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Beverly Hills, California
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March 14, 2001     Beverly Hills Weekly
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March 14, 2001
 

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Vord pf Andrea Lita Rademan Toshi Kihara came ~ Los Angeles from ?;.yushyu in Japan. He was young and mbitious and he rought with him ,,nty a suitcase, a J.rcam and a few words of English and pocket full of oncy. The scion of prominent family, c turned his share ,f the tamily {tssets ~ver 'o his brother md went off to begin ~. well, a rich to rich- cr story. Soon after he arrived he went job-hunting on Melrose Avenue. When he spotted a red convertible pulling up in front of a nondescript restaurant, he watched as the driver got out. Mick Jagger. A man on the sidewalk who was obviously waiting for Jagger ush- ered him inside and barked at qbshi over his shoulder, "Alor!" What you want?" Toshi stuttered, "A-a job? .... Be here at 7am sharp!" No questions. No interview. No reference check. Fearing this might be a joke, Toshi nev- ertheless arrived promptly the next morning. The man was waiting for him with a starched uniform folded neatly on a table. His new boss barked, "Change your clothes and go help ze chef!" The chef had just arrived from Austria and neither Toshi nor he spoke English, which made communicating with each other, their French benefactor and the Spanish-speak- ing crew a challenge. Toshi, unsure whether his new boss was brilliant or mad, Chose to apply himself "1,000 per cent." And that is how Toshi Kihara began his career at Ma Maison, under Patrick Terail, in the kitchen with Wolfgang Puck. Toshi worked with Puck for a dozen years, some of them at Spago, where Bernard Erpicum was host, before opening Melrose Place; and eventually, with backing from Mike Ovitz, moving on to Hamasaku. The restaurant took over the strip mall corner that formerly housed Yuu, a popular Japanese pub, Architect Steve Jones installed smart ebony and cream interior and left plenty of room between tables. There is d counter for sushi and updated traditional ippin-ryori, small dishes that ward off the effects of alco- hol, like a Japanese version of tapas. Many of the names in the reservation book are familiar from the big or small screen. The names in the kitchen belong to Head Chef Hiro Fujita, Executive Sushi Chef Hisao Tsuzuranuki and Assistant Chef Katsu Hatano. Fujita is responsible for the Omakase, a seteclion of sushi bar and cooked dishes. A chef's skill and imagination, combined with the quality and variety of his ingredi- ents, determine the caliber of his Omakase. At Hamasaku, Omakase is the specialty of the house. Signature dishes include tuna, soft shell crab, albacore sashimi, rock shrimp tempura and Japanese-style bouillabaisse. Shiitake mushrooms stuffed with chicken mousse, beef carpaccio with tuna sauce and rack of lamb appeal to traditional appetites. Spicy iuna ravioli, salmon sashimi in black olive and red pepper sauce and grilled ten- derloin with wasabi-mashed potatoes are for the more adventuresome. But anyone hooked on sushi and sashimi will find it difficult to divert their attention from Tsuzuranuki's pristine slabs and slices of uni, toro, sweet shrimp and yellowtail. To drink, customers choose from a short but well-priced wine and sake list, order a ltorin gake or the house special Iblastini, a green tea sake martini. By special request, business-suited Toshi will perform a traditional tea ceremony, something we've only ever seen done by an exotic Asian woman in flowing silk robes. In a business that is rife with failures, no one really knows why a few restaurants achieve instant success. Certainly, it makes a difference when the person in charge has had good teachers. At Hamasaku, Toshi's knowledge of cooking came from Puck, man- aging from Terrail and hosting from Erpicum. But that tea ceremony? We don't know where learned that. Hamasaku, 11043 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles (310) 479-7636. Dinner Mon. - Sat,; lunch Mon. - Fri. Dinner appetizers $5.25 to $14.50; dinner entrees $17 to $21.50 Kol l penl=n Cuisine Original P ian Cuisine- Your Heqlthy.Eh 'll 1422 Blvd. " LOS Angeles ()tO) 47o. d (ZtO)470- - (]=tO)47 -rmo Ihfql lt, the P dqn ,,tlv Is home mine of gl llst oltmql IIgN m Iwtl es tin tl itJo l Ikntkm wcrys idees9 yqmr 9orals thq INnt hm to oftrt, t $1w r=t l Rwma, wtt ,=rid F,=nolly thb I..mUhd t, ndl ho piWtity =r l vM- h dv, i. tl. r BEER. WINE IF YOU'RE NOT A MEAT EATER; TRY O(,IR FRB(ILOUS FISH EKTREF3 Catering for All Occasions! UP TO 150 People Parties, Office Conferences, Weddings, Bar-Bat Mitzvahs - Or an Intimate Dinner for Two We deliver'your fmmrite Persian dishes to you without any additional costs. C=il D dlv ry to Y or Honw or Offk 11"..i0 q.m, - Nid Frl - Sqt. 11'.10 q.m, - 4 g.m. SIMPLY THE BEST THE BAGEL FACTORY is your neighborhood bagel bakery serving Los Angeles Westside community by simply baking the best bagels in the city! THE BAGEL FACTORY features: 14 Varieties of flesh baked bagels Six varieties of cream cheese both regular and lite Eight varieties of delicious homemade sonny's soups Incredible challahs every Friday , Muffins, sweets, premium coffees, and many more COME IN FOR WEEKLY SPECIALS FIVE CONVENIENT LOCATIONS Los Angeles .~adillac at Robenson 310.837.6046 West Los AngelesTorrance Manhattan Beach National at Sepulveda Hawthorne at Torrance Aviation at Arte.~ia 310.477.8460 310.540.2077 310.798.5288 14 Beverly Hills Weekly