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Jul 18, 2006 02:59 PM

Sasabune - HUGE Disappointment

I went to Sasabune last night (first time at the new location) and have to say that I was really disappointed. We did omakase and some things were really tasty (big eye tuna, butterfish, crab roll), some were mediocre, but others were terrible...the worst of all was the albacore at the start of the meal. It was a fishy soupy mess that made me worry, I did eat it but if this had been my first experience with albacore it would have also been my last.

When I came home I did a search on Chowhound for any Sasabune posts and found a couple recent ones one of which mentions that the albacore is prepared in advance!!!

I am really grossed out now that I know that and last night was definitely the last time I will be visiting Sasabune. In addition to the sub par sushi I have to say that the new location is so big that it has definitely lost it's charm. On top of it there are so many sushi chefs behind the bar putting out the exact same things that it almost feels like a sushi factory.

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  1. While I like Sasabune and go once a week now, I too avoid the chef's choice because of the albacore starter. You're right -- it's way overdressed and not very tasty.

    1. sasabune has ALWAYS been a sushi factory.
      perhaps its just more visually pronounced now with the increase in scale...

      5 Replies
      1. re: modernist

        This is just so strange to me. Does anyone remember Nobi when he was at Edo Sushi on Ventura at Fallbrook (Woodland Hills)? We were customers there for many, many years, and Nobi always served us. He was so accommodating to our every wish...what happened?

        1. re: liu

          When Nobi was at Edo we went to his Halloween Party for years. He would always make stuff individually for us so that we didn't have to eat from the trays of pre-prepared sushi. It's a loss for Woodland Hills that wasn't filled by Brother's.

          1. re: TomSwift

            Tom -- we do travel the same geography! The Nobi that you mention who went out of his way for his customers is the Nobi that I know. So, how did he become so mechanical in his craft? He was the last person that I would think of doing "factory sushi." He noticed once that I was left-handed and served the sushi at an angle that would work for my left-handed chopstix...THAT'S great service!

            I thought I would follow him anywhere, but we let him go when he opened on Sawtelle, although I did give it a try several times; I just think there are many better places to go.

            1. re: liu

              It's maybe not so surprising how the paths of Hounds seem to cross. Just yesterday I was discussing this thread with Mas at Fukyo in Sherman Oaks - Mas worked with Nobi at Edo for several years. Rather philosophically Mas commented that sometimes you have to make compromises in the interest of good business and that Nobi is smiling all the way to the bank. He has his market and if the customers are happy, he'll continue his practices. Interesting about the left-handed sushi serving. Mrs. Swift is left-handed and at Urawasa we were impressed that not only did Urasawa-san plate the dishes differently for her, the servers served them at a different angle and always replaced her chopsticks pointing to the right to accomodate the southpaw. It was so subtle that we didn't notice it at first. Too bad about Nobi.

              1. re: liu

                Tom -- it is all very interesting, but the bank is not always the only reason to smile. But as you said, I know that he does have his followers -- or actually, you said it much better: "He has his market."

                The left-handed sushi serving seems to me something that every chef (especially sushi bars where you are performing right in front of the chefs) should and can easily pay attention to. It has, however, only happened to me perhaps twice.

                Thanks for your response.

        2. I wasn't disappointed with the quality of the sushi at Sasabune, but the price does seem high for what you get. I prefer Echigo, I think that the fish is just as good, better price, smaller space and more personal attention from the chef.

          1. I'm going to be contrarian here.

            I've been to Sasabune several times since the relo (and too many times to count when he was still in the Sawtelle area) and have never been disappointed. Pricey? Maybe a little, but the quality has always been there.

            Your results, obviously, may vary ...

            1. 1st time i went to sasabune many years back, i felt it was really good, and the westside answer to nozawa, that was way before the proliferation of all the copycats (this is does not mean the copycats are in any way subpar).

              anyways, later, it truly became worse more of a sushi factory, and sushi and factory don't really go well together if you ask me, if you combine the two you get garbage.

              But anyways, stopped going to the ol' sawtelle location after a couple terrible and not to mention eggregriously overpriced experiences.

              Not sure if i'm going to give the wilshire location near bundy a try but there's too many joints around town. Yes, they do have quite a built in clientile over the years which a joint like sushi zo doesn't so, i guess sasabune believes it can charge very harsh prices.

              if you want a mc-sized version of sasabune, try sushi don sasabune on laurel canyon in studio city, pretty good sushi, all are set lunch specials just like echigo, none are over 13 bucks and the iced, sweetened green tea is dynamite, and the owner is one of the nicest chefs around.