Dinner at Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise Encino

Dinner at Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise Encino

We were going for dinner tonight at Sushi Hirosuke and instead found this sad news taped to the door:

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Sad News! Sushi Hirosuke RIP (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

My friend Hiro, the sushi chef, opened this place in the early 90s and we used to have dinner here twice a week. He sold it to a nice couple who ran it for a long time. It was a good place, not great, but it was reasonably priced, local, and always good enough.

My friend Hiro-san now owns the amazingly awesome Sushi Ichiban Kan in Tarzana (you can read about it and see the pictures in my previous blogs).

There’s a lot of sushi competition in the neighborhood! On Ventura Boulevard, between Sepulveda and Reseda, there are more than fourteen sushi restaurants: Katsu-ya, Midori, Yamato, Benihana’s, Okamura, Cho Cho San, Dancing Wasabi, Octopus, Four on Six, Sushi Ajito, Crazy Tokyo, Sushi Tsune, Makoto, and our new destination for dinner Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise Encino.

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise Encino (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Upstairs in the mall where they shot “The 40 Year Old Virgin” is a new Japanese restaurant. I had heard nice things about it, but this was my very first time dining there. Ride the escalator or elevator to the third floor, enter the restaurant and enjoy the asian food and drink experience.

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

The Bar of Tokyo at Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise has a great selection of sake and a full bar! They have a Happy Hour menu and specials from 3-6:30pm and after 10:30pm.

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Bar of Tokyo (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Bar of Tokyo (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Bar of Tokyo (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Bar of Tokyo: Great Selection of Sake!(copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Bar of Tokyo: Beers on draft. (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Restaurant!

Tuesday at 7pm, the place was empty. When you enter through the restaurant you are greeted at the Host Desk by the Giant Face seen below.  There’s a glass enclosed covered patio with a nice view of Ventura Blvd, the Sushi Bar area and a Dining Room area. We sat inside in a booth, which was too low for the table, wasn’t very comfortable for my back, and felt very cramped and claustrophobic. I did have a view of the glass enclosed kitchen, but could only see the grill from where I was seated. 

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Welcome!  (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Sushi Bar (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Sushi Bar (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Patio Dining (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

 

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Kitchen & Grill enclosed in glass (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

It’s a very pretty restaurant, done in very modern Japanese design. We were seated, greeted and provided with drinks while we perused the menu and decided on our food choices. They have a massive menu with sushi, salads, rolls, entrees, sides, and desserts….and it’s very confusing. They also have an ala carte sushi and sushi roll menu and a yakitori menu with all kinds of traditional (chicken, beef, vegetables) and weird things (intestines, livers, and other parts) grilled on a skewer. Mark those menus with a pencil.

The prices are VERY REASONABLE!!! You can eat a lot of different things, share them, try stuff you might never try if you feel adventurous, and just have a really big meal Japanese meal for a good price. The drink prices are also GREAT!

ON THE MENU: hot sake, cucumber with sesame sunomono, grilled shishito pepper, avocado & negitoro (spicy tuna), fried calamari, spicy tuna roll, Wisconsin roll (salmon and crab), sushi – salmon, yellowtail and albacore, potstickers, chicken meatball and pork kalbi skewers and an iced green tea. We also ordered the live Uni pasta, roasted eggplant side, and a big Spicy Tuna and Rice bowl (we asked for brown rice, but got steamed white rice instead).

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Hot Sake! Large size! (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

 

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Cucumber with sesame sunomo (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – grilled shishito peppers (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – avocado and negitoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – fried calamari (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – chicken meatball and pork kalbi skewers (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – potstickers (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

 

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Wisconsin roll: salmon over crab (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – spicy tuna roll (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Sushi! Salmon, yellowtail and albacore. (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Everything was good! The fish was good quality, fresh and tasty. The cooked stuff was also done right. The fried calamari was excellent! I also enjoyed the spicy tuna dishes quite a bit. The avocado and negitoro was a good choice. Next time I’ll have the pork kalbi salted instead of sauced and forget about the cucumber and sesame sunomono.

They’re open late weeknights, and really late on Fridays and Saturdays, so I might have to go back soon….

Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro – Enjoying my dinner! Tasty Japanese Goodness! (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

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Gyoro Gyoro (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Into the Sunset on Ventura Boulevard…Time to Blog This. (copyright 2104 JoshWillTravel)

Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise – 17401 Ventura Blvd., B21, Encino, CA 91316 http://www.otootorestaurant.comhttp://www.ramla.net

 

Dinner at Fifty Seven in Downtown L.A.

My Sister’s Birthday Dinner at Fifty Seven in Downtown Los Angeles

My little sister is a bigger “foodie ” than I am, so for her birthday we decided to take her to the hot spot restaurant downtown. We tried to get a reservation at Alma, but we were denied (and they won’t take a reservation for a party larger than four people). You might think that’s unfortunate, but I don’t like restaurants where the chef cooks what he likes and serves it to you without a choice. You eat what he serves, that’s it. No thank you.

So, we made a reservation for six at FIFTY SEVEN in the industrial arts loft neighborhood south of downtown Los Angeles, which is now gentrifying as fast as it can. I wasn’t driving and we took the surface street route through the Skid Row neighborhood, which has moved east now that 5th Street has been rehabilitated. It’s a strange feeling when you’re going for an expensive luxury meal and there are people living on the streets and tent encampments line the sidewalks for entire city blocks just a short distance away.

Welcome to Fifty Seven. There’s street parking and they have valet parking available.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

It’s INDUSTRIAL! Enter on the alley through the tall glass doors. It’s a beautiful space with wood floors, red brick walls, metal railings, retro wall sconces, exposed ceiling and stainless trim and duct work.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

There’s a huge rectangular bar, and you walk up a ramp past the open kitchen, to the raised dining area upstairs.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Looking down on the huge rectangular bar at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Looking at the front door and open kitchen area across the huge rectangular bar from the raised dining area at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

 

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Open Kitchen – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

 

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Raised Dining Area Upstairs – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The raised dining area is a little too “close quarters” and the aisle between the seats is only wide enough for one person. And of course it’s LOUD! The hard wood and brick with the low ceiling over the dining area amplifies the sound to a level that make conversation difficult. Also, there’s music playing in the bar area and there’s a performance space downstairs. Did you hear me, it’s LOUD!

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Tiny Chair! – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The chair was tiny and the back was just too short, there’s no way to hang a jacket properly, and it’s hard to sit in for a long time (a warning for people with bad backs). The meal, if properly done takes about 3 hours. That’s a long time in that chair.

We started with still and sparkling water, a Marsannay 2009 Burgundy wine, and the Chef sent us a complimentary order of deviled eggs to get the birthday party off to a good start.

We ordered a few shared plates for the table, all of which were excellent, and everyone decided to take advantage of the Prix Fixe Menu (Great Deal! See Below.).

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Sparkling or Still Water? – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Marsannay 2009 was a really good wine choice.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Marsannay 2009 Burgundy wine – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The restaurant concept its to have a Chef in Residence, and then change that chef every six months or so. The current Chef in Residence is David Nayfeld.

From the Fifty Seven website: “Nayfeld’s cuisine can best be classified as Progressive American, harmoniously combining flavor palettes from around the world with a broad range of techniques to create food that is refined, distinctive and satisfying – all while using ingredients that are grown, harvested, and foraged wild from the land that surrounds us….in Europe, David worked with such distinguished chefs as Mauro Colagreco, Albert & Ferran Adria, Philip Rochat, David Toutain, Clare Smyth, Gregory Merchand and Jacques Genin. In New York, he spent more than three years at Eleven Madison Park, where he served as the senior sous chef. While there, the restaurant received three Michelin stars, six James Beard awards, and four stars from the New York Times”

THE SHARED PLATES:

Deviled eggs (compliments of the Chef), Fried Chicken, Pickled Garden & Veal Liver.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WINNER! Deviled Eggs Shared Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The deviled eggs with stuff inside were an excellent beginning to an awesome meal. We chose two orders of the Fried Chicken shared plate and it was perfectly cooked. The skin was crunchy and flaky, the inside was warm and juicy. It was served with pickled veggies and a brown mustard sauce. WINNER WINNER! Fried Chicken to start your dinner!

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WINNER! Fried Chicken Shared Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

We had to order a Pickled Garden shared plate, just based on the name. It was exactly what it sounds like, a combination of pickled vegetables. Each had a distinctive taste, different than you might expect. My mother said about the pickled cucumber (dill pickle) piece she tasted, “That’s the best pickle I’ve ever tasted.” I enjoyed the pickled carrots and pickle, they were tasty and not a typical appetizer, but I wasn’t quite that enthused about this dish.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Pickled Garden Shared Plate: pickled cucumber, carrot, squash, cauliflower and baby beets with red miso – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Now the Veal Liver is a different story. Winner! Winner! The Veal Liver was truly excellent! The smell and taste brought back memories of my Great Grandmother’s chopped liver, and the texture was similar to a fine foie gras. It was served with an onion jam and toasted rye bread. I spread a big chunk on the warm bread and topped it with the jam. It was a really great combination of flavors with a taste that took me right back to my childhood!

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WINNER! WINNER! – Veal Liver with Onion Jam and Sweet & Sour Nebbiolo Shared Plate! – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

We all enjoyed the shared plates and the wine, which were served at a very nice pace. Our waiter was attentive and took our order in a timely fashion. The servers brought the food out and presented it properly, again in a timely fashion.

The tabletop was a little small for all the food plates, silverware, and wine glasses.  I ordered a coke and an extra glass of ice, and I received only a flat “bar coke” which I sent back. Again, it was a little close quarters at the table with six people. The narrow aisle, the waiters taking orders, the servers trying to serve and bus dishes, and the hostesses trying to seat incoming parties. Not for people who can’t handle being close to other people.

We were given a short break in service, then they brought us bread course: Rye and Brioche Buns with “House Made” Butter. The rolls were baked to perfection. The brioche bun was topped with salt and anise (I think) and the butter was smooth, creamy and a little bit better than store bought.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Rye and Brioche Buns – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

“House made” Butter – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

HERE’S THE GREAT DEAL!

CHEF’S PRIX FIXE MENU! CHOICE OF STARTER, MAIN, & DESSERT FOR $48!

I chose the Vegetable A La Grecque, the Heritage Pork, and the Chocolate Dessert for my meal. Other choices at the table were the Brassica salad and the Jerusalem Artichoke starter plates, and the Muscovy Duck and Halibut “main” entree courses, and the Cherry dessert. I tried a little taste of everything except the halibut (which got a positive review from my step-brother).

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Brassica Starter Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Jerusalem Artichoke Starter Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Vegetable A La Grecque Starter Plate – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The three starter courses were good. My vegetable plate was similar to the pickled garden, and the pickled vegetables on the fried chicken shared plates. The brassica was probably the best of the three, although the Jerusalem artichokes were very well received.

The restaurant started getting busy, the bar filled up, the noise level rose, five very muscular men from West Hollywood were seated at the table next to us (and they all pulled out their phones and started texting), and they brought us the “main” entree course.

The Heritage Pork was beautiful. It was perfectly cooked and the spaetzel mixture was a great complement to the meat. I enjoyed it, but was getting full and wanted to have dessert, so I had most of it packed “to go”.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Heritage Pork “Main” Entree – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Muscovy Duck for Two was presented to the table for our approval and they requested we name it. I wasn’t having any part of it and just wanted to get a good picture. Alas, the sun had set and the light level inside had dimmed, so this is the best shot:

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Whole Duck for Two Shown Tableside – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

NOTE: There’s a $45 upcharge for the Duck on the Prix Fixe Menu! (but it is for 2 people)

The duck was returned to the kitchen and returned to the table as a plated dish. Again, it was perfectly cooked, tangy and delicious, and complemented by a duck confit.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Muscovy Duck “Main” Entree – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dessert: Cherry, Chocolate, Lemon or Strawberry? I’ll have CHOCOLATE!

And the Chocolate was terrific! It was a dark and rich chocolate-covered-creamy-mocha mousse on a cookie crust with an edible gold leaf flourish, served with salted caramel ice cream, crunchy and crispy wild rice, and a little splash of Laphroig 10 year old Scotch . I enjoyed it completely!

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

WINNER! Chocolate Covered Mocha Mousse with Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Crispy Wild Rice, and a little Laphroig 10 year old Scotch – Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

The Cherry was also yummy. It was a tart cherry served in a warm cobbler with whipped cream. It was a little too tart for my taste (slightly reminiscent of the Swanson hungry man cranberry sauce from the frozen turkey dinner) but it too was a great dessert.

My sister got a candle in her cherry cobbler, but they didn’t make a overt show of her birthday. The other table next to us (not the guys from WeHo) was also having a birthday party, so it’s a great place for a small party and a special occasion.

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Dinner at Fifty Seven (copyright 2014 JoshWillTravel)

Everyone in my party really enjoyed the meal. The service was good and timely, although it did slip a little as the restaurant got busy and that’s all I’m going to say about that. The Chef came out during the meal and visited our table twice, so we got to meet David and have a little conversation. Because I didn’t eat a lot of the pork, he wanted to make sure I enjoyed it and even offered to get me a different entree. I expressed my admiration for his cooking, and the pork, and declined another plate. It was a great moment and made the meal even more personal. We discussed the concept and he told us he was looking for a permanent space to open a new restaurant.

The meal was great! It was an expensive dining experience, but you get what you pay for. I would definitely go back, and I suggest you put this on your list of restaurants to try while Chef David is still in residence.

Fifty Seven712 S. Sante Fe Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90021  http://www.fiftysevenla.com

UPDATED JANUARY 13, 2017: Fifty-Seven CLOSED in September 2014!
The space is currently For Lease in the Arts District next to Bestia Italiano:
http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/19913503/712-S-Santa-Fe-Ave-Los-Angeles-CA/

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Pic of the Day 26-MAR-13: Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island taken from the top of the WTC – NYC 1994:

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - New York, New York (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island – NYC, New York (copyright 2010 JoshWillTravel)

The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States and is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, designated as a National Monument in 1924 and restored for her centennial on July 4, 1986.

STATUE OF LIBERTY IS CLOSED DUE TO HURRICANE SANDY! As of March 2013: Liberty island is currently closed, but will reopen July 4, 2013.

 

From 1892 to 1954, Ellis Island was America’s largest and most active immigration station for 12 million immigrants who passed through “America’s Golden Door”.  The island was made part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument in 1965, and has hosted a museum of immigration since 1990. A 1998 a U.S. Supreme Court decision found most of the island to be part of New Jersey.

ELLIS ISLAND IS CLOSED DUE TO HURRICANE SANDY!  As of March 2013: Ellis Island Immigration Museum will be closed until further notice. A projected reopening date has not yet been established.