Eating Out

Wagyu – A cure for the flu? (Dinner at Hiroshi, Los Altos)

After having pneumonia in 2011, I don’t get sick too often. So imagine my surprise when I got a tingle in my throat earlier in the week, which escalated to a fever the next night (during a coding exam no less – which I aced!), and then full blown coughs, 102°F fever, and aches the next day.  Hi Flu, it’s been a while.

Luckily, flus for me tend to go hard for a day or two and fizzle out. This one was no different – I currently have major congestion and occasional coughs left. I’ll take that over aches, fatigue, chills, and fever any day. Hopefully I’ll be back to 100% by my wedding this weekend!

During the worst of it, I had dinner plans at a new restaurant, Hiroshi in Los Altos. This wasn’t just any dinner, this was a semi-secret wagyu dinner with a private dining room concept – one seating a day, for a party of eight. There was minimal information about the restaurant online, and I only heard about it from a chef friend of Mr. A’s. The thought of missing this dinner was beyond tragic, so I eeked out the small amount of energy I had and stuck to plan. Whether I was being responsible to my fellow non-sick diners is another matter…

When I entered the dining room, I knew I made the right choice. From the stunning dining table made from an 800-year-old Japanese keyaki tree to the hand cut crystal collection, it was clear that this would be a fine dining experience. Chef Hiroshi Kimura came from Kobe, Japan, home to the finest kobe strain of wagyu.

The place setting. Notice the 800-year-old wood table.
The place setting. Notice the 800-year-old wood table.

In the corner of the room was an oxygen infuser containing water from Hawaii. It tasted better than any mineral water I’ve had.

Oxygen water infuser with Hawaiian water - delicious
Oxygen water infuser with Hawaiian water

The wine menu was short but impressive, with the likes of Screaming Eagle, Fairchild, and Schrader. We went for a magnum of Fairchild G. III Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. This was disappointing, as it didn’t open up and could have benefited with more cellar time. The cold sake the GM chose for the first course was wonderful – delicate and clean.  The plum wine we enjoyed with dessert was also good. Too bad about the cab!

There was no menu, and we were served a total of seven courses – quite reasonable and a nice change of pace from the 12+ I was expecting based on my three Michelin star kaiseki dinners in Kyoto.

The first four courses were heavy appetizers. I especially loved the tartare and panko fried wagyu.

Next, the GM brought out a tray of raw A5 wagyu (the highest quality) for us to appreciate prior to cooking. Look at the marbling!

A5 Wagyu flown in weekly from Japan
A5 Wagyu flown in weekly from Japan

For the main, we had individual Japanese charcoal grills. I was expecting raw meat for us to grill. Instead we were presented with medium-rare wagyu steak sprinkled with gold flakes, large white asparagus, housemade truffle salt, and ponzu dipping sauce. We were instructed to use our grill to heat up the steak as needed.

A5 Wagyu, white asparagus, truffle salt
A5 Wagyu, gold flakes, white asparagus, truffle salt

The wagyu was absolutely delicious – on par with what I had at one of Kyoto’s finest restaurants. The truffle salt was a nice compliment if used delicately, otherwise it was overpowering. The GM came around with extra wagyu steaks for anyone that wanted seconds.

The last savory course was the chef’s personal favorite – yakiniku (grilled) steak over rice and wakame (seaweed soup). The soup stole the show for me, despite how great the marinated thin steak was. The light and familiar flavors of the seaweed soup were just like my father’s soup.

Yakiniku over rice, wakame soup
Yakiniku over rice, wakame soup

Dessert was surprisingly American – vanilla ice cream, strawberry, and pistachios. It was good, but not on the same level as the savory courses and didn’t fit with the rest of the highly traditional menu. We ended the meal with strong matcha tea.

Vanilla ice cream, strawberry, pistachio
Vanilla ice cream, strawberry, pistachio

Service was where the dining experience lacked a bit. The GM and servers were very nice but not polished. Certainly not three Michelin star polished, which wasn’t too much to expect given a price tag above Benu in SF. Not all the courses were described, and there was general unfamiliarity with the menu. Timing was a tad on the longer side, but not bothersome. As the restaurant is new, I expect the service will improve over time.

I would recommend Hiroshi for a very special occasion, with seven of your fine-dining friends. The price was steep for what it was, but worth trying if you can. They do accommodate vegetarians and vegans too!

The next morning, I had no fever and had noticeably more energy. Was it the waygu or just coincidence? Well I’ll take a waygu remedy any day.

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