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Am I missing something? or is Orris overrated?

i've been dying to try orris after reading great, glowing reviews on CH, so last night, a friend and I made our way to the sawtelle strip. showed up at 7:30 w/o reservation but was seated in 15 minutes or so.

i ordered:

crab and cucumber salad from the special menu

Fried chicken

curry tempura shrimp

scallop w/ mushroom

blackberry-cabernet sorbet

ginger creme brulee

all the dishes were way too salty, the tempura was SOGGY (in a japanese place???)... nowhere near being impressed. the sorbet was the only thing that i found edible.

i was mortified to have brought my friend there... will probably never visit again.

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  1. I went this weekend based on CH reviews. I was not impressed either. Fusion tapas= overpriced mishmash. Should have gone to Hide.

    1. I wonder if ordering off the special menu gets you better food. Went with my partner several weeks ago and so many things on the specials list looked great that we forewent ordering anything off the regular menu (including the ravioli which has always been superb, albeit way rich). The only disappointments were the deep fried, stuffed squashblossoms.

      I can't remember all of what we had, but beet and manchego cheese salad, the crab and cucumber salad, black cod, eggplant and numerous other dishes were all excellent.

      1. I think NAspy may be right about the special menu being key. I've been there a few times, always ordered exclusively specials, and always been very satisfied.

        1. Yeah I agree about the specials being special... the only time I've been there, the best dish by far was the only special I ordered: the ahi tartare/quail egg/pine nut/cucumber with toast appetizer.

          3 Replies
          1. re: chowmominLA

            the crab/cucumber salad i ordered from the special menu was soooo salty! i didn't think it was "special" at all.

            1. re: tuttifrutti

              But I didn't have that. I had the ahi tartare appetizer, not the crab.

              1. re: chowmominLA

                i know... just saying that my selection from the special menu was not good.

          2. Orris is absolutely overrated/overpriced. If you are hungry, I would not recommend this restaurant. I do not understand why so many people line up outside when there are three other fine restuarants on the same block. (Hide Sushi, Fu Rai Bo, and Chabuya Noodle House) I would mention Sawtelle Kitchen, but it is currently being remolded. If the menu did not have a description of the tapas, you would be suprised if there was a Japanese influence.

            1. Overrated. I've been twice and won't be going back. DH didn't think it was anything special and said he was still hungry after we left.

              1. The food is good and tasty, sometimes in an unusual ways, but the portions are so small that either you have to spend a fortune, or leave hungry. I have had this problem in many “Gourmet” Japanese restaurants, but nothing like this. It sure is not worth the wait though.

                1. Nope -- you're not missing anything. Orris is awesome, for what it is. A small, casual, neighborhood place with interesting food and a passionate, present chef who turns out small, unique creations.

                  I think the tough part about reading chowhound reviews is that we each have our own standard for what is amazing -- for different reasons. The factors that make some restaurant food amazing to me don't often to end up in a restaurant review. When I visit a much-hyped restaurant, I tend to be disappointed.

                  That being said, I LOVE Orris, mostly because as a cook I am fascinated with how different ingredients can be tweaked or mixed to make new flavors and textures. This is the reason I order the specials too..and continue to rave.

                  And, that's why I drive 30 min to Orris, rather than one of the other places on Sawtelle. I probably wouldn't drive that far just for sushi, curry or noodles.

                  And, if I'm with a big eaters like my husband, I know better than to go to Orris, because it's so not about quantity.

                  Regarding salty flavors - this is so individual. I REFUSE to go back to Upstairs at the Wine House, because the chef doesn't use salt. We paid so much for food that, to my taste buds, should have been seasoned. For those of you who prefer this lack of seasoning, you'll probably adore Upstairs.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                    Easy to add salt. Impossible to take it out.

                    1. re: tony michaels

                      I agree. Many restaurants have food that is way too salty for me (Mozza, I'm looking at you), and it might be that the tastebuds of people cooking and tasting food all day have gotten used to the heavy salt.

                      As for "those of you who prefer lack of seasoning," seasoning doesn't just equal salt in my book. I love heavy flavors: cumin, chilis, mint, basil, garlic, onion, etc. But I don't need a lot of salt in my food, just a little good salt.

                  2. We were there a month ago with six people and the food was good, especially the Specials.

                    1. I was there Saturday and found all of the dishes that I ordered interesting, tasy and well prepared. The cucumber and crab salad was delicious. The fried oysters crisp, tender and well sauced. Smoked scallops tender with a distinctive and pleasing smokiness, foie gras with eggplant very interesting, grilled romaine a great finish to the meal. Only the snapper carpaccio seemed a bit oversauced, but I have had this dish on other occasions when it was perfect. Hide is a great sushi restaurant. Orris is a great fusion restaurant.

                      1. I think that who is doing the cooking makes all the difference.
                        Was Shiro in the kitchen and cooking when you were there?

                        As for myself, I'm more of a traditionalist when it comes to Japanese food and only on occasion do I eat at a place that does the fusion-y thing. Orris was pretty good the couple of times I went (for fusion-y Japanese) and on one occasion you could see a BIG difference in the food going out of the kitchen once Shiro showed up.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: yinyangdi

                          i'm guessing he wasn't... hopefully he'll be in the kitchen a little more in the future.