

Scallops breaded with mochi rice

Ginger shrimp on crispy rice is topped with a cloud of fried something or other; scallops are breaded in crunchy bits of mochi rice while dynamite seafood is incredibly rich and shamelessly fun. The list of baroque rolls goes on for two or three pages -- a Lotus roll with lotus and spicy tuna was light and fresh. And for traditionalists like new sushi blogger SushiLush, there was buttery toro nigiri and a lovely huge bowl of sashimi. I arrived a little late and only tasted the Vegas roll from the new menu -- I'll stick to having my cream and salmon on Spago's Jewish pizza, I think.
There were several winners off the regular menu, including my light and fresh mizuna salad, and I'd certainly return especially with my kids or after an Arclight screening. Prices are very reasonable and with ramen, larger entrees, traditional sushi and every kind of roll ever invented, everyone can likely find something they'll like -- possibly even the new Lasagna roll.
Kabuki is at Sunset and Vine and 11 other L.A. area locations, including Burbank and two in Pasadena.


DailyChef said...

I really love all the variations on Japanese food too, including some of the non-traditional rolls. I had a "Korean BBQ Roll" once, in Costa Rica of all places. Scallops breaded with mochi rice is a new one though - never heard of that!

Food GPS said...

One of the things that I enjoy about Japanese food is the clean flavors. I'd have a hard time finding something to order on Kabuki's menu, which looks like it's all creamy and crispy. Maybe the shrimp dish. Did that cloud actually add anything to the dish?