As an amateur picture taker, a place like Royal-T holds visual pleasantries that always compliment a meal. Beyond the AAIA awards for restaurant interior design, something must be said about the integration of all that tasty and pretty in the house of Royal-T. Ms. Susan Hancock, an ex-Orlandoer and New Yorker, has graciously, and surprisingly, allowed all of Los Angeles in on her collection. While private car collections are often open to the public, private art collections often only find posthumous homes and then opened to the public eye. This is where The Royal/T collection differs. Only 13+(deduced) years afters into the art buying, the Asian-inflected Hancock collection is already for free public consumption within the 10,000 Royal/T space, wholly operated by the Hancock Collection.
After 2 years, Royal/T has become simultaneously the symbol of all that is AWESOME in the US cos-play movement, as well as a space for the now ubiquitous LA “pop-up” dining scene, and the place with the most touchable Murakami in Los Angeles. The kitchen’s light & breezy brunch and lunch menu is now humming along, and at night, more serious chefs can expres their very own “food art”.
For this iteration of pop-up’s at Royal/T, Chef K. Yamada, previously of Katsuya Encino & Takami Downtown, has partnered with Thinkbox 20 Marketing to present “Sushi Pop Up” a tasting menu-only event served up 5 nights (Thursday / Friday beginning August 26th) this late August / early September.
The evening started extremely well with a “creamy miso soup” that’s highly evocative of mushroom chowder. It was musky, full of soy, with a slight hint of dairy (which was most probably a figment of food memory and taste assocation). Delish, imaginative, a nice blend of Northeast and the Far East. Someone request a recipe of this to LA Time’s Culinary SOS please.
The ceviche tower is clearly a riff on Chaya’s tuna tartare. In addition to tuna, halibut, salmon & yellowtail are sandwiched ala a fun triple decker. To eat, use fingers to lift up a layer of fried gyoza skin and stuff into mouth. If spicy peppers are too invasive, first remove the slivers of chili peppers before performing finger-to-mouth feeding. Tasty & arty this was, if not a bit un-inventive.
The ika roll course is best eaten with no sauce (kewpie mayo, sriracha, miso). For a surprising pairing & texture, sample the 3 dollops of flavored mashed potato, one dotted of fish roe, after sampling a slice of the maki.
Next, a crudo of halibut, paired to a seaweed “salad”. This is the consummate Japanese dish as served in California. A few thin slices of deftly cut halibut, some sprinkling of a matcha sea salt, finished off with lemon juice, dressed with fresh chopped tomato and yellow beets. A simple seafood dish in faux Mediterranean tradition, all it’s missing is some olive oil. To punch up the accessible halibut flavor, pick up snippets of wakame salad in between bites of fish and yellow tomatoes.
Kani “koro” (croquette) is a popular izakaya dish. A simple recipe can be found here. The lump crab croquette is usually served with tartar. As popular as tartar sauce might be in terms of American fish fry, a simple Kewpie could pair just as well with this colonial era dish. Here, the only difference vs. a casual crab cake recipe is the use of Panko. No matter, a crab cake is a crab cake is a crab cake; this particular crab cake will probably satisfy most who opt for the 13 course menu.
To finish, both the 7 and 13 course tasting (dare we use “omakase” before it’s too hackneyed?) offer a sake infused tiramisu which, from what I gathered from text messages the next day, was a chart topper.
Thank you to Think Box 20, Chef Yamada, & Royal/T for the hosted preview event.
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