The Japanese Cultural Center of Los Angeles would love to invite you to their new event series that gives attendees a taste of culinary masterpieces with new chefs taking the helm each week.
This new event is officially going by Little Tokyo’s First TikTok ‘Rising Chef Series’ x JACCC. Yes, you can finally taste the food of your favorite TikTok star chefs as they bring to life those recipes you’ve been doom scrolling at 2am.
We had the pleasure of attending Chef Kevin Lee’s tasting which was mind blowing to say the least. The dishes were all Korean based with a twist of Italian and French flavors as he flawlessly integrated his culinary training with his roots. The result? A tastebud celebration.
The Japanese Cultural Center of Los Angeles has been hiding a great secret from all of us. As we entered the event a locked gate (which hopefully will be open to the public soon) was opened as we were ushered into the most blissful traditional Japanese garden. Yes! Right in the middle of dtla there is a stunning Japanese garden that transports you. We felt as if we’d walked into the Secret Garden and left LA for a quite mountain escape. Following the path of quaint wooden bridges and lovely waterfalls that fill the garden’s stream it opened into an event space where we were greeted with a welcome cocktail.
The lovely bartenders whipped up a Japanese vodka martini with a hint of bitters to begin the evening’s experience.
Chef Kevin Lee kicked off our dining experience with a delectable beef tartar that paired tapioca crisps with pine nuts and asian pear. The combination of flavors created a rich and layered tasting experience that left each bite creating its own flavor story. The flavors as a result both mixed together and stood apart to truly leave you with an impressionable first dish.
Not believing the beef tartar could be outdone, it was. The Hwe Dup Bap was such an incredible layering of ingredients we found ourselves hard pressed to not ask the servers for a second helping. Every single layer held a beautiful surprise. From the sushi rice, to the caviar hidden within its layers, to even the perfectly gooey egg yolk transfoming into a sauce as you traversed to the tuna and salmon roe. The resulting mix created our favorite meal of the night. The only downfall is there wasn’t a doogie bag for take home. 100% would not have by-passed a second helping.
This dish was paired with a daikon infused gin, which was a refreshing tonic as we transitioned from beef to seafood.
Our third course was a spicy Dungeoness Crab Pasta. The combination of Korean and Italian cuisine really shone in this dish as the spice of the crab brought out the texture of the bucatini. This dish was paired with a Haku Martini that had a touch of cucumber added to really open up the flavors. It was incredible to go between the courses alongside carefully curated drinks because it made each flavor stand out individually. The drink pairings with the food created this ebb and flow of flavor and cleansers that made each dish and cocktail truly create a memorable flavor impression.
Now the main event of the dinner was Chef Kevin Lee’s soy braised beef cheek with beef dashi, spring onion, and leek puree. The beef cheek was so delicate it peeled apart like butter. This experience was only heightened by its pairing with Hibiki Harmony, a smooth Japanese whiskey that helped open all the flavors of the main dish.
Finally we were absolutely spoiled by Chef when he served a traditional Korean Hotteok pancake alongside a dolop of Korean Misugaru ice cream. It was a sweet and nutty dessert that placated our sweet tooth without crossing into the zone of too sugary. The hazelnuts in the dessert really helped distinguish the flavors and balance the sweetness. We also could’ve gone for round two on this beauty.
You can check out the culinary events the Japanese Cultural Center is hosting here. Chef Kevin Lee’s culinary experience is currently sold out, but we always believe in contacting the event source, as demand can often bring about a second round. (shh you didn’t hear that from us).