West Hollywood: Japanese-Mexican Tasting Menu at Ainoko, Petite Taqueria
Ainoko is the new tasting menu counter inside of Petite Taqueria. Ainoko translates to “half-breed” which Chef John-Carlos Kuramoto takes pride in being both Japanese and Mexican. He learned to cook from both his grandmothers and this menu is his ode to that background.
They have a couple of seatings a night and the reservations are separate from Petite Taqueria. The tasting menu is reasonably priced for all the courses you get.
We started with the banchan course. The small bites included Tokyo potato salad, pickled persimmon, pickled Persian cucumbers, roasted pumpkin and radishes.
Immediately biting into the tuna tostada, I was in foodie heaven. The fish was marinated in chipotle soy and hugged a piece of avocado. It was one of my favorite bites. I also liked the slide which was nori blini with smoked roe.
I decided to go non-alcoholic for dinner and had a Ramune soda. But I thought it was fun to drink it out of a cool glass.
Usually I say goodbye to good corn and tomatoes after summer is over but this charred white corn soup made me a believer in fall/winter produce.
We also had a nice salad of market lettuces, beets, sea beans served with labneh.
The hits kept coming. The Beau Soleil oysters was awesome with Hennessy mignonette. And I loved the leche de tigre and aji amarillo flavors with the raw scallop.
We had a few different tacos through out the tasting menu. The garbanzo taco was another winner. I could have sworn there was meat or lard in taco for the intense flavor but Chef John-Carlos said it was vegetarian all the way. It was garbanzo three ways; crispy, braised and as hummus.
On the flip side, we had the pork toro which he said was his homage to the Night + Market pork toro. The pork rested gently on lettuce with a Fuji apple salad.
The shrimp aguachile was another favorite bite. The aggressively green curry was a nice variation on the spicy as heck sauces I’ve had in the past.
I remember the first time I had hamachi (yellowtail) and it’s still one of my favorite things to get at sushi. Here Chef John-Carlos pours hot oil and togarashi peanuts on top of the beautiful fish. I also liked the counterpoint of the citrus emulsion.
Although the languages of Japanese and Spanish are not at all similar, they almost sound the same sometimes. And the tako (octopus) as a taco was a punny play on words. The miso aioli is a great addition to the taco.
There’s probably a sandwich in every culture. At least that’s what people who call hot dogs sandwiches would argue. Is this sandwich a banh mi or a torta? Why not both? Stuffed with duck confit and pate, who cares? Just eat it and be happy.
For the final savory course, we got in on the cooking action. We were given a few strips of A5 Wagyu beef to do our thing with a mini sukiyaki pot.
We swished around the beef for a few seconds. Really, you don’t want to overcook the beef.
And then you make your own tacos. I was so full but I ate every last bit of it!
To finish off the meal, we had a simple scoop of ice cream.
Ainoko is easily in my top 10 meals for 2017.
Ainoko at Petite Taqueria755 N La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069 — (310) 855-7185
© The Minty 2017
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