1027 S Baldwin Ave
Arcadia, CA 91007
My early experiences have given me a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to Korean or Chinese run sushi restaurants, but after reading about the luxurious omakase at unfortunately named Ootoro Sushi I was forced to reconsider. So when a friend invited me to a special dinner at Opus Sushi I was a bit wary, but the promise of Wagyu beef and Kama Toro was enough to overcome any lingering reservations. Naturally we sat at the bar where we were served by Ken, the young chef and co-owner of Opus. Gregarious and quick with a smile, his demeanor made us feel right at home.
2011 Domaine Pattes Loup Chablis 1er Cru Butteaux
Taking advantage of the liberal BYOB policy and $12 corkage we broke out a fair amount of wine with dinner. First up was a Chablis from Pattes Loup clear notes of slate and salinity are nicely integrated with a rush of lemony fruit. On the palate the wine has a creamy mouth feel which adds a pleasing sense of weight to the wine.
Japanese Ceviche - Striped Bass
Our first course was a ceviche made from striped bass. The dense fatty strips of fish were seasoned in a more subdued marinade than most ceviches. The ikura and caviar give the fish some salinity while the celery and cucumber add a crisp vegetal levity to counter the heft of the bass.
2010 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis Grand Cru Bougros Cote de Bouguerots
Our second wine was another Chablis, more subdued that the first with a clean minerality and light notes of green fruit and floral aromatics with lively a high-toned acidity.
Amaebi, Kumamoto Oyster, & Cherrystone Clam
Next we were each presented with individual bowls of shellfish. I started with the sweet shrimp, dense and crunchy with just a hint of steeliness, the sashimi came seasoned with a bit of lemon and salt. Moving onto the Kumamotos, the one topped with tobiko had a pleasing tartness that highlighted the oyster's nautral characteristics. The second oyster overwhelmed by its companions, but I didn't mind since the uni was superbly sweet and creamy. The Cherrystone proved to be my favorite of the trio, with a soft yielding texture and gentle brine complimented by a bracing bath of spicy ponzu.
2008 Domaine des Lambrays Clos des Lambrays
A fantastic young red Burgundy. The bottle opened with intense aromas of truffle, earth, and a touch of grassiness. Flashes of red fruit were noticeable on the finish along with a hint of cherry cola with the fruit becoming more apparent as the wine opened.
1974 Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Georges de Latour Private Reserve
This was a gift from one of the other diners at the restaurant. I haven't had much luck with aged Napa Cabs but this one held up fairly well. The color was much lighter than I was used to with cab and the haze of sediment was a bit off-putting but the flavor was quite unique, savory and smoky with the barest hint of red fruit on the back end. Not really a bottle I'd enjoy drinking regularly but a very enjoyable occasional experience.
Madai - Red Snapper
The madai was a bit soft for my liking but the flavor was clean and pure, deftly highlighted by the compliments of citrus and salt.
Kinmedai - Golden Eye Snapper
The kinmedai was noticably lusher and richer than the madai with a delightful lingering heat from the yuzu kocho.
Akamutsu - Japanese Red Bluefish
This was clearly the standout of the trio, the flash seared fish has a profound savor to compliment the fish's natural oily weight while the lemon juice was a particularly apt contrast to the richness.
Mirugai & Aoyagi - Geoduck and Orange Clam
Switching back to more shellfish we were given several pieces of geoduck from various parts of the clam along with a couple slices of orange clam. The geoduck was a pleasing study in textural contrast while the orange clam was one of the milder presentations that I've had.
A witbeer by Brasserie Dupont in Belgium, the Foret Blanche has an intense skunkiness to start that fades quickly leaving behind aromas of lemon zest and coriander tinged with fresh grass. On the palate the beer performs similarly with malty sweetness and subtle notes of citrus and a light clean finish.
2010 Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey Meursault 1er Cru Les Genevrières
Of our three bottles of chardonnay, I enjoyed the Meursault the best. A bit richer and fuller in body than the two Chablis, there are plenty of floral and citrus tones tinged with a touch of toast and oak, there is plenty of fresh acidity and a lingering finish of lemon zest.
Shima Aji - Striped Jack
Moving on to silver-skinned fishes, we were treated to belly cuts of all three fish. First up was Shima Aji, jellied lush and redolent of fish oil, this piece exemplified all that I've come to love about this particular fish,
Hamachi - Yellowtail
The yellowtail was noticably firmer than the Shima Aji but still quite tender. The fish had some oily flavor to it but lacked the complexity of the Aji or Kanpachi
Kanpachi - Amberjack
Surprisingly the Kampachi outshone the Shima Aji. The texture is almost crunchy to start but quickly takes on a creamy consistency as the fish warms. Likewise the flavor also seemed to develop with the oils becoming more apparent upon mastication.
Hotate - Live Scallop
The live scallop was everything one would expect, dense and meaty with a fantastic shellfish sweetness. The white miso sauce was a bit heavy handed for the scallop but I thought it went beautifully with the scallions underneath.
Uni - Sea Urchin
Next up, Ken seared up some more of that sublime Santa Barbara uni we had earlier in the meal. In addition to adding a savory heft, the smoky char coupled with the roe's inherent sweetness adds something of a caramelized feel to the piece.
2005 Chateau Talbot
Our final wine of the night was a 2005 Chateau Talbot. A classic Bordeaux, the still rather youthful wine showed off tobacco and earth coiled around red fruit and a hint of herbs. All in all an enjoyable wine though a bit thin on the palate.
Gyusashi - Beef Sashimi
Now we are getting to the real reason I came. Ken proceeded to unwrap a 15lb slab of Miyazaki beef. The sashimi would be the first of two presentations. While I loved the way the beef melted in my mouth I thought the flavor was a bit unbalanced with the spicy bite of the raw garlic overpowering the natural flavor of the beef.
Kamatoro - Bluefin Collar
Even more than the Wagyu which one can find fairly easily, I came for the Kamatoro. Every bit as fatty as the more well known tuna belly, the Kamatoro has a more complex texture that is at once muscular yet lissome. After finishing the treat I was haunted by a lingering oily smack that left me wanting another piece.
Seared Miyazaki Steak
Though I typically prefer my beef the rarer the better, I thought the light sear made things so much better. The flavor of the beef was much more prominent than with the sashimi and more than enough to stand up to the dressing.
For our final course Ken cut off a chunk of the tuna collar and broiled it. Not quite as nuanced or elegant as the nigiri we'd just eaten, the collar was so smokey and fatty that it felt more like a red meat than fish. Digging the meat out of the collar was a bit difficult at times but the reward was well worth it.
Even though my friend Charlie vouched for this place I wasn't sure what to expect, but I have to say that I was quite pleased with my meal at Opus. Ken clearly takes his work seriously and has an eye for picking out quality seafood.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
1027 S Baldwin Ave