Saturday, December 11, 2021

Sushi Kisen (Arcadia, CA)

Sushi Kisen
1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007
Sat 12/11/2021, 08:30p-10:25p

Sushi Kisen Exterior

You might recall that I posted about Izakaya Tonchinkan back in June. In that dining report, I mentioned that owner Yamato Miura was planning on opening an edomae-style sushi restaurant. Well, Sushi Kisen (鮨㐂扇) came to fruition a bit quicker than I thought it would, and grand-opened on November 16th. Miura's partnered up with Steve Tieu (a former customer and local insurance agent) for the place, while heading the kitchen is Executive Chef Hiro Yamada.

About the Chef: Yamada hails from Kumamoto Prefecture in southern Japan. He started his culinary career when he was 18, and moved to Tokyo at age 20 to further his sushi skills. After spending time in the capital, he immigrated to the US in 1995, settling in Philadelphia. There, he worked with Atsushi Yokoyama (who currently runs Hanare), and later relocated to Southern California. In LA, Yamada spent considerable time at Sushi Gen, then, in the early 2010s, worked at Itacho, a spot situated right next door to Angelini Osteria (he became friends with Ori Menashe as a result). From there, he went to Shiki, but left the Beverly Hills eatery in February 2020. He then joined the team at Tonchinkan (he's a longtime friend of Miura's, and even did sushi pop-ups at Tonchinkan while still at Shiki) and instituted a sushi program there before starting work on Kisen.

Sushi Kisen Interior
Sushi Kisen resides in a Baldwin Plaza strip mall space that was previously home to the short-lived Dagu Rice Noodle, and Tea Bar Starry before that. It's a nice-looking room, with blonde wood everywhere. Do note that the photo above was taken after the restaurant closed, hence the upturned chairs.

Sushi Kisen Menu: Nigiri Sushi Kisen Menu: Seasonal Fish, Roll Sushi Kisen Menu: Dinner Set, Combination, Sashimi, Soup Sushi Kisen Menu: Appetizer, Dessert Sushi Kisen Beer & Sake List Sushi Kisen Wine, Shochu & Soft Drink List
Kisen's menu lists an extensive array of nigiri, one of the largest I've seen in fact. This is joined by traditional rolls, a fairly lengthy selection of appetizers, and some combination sets. Keep in mind that there's a minimum charge of $80pp at the sushi bar, and there is no set omakase option. Instead, your itamae will continue serving sushi until you tap out. Beverage-wise, you get a handful of beers, a short sake list, and a smattering of wines. Corkage is $25. Click for larger versions.

Uni Yuba
1: Uni Yuba [$12.00]
In my first course, the saline sweetness of sea urchin was complemented by soy-fueled umami and wasabi heat, all while tofu skin offered up contrast in both taste and texture. A smart pairing that I don't think I've seen before.

2: Shigoku [$9.00]
Shigokus are probably my favorite variety of oyster, and the examples tonight were clean and crisp, taking well to the tanginess of ponzu and lemon. Great zestiness from the scallions, too.

3: Shirako [$6.00]
Fish milt showed off a creamy, almost ankimo-esque consistency, while flavors were savory and saline, with an elegance. I appreciated the sourness from the ponzu, while the seaweed provided both crunch and umami to round things out.

Ginger was seemingly extra spicy, and its presence signaled the beginning of the nigiri portion of our meal.

シマアジ 'Shimaaji' Jack Mackerel
4: シマアジ "Shimaaji" Jack Mackerel [$5.00]
Striped jack made for a solid start to the sushi thanks to its lovely "crunch" and balance of soy and wasabi flavors, while the shari here was quite apparent, firm-ish, and very neutral.

春子 'Kasugo' Baby Snapper
5: 春子 "Kasugo" Baby Snapper [$5.50]
Young sea bream was a winner, as I quite enjoyed the back-and-forth between citrus, umami, wasabi spice, and the tempering effect of the rice.

本鮪赤身 'Akami' Blue Fin Tuna
6: 本鮪赤身 "Akami" Blue Fin Tuna [$5.00]
Hon maguro from Mexico ate cool, soft, and savory, with just a slight burn from the wasabi. The counterpoint from the rice was particularly effective here.

2015 Moussé Fils Champagne Special Club Les Fortes Terres
To drink, I brought along a bottle of the 2015 Moussé Fils Champagne Special Club Les Fortes Terres. The wine featured a super robust nose filled with rich, deep apple flavors along with traces of cream and oxidation. The palate was similarly lush and full-bodied, with an amalgam of concentrated pome fruit, citrus, toast, minerals, and heat.

本鮪中トロ 'Chu-toro' Blue Fin Medium Toro
7: 本鮪中トロ "Chu-toro" Blue Fin Medium Toro [$8.00]
The chutoro was also sourced from Mexico, and had a very pervasive, but balanced fattiness that definitely worked for me.

真鯵 'Aji' Horse Mackerel
8: 真鯵 "Aji" Horse Mackerel [$4.25]
Maaji had a nice bite, and I appreciated the zip of the scallion and wasabi, but unfortunately there was a muddiness to the fish that didn't sit well with me.

ミル貝 'Mirugai' Giant Clam
9: ミル貝 "Mirugai" Giant Clam [$10.00]
The geoduck did a commendable job blending its sweet, saline qualities with the sting of wasabi. Nice crunch here to boot.

小肌 'Kohada' Gizzard Shad
10: 小肌 "Kohada" Gizzard Shad [$4.25]
This was a standout thanks to the fish's spot-on balance of brine and almost fruity sweetness. The rice was also warmer here, which worked out well.

カマス 'Kamasu' Barracuda
11: カマス "Kamasu" Barracuda [$5.50]
The barracuda delivered in spades with its mouth-watering mix of smoke, sear, and salt, while its supple texture meshed well with the firmer nature of the rice.

鰹 'Katsuo' Bonito
12: 鰹 "Katsuo" Bonito [$9.00]
The straw-smoked skipjack tuna was a favorite of mine. I loved all the grassy, smoky flavors here, as well as the fish's deep, almost ham-like savor.

のどぐろ 'Nodoguro' Sea Perch
13: のどぐろ "Nodoguro" Sea Perch
Akamutsu is my favorite fish, so I was happy to see it tonight. A light sear really highlighted its savory, sweet, fatty nature, and again, the juxtaposition with the shari was crucial. Note that I was not charged for this particular piece of sushi, I'm guessing because the Chef forgot to add it to the bill.

白エビ 'Shiroebi' Glass Shrimp
14: 白エビ "Shiroebi" Glass Shrimp [$9.00]
White shrimp from Toyama displayed a creamy, sweet brine, as well as a salty finish that made sense with the tartness of sudachi.

イクラ醤油漬け 'Ikura' Marinated Salmon Roe
15: イクラ醤油漬け "Ikura" Marinated Salmon Roe [$6.50]
The ikura shoyu-zuke conveyed a deeper, smokier savor than usual, while that crispy nori certainly completed the package.

蝦蛄 'Shako' Mantis Shrimp
16: 蝦蛄 "Shako" Mantis Shrimp [$6.00]
I don't often see mantis on sushi menus, so it was a treat to have this tonight. The shrimp possessed a spongy, meaty texture, along with a mild earthiness that linked up well with the sweetness of its tare topping.

細魚 'Sayori' Halfbeak
17: 細魚 "Sayori" Halfbeak [$5.50]
Half beak is also a relatively rare offering. The fish showcased a very pleasing texture, while its delicate flavor married easily with the piquancy of ginger.

鰆 'Sawara' King Mackerel
18: 鰆 "Sawara" King Mackerel [$5.50]
The Spanish mackerel was another favorite. I was pretty enamored with its super silky consistency, while the taste went in a decidedly deep, smoky, meaty direction.

金目鯛 'Kinmedai' Golden Eye Snapper
19: 金目鯛 "Kinmedai" Golden Eye Snapper [$8.00]
We ended on a high note thanks to this splendid splendid alfonsino, which had an excellent texture as well as an aggressive char that was smartly offset by citrus.

Green Tea Ice Cream
20: Green Tea Ice Cream [$4.00]
Dessert duties were handled by a somewhat dense scoop of ice cream, one with a particularly powerful matcha powder character.

The San Gabriel Valley isn't exactly known for its sushi scene, so Kisen is a welcomed addition to the landscape, and of particular note here is the restaurant's wide-ranging selection of neta. I hope this place can stick around. Now as for Miura's next steps, he's apparently taken over the lease at a rather famous location in Beverly Hills, so I'm very curious to see what he ends up doing with the space. No timeline on that project yet, though.


Blogger Anonymous said...

Dang, I went to Tea Bar Starry all the time for their bogo boba deals when I was a teenager. They really spruced that place up!

Monday, December 27, 2021 9:01:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Tony, so this was in the mid-1990s I assume? Do you know when Tea Bar Starry opened originally?

Thursday, December 30, 2021 2:12:00 AM  
Blogger syori the foodie said...

Now that I have been to Tonchin (not Izakaya tho!) and Sushi Yamamoto, Sushi Kisen is next up on my bucket list!! Thanks for sharing as always!

Thursday, April 06, 2023 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Wait, are you saying that Tonchin and Tonchinkan have the same ownership?

Wednesday, April 12, 2023 2:03:00 AM  
Blogger syori the foodie said...

Ah, my bad! It's actually different ownership. I thought it's the same because my sake distributor friend supplies premium sake for both and talks about both. I think maybe you would be interested in meeting my sake distributor friend. He knows about new Japanese restaurant openings too.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023 10:39:00 AM  

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