Utterly Inspired Italian-Japanese Fusion

The menu at Yojisan, the new Beverly Hills Italian-Japanese fusion project from restaurateur Giacomino Drago and Chef Yoji Tajima, raises some doubts. It features a Rainbow Roll, a Crunchy Roll, and other ubiquitous sushi items, so J.L. was naturally concerned that the food would be run-of-the-mill.

But Yojisan actually turns out to be "a sophisticated dining experience, effortlessly melding crudo and sushi in a friendly setting," admits J.L. Yojisan takes the Italian tradition of crudo—raw fish treated with various citrus, olive oils, and salts—and forges it with sushi to form a delightful fusion omakase. "Sometimes a meal completely comes at me out of left field and knocks me off my feet," J.L. says.

Highlights include hamachi crudo: yellowtail, cut sashimi-style, served on a bed of tomato slices, with jalapeño sauce and dollops of fresh burrata. "Everything has its role, and the combination is a wonderful dish," says J.L. The most photogenic dish of the evening: Alaskan king crab (pictured), sandwiched between blood oranges and kumquats, with shaved black truffle and hibiscus sea salt. Baby corn tempura with pungent curry powder is another highlight, quite reminiscent of Asian street food.

But best of all: hotaru iku and uni risotto. "My Lord," says J.L. "This has got to be one of the very BEST dishes I’ve had so far this year in L.A.!!! To borrow from Anthony Bourdain: You could open a restaurant serving this dish alone and you’d do just fine." The dish consists of brine- infused firefly squid, served on top of a perfectly al dente bed of rich sea urchin roe risotto, garnished with squid ink and young Sichuan pepper leaf. It's "phenomenal," a "must get," says J.L, who notes that "it's interesting that Italy and Japan are the two main cultures which have traditionally prized uni as a gastronomic delicacy."

You can also just get straight sushi service if you'd like. It's excellent, and includes live giant spot prawns. "Their peeled, de-veined tails made it onto my plate as nigiri sushi before their heads stopped moving on the cutting block," says J.L. And Santa Barbara uni is served two ways: one piece with volcanic sea salt, the other with freshly grated wasabi. "The food here is truly inspired," says J.L.

Yojisan Sushi [Beverly Hills]
260 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills
424-425-3799

Discuss: Italy Meets Japan: The inspiring fusion cuisine of Yojisan Sushi [Review + Photos]

Photograph of Alaskan king crab by J.L.