Totoraku

Totoraku
10610 Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Yelp
I previously blogged about Totoraku, or what I referred to as the “secret beef restaurant.”  Well if you look on Yelp, Totoraku isn’t much of a secret to the 209 Yelpers who posted the mostly 5 star reviews.  But the policy still remains. You cannot eat here unless you are one of Oyama-san’s “regular customers.”  I’ve been here now 4 times, so I think that qualifies me as “regular” enough.  Honestly, each time hasn’t always been worth the $$$$.  Smooth Obturator, who was my original “in” to Totoraku, says Oyama-san just “phones it in” sometimes.  So I was pleased to bring Fishing Zebra Man here, and have one of my best experiences.  I must say that this time was just as good as the first time, if not better.

 

While every meal at Totoraku is reliably unchanging, the same cannot be said for the appetizers which have been different every time.  They are usually stunning on a presentation level, but can be a little lackluster or weird compared with the main course of meat upon meat.  This time, however, I was delighted by the presentation of little bites.

Shrimp with Caviar – simple with a zing of ocean salinity from the caviar
Black Sesame Tofu – smooth and nutty
Japanese Sea Bass – really clean and fresh

Okra squid, flying fish eggs – slimy okra paired with the firm texture of squid
Candy Stripped Fig prosciutto di parma, goat cheese – This was probably my favorite bite of the lot.  The sweet figs, the salty prosciutto, and the bit of stinky goat cheese made for a sophisticated and standout bite.
Egg mashed yams, crispy anchovy – I definitely liked the crispy fishy dried anchovy, which was a nice contrast to the soft sweet mashed yams.

 

Japanese Wild Octopus – Like a delicate seafood salad

Vegetable Jello – I wished they served jello this good at the hospital
Smoked Japanese King Salmon avocado – carb-less California roll
Uni Risotto – OK, I lied.  This was the best bite of lot.  Basically an uni rice ball.  Yums!

Short Rib Carpaccio

This remains a favorite of mine.  The beef is clean.  The slight crunch of the sprouts, daikon, fennel, and the high quality olive oil and salt only add to very elevated simplicity.  Yums!

Beef Tataki (left)

Beef Throat Sashimi (right)

This remains the only place and time that I ever eat beef throat.  Both cuts of meat were extremely tender even though raw.  The soy sauce with grated garlic add just a pinch of umami-ness to complement the clean taste.  The beef throat remains a unique highlight of the meal.

Steak Tartare 

The tartare never fails to disappoint.  The crunch from the daikon and cucumber, the richness of the runny yolk, the delicate chew of the raw beef strips, and the soft sweetness of soy sauce to bring it all together.  Always a favorite I look forward to.

Beef Tongue
This was better than I remembered.  Fatty, tender, perfectly seasoned.

Filet Mignon

After the unique taste and texture of beef tongue, we proceeded with the tender yet delicately marinated filet.

Tomato Salad

Best tomato salad you’ll ever eat.  Sweet, tender, succulent.

Vegetables lettuce, cabbage, carrots, daikon, cucumbers

The vegetables dipped in miso paste made for a good accompaniment to the grilled meat.  It’s a good healthy change from a bowl of white rice.

 
Miso Paste
Outside Rib Eye

The meal progressed to a more fatty cut with the outside rib eye.

 

Inside Rib Eye

The texture and fat content, and therefore the flavor, increases with each successive cut of beef.

 

 
Skirt Steak

We finished with the skirt steak, which interestingly was the most flavorful cut of beef for the night.

 

Korean Kuppa

We finished the savory meal with a very simple soup of vegetables and egg whites.

Ice Cream & Sorbet white chocolate raspberry, espresso, lychee, pistachio, blueberry
After all that meat, it was nice to end simply with the reliably solid selection of ice creams and sorbets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In looking back, it looks like Oyama-san no longer serves short rib.  What a shame, because I really liked that fattier cut of beef.  All in all, the meal at Totoraku garnered two thumbs up for Fishing Zebra Man, who finally got his fix of “secret beef” after almost 2 years of asking me to take him there.  He could not stop talking about the upcoming visit to any and everyone who would listen.  I am glad the meal did not disappoint, because at that price point, anything short of amazing would be considered highway robbery.  It is interesting that Totoraku is able to deliver such amazing beef without having to resort to Wagyu and Kobe beef.  There is little reliance on fat to bring the flavor.  Rather it is the specially sourced beef, which delivers clean beefy flavors and unforgettable tenderness.  A quick sear is pretty much all you needed for all cuts of beef.  This will probably not be the last time I dine here.  It might be the last time I blog about it unless I upgrade my camera again.

10 – You NEED to eat here (if you can afford it)
9 – Awesome! 

8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK 
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT eat here

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