Kitayama – One Night in Japan

Obviously, I’m a foodie. I’d choose food over clothes. That’s mostly because my life depends on it, but I’ve been lucky enough to visit some unforgettable restaurants. I’m adding one to the list today – Kitayama in Newport Beach.

Last night I was invited to a private dinner where myself and a few others were given the opportunity to see what Kitayama has to offer. Hosted by local celeb/restaurant mogul Thomas Pham (look him up!), it was an experience to remember.

At first glance, I was already impressed. Their bar area is pleasing to the eye, but the best part by far had to be the self service beer tap. Here’s how it works: The bartender will give you a wristband in exchange for your ID and will have it registered with your name to keep track of the ounces poured.

KitayamaBeerYou hold your wristband up to the name of the beer you want and when the frame turns green, you’re free to pour! This is a great way to taste the beers before committing to one, or to just not have to commit at all. I tried the Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin, The Belching Beaver Milk with Peanut Butter (reminds me of root beer) and a third which was a tangerine pale ale. I honestly could have stayed in the bar all night, but thankfully, I was able to step away and go on a quick tour of the restaurant.

Kitayama is beautiful and modern, yet traditional. If you have any interest in Japanese culture like I do, you’ll appreciate the look and feel. The waitresses wear kimono, some of the tables are dressed romantically with sheer drapes and they have a beautiful Japanese garden. Kitayama also offers private dining with traditional tatami seating – sans shoes and all.

Alright, let’s get to the part where I have one of the best meals of my life.

First item was the Three Kings Roll. At first it looks like a simple shrimp tempura roll with avocado but the spicy tuna on top and the special sauce they dress it with takes it above and beyond. The next dish was an assortment of sushi including, blue fin tuna, scallop and smoked salmon with yuzu and a type of white fish topped with chopped shishito peppers.


All of them just melted in your mouth, leaving you wanting more. For entrees, we tried the Sukiyaki Salad with beef and poached egg, the mixed seafood hot pot and the wagyu steak. Of course, all of them were great but the wagyu was absolutely outstanding. By far one of the best bites of beef I’ve ever had and the table agreed.

The fare here is unbelievably fresh and I was told that they use the same supplier as high end sushi restaurants such as, Nobu. The prices here are more reasonable than somewhere like Nobu in my opinion, which is even more reason to check it out. I’m incredibly thankful to have had this experience!

Visit their website here and if you go, let me know your thoughts!







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