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]

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!

1 Like

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:

1 Like

Hi @Amandarama ,

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

1 Like

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

1 Like

@Chowseeker1999 nice report!

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


1 Like

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

1 Like

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.

2 Likes

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.

1 Like

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.

1 Like

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

1 Like

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!

1 Like

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.

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

4 Likes

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

Menu looks great.

1 Like

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

1 Like

Hi @Sgee ,

Thanks for the info and link. You can tell he cares a lot about the dishes he serves (and he’s hilarious). :blush: I’ll definitely bookmark that. Thanks!

1 Like

Haha yeah he has a great sense of humor. There is a cadre of talented and cool young (to youngish) Japanese chefs in NYC at the moment. Some of them can stand in as hypebeast models after hours.

A stark contrast to their serious traditionalist day job demeanor

Nakaji - Kunihide Nakajima.
Juku - Kazuo Yoshida (the coolest)
Kono - Atsushi Kono
Shion - Shion Uino
Yoshino - Tadashi Yoshida
Noz - Nozomu Abe

1 Like