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Question about Sushi Gen

The last two times I've tried to have lunch at Sushi Gen (422 E. 2nd St., (213) 617-0552), there's been a line out the door and as a result, I've had to go elsewhere. This despite the fact that I left my office at 11:30 and got there well before noon.

Is there a trick to avoiding the crowds when lunching at this place? And, in related vein, if you go to Sushi Gen and find it too crowded, where is your backup lunch spot in Little Tokyo. (I've been going across the street to Iza-yoi, which is okay, but doesn't really bowl me over.)

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  1. I would go either real early, begin waiting in line before 11:05 (they open at 11:15), or I would go very late, like 10 minutes before closing. If there's a wait by the time they close at 2, they usually start letting people sit at the sushi bar to order their lunch specials. The lines have been getting worst since they reduced the dining area (they took out the little room to expand their kitchen.)

    A backup to Sushi Gen is going to Sushi Go 55. Though I still find sushi gen to be better.

    3 Replies
    1. re: slbear

      Thanks slbear. Is Sushi Go 55 crowded, or will we be able to walk right in? Also, how's the parking?

      1. re: David Kahn

        Sushi Go 55 is located in the same plaza as Mitsuwa, 3rd floor.There's plenty of parking there and is free.

        1. re: David Kahn

          If you go at, say, 12:30, you might have to wait for a table but you should be able to grab a seat or two at the sushi bar.

      2. As slbear says above, go early or go late. Is Itza-yo the place in the same mall as Starbucks and Blimpie's?

        2 Replies
        1. re: revets2

          Yeah, sorry. I usually always try to include addresses, etc.

          132 S. Central Ave.
          (213) 613-9554

          It's actually pretty good, and very reasonable. Also, free parking in the Office Depot lot.

          1. re: David Kahn

            i think it's pretty good too, especially if you want to straddle the super traditional with a little more ponzu sauce. be careful about that parking lot, though. more than 60 minutes and it's tow city.

        2. As slbear says above, go early or go late. Is Itza-yo the place in the same mall as Starbucks and Blimpie's?

          1. Sushi Komasa is pretty good. It's on 2nd street, just past Central on the north side.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ladius

              oops, I didn't realize they're not open for lunch. my bad...

            2. Sushi Go 55 , it opens at 11:15a and there is never a line. I actually like it better than Echigo, regarding the lunch special. Almost as good as Gen which is a regular stop.

              1. I went with two other people last Saturday at 5:15 and I didn't have to wait. granted that it was crowded and loud, and a few minutes after we sat down there was already a line out the door and spilling into the parking lot. also, we sat at a table and not at the bar. i don't think there was any room at the bar at 5:15.
                r-23 is a few blocks away... it's never very loud or crazy and usually pretty good, maybe a bit overpriced compared to Sushi Gen.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bijoux16

                  Heresy, I know, but the last couple of times I've been to R-23, I've liked the cooked items but been unimpressed with the sushi/sashimi. In fact, I can remember at least one dish (oh-toro) that was affirmatively bad/not fresh. Maybe I just caught them on bad days.

                2. My suggestion is to go there as a single person, or go with another person but no more others. There are typically plenty of spaces for single diners at the sushi bar, and for one or two the line is much faster. The line is typically for people who get tables for the lunch special. Waiting for the $15 I would save is not worth the 30-45 min wait if you have to get back to work.....

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Schweinhaxen

                    this is a very good point. some people do go to save the $15.

                    be advised...you cannot get the lunch specials at the sushi bar only at the tables.

                  2. I usually get in within 10-15 minutes if I go with a couple of friends at 11:30. We manage to sit at tables.

                    If it's too busy, I'd suggest Hamakawa, which is across the street. The sushi is very fresh and authentic (ie. no frilly rolls).

                    Sushi Go 55 is also a mainstay. Their sushi, rolls, appetizers, and entrees are all good. Great lunch deals, too.

                    1. Arrive for lunch at 11:05?
                      Yet another reason to avoid the weird-tasting fish of Sushi Gen.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jcwla

                        can you clarify your comment on "weird-tasting fish"? thanks.

                        1. re: jcwla

                          No, I meant arrive for lunch at 11:30. The OP might have to leave his office 10 minutes earlier. As he noted, he had left his office at 11:30. If everyone thinks the same as he did, he obviously had to wait, too.

                        2. Kahn is right about R-23 IMHO as a longtime eater there. But it's still pretty good overall. Weird tasting fish at Sushi Gen? I've had nothing but top sushi there, but the crowds are a pain. Sohoju in the Japanese Village Mall nearby is a good option -- it's not a sushi joint and the service is a little spotty but the Korean-fusion food there is good.

                          1. Those commercial fishing wholesalers who eat at Sushi Gen must also think weird tastes good.....

                            1. I have had a sub-par sashimi lunch at Sushi Gen on a Monday, and I attribute that to their Sunday closure. Has anyone else noticed that Mondays should be skipped?

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: judge dee

                                i avoid eating sushi on sunday through monday lunch, unless i know the chef well. but that's just my preference.

                                i won't go into shelf life, airing fish from japan, customs clearance and freezing for parasites. fish is sometimes aired and delivered on sundays, but these are mostly more upscale places than sushi gen.

                                i used to run down to the wholesale fish market near DT L.A. to see which chefs were there on which days. monday mornings were not inspiring.

                                masa nyc is closed on sundays and mondays for lunch. urasawa is open daily. these are interesting indications.

                                  1. re: russkar

                                    thank you! i thought hirosan was closed on Sundays, but when i validated my info against LAW, LAT, and Gayot, they all say, "open daily."

                                    did he used to be open on sunday? i did not eat there for almost a year after masa left for nyc.

                                    1. re: revets2

                                      He was open on Sundays till about 6 months ago.

                                      1. re: revets2

                                        and so the mystery is solved. thank you.

                                  2. re: judge dee

                                    I would think most foodies would know never eat sushi on Sun-Mon. Won't be the freshest you get, especially if they didn't run out over the wkend.
                                    Keep having sub par exp's., because that's one less person waiting before me.

                                  3. OOOMASA, while not great, is an alternative to Sushi Gen.

                                    1. I have the sashimi special at Sushi Gen about once every week or two. I always go alone but that doesn't seem to make the wait much shorter than it is for two people or even four. If I go anywhere between 11:15 and 1:30 I can pretty much count on a 20-30 minute wait. Still, the sashimi special (a great selection and amount of fish for $13, I think) is the best sashimi deal I've ever had, anywhere, so the wait is worth it IMO. I just bring a book or something. The only way to avoid the line is to get there by 11:05, maybe 11:10. If you don't, the whole point of going early is defeated because the first wave will eat for about 45 minutes, and you might as well just try to catch the next wave, sit at the sushi bar or go somewhere else.

                                      If you're able to get there right when they open for the sashimi special, another advantage is that they have several sashimi platters all ready to serve. So it's entirely possible to be DONE with lunch by 11:30!

                                      As I think was mentioned, even at peak times there is often no wait for the sushi bar, but because they don't serve the lunch specials at the sushi bar the lunch will cost twice as much for about the same amount of food. Although the sushi is the best in the area, I'm cheap these days and would rather wait or go early to save money.

                                      Thanks for the tip that they serve the lunch specials at the sushi bar around 2:00... I didn't know that! And I'm eager to try Sushi Go 55.