When we first started talking about moving to Los Angeles, one of the things I was most excited about was the incredible number of sushi options available, as it's one of my favorite things to eat. DC has a handful of Japanese eateries, but in LA? It seems like there is a sushi joint on every corner. Surprisingly, seven months into life in our new city, and we really haven't tried any (with the exception of one really terrible delivery experience). We took a step toward rectifying this failure with an evening stroll down to Jinpachi, located in the heart of West Hollywood, just west of La Cienega on Santa Monica Boulevard. What followed was a delicious, elegant and intimate meal.
We walked into the tiny restaurant and were immediately seated by quiet but polite server. While most of the small tables and seats at the sushi bar were occupied, the sound level in the sparsely decorated restaurant barely reached a low hum. Diners leaned in close to converse in hushed tones; the effect was relaxing and (dare I say?) romantic, as opposed to chilling and disquieting. From every seat in the dining area it was possible to watch the sushi chefs tend quickly and efficiently to the seafood before them.
As is typically the case when we seek out sushi, we wanted a lighter meal, and one that offered something more than the umpteen sushi places we had passed on our walk. Jinpachi delivered the goods from the get-go. The seaweed salad we ordered was not your typical offering - the bowl was laden with a variety of seaweeds, and tossed in a delicious vinegary dressing.
We also got an order of deep fried shishito peppers (below). We've run into this common Japanese appetizer before, but this version was much better - well-seasoned and somehow heftier. And the addition of a little acid from the lemon juice made the peppers even tastier.
The beautiful dish below is the spicy tuna tartar, with cucumber, radish sprouts and wasabi ponzu sauce. The buttery texture of the tartar got a nice little kick in the pants from the wasabi.
Also artfully plated was our order of halibut carpaccio (below) - the beautifully slices of fish were topped with ginger, chive, yuzu pepper, olive oil, yuzu juice. Just a really elegant, clean-tasting, bright dish. Both of us were fans.
Finally, we split a spicy tuna roll and a spicy scallop roll (below). I could taste the freshness of the fish, and the rice was pretty much perfectly seasoned and the right amount of sticky. This was probably the most mundane part of the meal, but still really well executed.
All in all, our meal was impeccably and artfully prepared, if slightly pricey. Jinpachi is a great place for a second or third date, or even a special night with your long-term someone (I'd nix it for a first date - a little too subdued for an initial meet-up, I think). And it definitely whetted my appetite for sushi - I'm looking forward to comparing Jinpachi to the other sushi restaurants LA has to offer.