10610 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Dining date: 7/9/11
I first went to Totoraku last August but had yet to return. The “secret beef restaurant,” reservations can only be made by those who have gotten a business card from the chef. I am not one of those people. However, I had the privilege of taking part in someone else’s party of six.
There is no menu; rather, the food just comes out of the kitchen unprompted. The meal tends to follow a basic progression: appetizers, raw beef, cooked beef, soup and ice cream.
Unfortunately, I didn’t capture what any of these were. Totoraku’s appetizers are very different from the rest of the meal, providing light amuse-bouche type bites as a precursor to the plates of rich beef to follow.
Top Sirloin Cap Carpaccio
The first few beef dishes were all raw. Here was a carpaccio, heightened by some onions and garlic. There was a slight sweetness too, but the beef was definitely at center.
Beef Throat Sashimi and Seared Ribeye
The ribeye was solid but rather ordinary; the throat was a big highlight. I don’t think I’ve eaten throat anywhere but here, and it makes me wonder if most cow throats go straight to animal feed (or hot dogs?). Slightly chewy and very beefy, it was really delicious.
The last raw dish was this one, meant to be stirred. Sesame oil added a slight nuttiness, while the quail egg added an oozy richness. A tasty tartare, for sure.
The tableside grills signaled the next stage of the meal.
Mmm beef tongue. Slightly chewy and tender, really fatty and rich. The marbling was incredible. Seriously good.
Surprisingly juicy and full of flavor, this was one of the best variations of the tenderloin I’ve had in a while.
Some raw vegetables and tomatoes were brought out next to help balance out the richness of the beef.
Daikon, Cucumber, Carrots
Super sweet; some of the best tomatoes I’ve ever had.
One of my favorite cuts of the cow is this outside part of the ribeye, much fattier than the inside. As expected, the meat was really juicy, tender and beefy.
Although I prefer the outside of the ribeye, the inside is no slouch. Totaoraku’s meats are all very well-marbled; this inside ribeye was exceedingly tender and really held its own.
When I saw the marbling on this meat, I knew it would be good. Amazing. The texture was melt-in-mouth with a sweetness from the marinade.
Excessively marbled as well, this was another delicious cut.
We opted for seconds on a couple of cuts, including the tongue.
Both as good as before.
We had the option of two soups, a vegetable-based one and a king crab udon. The choice was easy.
King Crab Udon Soup
Whoa. The soup came out in impressive fashion – a large bowl (must’ve been about 16 inches across) filled to the brim with udon and king crab. Surprisingly, the udon maintained a nice chew, while the crab was sweet. A delicious seafood broth really elevated the dish. Now, if only I could find this in Little Tokyo…
White Chocolate with Raspberry, Espresso and Pistachio Ice Creams; Lychee and Blueberry Sorbets
We sampled each of the 5 ice creams/sorbets on offer for dessert. Simple – just something sweet to end the meal with. My favorites were the espresso and pistachio.
Lastly, the wines – the six of us each brought one for the meal.
This visit to Totoraku was better than my last. I’m not totally sure why since the menu was substantially the same (except the soup). Maybe it was because I barely ate anything during the day. Or maybe because I felt more comfortable around the grill this time. Either way, it was delicious. I don’t hesitate in saying Totoraku serves the best beef I’ve had in LA, in both quality and (especially) in variety. At around $200, it’s quite a splurge. However, I think it’s a worthwhile experience, particularly for the beef lover.