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Omakase/Tasting Menu Recommendations for a friend's birthday

I have been reading omakase/tasting menu recommendations from the boards, and have narrowed it down to several places. Need recommendations on which one to take my friend for his birthday next thursday - just 2 of us.

1) Grace's restaurant
2) Mako restaurant
3) Sushi Zo
4) Joe's Restaurant
5) Echigo

I am trying to limit the price range to about less than $70-80 per person - is that possible for these restaurants? we're keen on japanese food, but are equally delighted with light, flavorful dishes of any cuisine.

Please provide suggestions! Thanks!!

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  1. for a $70-80, you can do a tasting at Joe's ($65-75 prix-fixe), Grace is considerably high priced so may be out of your budget. I'd also recommend Opus (they do a lovely 6-course for $60, and throw in quite a few extra amuses)

    For omakase, I recommend Azami sushi, where even for $45/pp you can get a decent omakase. Not sure about the ones @ the other sushi joints.

    ~AquaW
    http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

    1 Reply
    1. re: AquaW

      I correct myself about Grace --- according to their website a prix-fixe is $45-70 so should be do-able under your budget (and I can attest that their stuff's good). Not sure how many courses though.

      ~AquaW
      http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

    2. Well, if you really need to stick to your budget, omakase may not be ideal, because you don't know how much the bill will be until you're done. I went to Sush Zo (loved, loved, loved it!) and I ate around $80 worth of sushi (including drinks). With tip it was $100. But I hadn't had sushi in ages, so I ate a lot. But not an extreme amount, and I would think guys could eat more. The bill also depends on what Keizo-san serves to you. You could probably give him a budget, but that might be awkward with your friend sitting there. Perhaps you could call ahead. I need more friends like you!

      1. Of your choices, I would go with Mako.

        The Omakase at Mako generally runs around ~$80/person.

        On several recent visits I've had the following:

        - crispy oysters with black olive and basil sauce
        - tuna tataki sashimi
        - snow crab tempura
        - filet mignon with wasabi reduction
        - scallops with baked uni
        - lobster with black bean soysauce and crispy spinach
        - soft shell crabs
        - roast duck
        - New Zealand lamb chops
        - Bento box of 4 desserts (butterscotch pudding, Fosselman's sorbet, green tea mochi, apple crisp)

        You won't leave disappointed.

        Enjoy wherever you end up.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit

          I also love Mako, so it would probably be my top choice from your list.

          I would also add that for $75 pp (unless it has gone up), you can get a tasting menu at Kiriko that includes sushi and hot foods. For that amount, I've received a large assortment of top-quality sushi and sashimi, kobe beef served sushi style, cooked halibut in miso sauce, cooked soft-shell crab, and dessert.

          1. re: Jwsel

            Interesting. I had my first experience with Kobe Beef tataki sushi at Asuka and absolutely loved it. Is it on the regular menu or is it just served when one asks for omakase?

            1. re: thecharliebop

              At dinner, Kiriko has two menus. One is the regular menu. The other lists the daily specials. I have seen kobe beef listed on the specials menu, both as its own item ($$$$) and as sushi. You can call ahead and ask if they have it.

        2. Thank you! I think I may be leaning towards either Mako or Opus - the food at Mako sounds delicious! I called Mako just a bit ago and they told me it ranges from 50 - 80, depending on my choices. So I guess it may still fit into my budget.

          Opus is reasonably priced - can anyone tell me a sample menu they had at Opus?

          2 Replies
          1. re: tomatoes

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350577

            My write-up about it -- I have another review on my blog with pictures (though that was a 3-course for $30

            )

            ~AquaW
            http://la-oc-foodie.blogspot.com

            1. re: tomatoes

              One of the great things about Opus beside the food quality and their amazing flexibility with regard to tasting menus (you may not both get the same thing; and you both don't have to order it for one of you to get it) is that you always get more than what the menu says you are going to get: we did the 6 course tasting with wines and probably got 8 to 9 dishes; the 3 course tasting yielded us 5 courses. The food is exuberant, service is youthful and energetic (which does compensate for the fact that they aren't "professionals") matching the enthusiasm and diner oriented perspective of the chef.

            2. Of the sushi places mentioned, I would do Mako. I don't care for echigo; my take (sorry folks) is that there omakase is just a sushi combination plate served one piece at a time. I never felt a sense of season or special freshness. Same for sasabune.
              As far as price at Mako - just give them a price (before tax) of what you want to spend on sushi alone (drinks, miso probably don't included) and tell them to have at it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jerome

                Mako for the money! Grace might put you over the dollar line.

              2. Sushi Zo... here is a recent thread.

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/378689