There is a hidden gem in Studio City that I am afraid to write about because I don’t want it to become too popular. I stumbled upon by mistake one evening a few months ago, after trying to go to Katsu-ya and finding an hour long wait. A few blocks down on the other side of the street in an unassuming strip mall lies Asanebo. It’s tucked between a vegan restaurant and a dog groomer.
On the outside it looks like your average run of the mill valley sushi spot – but as you enter it immediately becomes clear this is a whole other deal. Discretely hanging on the wall above the bar hangs the Michelin stars they have received the past two years. This is serious Japanese gourmet.
The menu has an eclectic mix of cold dishes, hot dishes, deep fried dishes and sushi. Most of the things seem rather foreign – momotaro tomato & seared kanpachi with grape seed oil, buckwheat risotto with squid ink, white peach with grilled sea bass or simmered pork.
A line of very concentrated Japanese chefs stand behind the sushi bar eager to please their guests with their daily creations. And their menu does change daily depending on what is available.
I have yet to do the Omakase which comes in versions A, B and C and ranges from $80-$100 per person and comprises of 12 courses.
Of the several times I’ve been there, I’ve always had something different, and always walked away from the meal feeling very impressed (and full!)
Last night I started with one of my favorites: halibut sashimi with black truffle. Sprouts and the best little tomato I’ve ever had compliment this dish and the paper-thin halibut pairs so beautifully with the black truffle. Coming here and not ordering this dish would be a crime.
Next I had the momotaro tomato with seared kanpaci and grape seed oil. The presentation of this dish is so impressive and unexpected. Gently seared kanpachi sits on one of the most popular Japanese tomato’s in a martini glass in a lemon and grape seed oil broth. The tomato is sweet and tangy and is such a nice contract against the kanpachi.
The albacore sushi, which is listed on the separate sushi menu is another beautiful dish with grilled garlic slices (which are great) and onions and ginger.
The salmon sushi is not my favorite-it’s fattier than I am used to and therefore leaves a fishy taste in my mouth that I am not a fan of. The buckwheat risotto with uni and squid ink was also not something I would try again. It was an interesting array of flavors but not in a good way.
Scallop sashimi is served with Japanese black salt and melts in your mouth. They are so rich raw though that I find it difficult to have more than one or two. And be forewarned, one order of sashimi comes with at least six.
Another not-to-miss dish is the grilled eggplant with premium Japanese in a miso sauce. Pipping hot eggplant comes out using the skin for a bowl with a ground beef in a sweet miso sauce. It’s an incredibly rich and flavorful dish, perfect for sharing.
Service is simple and graceful, just as it should be. The tiny space is usually busy so I would recommend making a reservation. And don’t tell too many people about it…don’t want to ruin a good thing!
Asanebo 11941 Ventura Blvd. (818) 760-3348