Erwin Angeles, head chef at Kihon Sushi in Long Beach, provides fresh fish fans with some of the finest sushi and sashimi in Southern California.
What did the sushi chef say to the halibut? “Come over and sashimi sometime.”
Erwin Angeles, the founder and head chef of Kihon Sushi in Long Beach, has a “raw” sense of humor. But he never jokes about the precision and art of Japanese cuisine, and this is evident in his beautifully prepared, pristine fish and shareable dishes. A former instructor at Sushi Institute of America and chef at Izaka-ya by Katsu-ya, Angeles is seriously focused on perfecting the fundamentals of Japanese cooking—so serious that he named his restaurant Kihon, which means “fundamentals” in Japanese.
Chef Erwin employs essential techniques that have been refined by centuries of Japanese chefs, and he excels at preparations that bring out the characteristic notes of each fish. Watch him work his magic at the sushi bar and you’ll understand why Kihon’s Golden Eye Snapper Sashimi is best dressed with a little squeeze of lemon—not soy sauce. You’ll also appreciate the differences in flavor and texture between Spanish Mackerel and Japanese Blue Mackerel. Perhaps the most underrated fish at local sushi bars, the Japanese Blue Mackerel, when expertly selected and prepared, is packed with umami—savoriness—and has a smooth, buttery texture, with no trace of raw, fishy taste. If you see it on the menu at Kihon, say yes.
There’s a constantly-evolving chalkboard of the freshest sushi and sashimi available every day, which is where my fish story begins. Two words on that chalkboard caught my eye: Shigoku oysters. I tend to gravitate toward east coast oysters, particularly Malpeque, which have moderate brine with a meaty bite and a quick, clean finish, but I still enjoy a good Pacific Northwest oyster, and the Shigoku did not disappoint. It had a briny bite and a hint of cucumber-melon at the finish, but it wasn’t too sweet.
I scrolled a little farther down the chalkboard and landed on King Crab. Hello, love. How delicious were those crab legs? I was almost in tears after eating the last succulent bite. You should know that I have a borderline obsession with King Crab, so you might not come away with the same emotional reaction. However, I can tell you with 100 percent objectivity that these were lovely legs.
Next, I put myself in Chef Erwin’s capable hands for an Omakase experience. The presentation was artistic yet understated, and the quality of the fish was excellent. Standouts included the Amberjack, served with a smoky, house-made soy sauce, and the Golden Eye Snapper, dotted with yuzu kosho (a fermented paste of yuzu peel, chili peppers and salt). I was impressed by many of the imaginative flavor pairings, except the Black Sea Bream wrapped in very fragrant shiso leaf, which proved a tad overpowering for the delicate flesh of the white fish.
I would have been quite satisfied building an entire meal around nigiri sushi and sashimi, but when you find yourself in a Japanese tapas restaurant, why not have a taste of classic Izakaya fare and Kihon specialties? The menu is full of temptation. Be sure to indulge in the fatty lusciousness and flaky-yet-meaty texture of Kihon’s Black Cod Saikyo Yaki, miso-marinated and grilled to perfection. Every morsel bursts with a savory sweetness.
On my next visit to Kihon (yes, this is happening), I’d like to try these two dishes: The Baked New Zealand Mussels with dynamite sauce and the Short Ribs, braised and finished on the grill with jalapeno miso. Like I said, so much temptation on one menu.
You know what else is on the menu? The Dude. Walter. Maude. And a White Russian. Clearly, Chef Erwin has an affinity for “The Big Lebowski,” and he is sharing the love in the form of specialty sushi rolls. I didn’t see that coming, but I admire a chef whose sense of humor is as razor-sharp as his yanagiba knife.
If you’d like to experience Kihon (do it!), your timing couldn’t be better. Dine Out Long Beach kicks off on February 25, and Kihon is one of 50 restaurants offering three-course dinners or small plates starting at $20. Kihon Sushi + Japanese Tapas Naples Island (562) 433-3800 Hours: Monday–Thursday: 5:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m. Friday–Saturday: 5:00 p.m.–10:30 p.m. Sunday: 5:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.
5662 E. 2nd St.
Long Beach, CA 90803
If you’d like to experience Kihon (do it!), your timing couldn’t be better. Dine Out Long Beach kicks off on February 25, and Kihon is one of 50 restaurants offering three-course dinners or small plates starting at $20.
Kihon Sushi + Japanese Tapas
Monday–Thursday: 5:00 p.m.–9:30 p.m.
Friday–Saturday: 5:00 p.m.–10:30 p.m.
Sunday: 5:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.
Copyright © Michelle Gigon/2018 Singular Communications, LLC.
Michelle Gigon is the Food, Wine & Spirits Editor for Singular magazine. On her list of favorite things are (A) discovering memorable epicurean experiences and (B) telling people about them. A former brand agent at CAA, Michelle is also a freelance creative director on lifestyle marketing initiatives for luxury automotive, hotel and fashion brands.