Rafael and I were recently in Los Angeles for a few days and had a once in a life time sort of a meal. Our friend Miyuki, who was with us in LA, had heard about a top secret and delicious Japanese grill-your-own-meat restaurant. She called to make a reservation and  they hung up on her twice before actually speaking to her. She needed to give them references and explain how she had gotten their phone number before they finally let her make the reservation for 6 of us.

The restaurant was on an anonymous looking LA street and said “Terriaki” on the outside. It looked unappealing and closed, and we had to enter through the back of the building. I had imagined that it would be kind of fancy or hip on the inside but it was badly lit and decorated mostly with empty wine bottles and old bobble head dolls. The  waitresses sat us immediately in our own screened off area where we could hear other diners but not see them. Everyone else there seemed to be from Japan (or at least they were speaking Japanese.)

There was no menu, we just sat down and they started bringing food. The first thing they brought was a selection of  small appetizers, absolutely beautiful little creations made from monkfish liver, homemade black sesame tofu,  abalone and other precious ingredients. As soon as I tasted one of them I knew that despite the weird decor we were in for a spectacular meal.

They then brought out a beef carpaccio, sliced thin and served with shaved green onions and radishes. It was so delicious, it melted in your mouth and the crispy stuff on top was perfect.

Next there was a plate of two different kinds of raw beef. One was marinated and quick seared and incredible. The other was totally raw and a from the neck of the cow. The staff told us that it took 2 cows to get this tiny portion. It was, unsurprisingly, very tasty.

Next was a beef tartare with radishes, cucumber, ginger, and a raw egg yolk. Are you picking up on a theme? I think we may have eaten an entire cow over the course of the dinner. A very delicious cow.

They then brought out a tiny little grill that went on our table and got super duper hot,  followed by a plate of meat and told us to grill it . There were 3 accompanying sauces, soy sauce, sweet sauce, and lemon juice, and each cut of meat had an appropriate sauce or otherwise was meant to be eaten sauce-less.

I lost track of all of the cuts of beef that came our way. I was told later that there were 13 courses! They just kept bringing out the most incredible little pieces of meat, including tongue which I had never eaten (it was great!) Grilling and preparing your own meat makes for such a fun meal. The ice cold beers didn’t hurt either. Between the oohing and ahhhing over the food and laughing with our friends it was a seriously good time.

There was even salad! (Or at least crudités.) These vegetables were a nice way to cut the rich flavor of the beef.

After the meat section of the meal they served a simple soup with rice in it. There had been no other carbs over the course of the meal. And then we had ice cream for dessert.

As we paid and left we chatted a bit with the staff and owner. They were very gracious despite the hard time they’d given Miyuki about making a reservation. They even gave us special cards with a special phone number so we could come again without the hassle. They also asked that we not tell anyone about the restaurant. (I hope I don’t get in trouble for posting this …) I can’t figure out why they are so secretive. My guess is that they don’t have a real restaurant license but they’ve been there for 13 years which seems like a long time to go under the radar. Maybe they just like the sense of mystery. It certainly added excitement to the experience for us.