Orsa & Winston (Los Angeles, CA) 
Orsa & Winston
122 W 4th St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 4/15/17
It’s been some time since I’ve been to Orsa & Winston. This was my third visit here and it seems like the restaurant hasn’t changed too much. The food is still very much Italian and Japanese-influenced, although the menu does appear to feature vegetables more prominently. This isn’t surprising, reflective of chef Jose Centeno’s latest desire to cook/eat (his latest concept, P.Y.T., is almost vegetarian).
$85 buys six courses here with a couple of optional supplements that change often. Some of the ‘extras’ – an amuse bouche, a pre-dessert, and mignardises kind of makes it feel like a nine courser before supplements. If that’s still not enough, there’s still a 20-course super omakase is still available at the bar with advance reservation.
On this evening we opted for the regular tasting menu, adding both supplements.
compressed japanese cucumber, tempura, black garlic, scallion
mirugai, scallop, cara cara, sprouting broccoli, radish, sea bean
abalone, napa cabbage, wood ear mushroom, fiddlehead fern, walnut bagna cauda
miyazaki a5 wagyu, pee wee potato, butter bean, black garlic supplement
tempura of soft shell crab, romanesco, shishito, sugar snap pea, fermented chile
english pea angolotti, guanciale, asparagus, nettle, morel, hamu dashi
squid ink spaghettini, maine lobster, kumquat supplement
sonoma lamb, ramp, beet, red fife porridge, green garlic
housemade kombucha, citrus granita
torta de mais, harry’s berries, hazelnut, cherry blossom
crispy mochi tart, yuzu, raspberry
I really enjoyed this meal; it easily rank as one of the top meals so far this year. Maybe the menu just really aligned with my personal preferences, but I really liked the concept and ingredients of a lot of the dishes this evening. The first two courses really brought out the flavor of seasonal vegetables with pieces of sweet shellfish. One of my favorites of the evening was the agnolotti, with its creamy pea filling contrasted by salty bits of guanciale and warm dashi. The spaghetti was also excellent – chewy strands of pasta surrounded springy chunks of lobster. The lamb was tender and flavorful, complemented by the ramps and green garlic. The wagyu supplement was the lone miss. The thinly sliced carpaccio just didn’t stand up to the myriad of ingredients that was served on top of it; I missed the special richness of the beef. However, that dish hardly detracted fro the overall meal. I definitely hope to return soon.
O&W has definitely gotten stronger over time, I last went in January. Maybe only 1 dish that I thought was so-so, but everything else was amazing. Worth sitting at the “Chef’s counter” during your next visit, even if you only do a standard tasting menu, since you get to peer into the kitchen.
We spontaneously walked in on this visit and the counter was full but that’s a great suggestion. Next time I’ll definitely request reservations at the bar – would love that experience.