Amazing Chinmi (Rare Delicacies) (like Scallops Cured for 3 Months!), Highest Grade A5 Wagyu Beef, and other Seasonal Dishes - The Exquisite Kappo Cuisine of Shibumi [Thoughts + Pics]

If there’s one type of cuisine that L.A. seems to lack, it would be the chef-driven, seasonal dishes of Japanese Kappo cuisine. Kappo cuisine has its roots in real chef-driven techniques in preparing and cooking dishes in a variety of ways. It is usually small plates, seasonal, and really up to what the chef has in mind, sort of a cross between the more formal Kaiseki cuisine and the more casual Izakaya (Japanese Pub).

While ostensibly a small plates type of Japanese restaurant with alcohol might seem like just another Izakaya, Shibumi is far from that, being focused on Kappo cuisine, steeped in traditional Japanese chef-driven preparations, according to Chef David Schlosser.

Izakaya style eateries had their origins arising out of traditional Sake shops, where the Sake shop owners wanted to serve something to eat to enjoy alongside the Sake that they sold. They weren’t professionally trained chefs, and as a result the cuisine and dishes at many Izakayas were more rustic, simpler, etc. Of course there are exceptions to the rule.

Chef David Schlosser has an impressive resume, having previously been at one of L.A.'s most esteemed restaurants, Urasawa. But it’s his training in Japan that impressed me most: He studied under the tutelage of the head chefs at Kyoto’s legendary Kikunoi Honten (3 Michelin Stars), as well as Kyoto Kitcho Arashiyama Honten (3 Michelin Stars). He also went up into the local mountains outside of Kyoto and cooked for a small ryokan that was originally built in the 1600s! :open_mouth:

And while all of this might sound impressive on paper, it’s when you meet Chef Schlosser and see his laser-sharp focus in cutting and preparing the dishes, and the conversations as he introduces the dish and little fun facts about his pickling plums in a traditional Japanese method that dates back for centuries, that you realize it’s more than just past work experience, it’s something that pervades his very soul.

Shibumi’s exterior is humble and simple (no signage, with a little window and noren (curtain) signaling the entrance. Once inside, you’re greeted with a low-key beautiful bar top, carved out of 400 year-old Cypress, as well as a massive collection of Japanese Whiskies.

In the early days, there was some criticism that Shibumi, with its a la carte menu, might have failed to capture some of that Kappo spirit (where a customer might sit down and let the Chef prepare a variety of dishes that they want to showcase / let the customer try).

Since the pandemic started, and after the initial lockdown, Shibumi has re-opened with a smarter, more precise focus that also better reflects that Kappo cuisine ethos: Shibumi is now only a Tasting Menu / “Omakase” (Chef’s Choice) style menu. There is no more a la carte.

In that way, you can choose 4 Tasting Menu options and each of them will reflect various key dishes that Chef Schlosser wants to showcase for the season. This makes each meal, a more cohesive and enjoyable prospect.

We opt for the 2nd Tasting Menu (Taisho’s Meal), along with a Sake Pairing option.

KID - Haru no Kunpu (Spring Breeze) - Junmai Ginjo Nama Sake (Wakayama, Japan):

One important note: Shibumi has dramatically upped their Sake game! Besides Chef David Schlosser’s appreciation and knowledge of Sake, their entire staff behind the counter seems thoroughly knowledgeable on Sake and their extensive menu. They have a Sake Sommelier, Craig Wizeman, who worked at New York’s vaunted Masa (Michelin 3 Stars), and trained in Japan to build his Sake knowledge. This is a huge win for the City of Angels, which has far too many restaurants offering little-to-no guidance on Sake exploration.

I’ve been a huge fan of Heiwa Shuzo Brewery out of Wakayama, Japan. Their lineup of Sake is noteworthy, and if you ever see a “KID” Sake on the menu, it’s a safe bet to order and enjoy. This is a special Spring Limited Edition release, Haru no Kunpu, which is an unpasteurized Sake release. It’s a lot of fun on its own, floral and fruity, some sweetness, but not overly sweet. There’s a very refreshing quality and a clean finish. And it was a fantastic pairing with our 1st course (below). :slight_smile:

Hassun - Fresh Yuba, Green Pea and Japanese River Seaweed. Rice Ball with Sesame, Smoked Fish and Umeboshi Plum:

The opening course for the curated Kappo-style experience, Chef Schlosser serves up two exquisite bites. The Fresh Yuba - silky Tofu Skin made in-house - is outstanding! One of the best Yuba preparations we’ve had locally, and it pairs nicely with the Edamame Peas and the Japanese River Seaweed, some earthy, some deep savoriness, but all so delicate. :blush:

The 2nd bite is a mini Onigiri (Japanese Rice Ball), with fantastic Rice (cooked in a traditional iron pot (kama)), beautifully fragrant from the Sesame, Umeboshi and Smoked Fish.

Atago no Matsu - Honjozo Sake (Miyagi, Japan):

For being “only” a Honjozo Sake (of which there are plenty of delicious choices), this Atago no Matsu was quite enjoyable on its own, smooth, with no intrusive alcohol taste, but it was a flawless pairing with our Chinmi course (next).

Chinmi (Rare Delicacies) - A Selection of 4:

Chinmi are a very rare find locally. Described as “Rare Delicacies,” these small bites might consist of something fermented, cured, a rare ingredient, meant to be enjoyed by the discerning customer who enjoys unique flavors. Chef David Schlosser and Shibumi are the only Chinmi specialist that we know of in L.A. He has an entire backroom of items that have been fermenting, cured, etc., stuff that we’ve never seen before. This is something to be sampled at least once, and the offerings change every so often.

Nama Karsumi (Mullet Roe), Smoked in Cherry Wood, Cured for 3 Months:

I adore great Karasumi (Mullet Roe), but what Chef Schlosser is doing is next level, smoking it in Cherry Wood and curing the Karasumi for 3 months before serving it(!). :open_mouth: It’s got a gentle smokiness, there’s a deep concentration of Karasumi flavors (moreso than any regular version of Karasumi I’ve had before). And the pairing with the Honjozo Sake was perfect! :blush:

Hokkaido Scallops - Cured in Shio Koji for 3 Months:

One would never think of taking something so delicate and fantastic when fresh (Hokkaido Scallops) and deciding to cure it in Shio Koji (a Rice-based bacteria starter used to make stuff like Miso, Soy Sauce, and Sake) for 3 months(!) before serving. But then they aren’t Chef David Schlosser.

The result is a crazy transformation from silky, slippery, fresh Hokkaido Scallop to an intense, chewy, briny (in a good way) umami bomb. It was delicious on its own, but with the Atago no Matsu Honjozo Sake? Perfect again! :heart:

Tofu Cured in Aokoji for 8 Months:

Seriously. Tofu cured with Aokoji and for 8 months?! :open_mouth: The color and texture is unrecognizable as “Tofu.” But the taste? Stunning! This tasted like a vegetal Liverwurst(!), but even more complex. :open_mouth:

And I don’t know what magic palate their Sake Sommelier Craig Wizeman has, but the same Atago no Matsu Sake matched perfectly again with this bite. Wow! :heart: (@ipsedixit @BradFord @A5KOBE @chienrouge and all)

Ginger Fermented for 5 Years(!):

And then another example of great Chinmi (Rare Delicacies), here in some mad scientist madness, Chef Schlosser has decided to ferment Ginger for 5 YEARS! :open_mouth: We’ve had this same Ginger when he presented it to us before the pandemic on a previous visit, so it was like ~2 - 3 Years fermented, but this 5 Year Fermented Ginger?

Incredibly mellow. Lightly sweet, still has a Ginger zing to it, but far more delicate. It’s got a root / earthiness as well. Delicious, and it still works as a palate cleanser! :blush:

Denshin - Haru - Junmai Ginjo Namazake (Fukui, Japan):

The next Sake in our pairing was Denshin “Haru” in Junmai Ginjo Nama form. Light, pleasant, easy drinking, this was another spot-on pairing with our next course…

Sashimi - Kasugo + Shirako - (Baby Sea Bream topped with Milt) (Mie, Japan):

Kasugo, or Baby Sea Bream, is always a treat, and today’s offering was excellent, light, delicate, a pleasant meatiness, and then it’s topped with Shirako (Cod Milt) that is steamed and pureed with Sake into a Shirako Sauce. The pairing was wonderful, but the fresh Sugar Snap Peas were a pleasant contrast as well.

Jikon - Tokubetsu Junmai Sake (Mie, Japan):

Jikon Tokubetsu Junmai is a pleasant surprise for Sake lovers, having started to make appearances with Sake specialists in the know (e.g., Sommelier Courtney Kaplan is serving this at Ototo as well). Earthy, rich, but with a clean finish, this was a great Sake on its own, but again a masterful pairing with our next course. Again. :heart: (@BradFord @A5KOBE @paranoidgarliclover and all)

Awabi (Abalone) Shabu Shabu, Wasabi and Lettuce Leaf:

Impeccable Awabi (Abalone), featuring excellent knife work is quickly poached, Shabu Shabu-style, in a delicate Dashi Broth for just 2 seconds. It is served with Wasabi Leaf that has been cooked, and chilled and set into a gelatin cube, along with precisely-cut slivers of Lettuce Leaf that have been poached Shabu Shabu-style and chilled as well. Finally, you get the Awabi Kimo (Abalone Liver) that’s been turned into a delicate Dipping Sauce.

The end result is that the Abalone with a light dip in the Awabi Kimo Liver Sauce is fantastic bite, but even better with a sip of the Jikon Sake. But then you try a bite of the Abalone with a sliver of the chilled Lettuce Leaf and that also is a fun bite. But the bite of Abalone with the Wasabi Leaf Gelatin + a sip of the Jikon Sake?

Amazing! :heart:

Abalone “Pot Liquor”:

Chef David also offers us a small taste of the Abalone “Pot Liquor”, the marinade fluid the Abalone was steeping in. Wow! Intensely briny (in a good way), and delicious. :blush:

Matsu no Tsukasa - Raku 2021 - Junmai Ginjo Shiboritate Sake (Shiga, Japan):

First, it’s a pleasant surprise to find a Shiboritate Sake in May(!), but secondly, this looks like a new Sake and distributor that we’ve never seen before. Shibumi’s Sake Sommelier mentioned they might one of the first ones to get this bottle in.

Every once in a while you take a sip of a Sake that is so distinct and full of flavor that you immediately stand up and take notice. This Matsu no Tsukasa - Raku - Shiboritate Junmai Gingjo is one of those times. Massive flavor bomb, it’s got a cornucopia of fresh fruits, deep richness, a great roundness and it finishes clean. And it’s totally affordable and part of the Sake Pairing (or you can order on its own). Do not miss this Sake Lovers! :heart: (@BradFord @A5KOBE @ipsedixit @paranoidgarliclover @Sgee and all)

Warm Chawan Mushi Custard with Mushroom and Fresh Bamboo:

There is a beautiful, concentrated aroma rising off of the Chawan Mushi (Egg Custard), with Shiitake Mushrooms and Cordyceps, in addition to fresh Bamboo. The Chawan Mushi Egg Custard is silky, perfectly cooked, delicate and with a balanced, light flavor. The Cordyceps and Shiitake Mushrooms pair nicely, and the entire dish pairs perfectly with the Matsu no Tsukasa Raku Sake. Delicious. :heart:

Shichida - Muroka Nama Junmai Ginjo Sake (Spring Release) (Saga, Japan):

Every Spring, Sake Lovers celebrate the season with the return of Shichida Muroka Nama Sake release. Their Springtime release is always worth seeking out. With a Muroka Nama (usually Genshu) bottling, you get a huge, monster flavor bomb. Un-charcoal-filtered, unpasteurized, it’s naturally slightly effervescent, hitting almost tropical notes, zesty, zingy, and just a party in your mouth. :heart: This year is no different.

And a great pairing with our next course…

Tempura - Mehikari (Green Eyes Fish), Mugwort Vinegar:

The Tempura course that arrived next was outstanding: The rarely seen Mehikari (Green Eyes Fish) is delicately battered and perfectly fried, not oily nor greasy. The meat within is clean, flaky and also like an unbriny Sardine if that might help elucidate. The Mugwort Vinegar was spot on, balanced, not overly acidic and there’s a pleasant vegetal-herbal quality. :heart:

This was so tasty and addictive, my friend mentioned they could eat this like great French Fries. :wink:

Matsu no Tsukasa - Kimoto Junmai 2020 (Shiga, Japan):

From the same Sake Brewery (Matsu no Tsukasa) as the stunning Raku 2021, this one is a Kimoto Junmai 2020 (but released in 2022). This was more earthy, grounded, round, not as vibrant as the Raku, but still quite good. And another great pairing.

Matsusaka Grade A5 Wagyu Beef (Matsusaka, Mie, Japan):

Chef Schlosser talks about how respected and famous Matsusaka Grade A5 Wagyu Beef is in Japan, with many feeling like it’s better than the more well-known Kobe Beef from Kobe, Japan. Shibumi is one of only a handful of restaurants across the U.S.A. that is officially serving Matsusaka Beef.

First, the one surprise / disappointment was that the kitchen staff overcooked the Beef. Chef David was busy preparing dishes in front and when this arrived from the kitchen, it looked overcooked and indeed, about ~40% of the pieces were overcooked. :frowning: The rest were medium rare in the middle.

It’s served with Housemade Narazuke Pickles, Freshly-Grated Wasabi Root, and Lion’s Head Mushrooms.

The Matsusaka Grade A5 Wagyu Beef had a great fattiness and gentle beefiness (for the medium / medium-rare pieces). The overcooked pieces lost too much of the prized Beef Fat to make them stand out. Overall, not worth the price.

Tamagawa - White Label - Heirloom Yamahai Genshu Junmai Sake (Kyoto, Japan):

In a rarer move, our next Sake pairing was a Tamagawa “White Label” Heirloom Yamahai Genshu Junmai Sake release, served at room temperature. Our Sake Sommelier mentioned that the room temperature serving unleashed a whole different flavor spectrum compared to when its enjoyed chilled, and felt it paired best with our next course.

It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed Sake at room temperature, so it was a bit of a shock. Pungent, big, brash with an alcoholic finish, I confess I wouldn’t enjoy this on its own, but it did pair nicely with our Unagi (next course).

Grilled Unagi (Freshwater Eel) Yuwata Maki Stuffed with Gobo (Burdock Root):

First, major kudos to Chef Schlosser for serving a Sustainably-Farmed Unagi (Freshwater Eel) from Maine, U.S.A.(!). :open_mouth: We’ve never had Unagi from Maine before, but it was a pleasant surprise. (For those that don’t know, Japan’s Unagi population is overfished and devastated, with some saying it’s on the point of extinction.)

This is an ancient cooking technique, dating back centuries in Japan, so we were excited to try Unagi Yuwata Maki for the first time in the States. This was delicious. Earthy, tender, the Housemade Unagi Sauce complemented each bite perfectly, not overly sweet, nor too thick either. I loved the Gobo (Burdock Root) as well. :blush:

Koshihikari Kamameshi (Iron Pot Steamed Koshihikari Rice):

In Japan, it’s usually a matter of pride for many restaurants to serve nicely cooked Rice with your meal. It’s a subtle thing, but it’s a mark of a restaurant that cares. It might be hard to see, but look at the sheen on the Koshihikari Rice (above)(!). :open_mouth: This was perfectly cooked Kamameshi (Rice cooked in a traditional Iron Pot). Each grain was plump, with a pleasing mouthfeel. :heart:

Their Housemade Pickles were also noteworthy, crunchy, balanced acidity, a great pairing with the Rice as well and a nice counterbalance to the Unagi.

Dashi - Broth of Flounder and Sea Bream Bones:

The other outstanding part of this final savory course was their Dashi, made from scratch in-house from the long stewing of Flounder and Sea Bream Bones. It was one of the highlights of the meal! :heart: SO GOOD! :blush:

Hakkaisan - Kijoshu (Niigata, Japan):

Kijoshu Sake are sweeter and many come to know it as a “Dessert Sake.” This Hakkaisan Kijoshu is bottled earlier than most, but still sweet and a nice pairing with our first Dessert.

Koji (R)ice Cream - Strawberries:

Fans of Shibumi from the early days may note, this is the one dish that has never left the menu. Chef Schlosser has made a Dessert out of Rice and Koji (hence the “Rice Cream” name). Taking a bite, this tastes like a richer, rounder, but lighter Ice Cream, but it’s made with Koji Rice instead. It’s quite tasty and even better with the Strawberry Compote.

Hojicha (Roasted Japanese Green Tea):

Shibumi’s Hojicha is also standout: So nutty, fragrant and a perfect steep. It’s served at this point in the meal to pair with the next course.

Kudzu Sakura Mochi - White Bean, Salted Cherry Blossoms:

And for the tail end of Spring, Chef Schlosser is serving his take on the classic Japanese Sakura Mochi Dessert. I adore Sakura Mochi and could not have enough of it in Japan. Here in the States, it’s much harder to find consistently.

Instead of a traditional Pounded Rice Mochi exterior, Chef Schlosser uses Kudzu (Japanese Arrowroot), and the result is a more visually stunning, translucent, but just as beautifully chewy exterior that resembles regular Mochi, a pleasing White Bean filling and the infusion of Salted Cherry Blossoms is the perfect final touch. It’s floral, creamy, chewy and fantastic. :heart:

Citron Candy:

We finish things off with Housemade Citron Candy. Nicely tart-sweet.

Another Visit:

On another recent visit, we had their Shogun’s Meal (Tasting Menu option), which swapped out a few dishes for other offerings, along with trying more of their amazing Chinmi.

Chinmi (Rare Delicacies) - 6 Selections:

Hokkaido Scallops - Cured in Shio Koji for 3 Months:

This was as amazing as the previous visit. :slight_smile:

Tofu Cured in Aokoji for 8 Months:

It’s still as baffling and standout for its crazy flavors (from Tofu!), really resembling something like a Liverwurst. The Sake pairing was again, flawless.

Nama Karsumi (Mullet Roe), Smoked in Cherry Wood, Cured for 3 Months:

Shiitake Mushrooms, Aged 2 Years(!):

On this visit, Chef Schlosser had rotated in a few more Chinmi (Rare Delicacies) onto the menu, starting with Shiitake Mushrooms that were aged for over 2 Years(!). :open_mouth: Wow.

The flavor? Absurd! Insanely concentrated, super umami bomb (that is the only way I could think of describing this). And a flawless Sake Pairing. :heart: (@BradFord )

Spot Prawns, Fermented for 3 Months:

This is definitely in the strange and unique category: Spot Prawns that have been fermenting for 3 months doesn’t seem possible. But this is an ultra-concentrated, oceanic (but pleasing), slippery bite that explodes with flavor. It’s salty, ocean breezy, and just wonderful. Tamed by the Atago no Matsu Honjozo Sake, another flawless pairing. :heart:

Uni (Sea Urchin), Fermented for 3 Months:

OK, Uni fans will note that even fresh Uni, when it’s not super fresh will start to exude that “funky / bad ocean” aftertaste. I could not think of how this Fermented Uni for 3 months(!) could possibly be delicious.

And it wasn’t. :sweat: :stuck_out_tongue:

This was like drinking Ocean Water, mixed with super pungent, almost stinky notes. :frowning: But my friend loved this bite. So your mileage may vary. :wink:

What’s shocking was that the Atago no Matsu Sake Pairing also completely neutralized the funk and it was a fantastic pairing again. :open_mouth:

It should be noted, the Sake Pairing was slightly different in parts, showcasing the Sake knowledge of both of their Sake specialists at Shibumi (Craig Wizeman and Chris (I didn’t get his last name)).

The rest of the courses were the same as the Taisho’s Meal (Tasting Menu), except the main course. Those courses were as excellent as the earlier visit.

Matsu no Tsukasa - Kimoto Junmai 2020 (Shiga, Japan):

For the final savory course of the Shogun’s Meal, Sake Sommelier Wizeman offered up the Matsu no Tsukasa Kimoto Junmai 2020, and it was a perfect pairing with every part of the Goose! :heart:

Goose! (Breast in Spelt Miso, Leg Minced Meatball, Foie Gras Liver, Dashi Broth):

Goose is not that easy to find on local menus. Definitely a distant fourth place behind the other poultry (Chicken, Turkey and Duck), so we’re always glad to order it when we see it being offered.

The Goose Breast roasted in Spelt Miso was outstanding. First, there’s a deep, unique poultry flavor that tastes nothing like Chicken, Turkey or Duck. It’s “Goose.” And it was fabulous! :heart: :heart: :heart: The Spelt Miso (made in-house as usual) drew out this fantastic, crave-worthy quality in every bite.

And the Sake pairing was perfect again.

Goose Foie Gras Liver:

Chef noted that this isn’t a regular “Foie Gras,” as the Goose they sourced isn’t force fed anything. So it’s a natural Goose Liver with a good diet, and it was creamy, rich, mouth-wateringly delicious! :heart:

Beni Imo (Okinawan Sweet Potato):

The Beni Imo (Okinawan Sweet Potato) was delicious, earthy, starchy, but creamy as it was poached and cooked down. It provided a nice contrast to the Goose and it also paired flawlessly with the Matsu no Tsukasa Sake.

Koshihikari Kamemeshi (Iron Pot Koshihikari Rice):

As perfectly cooked as previously, Chef Schlosser and team have this down. Gorgeous Koshihikari Kamameshi! :heart:

Goose Leg Minced Meatbeall, Dashi Broth:

I devoured the Goose Meatballs, they were plump, delicate, absolutely light and airy and also with that Goose poultry essence. Wow. The Dashi Broth (made from scratch) was totally different from the Sea Bream and Flounder Bones Housemade Dashi from the previous meal. Highlight. :heart:

Housemade Pickles:


Ktima Spiropoulos - Sparkling Wine (Greece):


In another excellent showing, on this visit, Sake Sommelier Wizeman had just gotten in a new Greek Sparkling Wine (Ktima Spiropoulos), and changed it up, pouring this as our final pairing with the Koji Rice Cream.

This was fun, bubbly beverage, very much in the vein of Champagne, but from Greece and more minerally, chalky perhaps. But with the Dessert (below)? Absolutely spot-on pairing! :heart:

Koji (R)ice Cream - Strawberries:

As tasty as before, but the highlight was the beverage pairing using the newly imported Ktima Spiropoulos Sparkling Wine. It unlocked another dimension to the Koji Rice Cream and Strawberry Compote.

And at the end of the evening, don’t forget to ask for Shibumi’s Japanese Whisky Menu. They have the most extensive collection of Japanese Whisky out of any of the local restaurants that we’ve encountered.

We’re glad to see Shibumi survive 2020 and 2021 and the COVID-19 lockdown. In a way, the lockdown allowed Chef David Schlosser and team to refocus, and what arose out of those quiet years was a better focus on Kappo Omakase, which is the seasonal Kappo cuisine / small dishes, now offered in a Tasting Menu format, where the Chef recommends what’s good and in-season. The meal is now curated to better provide a whole experience, which feels more traditionally Kappo as well.

This Spring season’s curated offerings have some excellent standouts like the Hassun opening course with the made-from-scratch Yuba (Tofu Skin) and Japanese River Seaweed bite, the Sashimi was great, the Chawan Mushi Egg Custard with Cordyceps and Shiitake was another standout, as was the perfectly cooked Tempura with Mehikari (Green Eyes Fish) and the Mugwort Vinegar condiment. Add in flawlessly cooked Kamameshi (Iron Pot Koshihikari Rice), protein main courses like the Unagi Yuwata Maki (almost never seen locally), and the stunning Goose preparations, and you have the makings of a great dinner.

But beyond the new, core Tasting Menus, is the fact that Shibumi and Chef David Schlosser offer up the only Chinmi specialist in L.A. / O.C. He’s offering up Rare Delicacies that are unheard of locally, like Hokkaido Scallops cured for 3 months(!), or Shiitake Mushrooms aged for 2 years(!). The Chinmi we tasted were truly standout and exquisite, and they are meant to be best enjoyed with Sake.

Which brings us to another core strength: Shibumi has dramatically increased their Sake knowledge and inventory. With 2 Sake Sommeliers / Bar Managers and most of the staff that know about their Sake offerings (and more), with the best Sake Pairing we’ve had in years (nothing in So Cal comes close), and the offering of rare bottles (good finds, some inexpensive), Shibumi is the best place to enjoy great Sake and great Kappo dishes at the same time. We can’t wait to see the new Summer menu debuting in June.

815 S. Hill St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Tel: (323) 484-8915

Update 1: New Summer Omakase Menu - Hoya (Sea Pineapple), Lobster & Uni Aged for 6 Months(!) and more!


Great report. So many interesting dishes and drinks. Didn’t have any idea we farmed eel in Maine. With all the great sushi and Japanese in LA this spot really stands out as unique.

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Yes! Cafe Sushi in Cambridge, MA often will have it as the final course of their omakase (when they were doing in-person dining). It is fantastic!

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Hi @chienrouge ,

Thanks! :slight_smile: Yah, I think since the pandemic, with the new menu refocus and much improved staff to help support Chef Schlosser, Shibumi has really developed into a standout experience. Its Michelin 1 Star is well-earned.

And now it’s a great spot to try and learn about a variety of Japanese Sake (and their Whisky bar selection as well). :slight_smile:

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Hi @Amandarama ,

Wow, that’s awesome! :slight_smile: I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m visiting the east coast, thanks!

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Thanks for the report! We like that Shibumi updates the menu frequently.

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@Chowseeker1999 nice report!

btw curious if you’ve ever encountered these kokuryus locally?

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Nevermind, I see in your previous post Mori carries it :nerd_face:

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Great report! Thanks for your rundown over several visits, and nice sake options. I kind of view Shibumi as a mix between a somewhat ambitious sake bar (or the kind of neo-izakaya that would serve natural wine in Japan) and enthusiast of kappo style. Without getting caught up in labels, it’s nice to see something aiming to promote kappo style in LA.

Perhaps I should revisit, even if my experience with the food in their prior “omakase” (before they reopened) was mixed. I thought it was a chill spot to enjoy some fun, rare, or experimental drinks and an evolving menu. Not all of the food worked, and I found some technical decisions fairly odd, but I can respect the ambition and dedication, and also his desire to highlight many elements of Japanese cuisine. I think the chef’s ambition alone is pretty admirable, because as menus like these evolve a fair amount and there’s quite a few dishes on offer, it can be a double-edged sword. It’s impressive to try to keep up with the seasons and also adapt dishes to available ingredients here, but it also means trying to master many techniques and styles of cooking. Also, not having many kappo places in the US means that Shibumi stands out, but then it perhaps gets compared to kappo elsewhere, namely Japan. I think that a lot of my view on Shibumi comes down to expectations, and the chef’s stints at famous restaurants means there are big shoes to fill. His dedication alone seems admirable and perhaps a reason I should view the food a little bit less critically. Anywhere that serves yawata maki is a plus in my book! These kinds of dishes can be labor-intensive but under-appreciated.

Murata-san has been known to advocate for experimentation and also collaboration with Western chefs. Notably, he sought to make a new-style dashi. Instead of konbu and katsuobushi (for glutamate and inosinate, respectively), he made one of tomato, morel mushrooms (for glutamate, especially when dried), and chicken breast (for inosinate)! It’s an interesting exploration from a food science point of view and also collaboration across cultures and ingredients. Makes sense that an American chef opening a kappo style restaurant here would have trained at Kikunoi! (I think of the gomaae or shiraae dish I had at Shibumi a while back; I think it was a hemp and sesame or whipped tofu salad; it was very much California x Japan).

Classically, the 3 “rare taste/delicacies” are uni, karasumi, and konowata. While uni makes an appearance on many Japanese menus in LA, the other two are quite rare, indeed. Definitely “sake thieves,” so to speak. I had some quite aged karasumi and some miso-aged uni at SGO. Strong tastes and honjozo makes sense; too delicate or premium sakes would probably get lost.

Speaking of chinmi, at Goryukubo in Tokyo, the opening dish I had was karasumi on mochi rice. Great “nebari” texture, so good with sake. I was going to say though, other than that (which was really about texture and sweet/salty umami), I can’t think of many kappo meals starting with rice.

Usually, rice closes out the meal as part of the “shime” course!

Also, dashi usually is presented at the start a meal. However, it looks like it’s used here in lieu of miso soup.

This sounds actually more Chinese in technique - like how one begins to make the broth for Hong Kong style wonton noodle soup! Traditionally, dashi is less of a long-stewed process and more of a relatively quick infusion. I think of the venerable Kataori in Kanazawa that starts the meal simply with dashi made on the spot with the katsuobushi shaved in front of the diner. However, in light of Murata-san’s experimentation, perhaps there are new ways to make a dashi.

At the end of the day, if it was delicious, flounder and sea bream dashi sounds like a winner!

I like the sound of this pairing with the “rice cream.” I remember a pretty strong kijoshu served at Avery with their smoked milk ice cream (and grilled pineapple upside down cake with macerated cherry).

kudzumochi with sakura shiozuke, sign me up.

APparently shiitake has a fair amount of guanylate (one of the substances comprising umami) that really gets amped up when dried / preserved.

I’m reminded of Sushi Sho’s aged lobster in xiaoxing wine, with uni sauce - slippery, concentrated, just enough funk, perfect for sake.

Indeed, Matsuzaka beef is some of the very best! It was the bright spot at my last time at n/naka. It’s quite rare stateside! Too bad yours was overcooked.

I think there’s lots of possibilities with tsukemono and California produce!

The Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley, CA has done some interesting stuff. Gobo kasuzuke was strong, good with sake.

At Satsuki in NYC, I really liked the wasabi kasuzuke over kazunoko (herring roe) as a crunchy foil to umibudo (sea grapes) after hotaruika.

I think this was one of the strongpoints at my couple of meals at Shibumi - good drinks, passionate staff, and with the whole mood of the place, that’s part of why I thought of Shibumi as a cool place principally for drinking. But, it appears they’re constantly evolving and your review makes me think it’s worth another visit for the food.


Hi @Sgee ,

Thanks! :slight_smile: Yes, I have seen these 2 very rare bottles, but only got to try the 1st of the 2 bottles (Ishidaya). :grin: I was very fortunate.

Did you get to try both?! :open_mouth: If so, how was Nizaemon compared to Ishidaya? Thanks.

Hi @BradFord ,

Thank you again for the great detailed reply and super helpful info. :slight_smile:

I definitely agree with your thoughts on possible mixed experiences prior to COVID-19. Out of the ~6 visits we had at Shibumi (from Grand Opening to some time before the pandemic hit), 2 of the 6 times we weren’t able to sit in front of Chef Schlosser and it made a big (negative) difference. The staff at that time felt like they were just the typical L.A. service industry floaters (not really investing in the restaurant they worked at, unlike S.F. and Japan). Chef Schlosser mentioned it’s taken a long time to build a team of dedicated assistants and staffers, and I remember seeing a new assistant chef on nearly every single of our early visits(!). Heck, I remember Chef Go (Hayato) sharing with us during one of our meals that he did everything in his power to keep his Hayato staff, because he invested years into their training, finding the right people, etc.

So I’ve also had a couple visits (pre-pandemic) that were… just OK and some dishes weren’t executed that well or had OK flavors at best.

Perhaps we got lucky, but these 2 most recent visits, with that focused Tasting Menu / “Kappo Omakase” in a way, really has allowed Chef Schlosser and his team hone in and focus much better. In addition, during our 2nd most recent visit (so probably our 8th visit), we were served mostly by his Assistant Chef Chris, who was spot on. No qualms about any of the preparation or plating and the flavors were just like what we tasted with Chef Schlosser.

Obviously, stuff like Chinmi or certain preparations, mother sauces, etc., were made ahead of time by Chef Schlosser, so the “hard work” is done in some sense, but it was a testament to the staff overall and dedication. The 2 Sake Somms were knowledgeable and provided some good recs and pairings as well. :slight_smile:

Re: Kikunoi Honten - That’s awesome insight. Thanks for sharing. :slight_smile:

Chinmi - Ah, I didn’t realize the “Classic 3” were the mainstays only. I figured Chinmi could encompass all sorts of truly rare / fermented, aged, preserved bites of any ingredient. Good to know. :slight_smile: Still, considering the crazy Chinmi I’ve seen Chef Schlosser present to us over 8 visits, I’ve seen nothing like this in L.A. Really admirable and so fun to pair with Sake! :blush:

Re: Dashi - Perhaps it was our server’s mistake or wrong use of terminology, but they presented it to us as a “Dashi.” I agree that Dashi should be something rather quickly infused. It certainly took the place of the usual Miso Shiru / Miso Soup, and it was so tasty!

I think you would’ve loved that Sakura Mochi they made in-house. I have a feeling they might switch it up now that their new Summer Menu is debuting this week.

Wow, that Sushi Sho Aged Lobster sounds delicious.

The Wasabi Kasuzuke at Satsuki sounds pretty incredible as well. :slight_smile:

I’d say it’s worth giving Shibumi another try. Make a request (or call in after you book a reservation at the bar) to sit in front of the Chef’s area, and they should accommodate. It makes a big difference. And chat up the Sake Sommeliers, especially Craig Wizeman, and see what you think of their Sake Pairing with their new Tasting Menus. :wink: Thanks.

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I think the others can classify as “chinmi,” just giving some context on the traditional 3 being seafood offal. I didn’t mean to say chinmi is limited to only 3 types. Aged shiitake is very interesting; it doesn’t seem like a dried mushroom. His experiments are interesting, more like jukusei! I’m a little bit curious why chef hasn’t used konowata or bachiko yet (from what I can tell).

It inspired a similar dish at Sushi Yoshizumi, but it was spot prawn not aged and marinated lobster.

Thanks for your review, as it seems like they’re continuing to evolve. I thought the food was alright before, with slight issues with proportions and some peculiar choices on how to present ingredients (in my first visit, for example, one was about a gel sauce on shiromi sashimi, and the fish was obscured and texture lost in the accoutrements - kind of the opposite of the idea of “shibumi”). But, I appreciate the dedication overall and continued development. And for going through the effort to make dishes like yawatamaki - a labor-intensive feat, if done over bincho and lacquered, re-skewered, and rotated while slowly grilled!

Sounds like there’s been some changes and developments. It seems like they maintain a big emphasis on sake; I like that. Thanks; I will likely check it out and get the sake pairing.

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Neither unfortunately. Yes apparently quite difficult to score a bottle stateside. Oh well at least we have a source in LA. Thanks!

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Hi @BradFord ,

I dug through some old thoughts of mine and sure enough, I found it: Chef Schlosser did serve us Konowata Chinmi years ago! :slight_smile: From my notes it seemed to be pretty magnificent with the Sake pairing back then. Hopefully we’ll see it rotate back on the menu if he decides to make some more (or maybe it’s already aging)? :wink: Thanks for the reminder!

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Update 1:

Shibumi’s new Summer Tasting Menu debuted last month and we wanted to give that a try after being so impressed with their new Spring menu. Since COVID-19 lockdown, Shibumi has re-opened with a new focus around “Kappo Omakase” meals, where Chef-Owner David Schlosser and team will create seasonal menus and dishes and build a full dining experience around that. You just choose one of the 3 or 4 Omakase meal options and you’ll be in good hands.

Hoya (Sea Pineapple), Uni & Lobster Chinmi, Dengaku (Eggplant Encrusted with Miso), Smoked Daikon:

Hoya (Sea Pineapple), Okura (Okra), Yama Imo (Japanese Mountain Yam), Mozuku Seaweed (Okinawa, Japan):

As with the new Spring Omakase, Shibumi continues to shine and execute on dishes that no one else is doing in the city. Hoya is a Sea Pineapple, an Ascidian, which is rather rare on local Japanese menus (I haven’t seen Hoya at all). This opening bite is crisp, crunchy, refreshing, the combination with Okra, Japanese Mountain Yam and Mozuku Seaweed from Okinawa just combines into a fantastic flavor combination.

Chinmi (Rare Delicacies) - Lobster and Uni Aged 6 Months:

Chef Schlosser and Shibumi’s greatest strength is their Chinmi (Rare Delicacies). This can feature some super rare offerings like today’s Chinmi, Lobster and Santa Barbara Uni aged for 6 months(!). :open_mouth: No one’s doing stuff like this around town. It was incredible: Massive umami bomb, deep oceanic flavors (in a good way), stunning. :heart:

Dengaku (Eggplant Encrusted with Housemade Aburi-Gakko White Miso), Smoked Daikon:

The 3rd opening bite is a classic Dengaku with Eggplant, so soft, cooked down, the Housemade Miso (because that’s how obsessive to details Chef Schlosser is) was spot on.

Another massive strength that many miss out on, Shibumi’s Sake game has drastically improved. They offer the best Sake Pairings in the city right now, with Sake Sommelier Craig Wizeman (previously at New York’s Michelin 3 Star Masa), and Chris Gomez. Both of them exhibit high level knowledge of Sake and their pairings have been flawless. We start with:

Hakurakusei - Tokubetsu Junmai Sake (Miyagi, Japan):

The Hakurakusei was light, delicate, feminine, citric and had a clean finish. It was enjoyable by itself, but paired beautifully with the Hoya (Sea Pineapple) and the Uni & Lobster Chinmi aged 6 months.

Kuromutsu (Bluefish) Sashimi, Ume Plum Sauce + Awabi (Abalone) (Santa Barbara, U.S.A.), Awabi Kimo (Abalone Liver) Sauce:

The Kuromutsu Sashimi is a rare sighting and a beautiful, light, delicate taste, but the highlight was the Awabi (Abalone) which was absurd! Crisp, clean, such a beautiful texture, so bright, and the dip into the Awabi Kimo (Sauce made from Abalone Liver) just accentuated each bite. :heart:

Chilled Tomato Stuffed with Edamame, Sesame and Fresh Yuba:

Celebrating Summer, this Tomato Stuffed with Edamame Puree, Sesame and Fresh Yuba (that they make in-house from scratch) was another highlight of the meal! Intense, in-season Tomato flavor, beautiful earthy nuttiness from the Edamame and Sesame, and the delicate, creamy fresh Yuba. The Shiso Flowers was the perfect, subtle, bright herb finisher. :heart:

Sashimi - Giant Octopus, Kizami Wasabi, and Sea Grapes:

Refreshing, light, and fitting for the Summer heat. The Giant Octopus had a delicate chew, clean, and the Kizami Wasabi (Fresh Wasabi Root, Stem and Leaf) was excellent to pair with the Sashimi. The Umi Budo (Sea Grapes) provided a fun briny pop with each bite, a great textural contrast.

Unagi Tempura, Cool Cucumbers:

As before, Shibumi is working with Sustainably-Farmed Unagi (Freshwater Eel) from Maine, U.S.A., which is rare around these parts. It’s also a great thing Chef Schlosser is doing as the Unagi population in Japan is disastrously low (to the point of extinction).

This Unagi Tempura was perfectly fried, it was almost creamy in mouthfeel, fresh and absolutely delicious! :heart: The Unagi Tare Sauce was infused with Sansho Peppers and was a great pairing.

Zaku - Ho no Tomo “The Artisan” - Junmai Sake (Mie, Japan):

This was another great Sake pairing and worked beautifully with the Unagi Tempura, cutting through the inherent oiliness, and it worked nicely with our next course.

Steamed Black Cod Crusted with Uni
Kamameshi (Iron Pot Rice) (Organic California Koshihikari Rice)
Housemade Tsukemono (Pickles) and Housemade Miso in Smoked Dashi Broth:

First, Chef Schlosser dry ages the Black Cod for 10 days(!), which really accentuates the flavors. It was truly succulent, luscious, perfectly cooked through, the Uni crusted on top was bright, sweet and had no bad oceanic aftertaste that plagues Uni too often these days. Outstanding! :heart: (Especially when eaten with the freshly cooked Koshihikari Organic Rice.)

Even the seemingly basic Tsukemono (Housemade Pickles) were noteworthy: Shoyu (Soy Sauce) pickled Gobo (Burdock Root) was earthy and delicious, the Pickled Cucumber and Myoga were also pleasing counterpoints to the rest of the items in this course.

Housemade Miso (from Barley and Soybeans) with a Smoked Dashi Broth, Lotus Root Mochi, Shiitake Mushroom:

Their Housemade Miso Soup was outstanding. Visually it looked like a regular Miso Soup, but taking a sip: There is a difference in using their own made-from-scratch Miso (from Barley and Soybeans) (which most restaurants wouldn’t bother doing), it’s earthy, rich, flavorful, deep; and the Smoked Dashi is just the perfect top note, and inside the bowl there’s a Lotus Root Mochi which just pairs so beautifully. :heart: (@BradFord @ipsedixit @A5KOBE and all)

Kamameshi (Freshly Made Iron Pot Rice), Organic California Koshihikari Rice:

And another subtle highlight that so many miss out on: Shibumi freshly cooks a batch of Organic Koshihikari Rice in a traditional Iron Pot, just for your meal. Look at the sheen on the Rice! It’s plump, perfectly cooked, outstanding Rice. :heart:

And sadly, in our carb-hating society in So Cal, we noticed (during multiple visits) numerous customers who left their bowl of beautiful Kamameshi Rice untouched(!). :frowning: It’s understandable if folks are into various diets and are skipping carbs, but it’s just sad when you consider the care that went into freshly making an Iron Pot of Organic Rice (and done to near perfection) and it’s thrown away.

Bamboo Leaf Ice Cream:

This was quite delicate, creamy, gently vegetal and sweet.

Tokoro Ten (Sweet, Summer Seaweed Noodle, Spanish Green Melon):

Showing respect to Japanese traditions and attention to detail, Chef Schlosser and team feature an old-school Japanese dish known as Tokoroten where Seaweed / Algae Noodles are made by pressing a block of the ingredients through a wooden instrument (see pic above). Chef Schlosser explains that it can be eaten savory or sweet, depending on the region.

For us here in California, during the Summer, Chef Schlosser is serving it sweet as a Dessert, with in-season Spanish Melon. It’s slippery, light, and refreshing. :slight_smile:

We decided to finish our meal with something from Shibumi’s extensive Japanese Whisky Menu, which is thoughtfully served with proper glassware, optional Japanese Ice(!), and a Water Dropper if you wanted to enjoy it neat, with a touch of water or on the rocks.

With the new Summer Omakase (Chef’s Choice) Tasting Menus, Chef David Schlosser and team at Shibumi continue to deliver interesting, engaging, and delicious offerings that fit the season. The Kappo cuisine ethos Chef Schlosser started Shibumi with is more apparent now, as with each of these Omakase meal options, they will be serving what they feel is worthwhile, in-season and interesting.

We loved their Spring Menu, but now with Summer, the offerings are standout as well. Hoya (Sea Pineapple) is quite rare and a pleasant opener, the Uni and Lobster Chinmi (Rare Delicacies) Aged for 6 Months is stunning, even better with the Sake pairing, seasonal Sashimi are spot-on (that Abalone!), the Chilled Tomato Stuffed with Yuba, Edamame, Sesame, the list goes on.

Add in additional Chinmi (Rare Delicacies) you can order (whatever is ready and rotating in), the strong Sake menu and pairing by their 2 Sake Sommelier, and you have a standout dinner experience.

815 S. Hill St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Tel: (323) 484-8915


Nice!! Only other Japanese place I’ve seen it served is Nakaji in NYC.

Menu looks great.

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Hi @Sgee ,

Thanks! :slight_smile: Oh, how was Nakaji? Worth a visit?

And yes, definitely! Chef Schlosser and team at Shibumi are really doing some noteworthy cooking these days. Thanks.

Great review as always.

But, I dunno maybe it’s me, but the last time I was at Shibumi, every thing felt very monotone, esp. texture wise. Like Gerbers. As in the babyfood.

Hi @ipsedixit ,

Thanks. I remembered a few dishes early on that might’ve been texturally soft. But have you been back to Shibumi since the pandemic? If not, it might be worth a try. With the new set Tasting Menus, Chef Schlosser and team have really done a good job in coursing out the meal, they usually feature many aspects similar to Kaiseki - something fried, something grilled, sashimi, soup, rice, dish, etc.

For example, the new Summer Omakase meal, thinking about textures, you start off with the Hoya (Sea Pineapple) which is crunchy and crisp, mixed with the Okra and Mozuku Seaweed which is slippery, but no “baby food” type texture. :wink: The 6 month Aged Lobster & Uni Chinmi would definitely fall in that category though, (it’s nearly liquefied), but really intense and delicious with Sake.

Other Chinmi (Rare Delicacies) they are serving right now, like the 7 month Aged Karasumi (Mullet Roe) had a great texture (not mushy), and the 10 month Aged Hokkaido Scallops were actually intense and slightly chewy.

The Awabi (Abalone) was crisp with a nice slight crunch, the Kuromutsu Sashimi was good and had a light meaty, white fish flesh texture. Unagi Tempura had a light crispness on the outside.

The 10 Day Dry Aged Black Cod with Uni… was tender, flaky, moist, but not baby food either. Great rice and housemade miso soup w/ Lotus Root Mochi. :slight_smile: And their Tsukemono (Housemade Pickles) had a nice snap.

I think the new Tasting Menu format really helps the restaurant present better dishes and pacing to the customer, because pre-pandemic, I agree, I think someone could order a variety of dishes that might’ve fallen in the same texture spectrum and one could easily feel underwhelmed or put-off. Thanks!

I’ve only had their takeout during peak Covid times. It was good. Worth a visit imo. There was a recent eater feature

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