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hiko sushi?

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?

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  1. 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.

    1. 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.

      1 Reply
      1. re: WBGuy

        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?

      2. 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).

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

            1. another warm rice sushi nazi school participant a la nozawa.... yawnnnnn..... it cant be worse than echigo. of all of them, i've only had an enjoyable meal at sushi zo but the pretention keeps me from going back. i cant stand this trend and wish it would go away, but it seems to be propped by clueless westsiders and valley folk. im sorry... but its true. you wont find a place like this in torrance, little tokyo, or japan for that matter (okay, maybe somewhere in japan)

              in my book a relationship with a sushi chef should be a warm one, and even if there might be a logical progression of fish, like tasting wines, i would like to eat what i want to eat when i want to eat it. and its not like sushi is some ancient art that has to be experienced a certain way, like circling a temple in myanmar. people, its a relatively modern food! two hundred years entire history, if that...

              i recently found my new favorite westside sushi spot because ive been working in beverly hills the past couple months... sushi sushi!

              its the real deal...

              6 Replies
              1. re: modernist

                the whole edomae trend is a gimmick, sure. but at least when it comes to L.A., i find that the purist places do tend to have the freshest fish, if only because there are fewer sauces and spicy dynamite rainbows to hide behind.

                1. re: rameniac

                  I must humbly disagree to "the whole edomae trend is a gimmick." There are many styles of traditional Japanese-style sushi; California-style sushi is the true gimmick.

                  Warm, loose rice is a style/preference favored by the sushi master that trained Nozawa who has since trained others in the way he was taught. Nozawa did not invent this style of sushi; he's merely preparing sushi the way he was taught by his sensei.

                  I, personally, prefer NOT to eat at Nozawa and it's not because he is a "sushi Nazi"; it is because I don't like his warm/loose rice with hacked up (although fresh) pieces of fish, heavy-on-the-ponzu style of sushi. And it just ain't Nozawa, there are plenty of other itamae who serve their sushi this way (apparently Hiko does, too).

                  And speaking of the whole "sushi Nazi" thing … I WANT the itamae to feed me:
                  Omakase, onegaishimasu!

                  1. re: yinyangdi

                    i'm actually quite a traditionalist when it comes to my sushi; both nozawa and zo are among my top spots in town. but i do think that as of late, the whole edomae trend has become recently fashionable in L.A., a city chock full of foodies. it was only a matter of time before sushi chefs hopped on the bandwagon. is this what has happened to hiko? i don't know as i've never been there... i'd be willing to give it a try though.

                    1. re: rameniac

                      I was just at Nozawa for lunch the other day, and it was sadly mostly empty. I hope he manages to stay in business - I still haven't found better tasting sushi yet.

                      His unagi is the best I've ever had. Melt-in-your-mouth good. If you can't appreciate its excellence, then I really don't know what to say.

                      I don't have any problems with the rice. Just use your fingers, and be a little careful.

                  2. re: rameniac

                    what place isn't a gimmick? Nobu? ramen was probably a gimmick, no?

                    the purist places offer an exquisite experience, in the right hands

                    1. re: epop

                      from what i understand, hiko didn't used to be a purist sushi-ya, and i can see it getting a makeover just to roll (no pun intended haha) with the times.

                      there are gimmick ramen shops, absolutely, but it started out as an example of ethnic chinese cooking in japan. like how "pizza" is italian.

                2. Shhh! Why are you letting the Hiko secret out???

                  1. I used to go to Hiko a lot, and I've found that it's hit or miss with this place. It is sometimes soooo good that I've raved about it, and other times it was ok, but never bad. Echigo is the same way in my book, some nights I had the freshest fish, but other nights have been a bit disppointing.

                    I really want to try Sushi Zo from what everyone has said. If it's better than Hiko/Echigo, I can't wait!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: spicychow

                      let us know but i think Zo is better than Hiko, but I also had remarkable cuts of fish at Hiko

                      1. re: epop

                        Zo was good, Kiriko is good, Hiko better and the Chef's Omakase at Sasabune blows them all away.

                        1. re: russkar

                          hey Russ, what's the chef's omakase at sasabune, same as the omakase or by chef's do you mean the japanese omakase (90and up per)?

                          anyways, sasaabune is pretty good once it moved to Wilshire. have you tried the desserts, i like the fact that the chef pointed out the sushi chef.

                          alas, haven't been to hiko in a few years.

                          1. re: kevin

                            Sasabune's Chef's tasting menu is around 65- approx for lunch and of course you want Chef Nobi only!. It's really good and clobbers the other local stuff, especially considering the price.

                    2. LA Weekley has a feature review on Hiko in their current issue. They call it "A Transcendent Experience."

                      My wife and I have been going since it opened. Always great. Minor complaints, Price has been rising over the years, the same dishes always seem to get served although they are always terrific (we sit at the bar). We have a friendly relationship with the owner and his wife since we go early and are often the only ones there. We talk to him all the time and I get the impression he is shy rather than unfreindly. He's always been nice to us so this Sushi Natzi thing is a bit overblown. If we go less than usual is because of the price increase, but still the best sushi in town bar none...

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: swsnan

                        I agree with everything swsnan wrote on this one.

                        1. re: jcwla

                          I agree with you as well. I have never experienced unfriendly service from the sushi chef/owner or anyone else who works there. I have also never seen anyone kicked out like the article mentioned.

                          Best sushi on the westside!

                        2. re: swsnan

                          I agree. We've been going here since Hiko's 1st anniversary. We were crossing our fingers at the time hoping that Hiko would stay in business for a long time to come. It was quite empty back then. Glad that business is good for the family.

                        3. hiko is great, no quite nozawa, but worth a visit. at any of these places sitting at the bar is a must, I see a lot of people sitting at the tables and think that is a mistake. of course, if you want to do the ordering yourself they arent the place to go.