My girlfriend Carolyn and I got invited to a media dinner at Osaka, a sleek new Peruvian Asian fusion restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard. It’s a wonderfully classic and elegant place to go to for an extravagant girls night out or a quiet evening with your family. You can sit at the bar, the main room, or the garden terrace, depending on the kind of ambiance you’re looking for.
The menu focuses on traditional Peruvian ingredients blended with Asian flavors from Japan, Thailand, and China. The resulting dishes are an array of innovative ceviches, tiraditos, robata, and signature entrées. The thing about menus at places like this is most of the time A. I don’t know what half the food really is (and I can only guess at what it will taste like) and B. I want to eat everything. What the heck is a tiradito? Is nikkei a kind of fish? And can I try everything on your menu?
For those of you out there who are as indecisive and hungry as I am, I’ve put together this mini guidebook of sorts for you to refer to if you ever stop by this savvy new joint.
Spiced apple cider for adults!
Name: Chicha Pisco
Description: A Peruvian drink made from corn
Taste: Since I have had only embarrassingly strong and cheap booze to nourish my liver, it took a minute for my recently college graduated palette to become accustomed to the deep zesty taste of the sour. Instead of the expected flat punch on the tongue I usually get from drinking alcohol, I got a deep cinnamon hug in my belly.
For: Drink aficionados who can tell the difference between brandy and whiskey. This is a delicious drink to start the night, but not for those who aren’t use to something that isn’t sweet.
I love that you don’t need soy sauce!
Name: Halibut Nikkei Tiradito, Aji Amarillo Ceviche, & Tuna Nitai Tiradito
Description: Tiradito refers to the way the fish is sliced, an ancient Japanese technique applied to a classic Peruvian dish of fish, seafood, and Asian sauce. Think carpaccio.
Taste: The spicy pureed sauce really brings out the delicate taste of the halibut sashimi. The ceviche had a nutty taste that challenged my tongue (in a good way) while I loved the minty onion flavors of the tuna tiradito.
For: For more traditional and familiar tastes, go with the halibut. Something in between, the tuna. Feeling adventurous? The ceviche it is.
Name: (Clockwise) Tori Anticucho, Crab Causita, Kani Tan, & Evil Scallop
Description: Tori Antichuco translates into chicken skewers. Causita is a seasoned yellow potato terrine, traditionally served in a soup spoon.
Taste: The shogayaki cream cheese with the chicken doesn’t overwhelm the meat (I was expecting an oversweet BBQ flavor, but it was delicious). Besides looking like a character straight out of a Hayao Miyazaki movie, the crab causita was lightly flavorful. The Kani Tan is basically a heavenly pastry-like crab wonton. The scallop wasn’t as spicy as the waiter claimed it to be (that might be because of my gochujang blood), but I loved the presentation of it and slurped it right up.
For: Clockwise, the finger foods get more indulgent. So how indulgent are you feeling?
It melts in my mouth!
Name: Carpassion Salmon Sushi, Niku Abura Sushi, Spicy Crunchy Roll, & TNT Roll
Description: A fresh new take on your quintessential sushi bits
Taste: All recognizable ingredients and morsels, but better.
For: Go for whatever you usually get at a sushi restaurant, and be prepared for a surprise. My personal favorite? The Spicy Crunchy Roll; the quinoa does amazingly sweet wonders to the flavor.
Perfectly cooked. Right temperature, right consistency.
Name: (From top) Miso Truffle American Kobe Skirt Steak, Shiromi Wrap, & Pulpo Panca Miso
Description: Pulpo is octopus.
Taste: Deep, rich, meaty (even the octopus!)
For: It all depends on how far you want to deviate from your traditional dinner entrée. The steak and mashed potatoes is a safe choice but delicious. The fish wrapped in banana leaf is also something worth trying, and the octopus will give your steak a run for its money.
If you love bananas…
Name: Banana Spring Rolls
Description: Chocolate and banana rum flambe filled spring rolls, saffron custard, and lucuma ice cream. Drool.
Taste: If it were socially acceptable to lick my plate, I would’ve done it.
For: Anybody who enjoys dessert. Very satisfying.
Is your mouth watering yet? Want to globe-trotting with your taste buds without leaving LA? Osaka will be your next stop.