haven't noticed much love for hiko sushi (national and sawtelle) here on these boards, save the occasion passing mention. from what i've gathered, it's "pretty good," but JG reviews it this week in the laweekly and seems to liken it to nozawa. anyone have a good solid rave about this place to make me wanna try it out? or is it fairly mediocre?
A friend came in from out of town armed with a recommendation from her friends for Hiko. I was game and I live a 5 minute drive away, so off we went. The waitress did the whole, "Have you ever been here before?" act... we said we had not. We then got a mini-lecture on omakase only at the bar and sushi only at the tables - no cooked foods, no soup - fish and rice and that was pretty much it.
We decided to try it, sitting at a table. The fish was good, but we were left wondering what the big deal was. Not enough quality for the price. That said, we did have some mighty fine yellowtail at Hiko.
I am not a purist and I like to close out my meals with some miso soup (or start the meal that way if my GF is with me); not gonna happen at Hiko. I have read that the service can be friendly, but it was both hectoring and disinterested when we went. The next night, we went to Kiriko and we were both much happier.
So, maybe it depends on what you expect in a sushi bar? But, not really the place for me. Especially since the area has Kiriko, Mori Sushi, Sushi Tenn nearby.
I've been to this place a few times over the years.
Up until recently I couldn't figure out why some refer to the chef as a sushi nazi. He was pretty nice and friendly when I started going a couple of years ago when he just opened the restaurant. Recently however, because Sushi Zo was closed that evening I went back to Hiko Sushi. Hardly seems like the same person. Now a bit more grouchy, not to mention less forgiving whenever you break one of his rules. Ringing cellphones really annoys him (actually annoys me too). He wasn't rude to me or anything, but was very detached and distant. Maybe I caught him on a bad day when the place was particularly busy, but I'm not particularly eager to go back to test my hypothesis.
The sushi in general leans towards being a little too generous with the ponzu sauce, in my opinion. Not saying that it's bad--it's just not my preference to drink ponzu with my sushi. Back then I could have asked for a bit less ponzu in the preparation, but now I'm too intimidated to ask.
I'll go there if my other favorite places are closed and I'm desparate for good sushi, but I'll always prefer dining under a warm smile at Sushi Zo over an ice-cold glower at Hiko Sushi.
I think you just need to try it and see for yourself.
i wonder if he's adopted the sushi nazi persona as a gimmick. i could care less really; i tend not to like super-fusiony, but can go both ways when it comes to my fish - purist style and paper plates are awesome, but ONLY if the fish is good enough to back up the aesthetic.
for what it's worth, i like nozawa and the warm rice aesthetic, love Zo to no end for having really the freshest fish in my price range, and dig kiriko as well for being a little bit cheaper but still managing to serve quality marine product. those are probably my top three (not counting mori or urasawa).
i guess the question is: would Hiko be able to hang with these three places?
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Well, since the string is still here...
The fish was the freshest I've found, cut perfectly, every single piece melted. I liked the warm rice, and I never found "hot." Just warm, soft. The ponzu was never sweet, and only the bowl of chopped tuna, the only sashimi he serves, that JGold mentioned, had it in large quantity. We had the basics first, then kept going and got oysters, pickled mackarel, fresher than beyond fresh salmon roe, albacore tuna.
No, the chef has no personality. Yes, they serve on plastic plates, but that didn't bother us. Maybe it was the sake, which by the way, was perfect and not that expensive. We thought the rules were funny, and made sure we wouldn't get thrown out. (ate all our rice, didn't share sushi, turned off cell phones, ate whatever he gave us).
I've been telling every friend I can about it since. I can't wait to go back, think about it all the time (did you see that Sopranos ep where Carmella and Tony keep going back and raving about one sushi spot...like that).
I took myself there for lunch based on recommendations on this Board and found it loathsome.
I think WBGuy hit the nail on the head - lots and lots of ponzu sauce, swimming in ponzu sauce. Nothing tasted fresh or good to me - it just tasted like ponzu sauce. I'm also not a big fan of hot rice.
Also hated the gestalt. Unsmiling chef, cheerlessly giving everyone at the sushi bar the exact same thing - it felt like it was coming off the conveyor belt at the sushi factory. Really ugly plastic plates for those who care about aesthetics.
Oh yeah, the tea (for which they charge extra) was mediocre. This place was not, shall we say, my cup of tea.
P.S. I especially disliked that big cereal bowl of chopped soupy (the ponzu again) tuna that is the first dish off the conveyor belt.
I think Hiko sushi is the best sushi you can find on the westside. I have heard that the sushi chef goes out each day to different fish markets to get the best of the best. I love that there are no rolls and nothing cooked--truly only sushi.
If I were you, I would definitely give it a shot. And sit at the sushi bar!!
Looking forward to reading that article in the LA weekly.