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Why is there no good Japanese place in Silverlake?

Zen sucks, so does San Sui on Hillhurst. The sushi places in the area are ok, but what up with the lack of cusine?

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  1. Saito Sushi on Sunset is great, and I believe there is some new hipster sushi joint either on Hillhurst or Vermont (en Sushi or something like that). You're so close to downtown, why not just go to Little Toyko and have your pick of the best Japanese places in LA?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Clare K

      Saito's is great? Sure, if you like the atmosphere of a empty 7/11 populated by the owner's friends and the weakest selection of fish of any sushi restaraunt I have ever been to.
      Granted, what I had wasn't "bad", per se, but the place had no spark and the lack of anything but the "standards" was a big hint on their skill level.

        1. re: Plague

          The absence of decor says everything about what they concentrate on, food. It's outstandingly fresh and refreshingly simple. If you're looking for candlelights Saito's ain't the place. Try the sweet shrimp, utterly perfect.

      1. Yes, En Sushi is on Hillhurst, but the few reviews on the board have not been good. I agree, Saito is the way to go. Not that it's any consolation, but I think San Sui sucks comparatively less than Zen, the place by Say Cheese, or Koda. When I was younger and even poorer, I used to frequent Mako next to the Los Feliz theater -- amazingly, it still has plenty of business.

        1. Although its located Silverlake adjacent, more Echo Park how about trying out Shibucho on 1st, south of Temple? I haven't been there for ages but it was one of the best sushi places in town with a great wine selection. But other than that, I agree on Saito's. Wish someone could open an Izakaya in Silverlake.

          1. Saito's is sushi. I want more, way more. The food I've eaten with friends on my trips to Japan, not sushi. They have sushi made by Japanese chefs in Mexico. Sushi, is sushi, but I want cuisine. This neighborhood is so rich, fussy and spoiled. So why is there no good authentic Japanese food?

            Wait, what about Koda on Sunset? I heard that was an Izakaya style place, with some sort of happy hour thing?

            Thought they were just sushi, maybe not?

            1. Koda is a joke. Do a search for them on Chowhounds and you'll read dozens of disappointing reviews. It's mainly sushi.

              Unfortunately, if you don't like Sansai, you'll have to go to downtown. There is a wealth of izakayas down there plus Japanese comfort food restaurants that have everything from yakisoba to curry croquette. You are right, there is no Japanese food-food place in Silverlake. Take a 15 minute drive to downtown.

              1. Restaurants of a particular type of "ethnic" cuisine tend to come in clusters. Great Japanese restaurants are in Little Tokyo, along Sawtelle in West L.A. and in / near Gardena because that's where there are a lot more Japanese businesses and people that create the kind of competition that leads to great restaurants. Same with Chinese in the San Gabriel Valley, Armenian in Glendale, Mexican in Boyle Heights, Thai in East Hollywood, etc. I live in Silverlake, love the neighborhood, but I think for the most part it lacks great restaurants of any sort, especially ethnic foods. That said, it's close enough to East Hollywood that it's beginning to get some good Thai restaurants.

                1. San Sui sucks? I'm suprised - I've had some great food there (white tuna sashimi comes to mind), and I love the atmosphere outside. Plus they have some nice starters and salads - I love the tsukemono. It's an easy walk for me, so convenience may be a factor, but I find San Sui comforting and very authentic... If you want Japanese bar food (not so sushi-centric) I agree with the rest - downtown is a quick jaunt.

                  I agree En sushi just down the street isn't good - but their happy hour deal at the bar is fun - we usually get a pitcher or two of Kirin and I've found their spicy tuna rolls edible amongst the happy hour menu.

                  I've heard good things about both Saito and Sushi Ike, but haven't gotten a chance to try either. I used to frequent Pizazz on Hyperion but did a take-out side-by-side comparison one day and realized I might as well just go to Gelsons.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: smonkey

                    I'm not Japanese, but was raised in Gardena back in the day, my mother still lives there, so I'm t here quite a bit. I've also been to Japan a few times.

                    Zen is supposed to have new owners. Maybe there's hope.

                    As of now, Gelson's is the best in Silverlake.

                  2. Well, when you can drive down the 2 and be in Little Tokyo in 10 minutes, there's not a lot of point in bothering to search Silverlake.

                    I made this mistake around Pasadena last night -- my wife and I went to 'Sushi Z'. It was respectable, although the lack of Japanese names for things was a bit confusing to me (I guess it is easy to get used to the more precise and distinct Japanese words for types of fish). The service was nice, and the sushi was not bad, but here's the thing:

                    Sushi is, by its nature, expensive to produce well. High quality fish is not cheap, because it is useful for so many things that the market price is buoyed by the demand. Ergo, cheap sushi is almost guaranteed to be bad sushi. Thus you start from a price point that causes a high level of expectations.

                    Compound this by the fact that my wife and I have got used to sushi as a once-in-a-blue-moon thing where we go and get omakase at Tama Sushi or Hamagawa. We couldn't get a seat at the bar at Sushi Z (congratulations to them for their success, but...) and thus we bedeviled our server with 5 separate one- or two-item orders. Hmmm, am I still hungry? Well, the tataki was good, should we get a couple of unagi or toro? Hmmm.

                    In the end, through no fault of their own, I decided that Sushi Z was not the place for us. I think this is not a failing of Sushi Z, but rather our expectations have been raised so high -- if we're going to spend the money for sushi, it may as well be spectacular, because it won't be cheap. So we drive to Little Tokyo or to Tama and satisfy our urge for a month or two.

                    This is the same experience we had at San Sui and other places near my folk's (Los Feliz).

                    Most neighborhood sushi places (in non-Japanese neighborhoods) are simply not going to measure up, if you respect sushi as the art form it is capable of becoming in a master's hands. YMMV.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ttriche

                      Was this your first visit to Z? If you haven't already, I suggest you try for a 7pm slot with Itosan and go Omakase. You won't be sorry.

                    2. Pizazz Sushi on hyperion in silverlake
                      served me well i spent around 50 buck
                      on 10 different items
                      i prefer the dragon roll & the firecracker roll