This week, Jonathan Gold reviews Shibumi, Downtown's long-awaited izakaya by David Schlosser, a chef whose resume includes stints everywhere from L'Orangerie to Ginza Sushiko to Kyoto's Arashiyama Kitcho. The critic describes the restaurant as making you feel, "no matter who you are, [...] like the least hip person in the room." But with the stark Japanese aesthetic comes some pretty astounding cuisine:
It is hard to think of a dish at Shibumi that doesn't include at least one ingredient fermented, cured or aged in the back, and Schlosser can't help himself from rummaging through the jars in the back - sometimes it feels a little like being in a friend's basement as he shows off snatches from a dozen old albums.
The fatty grilled pork is half-drenched in koji rice, fermented with the same mold used to make miso and sake, and the lovely grilled Holstein filet (I'm not sure I've ever seen a cattle breed credited on a menu before this) is flavored with diced "monk-style'' pickles as well as a smear of wasabi. [LAT]
Ultimately, J. Gold concludes, Schlosser's "smack of pure obsession" from the first bites of stuffed cucumbers to the cherry bark-smoked salmon trout and even the cocktails made with things like fermented loquat juice and ginseng makes Shibumi "precisely what downtown needs."