Christine Ver, from Feed My Sole, organized a fantastic LA Food Bloggers event at Hinoki and the Bird. I had the pleasure of dining with Ellen, a charming Dutch girl, and Stephanie, a fellow Texan. There were laughs, DSLRs and a ton of food. Good times!
An Inexperienced Chef
I've never been a fan of the resume. How many years have you put in? Where did you go to school? As a designer, it's just not acceptable to say "I googled it for three years". Not to say that Chef Yagi has zero training, but she definitely didn't go through the typical route.
Chef Kuniko Yagi was working in finance in Tokyo, had a crappy divorce, and started working at Ubon (now closed) as a server. Chef David Myers would come by often and slurp udon, but she had no idea who he was. They ended up crossing paths when she was looking for a job and he offered her an apprenticeship on the spot.
“She was just getting a divorce, sharing a dining room to sleep in, and working like crazy for us for no money, but you’d never know she had any problems,” says Myers. “She worked her way up from the very, very bottom.”
Since then, Kuniko has appeared on Top Chef Season 10 and opened up Hinoki and the Bird with David Myers. It's really an extraordinary restaurant. If you enjoy a strong cocktail and farm to table fare with panache, then head on over!
The Beef Tartare is a must! After reading a review from kevineats, I just had to order it on top of our pre-fixe.
"Yagi's beef tartar, quite simply, may very well have been the best I've ever had. I loved the Asian-y slant of the dish, with its supple, springy chunks of steak expertly highlighted by the use of Parmesan and quail egg, while the jalapeño added a spicy, piquant contrast that lingered just on and on. It was a perfect mélange of flavors, gorgeously set on some wonderfully crusty, toasty pieces of bread."
Wow, the kale was a whole other experience. There were three preparations: braised, fried, and raw. Together there was a delicate blend of bitterness, savory and crunch. Go chef go!
Don't ignore that little rice ball on the outside. Don't you dare.