Japanese restaurant Shibumi to open in downtown with kappo and kaiseki cuisine

Shibumi, a kappo-and-kaiseki-style Japanese restaurant by David Schlosser (who previously cooked at Urusawa, L'Orangerie and Ginza Sushiko), is scheduled to open downtown in late January or early February, at Hill and 8th streets.

Joining Schlosser in the kitchen will be chef de cuisine Jacob Kear, who cooked at Noma in both Japan and Copenhagen, and before that in L.A. at Mark Gold's Eva and the Amalur Project.

If you're unfamiliar with kappo and kaiseki, kappo is the Japanese version of eating at a chef's counter, and kaiseki is high-end Japanese tasting menu cuisine. Both styles champion simplicity and high-quality seasonal ingredients, utilizing five methods of cooking: grilling, frying, steaming, simmering and serving ingredients raw. 

Raw fish will be served, but not as sushi. In fact, Schlosser wants to remind us that the majority of Japanese cuisine isn’t sushi at all.

Shibumi will have two dining areas, including a casual front room where diners will eat the kappo-style Japanese dishes at a 400-year-old cypress counter, and a formal back room where kaiseki will be served, most likely as a 10-course tasting menu.

The cypress counter is a staple in many kappo restaurants in Japan. Diners will eat an arm’s length away from Schlosser and Kear as they cook behind the counter.

Heritage pork and what Schlosser is calling a rare breed of cattle, will open the menu, along with five to six types of seafood. The menu will also include a tofu and rice program, as well as soup, vegetables and chinmi, which are delicacies of fermented vegetables and seafood. The dishes will be presented on ceramics handmade in Japan.

Shibumi means “creative restraint” in Japanese. For Schlosser, cooking is both meditation and craft, a practice he learned while cooking for four years at three Michelin star restaurants in Kyoto, Japan.

“Everyone talks about simple and basic, but you don’t go into a restaurant in L.A. and see pork and one other ingredient on a menu,” he said. “You just don’t see that.”

Simplicity will also fuel Shibumi’s cocktail program and dessert programs, both of which Schlosser will spearhead. The cocktail menu will consist of two-ingredient drinks.

“We really want to focus on the distiller rather than on the bartender,” he said.

In addition to the main dining areas, the restaurant has two upscale private dining rooms.

Though there are plenty of Japanese restaurants near Shibumi in Little Tokyo, Schlosser hopes to bring something new to the area, with his kappo cuisine, and that 400-year-old counter. 

Construction and mechanical issues, alongside problems with the city, have delayed Shibumi’s opening, which was originally set for November.

Shibumi, 815 S. Hill St., Los Angeles.

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