Friday, November 27, 2009

Foodie Fridays: Yuko Kitchen

Abby and Shevin initially bonded over their mutual love of boba during their freshman year at USC and have since been together and enjoying all of LA's wonderful culinary offerings. They both love to travel, explore, and most importantly eat!

It seemed like a great idea for FoundTrack to introduce a food column. Let's face it, those of us who enjoy art, film, fashion, and music usually have a soft spot for great dining experiences as well.
So now, these two young Angelenos will have the chance to share some of their favorite tasty spots in LA with all of you fun people through Foodie Fridays.

If you have any recommendations you think should be considered for the column, please send an email to foodiefridays at foundtrack dot com. Eat on!

Japanese fare is abundant in L.A., but if you want your sushi served with a side of love, stop by Yuko Kitchen in Miracle Mile. The small eatery is located just off Wilshire in the former Café Back Door space.

The cheerful owner, Yuko Watanabe, and her friendly staff make sure that every customer is greeted with a smile and fed a tasty and memorable Japanese meal. Yuko began her career as an intern at a local pastry shop in her hometown of Shizouka. Throughout her high school career, she would come into work at 5:30 in the morning, head to school at 9, come back after class at 4, and stay until 10. Her hard work paid off as she landed a job as a pastry chef at a traditional restaurant in Osaka soon after high school. Due to the restaurant’s busy nature, Yuko was forced to learn how to also prepare rice, vegetables, fish, and finally sushi.

When she moved to L.A. a few years later, she applied for a job as a pastry chef at a Japanese restaurant, but on her first day, a sushi chef quit and she took over for him, making her one of just a handful of female sushi chefs in the city. After working there and a few other eateries for about four years, she began her own catering company, “Yuko Kitchen.” Her catering credits include Fashion Week shows and Top Chef and Project Runway premiere parties. Yuko finally opened the doors of her own restaurant in Miracle Mile in May.

Yuko treated us to an incredible meal. Upon first laying eyes on the spread, our photographer Jen excitedly remarked, “it’s like Japanese Thanksgiving!” Like Thanksgiving, only better…

We began with two refreshing beverages. Yuko’s signature drink is the mint lemonade, essentially a cross between a mojito and a slurpee. The perfectly sweet and foamy strawberry soda is another must-try.

For appetizers, we enjoyed the robust garlic cherry tomatoes and the spicy Shishitou peppers.

To sample the best of Yuko Kitchen, go for the Chicken Special Plate. Chunks of well-flavored teriyaki chicken are served over Happa rice (half brown, half white). Also included is a salad with miso ginger dressing, four pieces of spicy tuna roll, and a mini portion of the soup and desserts of the day (which for us were carrot ginger and cookies and strawberries, respectively).

The Spicy Salmon Rice Bowl is another safe bet. The bowl includes smelt eggs, radish pickles, and a bed of mixed greens.

Ever been out for sushi and found yourself worried that just one roll won’t fill you up? Yuko’s Big Rolls are sure to solve this dilemma. The generously sized “Big3” is packed with salmon tempura, cucumber, avocado, kaiware sprouts, greens, and cream cheese.

Another innovative creation of Yuko’s is the “bowlito.” Essentially take all the ingredients from one of Yuko’s rice bowls, wrap it in seaweed, and voila, you have a Japanese burrito! This tasty treat is served with a spicy mayo dipping sauce.

If Baba, her Cowboys & Turbans neighbor across Wilshire, has been named the “Spice Master,” I think it’s only fair to crown Yuko the “Green Tea Master.” At the end of our meal, she served us a perfectly smooth and sweet piece of green tea tiramisu.

She flawlessly infuses green tea into cakes, cookies and lattes as well. Our dessert plate also included sesame cookies and flourless chocolate cake.

Everything at Yuko Kitchen is presented so beautifully, you—almost—don’t want to eat it.

Yuko has clearly made fantastic use of her training in both sushi and pastry preparation. For a fun and unique spin on Japanese fare, make sure to pay the Green Tea Master a visit.

Yuko Kitchen, 5484 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036. 323.933.4020,, MAP.

Photos by Jennifer Saracino.

NEXT TIME on Foodie Fridays: We'll be visiting Bricks and Scones, a brand new coffee shop in Larchmont.

1 comment:

  1. This place sounds awesome, I will definitely have to check it out. And while on the topic of sushi, I highly recommend you check out Sushi Eyaki -- just a few blocks east of this place at Wilshire/Highland. It's a smaller hole-in-the-wall joint, but sushi I've had yet! They also offer large portions, so one premium roll will fill definitely fill you up.