07 Nov Delicious Nikkei Cuisine at Yapa in Downtown LA
I have been traveling so much over the past few months that I feel like I have been out of touch with the Los Angeles restaurant scene. When my friend mentioned that we would head to Yapa after our tour of Lost Spirits Distillery the other night, I was excited to try somewhere new but knew nothing about the restaurant. I was feeling disconnected until I realized that Yapa only opened a couple weeks ago! Instead of being late to the game, I am on time!
Yapa is located in Little Tokyo, just on the the border of Skid Row. Also known as Skid Row-kyo, this is where Little Tokyo, the Artist District and Skid Row converge. Yapa took over the space that was previously Seoul Sausage and is the project of Josh Goldman and Richie Lopez.
The cuisine of Yapa is called Nikkei. It is traditional Peruvian ingredients prepared with Japanese techniques, such as raw fish for ceviche cut like sashimi. The menu consists of small dishes and share plates. And, to pair with the food, the wine list is creative and eclectic, as is the cocktail list. Of course, I would expect nothing less from the talented Josh Goldman who is a former sommelier turned cocktail maestro.
SNACKS – These little bites are perfect to start the meal and best of all, they are mostly ordered as a single item. So whether you are you only one at the table that wants to try it or your table has an odd number, you can order as many as you need.
Grilled Pacific Gold Oysters with nori butter and black sage panko. Raw oysters are also available but I could not pass up the grilled oysters with nori butter. At $3.75 a piece (grilled or raw), you can order as many or as few as you wish.
Churro with pate a choux and monkfish liver is available for $4 each. The churro looks like it is a classic churro with sugar on the outside but it is filled with creamy, delicious monkfish liver, offering a play on sweet and umami flavors.
Korokke with corn, nori and marigold, is a fried croquette filled with cream of corn and available for $3 each.
The Sunchokes with yellow pepper, tarragon and walnut and perfectly cooked in that there were tender yet firm. The earthiness of the sunchoke was balanced by the brightness of the yellow pepper sauce.
The Causa come in an order of five. The potatoes, mixed with beets, are a bright purple and are topped with shrimp and daikon radish.
COLD – The cold plates are raw fish or vegetables dishes.
Usuzukui with halibut, fennel and seaweed. Usuzukuri is a method of cutting fish into thin, almost translucent slices. The halibut is thinly sliced and topped with fennel and crispy quinoa in a very tasty sauce.
Tiradito with yellowtail, sudachi lime and barley. Tiradito is a Peruvian dish of raw fish, cut in the shape of sashimi, and topped with a spicy sauce. This sauce was creamy with sesame flavors.
Ceviche with corvina, red pepper and leche de tigre. The corvina is “cooked” is the citrus-based, spicy marinade and topped with sweet potato and Peruvian corn.
Cachanga with bluefin tuna, caviar and black sage. Cachanga is a typical type of bread from northern Peru made with corn flour and water and then fried. It is flat like a pizza and topped with the delicate bluefin tuna and caviar.
Heirloom Tomatoes are large slices of heirloom tomatoes wrapped in thin ribbons of zucchini and topped with onions and green onion for a very fresh, light dish.
Black Cod is delicately cooked and served over a squash puree with miso and oregano
Guiso is a stew-like dish made with with barley, mushrooms and romano beans.
Tacu Tacu is a typical Peruvian which uses the leftover rice mixed with cooked Canary beans. The rice and beans are fried in a skillet, making a large patty, and then topped with long beans and fresno chilis.