Hello, Masamitsu Japanese Cuisine in San Marino, California

I go to nice restaurants on a very regular basis, but it’s been a little while since I’ve been to an ultra high-end place. Last Wednesday night, I joined one of my foodie friends for an omakase experience at Masamitsu Japanese Cuisine in San Marino of Los Angeles County, California.

For our appetizer, we got four small dishes. The first was shrimp and mushrooms in house-made sauce. The sauce had a perfect level of tang to it, and the shrimp was literally the most tender shrimp I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.

The second was monkfish liver. This is the second time I’ve ever had monkfish liver; the previous time I tried it, it sort of tasted like crab miso, but this time, it had a more unique and individual taste. The third was some noodles with jelly-like consistency. I wasn’t really able to precisely pinpoint exactly what it was. The noodles themselves had a mild flavor, but the sauce was a tiny bit too sour for my preference. My favorite facet of the dish was actually the texture—it was very slippery and slimy, but not in an unpleasant way.

Finally, the fourth was an oyster. I squeezed a tiny bit of fresh lemon juice onto it. This was probably one of the best oysters I’ve ever had—it had just enough flavor that it was right up to the threshold of strength and intensity of oysteriness without being too strong. The texture was extremely smooth and it had a very clean and pure aftertaste.

The second course was a plate of sashimi. Each cut of sashimi was aggressively thick, which made it extremely satisfying to eat. Even the slice of chutoro was very large, which is rare to see when it comes to high-end fish like tuna belly.

The sashimi came with various edible flowers on the side. I usually try to avoid edible flowers because they just taste too much like I spritzed perfume in­to my mouth, but these were a lot more subtle in flavor. The chef also gave us some advice on which ones to have in what manner (e.g., certain ones that work better with or without soy sauce), which also helped maximize the flavor profile of the whole course.

The third course was chawanmushi with truffle, caviar, and mushroom. The deep richness of the egg custard went well after having just finished large por­tions of raw fish.

Next up was the assortment of nigiri.

There was one piece that stood out to me. I actually don’t remember which fish it was, but it was very well prepared. Half of it was seared so, when I put the whole piece of nigiri in my mouth, it tasted as if I was eating two different pieces at once. The amount of sear was perfect—it added the nice flavor of charred and burnt fish, but it was not bitter at all.

One other recurring theme for some of the pieces of nigiri that I really liked was the way the fish was scored. This increased the surface area of the fish so that, when I put the piece in my mouth, it made more thorough contact with my tongue and allowed me to taste the fish more deeply. This doesn’t mat­ter as much in other situations, but when the quality of the fish is as high as what Masamitsu uses, it does make a noticeable difference.

We took a brief intermission from nigiri for some black cod. The skin was nearly as tender as the fish itself, and with the thinly-sliced and lightly-pickled cucumber on the side, it tasted amazing.

I always take and use my own photographs for my website, but my friend wanted to contribute this time around. She took six out of the 21 photos in this blog post. Can you figure out which ones they are?

The next round of nigiri came after the cod. We got sweet shrimp, tuna belly, and salmon roe.

If you know me well, you know that my favorite sushi is uni. The chef opened a new box of sea urchin for us and let me take a photo of it. He then pre­pared uni gunkan for us with a very generous portion of uni.

As our dinner approached an end, we received some miso soup with mushrooms and fish as a closer. This is probably the one and only thing we were served that I wasn’t a huge fan of, as the miso was a bit too strong. I ended up not finishing the soup, but I did eat all the mushrooms and fish inside.

The final piece of nigiri was skinless eel. I was very full by this point, but the relatively mildness of the eel went along nicely with the strong miso soup.

For dessert, we got one scoop of ice cream each. Mine was black sesame, which sort of tasted like a mixture of coffee and vanilla bean.

My friend got green tea and decided to add some extra character to her scoop.

The total for the meal pre-tax and pre-gratuity was US$306.00—omakase was $150 per person, and we added on a yuzu soda for $6. Compared to other omakase restaurants I’ve been to, this was a great price considering how good the food was. The service was also fantastic—the servers were attentive and respectful, and our chef was interactive to a degree that you like to see during an omakase experience.

If you’re ever in the Los Angeles or Pasadena area and looking for a great meal around this pricepoint, I highly recommend Masamitsu Japanese Cuisine. This was a real omakase experience in the sense that it was a truly chef-catered experience, as opposed to some restaurants that have been popping up now­a­days that just piece together a few existing items on their menu and claim that it’s omakase.

When people ask me what my all-time favorite restaurant is, my go-to answer has been Utzutzu. After this dinner, I now have Masamitsu to add to the list.