Kiyokawa Japanese Restaurant – A Post is Worth a Thousand Pictures

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Hamachi Handroll, closeup


265 S. Robertson Ave
Beverly Hills, CA

Curious after a mysterious tweet, interested after the review, I am now slightly obsessed after my own experience at Kiyokawa, a tiny Japanese treasure in Beverly Hills that Jonathan Gold says is “the first place I was tempted to keep for myself.”

Good thing he didn’t.

We tried the chef’s tasting menu ($78), the sushi omakase ($48), and had a couple bottles of sake.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are 47,000, first the entire Chef’s Omakase in course order, then the Sushi Omakase.

Kiyokawa Chef’s Omakase

First Course: Marinated Vegetables

Kiyokawa Japanese Restaurant, Chef's Omakase - Course 01

Marinated Spinach from First Course

Kiyokawa Japanese Restaurant, Chef's Omakase - Spinach

Cucumber Oshinko with Bottarga (slices of dried fish roe) from First Course

Kiyokawa Japanese Restaurant, Chef's Omakase - Oshinko, Dried Fish Roe

Lotus Root from First Course

Kiyokawa Japanese Restaurant, Chef's Omakase - Lotus

Burdock Root from First Course

Kiyokawa Japanese Restaurant, Chef's Omakase - Burdock Root

Second Course: Sashimi with Whole Mackerel

Whole Mackerel, spotted across the bar

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase - Whole Spanish Mackerel

Spanish Mackerel Sashimi from Second Course

Kiyokawa Japanese Restaurant, Chef's Omakase, Aji Sashimi

Halibut, Uni, Toro! Toro! Spanish Mackerel Sashimi

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase - Sashimi Course 02

Halibut Flower and Uni Sashimi from Second Course

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase - Halibut Sashimi Course 02

Fresh Grated Wasabi on Tiny Grater, presented alongside sashimi

It took a lot to restrain my inner korean klepto and not snatch the tiny, Post-It sized grater from the sashimi presentation and shove it into my purse.

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase - Fresh Wasabi on Grater

Deep Fried Whole Mackerel Skeleton, taken away, fried and re-presented after finishing Second Course

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase - Whole Fried Spanish Mackerel

Third Course: Pretty Little Things (I am making this name up because…because)

Foie Gras, Uni, Snow Crab, Halibut, Oyster, Hamachi [clockwise from top left]

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase - Course 03

Seared Foie Gras from Third Course

I asked what it was.

“Foie gras.”


He gave me a curious look then replied “Hudson Valley…”

I clarified, asking from what animal? His was a question-answer. “Duck?”

But it’s such a tiny little foie gras, it must have been a tiny duck!

He laughed. I think it was out of politeness. Or fear.

I wasn’t buzzed. (Yet.)

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase - Foie Gras

Marinated Uni from Third Course, presented in jewel box

I do not love uni. In fact, I used to hate uni because I could not get over what they actually are — gonads — even though…well, never mind. The point is, when I have a piece that is that particular perfect combination of sweet and metallic, I enjoy it, but I don’t crave uni like I crave a funyun.

The marinated uni makes me crave funyuns. Yes it was so good, it confused me, too.

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase, Marinated Uni

Snow Crab on Wonton Crisp from Third Course:

Is this…a crab nacho?

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase, Snow Crab on Crisp Wonton

Hamachi and Jalapeno from Third Course

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase, Hamachi with Jalapeno

Kumamoto Oyster with Caviar and Gold:

There may be bigger, “better,” brinier, there may be milder, sweeter, or even overall tastier, but there will never be an oyster sexier than the tiny Kumamoto coming so completely undone, reaching down with her frilly little lip for a taste of the luxury left on the bump of her belly just barely rising above her own innocent puddle.

kKiyokawa, Chef's Omakase, Kumamoto Oyster

East Coast Halibut from Third Course

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase - Halibut Sashimi

Fourth Course: Daikon, Taro and Tofu in Broth

from Jonathan Gold: “astonishing in its simplicity, a strong dashi bathing a single, luscious round of daikon; some carrot; half a taro root with its hairy outside but not its potatolike inner skin removed; and a couple of snow peas. It takes 15 minutes to remove the outer skin of taro, rubbing each tuber with a crumpled piece of aluminum foil instead of swiping it with a knife. Each vegetable needs to be simmered separately, and combined only at the end, so that the flavors do not muddy one another. It is a dish worthy of a three-star French chef.”

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase, Daikon

Fifth Course: Miso Marinated Cod

from Jonathan Gold: “so delicate that it barely makes it to mouth without collapsing”

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase, Miso Cod

Sixth Course: Fried Scallop and Tofu Dumpling in Broth

from Jonathan Gold: “recalls a New York deli by way of Japan: a kind of treyf matzoh ball”

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase, Scallop Broth

Seventh Course: Sushi

Toro, Super Toro, Halibut Fin, Uni and Salmon Sushi [clockwise form top left]

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase - Sushi

Halibut Fin from Seventh Course

Kiyokawa, Chef's Omakase - Halibut Fin Sushi

Yuzu and Fresh Wasabi on Grater

Kiyokawa, Fresh Wasabi in Case

Caviar, Ankimo (“I thought it was raw chicken, but…” Never mind.) Truffle Salt

Kiyokawa, Caviar, Ankimo and Truffle Salt

Live Abalone

What’s that?

“Live abalone!”


“Try it!”

Ooo K. (Gross)

Kiyokawa, Live Abalone

Horin Sake: “Rich fragrance, smooth taste, clean finish”

Kiyokawa, Sake Bottle in Ice

Sushi Omakase

Miso Soup

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase, Miso Soup

Sushi Omakase, First Course

Black Snapper, Red Snapper, Kanpachi, East Coast Halibut [clockwise from top left]

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase, Course 01

Black Snapper from First Course

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase, Black Snapper

Red Snapper from First Course

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase, Red Snapper

Kanpachi, Wasabi from First Course

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Kanpachi

East Coast Halibut from First Course

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase, East Coast Halibut

Second Course: Spanish Mackerel Sushi

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Spanish Mackerel

Second Course: Pike Mackerel Sushi

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Pike Mackerel

Second Course: Pike Mackerel Sushi, from the backside

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Pike Mackerel

Third Course: Toro Sushi

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Toro

Third Course: Albacore Belly with Tokyo Fried Onions

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Albacore Belly

Fifth Course: Live Abalone Wrapped in Shiso with Plum Sauce

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Abalone

Fifth Course: Scallop

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Scallop

Sixth Course: Hamachi Belly

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Hamachi Belly

Sixth Course: Uni

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Uni

Seventh Course: Hamachi Handroll

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Hamachi Handroll

Flash Seared Super Toro

Tasted like steak.

Pickled Baby Ginger

If for nothing else, just go to taste the pickled ginger, which is (re-)pickled in-house to a much sweeter, milder flavor, and served shredded. If you ask with curiosity, Chef breaks out the secret stash of baby ginger. Condiment candy.
Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Baby Ginger

Dessert: Black Sesame Ice Cream

Kiyokawa, Sushi Omakase - Black Sesame Ice Cream

More on Kiyokawa:

~ Review by Jonathan Gold on LAWeekly
~ I had this meal with jewelz. his pictures are a lot prettier than mine
~ bitechewswallow says it’s easily one of the best Japanese meals in America
~ First mentioned in July 2008, chowhounds weigh in (after the JGold review)

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Juney December 2, 2009 at 8:32 am

Wow. W-O-W. Help me because all I can think about now, at 8:30 in the morning, is wanting the chef’s tasting menu at Kiyokawa.

Seriously, the food porn is almost too much … it’s overwhelming.


2 Fiona December 2, 2009 at 9:25 am

oh. my. god. this is beautiful. especially the uni (swallows). i love nothing more than a uni nigiri, and only really skilled chefs can pull that off without damaging the golden deliciousness.

and freshly grate wasabi. yes, you can find that in any great japanese restaurant. but it never ceases to amaze me how.. sweet it can be.

YUM. i have to go there when i visit la!


3 MyLastBite December 2, 2009 at 10:44 am

Wish HE kept it a secret for just a little while longer!! : )


4 Sarah J. Gim December 2, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Juney: Sushi for breakfast!

Fiona: Isn’t that uni on the sushi omakase gorgeous?! Seeing it presented naked (instead of dressed up in a sheet of nori) was totally new to me. I quite liked it that way. The nori sometimes gets in the way of chewing and makes the uni squish out all over the place.

MyLastBite: Right?! But then how would we have found out about it…? :D


5 Steve Kang December 2, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Hi Sarah!

You’re killing me with those pics. How can I eat Panda for lunch now?


6 Amy December 2, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Wow, Sarah – your pics make me want to fly to LA asap & get the tasting menu – I’m not sure which dish I’d pick for most mind-boggling, but I’m pretty sure I would have clapped when the fried mackerel skeleton was placed in front of me (and not so much with the live abalone). But all of it – again: Wow.


7 Uncouth Gourmands December 2, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Is it wrong that I think uni is the sexiest looking food ever?


8 Sarah J. Gim December 2, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Steve: What do you mean?! Panda Express?! Panda is awesome. For some reason, I love their weird version of sriracha “hot cock” hot sauce in the packets. It’s grainier and sweeter.

As for the question of the best sushi in LA (you asked on facebook)…I can’t say that Kiyokawa is yet because I’ve only gone once. I love Kiriko and Mori Sushi, though they are expensive habits (it is sushi, after all). Obviously, these are totally narrow choices, as I have not tried some of the “famous” places downtown like Sushi Gen, Toshi, R23, etc.

Amy: I think I actually DID clap for the mackerel! Or at least did a little quiet squeal of fear mixed with joy.

Uncouth: No, it is so totally right.


9 kevinEats December 2, 2009 at 2:51 pm

This place looks promising.

So with all this sanma vs saba talk on Twitter, how were they actually?


10 Anonymous December 2, 2009 at 3:02 pm

your “inner korean klepto?”


11 djjewelz December 2, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Awesome time. Now to find me some raw chicken, salmonella be damned.


12 Sarah J. Gim December 2, 2009 at 11:33 pm

kevin: they were both delicious, though my palate must have become numb in recent months…neither tasted all that strong. which i suppose, might be a good thing.

anonymous: ok fine. my OUTER korean klepto.

djjewelz: I swear when Chef was talking to the other customer down that bar about it (yes, obviously, I was eavesdropping), he was saying that they have chicken sashimi at some place downtown…kokekokko? I’d be down to try it. Though I have fears of food poisoning greater than my fear of flying, for some reason, I think I have an immunity to salmonella from all the years of eating raw eggs via cake batter/cookie dough


13 djjewelz December 3, 2009 at 12:14 am

I “overheard” the exact same thing. I guess I need to decide if I want to try my skewers medium or medium rare. If eating all those quail eggs raw hasn’t killed me, I should be ok too.


14 sarah December 4, 2009 at 3:17 pm

jewelz – instead of water grill, maybe we go to kokekokko (isn’t it downtown?). not medium rare, or rare, either. raw.


15 djjewelz December 10, 2009 at 5:01 pm

let’s do kokekokko.

16 dawn December 3, 2009 at 7:52 am

uni! my love for uni runs deep to my summers in Maine where we would eat it straight from the water, kneeling in the water sucking every last uni-drop.
I wish boston had a few more places like this one. you are lucky to have gone there. with all these exotic dishes I wonder why miso soup was there? seemed odd. not a bad price for everything really.


17 sarah December 4, 2009 at 3:21 pm

dawn: wow! though uni is not my favorite, something about being able to say you “hunted” the urchins and got to eat uni that fresh is so appealing to me…they have uni, i believe, out here in Santa Barbara. I might have to make a trip to do that.


18 Sonja @ ActiveFoodie December 3, 2009 at 2:30 pm

hold on, let me wipe the drool off my face before I type a response to that bit of sushi porn….


19 yuttiness December 3, 2009 at 4:57 pm

your photos are phenomenally gorgeous (like yours truly of course). i want to try these yummies. and can you believe i’d never seen raw wasabi before? i thought it came in a toothpaste jar from the wasabi forest. duh!


20 Kevin H December 3, 2009 at 7:50 pm

Argh. Extremely jealous.


21 Anonymous December 4, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Whoa, DocChuck take it easy. Better step away from the keyboard and relax for minute. I know what will make you feel better: turn on some FOX news and complain to your neighbors why everyone in America isn’t exactly like you. All this looking at other countries’ food is going to give you a heart attack. Just ignore the people who eat chips and uncooked food filled with diseases and parasites because they are going to die very soon. Real Americans such as yourself who arrived in this country a little bit earlier than everyone else can then celebrate that your superior American diet is the best and healthiest in the world.


22 Kevin H December 4, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Sorry, posted by me.


23 Paul December 5, 2009 at 1:49 am

“you folks” and “your people?”

why are you presuming the blogger is not an American?
why are you presuming the blogger is Japanese?
do you feel the same way about carpaccio and steak tartare which are enjoyed by people that are more closer to “your people” in Belgium, the Netherlands, Northern Germany, France, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic and Slovakia?

Curious, educated, non-racist, and non-ethnocentric American minds REALLY want to know.


24 Sarah J. Gim December 5, 2009 at 1:40 pm

Sonja: The drool is response enough. That’s how I react to most foods as well.

Yuttiness: So have you still not yet seen raw wasabi? We must make a date. What an awesome date that will be, too. “Hey, we should totally go check out raw wasabi together some time”

Kevin H: Just looking at the pictures again is making me jealous. Of myself. Again.


25 MrsDocChuck December 8, 2009 at 8:54 am

Please accept my apologies for my husband’s extremely rude comments. He has not been well, and the monotony of being housebound may have finally broken him.

My immigrant parents loved fish in any form. And so do I. Sushi was before their time, but luckily I enjoy it frequently. Your sushi looked so good I could prectically taste it.


26 ingarB December 8, 2009 at 7:06 pm

my eyes are drooling. this is a very intense post……!


27 Sarah J. Gim December 10, 2009 at 4:44 pm

ingarB: moved to tears? sushi has done that to me before, too ;)


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