Tech: Inside the $600-a-head Silicon Valley restaurant where Google and Apple executives eat gold-flecked steaks
Hiroshi in Los Altos, California, could be Silicon Valley's new deal-making restaurant.
Hiroshi is an unusual restaurant for an unusual clientele.
Located in Los Altos, California, the newly-opened Japanese restaurant accommodates only eight people per night and has no menus, no windows, and one table. Dinner costs at minimum $395 a head, but averages between $500 and $600 including beverages and tax.
Chef-owner Hiroshi Kimura left his last restaurant in Hawaii and moved to Silicon Valley in 2016 to launch a concept that would appeal to the deep-pocketed tech elite. Hiroshi hosts three to five dinners a week and is booked solid when a convention comes to town.
We took a tour of the restaurant to see why it's becoming a favorite in Silicon Valley.
Located in a plaza in Los Altos — home of notable residents past and present including Sergey Brin, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg — Hiroshi looked plain from the outside.
There were no hours posted on the door. A sign read, "Open by appointment only."
The general manager, Kevin Biggerstaff, ushered me inside. Dim lighting cast a yellowish hue on the dining area, which was nearly swallowed whole by a single wooden table.
It was made from an 800-year-old Japanese keyaki tree. Biggerstaff told me that the table took 10 men and a small crane to lift into the restaurant. New walls were constructed around it.
I followed the aroma of meat crackling over open fire to the kitchen, where I found chef and owner Hiroshi Kimura. He arrived at noon in order to prepare for the evening's dinner.
On a business trip to the Bay Area in 2016, Chef Kimura surveyed the restaurant scene and decided few locations actually served the region's wealthiest population.
He decided the tech elite needed a high-end place to eat. The restaurant's details — from the privacy shades on the windows to the discreet back entrance — caters to their needs.
Hiroshi accommodates just one seating of up to eight people per night. If a customer's party has only six people, they must buy out the whole table. Dinner starts at $395 a head, but Biggerstaff said it averages much closer to $500 to $600 including beverages and tax.
Dinner includes about 10 courses, and the menu changes daily. One dish is the tonkatsu sandwich, which consists of a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet prepared in a demi-glace.
Chef Kimura and his sous-chef, who comes from a French cuisine background, present each dish — like these sōmen noodles topped with caviar — simply and tastefully.
Chef Kimura specializes in a rare dish. "Since the age of 16, I have spent 40-plus years in pursuit of perfecting the art of Wagyu steaks," he wrote in a statement on the website.
Wagyu steak, which is sometimes called Kobe beef depending on the breed of cow it comes from, is a premium meat known for its intense marbling and tenderness.
Hiroshi has whole tenderloins flown in from Japan on a weekly basis. A supplier flies them sealed and packed on ice via FedEx. The shipment includes a certificate of authenticity.
Chef Kimura did not reveal much about the way his Wagyu steak is prepared. But we know he cooks the steaks over a hibachi — a traditional Japanese stove heated by charcoal.
The hibachi reaches 800 to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which gives the steak its charred outside and tender, juicy inside. Chef Kimura cuts the steak into thin slices before serving.
The Wagyu steak is sprinkled with gold flakes and served with white asparagus and a ponzu sauce. "The gold is more for show, it doesn't really have any flavor," Biggerstaff said.
The dish arrives on a sheet of thin, fragrant wood, which prevents the sharp cutlery from destroying the plates.
Each guest has their own miniature hibachi stove so they can cook their steak longer or reheat it.
Chef Kimura said one of his biggest pet peeves is when guests photograph their steaks before eating them. Wagyu steak is best enjoyed while it's hot, according to the chef.
Since Hiroshi opened in June, the restaurant has welcomed executives from Google, Apple, and Oracle, according to Biggerstaff — though he wouldn't name names.
A large photograph of a Hawaiian rainforest slides to reveal a television monitor, which several guests have used to display PowerPoint presentations during dinner.
Every part of the dining experience shouts luxury. The glassware is hand-cut crystal.
Guests use iPads to peruse the beverage menu, which includes sake imported from Japan, exclusive wines, and the award-winning Hawaiian Springs Natural Artesian Water.
Even the bathroom transports guests to a high-end spa. A toilet from Toto — the Mercedes Benz of toilet manufacturers — is equipped with a remote-controlled bidet and dryer.
At the end of the evening, guests take home whatever steak they don't finish.
There are three reviews of Hiroshi on Yelp, and they are all glowing. One diner, who uploaded a photo of her bill broken down, called the experience "impeccable."
The diner made only one complaint.
"The only thing that turned me off was the gold flake. Gold flake looks nice but it does not add any flavor to the food. I prefer them to spend the money on real food instead," they wrote.
"The price is quite steep for what it was, but worth trying if you can," another diner wrote.