Yamashiro is an institution in Los Angeles. Sitting atop a hill in Hollywood, the restaurant serves up CalAsian inspired food, in a Japanese setting. The structure was originally built in 1911 to house the priceless collection of Asian treasures for the Bernheimer brothers. Over the years, the site has housed clubs, military schools & apartments. It’s original and highly decorative details were vandalized around the start of WWII and subsequently painted over. The name “Yamashiro” means “mountain palace” and it was built as an exact replica of a palace in the mountains near Kyoto. Yamashiro serves up some creative dishes using teas from Art of Tea.
We recently asked Executive Chef Jason Park, and Chef de Cuisine Brock Kleweno about tea and the many ways Yamashiro incorporates tea into their menu.
Q: Yamashiro has a pretty intense and tumultuous history. Is the history something that all employees know about?
A: Yes – the servers are trained to know the history of Yamashiro as they get many questions from guests who are interested in knowing more about the location. Interesting note, Yamashiro houses the oldest structure in California, a 600 year old Pagoda that was brought in from Japan.
Q: Tea is a huge part of Asian culture. How important is tea for Yamashiro, and your clients? Is there a favorite among them?
A: It is very important for Yamashiro, and a recommended part of all of our guests’ dining experience. I would say our top sellers are the Sencha and Plum Oolong.
Q: Yamashiro serves up some pretty interesting dishes that involve the use the tea for an aspect of their flavor. Where did that come from, and how does one actually use tea in a dish?
A: Tea provides a unique flavor palette that gives dishes more complex dimension compared to other spice ingredients. You may use teas in several different ways – you can use it to smoke ingredients and impart flavor, as a liquid ingredient in sauces, vinaigrettes, ice creams, sorbets, mousses, etc., or as a crust on food items. We have used the Art of Tea for our Lapsang Souchan Crusted Salmon, our Oolong Smoked Trout Salad and theTea and berries dessert where we macerate the berries in oolong tea and create a mousse from tropical pineapple tea.
We have also used it for dish components such as an oolong orange marmalade as well as rices that have been infused with Art of Tea’s teas.
Q: Is there a certain tea that you drink during or after work, and why do you choose to drink it?
A: Plum Oolong tea – it’s a good refresher during the middle of service. Chef Jason also enjoys the Amore blend.