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Phoenix: Whats your favorite sushi?

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AZBconcierge Apr 4, 2007 04:22 PM

I've yet to find a place with better sushi than Ichi Ban on Central and Thomas. I've been quite a few places but obviously not all. Seems most of them just have this trendy bar atmosphere and you get to the food and its garbage. Any places that just have AWESOME fish?

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  1. winedubar RE: AZBconcierge Apr 4, 2007 04:25 PM

    omg, ANY place is better than ichi ban on central and thomas!!! my recent fav is on the west side..you know it must be good because i had to leave central phoenix ;)

    tokyo lobby on bell and 59th ave...EXCELLENT..id say its the best sushi i've had in az.

    have you tried fish market? its pretty good - sit at the sushi bar, avoid the tables at all cost...and its close ;) about 18th street and camelback

    3 Replies
    1. re: winedubar
      misohungrychewlow RE: winedubar Apr 4, 2007 08:42 PM

      We're fortunate to have several terrific sushi bars that don't depend on loud music and creating a scene to attract hungry, appreciative customers. In no particular order, some of my favorites include:

      Dozo -- downtown Scottsdale, Miller south of Camelback -- nice room, attentive service, excellent fish, and Robert-san is responsive -- he reads you and doesn't hesitate to make suggestions. Prices are reasonable, and while the sashimi and nigiri are very well-executed, the portions aren't especially generous ... the black cod sauteed in miso is a special pleasure.

      Kampai -- Bell Rd. near 29th St. -- solid offerings, fresh, varied, well-presented, reasonably priced, all in all a wonderful sushi bar, no flash, just great food. I really should get there more often, but there there's other very worthy options ... The two Japanese chefs in the top two holes are very competent but somewhat reserved -- show respect and behave well and it's all good. There seems to be some turnover in the roll boy slot, but they all perform well while they are there.

      Akaihana (formerly Mr. Sushi) -- 24th Ave. and Northern -- inexpensive -- sentimental favorite of mine. I've eaten there at least 500 times since 1989 or 1990, maybe more ... part of the vertically integrated Moonie fish empire -- the only drawback over the years is the especially sober/somber tone there, especially since the man from LA arrived to kick ass and take names a few years ago -- he works in the #2 hole, but he's the boss. Since he took over, the range of species offered is narrower and they've attempted to jazz up the gaijin roll menu. They no longer cut whole fish up front after closing time -- I've seen it -- but then the whole industry is using packaged fish now. Back in the day, the corporation's fish-mongering muscle in California was its main advantage -- it still supplies a huge share of the fresh fish used for sushi throughout the US, and it also operates retail markets as well. I miss (roll call) Matsumoto, Kasu-san, Tony-san, but Ashino-san does a fine job in the #1 hole ... just don't expect to find treats like mirugai or aji anytime soon.

      Sushi Ko -- Scottsdale, 92nd and Shea -- very fine sushi bar, all around. Wide variety of fresh offerings, nice space, friendly, a couple of the chefs aren't Japanese -- not that there's anything wrong with that -- but Mo, I believe, who works the middle, is. Always something interesting on the board -- not the cheapest spot, but very reasonable.

      Other options include: Mishima, 56th and Thomas (very homey, limited menu, but I like it) ... Sakana in Ahwatukee, 51st and Elliot, not bad when I lived down there (never been to the other locations) -- neighborhood place, good fish, large portions, presentations less than stellar, a little loud ... Zen 32, 32nd/Camelback -- near my house, okay in a pinch, stick to basics, not as expensive as one might expect. Fish Market, on the other hand, at about 18th/Camelback, has good-quality fish but is more expensive than one would expect. Sushi on Shea, at 70th St.? It was happening back in '96, along with Kyoto, and I guess it's still there -- my last visit was about a year ago when my take was that it the fish was fresh, decent, but rather expensive and the vibe was very depressing -- I was almost alone in there on a weekend evening and a server stumbled and broke a bunch of glasses on the hard floor while showering my back with cold water, and ice ... no apology, no restitution ... no more repeat business.

      1. re: misohungrychewlow
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        AZBconcierge RE: misohungrychewlow Apr 4, 2007 09:13 PM

        Interesting you guys both responded with Fish Market. I've never had a good experience there, and Zen 32 I agree is just ok.

        1. re: misohungrychewlow
          Firenza00 RE: misohungrychewlow Apr 5, 2007 08:41 AM

          I agree completely on Kampai. Basic no-frills, but really good for what it is. I noticed they have a Murphy Brown secretary-thing going on with the low-level chefs, too. :)

      2. Firenza00 RE: AZBconcierge Apr 4, 2007 09:03 PM

        I'd second Tokyo Lobby. Great interior, very friendly chefs, and awesome sushi that's more than it appears. The first time I went there was for lunch, and the preparation was immaculate. I got a shrimp tempura roll (being cautious since it was a first visit) and something seemed different about it. I thought I tasted a hint of cinnamon, and the chef confirmed it. Now I'm hooked on their version. The monkey brains appetizer is addictive as well, although I can't remember if there's any fish in it. All the rolls I've tried have been a step beyond the usual. Definitely worth the trip. Beware of crowds, though. For a hole-in-the-wall place that doesn't really advertise, they can be very busy.

        1. silverbear RE: AZBconcierge Apr 4, 2007 10:03 PM

          Two unsung heroes to add to the list:

          Mr. Sushi -- Northern Avenue at the I-17 Frontage Road

          Sushi Eye -- Kyrene and Elliott in Tempe

          Neither is trendy. Both place the emphasis squarely on the food.

          3 Replies
          1. re: silverbear
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            dustchick RE: silverbear Apr 4, 2007 10:55 PM

            I'll second the vote for Sushi Eye and add Sushi Kee at Rural/Warner.

            1. re: dustchick
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              pstempe22 RE: dustchick Apr 5, 2007 06:36 PM

              I vote for Sushi Eye too! This is the best (freshest) and most well presented sushi I have found in the area.

              1. re: pstempe22
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                zebcook RE: pstempe22 Apr 7, 2007 08:34 AM

                Had a fantastic dinner at Sushi Eye this week, enough that my wife (a tepid sushi eater) was ready to come back the next night. He had a fresh bluefin from Spain (I think) and was cutting wonderful toro from it and bigeye for his other tuna. My favorite was the escolar which was almost as buttery as the toro.

                Everything was fresh and the prices were reasonable (at least as much as good sushi can be).

          2. lumberg RE: AZBconcierge Apr 4, 2007 11:37 PM

            Ichiban on Central/Thomas? Wow, this won't be hard to beat. lol. We used to go there pre-drinking age . I just remember the sushi being loaded up with rice. The fish was so-so.
            Would recommend Sakana on Indian Bend/Hayden in Scottsdale...very reasonable and amazing portions. Also, Sushi on Shea is decent too. For eye candy, loud music, and saki bombing you can check out RA--wouldn't say they have very good sushi though.

            7 Replies
            1. re: lumberg
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              AZBconcierge RE: lumberg Apr 5, 2007 01:39 AM

              um... you guys apparently haven't been to ichi ban post break up with the chain.

              I like Sushi Eye quite well but Ichi Ban is better. My guests at the hotel are always in AWE of it.

              1. re: AZBconcierge
                winedubar RE: AZBconcierge Apr 5, 2007 08:34 AM

                are we talking about the same place? i have a friend who waxes nostalgic for that spot. she insists on going every year for her birthday....for the rest of us? its inedible drek!!! we went again for her january birthday, and im telling you - it was terrible, all the way around. there were 10 of us, the b-day gal was the only one who managed to eat the sushi..i had some teriyaki chicken special - congealed sauce, undercooked rice, mealy vegetables. donburi - smelled BAD - you could literally get a whiff from down the table. i could go on and on..

                we've given that spot a chance every january for about 6 years, and it never gets any better.

                is there a secret handshake or special hotel guest menu we don't know about????

                1. re: AZBconcierge
                  themis RE: AZBconcierge Apr 5, 2007 09:04 AM

                  I am a regular at the Ichiban on Litchfield Road, and other than SeaSaw, haven't found anything in the valley that beats it. The key is to ignore the roll menu full of cream cheese and mayo and avocado -- I put myself in the chef's hands and incredible presentations of sashimi start coming my way. Like, take my breath away beautiful plates, supple melting fish, every detail attended to, flavors perfectly complemented.

                  IME, as with any sushi place, your experience is predicated on the freshness of the ingredients, the rapport you've developed with the chef, and the chef's skill. Ichiban has never let me down; in fact, the chefs have told me where the best sushi chefs are at restaurants all over the valley -- to the point where I can read other people's recommendations and guess that we may have similar tastes. So when people scoff at whatever location, I just smile and think -- good. That means less of a crowd when I go.

                  1. re: themis
                    winedubar RE: themis Apr 5, 2007 09:13 AM

                    wow - ichiban compared to seasaw, thats impressive!!

                    i think part of the incredulity of the people who've responed negatively to the ichiban on central isn't just the menu- it's the whole experience. dirty floor, smells BAD, appallingly filthy bathroom, rude servers...im having a hard time reconciling the place i get dragged to every year and other people's experiences!!!

                    normally, id just say 'give it one more shot' because there's NOTHING i mean NOTHING i'd love more than a closer to downtown good sushi spot. but im serious, themis, ive never had anything at ichiban on central that is anything other than mall food court sushi.

                    i'd be willing to try the one on litchfield road if i ever happen to be out that far :D but unless i get a call that johnny depp is serving up sushi and free sake, i'll be hardpressed to go back to the one on central.

                    1. re: winedubar
                      themis RE: winedubar Apr 5, 2007 10:17 AM

                      Hee! Well, from your description, *I'd* also have a hard time patronizing that Ichiban location, even with Johnny Depp on the premises, and I'd pay to watch him read the phonebook for a couple of hours. It sounds appalling.

                      My point is only that the name on the door means much less than having a good relationship with a skilled chef.

                      1. re: themis
                        winedubar RE: themis Apr 5, 2007 10:31 AM

                        lol - wanna go halfsie's on the depp deal?

                        i agree with you.

                    2. re: themis
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                      AZBconcierge RE: themis Apr 5, 2007 05:11 PM

                      I think you guys are referencing experiences of Ichi Ban from long ago. The manager (seth) is one of the most accommodating I've seen in the service industry. I'm obviously in the industry. The guests I send there come back in awe of the place. The fish is extremely fresh, the portions great, and the place is spotless sans the dated bathroom. Also, none of the Ichi Bans are connected. According to the owner, the chain has broken up and each is seperate.

                      Anyway. That point is moot, since I'm looking for other places to try. Seems I have quite a few on my list now. Sushi Eye I did last night, though most of it was good, the toro was ghastly.

                2. z
                  ziggylu RE: AZBconcierge Apr 5, 2007 08:40 AM

                  Down here on the SE side of town our favorite used to be Sakana on 48th and Elliott.

                  Since we learned about Sushi Ken(thanks Chowhounds!) this has become our new favorite. We've been averaging about once every ten days since. Not trendy but if you looking for great sushi this is it. On par with what we used to eat in Seattle. 51sr and Chandler Blvd.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ziggylu
                    winedubar RE: ziggylu Apr 5, 2007 08:45 AM

                    i used to work on that side of town - i really liked their sushi..you can't beat their 10 dollar lunch specials.

                    1. re: ziggylu
                      JK Grence the Cosmic Jester RE: ziggylu Apr 5, 2007 02:52 PM

                      Sushi Ken is utterly terrific. The see-and-be-seen crowd is nowhere in sight, and the sushi is divine. It's closer to 42nd Street and Chandler Blvd, in the same shopping centre that holds CK's Tavern and Havana Cafe.

                    2. grrlscout RE: AZBconcierge Apr 5, 2007 09:00 AM

                      I don't think I have found a favorite yet. Then again, I don't get sushi very often. I am curious though, if anyone has tried the new place that has opened up in Glendale on Olive and um, 43rd? Maybe 59th? It's called Koi. The outside looks rather nice. I think it replaced an shady looking Mexican buffet.

                      Oh, and if I had to choose, I guess it would be zen 32. I dig the bento box lunch. Not fabulous, not bad.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: grrlscout
                        Firenza00 RE: grrlscout Apr 5, 2007 11:24 AM

                        Haven't been there. I did try Fresh Wasabi at 67th and Bell for lunch and it's ok. Since Tokyo Lobby is just down the road at 59th and Bell, I'll go there.

                      2. azhotdish RE: AZBconcierge Apr 5, 2007 09:28 AM

                        Despite it's trendy elements and scene, Blue Wasabi (DC Ranch) does have excellent sushi. If bbq fritos aren't you're thing, they have traditional options that are deftly done. Also their inventive rolls (Dirty Sanchez roll, being the star in my mind) are very good.

                        Kyoto in Old Town Scottsdale (Scottsdale/Stetson) is a meat-market on weekends, but their sushi is good (try the pepper tuna sashimi). $3 eel/cucumber rolls will keep me coming back.

                        Mishimi (54th St/Thomas) is good, no-frills, but as someone said earlier, has a limited menu. For about $19 including a small salad and soup, you can get a single roll and ten pieces of assorted nigiri.

                        Zen 32 is just plain annoying - I can't stand their pretension and their sushi is ok at best. I do have to admit though...they do a very good soft shell crab roll.

                        Finally, Shimogamo (Dobson/Warner) is worth a visit in my mind for the "feed me" option alone - I forget how many courses they serve you (the option was $55 last visit) and a couple are sushi. It's not for the timid - you may find yourself picking at a fish head on your plate and loving every second of it.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: azhotdish
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                          Baxterita RE: azhotdish Apr 5, 2007 11:17 AM

                          In the SE valley, I highly recommend Sekai Sushi in Gilbert on Gilbert past Southern, on the NE side where the Target is. I've heard rumors they might be opening another location in the SE valley too. Quality sashimi, great Las Vegas rolls...It's family-owned and has lots of regulars.

                          1. re: Baxterita
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                            pstempe22 RE: Baxterita Apr 5, 2007 06:36 PM

                            Sekai is great. Keep us posted if they do open another location!!!

                        2. azhotdish RE: AZBconcierge Apr 5, 2007 10:37 PM

                          Definitely not a sushi destination, but the recently redesigned Fry's at 20th St/Highland installed a sushi bar near the meats/produce. I picked up an eel roll for lunch today ($5.29, 12 pieces) and was pleasantly surprised by good rice, extremely fresh cucumber and tasty eel and sauce. Definitely quicker than the Fish Market at lunchtime...and cheaper. They also had several other rolls standard rolls (caterpillar, spicy tuna, orange rol, etc) that looked fresh and passable.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: azhotdish
                            themis RE: azhotdish Apr 6, 2007 08:15 AM

                            I think having a line on quality supermarket sushi is just as useful, at least to me.

                            I'm very impressed with what I've had so far at the Safeway sushi counters -- certain of them have their own chefs; others just stock packages made at other stores; both include certain 'chain' sushi offerings from another distributor. I hit the Safeway on 48th and Indian School about once a week for lunch, and I'm starting to figure out which days have inari, which days have eel, which have spicy tuna. I would have to say that their rice may be a tad overseasoned (the way I like it, actually) but it is always flawlessly fresh, no dried-out refrigerator case feel to it.

                          2. ccl1111 RE: AZBconcierge Apr 6, 2007 01:57 AM

                            while this is a very cool thread, i wish people had noted their frame of reference - what they like - when they were making recommendations. i think sushi recommendations come in wildly different flavors and it is because people like wildly different things.

                            for instance, sushi (and japanese food) is our favorite thing ever and a very serious deal. we're about one thing - quality. excellent, super fresh, authentic sushi. couldn't care less about the crazy, creative bonzai superman philly volcano roll. quantity is also not a big deal. don't care a whit for atmosphere or friendliness or chatter from the chefs. it's all about the food. always omakase.

                            don't know why but also seem to be more comfortable if the chef is from japan. loved the fact that sushi sasabune (in HI) had the sushi nazi thing going and was all about quality and keeping it authentic and want to hit sushi nozawa (in CA) for the same reason.

                            i totally get that people look for completely different things. i have friends that value an engaging chef as highly as the food. we go to the places they like and are happy to just order safely. i think that as you experience higher and higher quality sushi that it's impossible to go back. better to do a shrimp tempura roll (which i like) at a mediocre sushi place than to take a chance on being bummed out by a c+ order of uni.

                            with that being said, our 2 favorite local places to go are...

                            -sea saw for just flat out awesome japanese inspired food (thought it is priced way beyond us)

                            -kampai for awesome, fresh authentic sushi at an incredible value

                            at kampai, we always, always wait for yuki-san (gray haired chef to the right) though aji-san rocks as well. only sat with the apprentices once and yuki-san took over when one was going to give us some tuna that he didn't approve of. had them go into the back and get the other stuff... i don't think he likes it too much when we leave it all up to him but he's used to it. it's always stellar and unreasonably cheap when compared to other quality places.

                            shinbay was great as well so we're waiting and hoping to hear something positive out of the autumn court development. we've also had great food at shimogamo. the other valley place that stands out in memory was mikado (long gone from camelback and scottsdale roads). had some great sushi and even kaiseki-style there.

                            other than that, we do want to try sushi-ko as we've seen that the chef is ex-matsuhisa. don't know if that will mean a lick but the last ex-matsuhisa chef we ate at became our go to person when i lived in huntington beach (takashi abe of ristorante abe and now of blue fin)

                            so if anybody feels like qualifying/chiming in on what they like about the places they've recommended (fancy creative rolls, scene, huge portions, just plain fresh and unique fish), it might be super helpful???

                            pulling from thread...

                            -Ichi Ban - Central and Thomas
                            -Tokyo Lobby
                            -Fish Market
                            -Dozo
                            -Akaihana
                            -Sushi Ko
                            -Mishima
                            -Sakana (hayden & indian bend): do lunches here as right next to work, decent quality, good vlaue
                            -Zen 32
                            -Sushi on Shea
                            -Mr. Sushi
                            -Sushi Eye
                            -Sushi Kee
                            -Sushi Ken
                            -Kampai: our favorite for excellent quality sushi, also happens to be a great value
                            -Kyoto: decent sushi, super, super, super, super cheap, first tried sushi here back in 1985??
                            -Shimogamo: very good quality, good variety, need to try again
                            -Sea Saw: not standard sushi but just flat out awesome japanese inspired dishes, don't question the value but still can't afford more than once or twice a year. been coming in at $400+ for 2 of us with no crazy wine.

                            just can't get my mind around listing Ra & Blue Wasabi, though in fairness i've never given them a chance.

                            and if any of those falls in the flat out awesome quality, authentic sushi (interesting selections imported in from japan or elsewhere always a bonus) category, would love to hear so!!!

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: ccl1111
                              JK Grence the Cosmic Jester RE: ccl1111 Apr 6, 2007 03:16 AM

                              With Kurita-san at Autumn Court, right now they have a limited selection of basic sushi to test the waters. If you go there, get some sushi and tell them how much you like it and want to see Kurita-san flex his sushi making muscles.

                              1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester
                                ciaogal RE: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester Apr 6, 2007 07:41 AM

                                Try Ippei Japanese Bistro ...it is a bit on the pricey side....
                                The sushi and other Japanese 'small plates' are wonderful....
                                We have gone a few times for a light bite after the movies......very enjoyable.
                                http://www.ippeijapanesebistro.com/

                                Our absolute favorite is Hiro Sushi tucked away in a strip Mall off of Shea and 90th and street in Scottsdale!
                                http://www.hirosushiaz.com/

                              2. re: ccl1111
                                azhotdish RE: ccl1111 Apr 6, 2007 08:26 AM

                                ccl - I find your post a little insulting. The OP was not asking about who has the most authentic sushi, they were asking what everyone's favorite was. I would never claim to be a sushi expert, nor am I familiar with all the Japanese pageantry that goes into sushi. Blue Wasabi has inventive, modern and fresh sushi, but if you're looking for authenticity, then don't bother. But for 99% of people (and probably closer to 100% of BW's target market), they're looking for freshness, taste and a good drink list. That being the criteria, I think WB is excellent.

                                1. re: azhotdish
                                  ccl1111 RE: azhotdish Apr 6, 2007 09:18 AM

                                  i wasn't trying to say authentic sushi is better. it is just what i prefer. i totally get that people like different things. i was just looking for a way that people could associate what they like about what place so people could match up their tastes and try locations that they might have a better chance of liking.

                                  as far as the blue wasabi/ra comment, i'm sorry for that & shouldn't have made it. i'm also a grumpy, scene/crowd avoiding grouch so from what i hear, blue wasabi is just so not what would work for me. i shouldn't have let my preferences color the post.

                                  and as i mentioned we go places with friends that we might not on our own. i'm sure if i did go there, i would find a bunch of stuff that i would like as well.

                                  sorry.

                                  1. re: ccl1111
                                    azhotdish RE: ccl1111 Apr 6, 2007 09:25 AM

                                    and if there's ever a reason to try WB, i think they do something ridiculous like "if you wear something blue on a monday, you get 50% off your bill". no joke - it may be sunday or monday (not sure if they still do it, and i know it was that way at the dc ranch location). that might be the time to try it, if at all.

                                    maybe you can hit all these places you have yet to try and report back!

                                    and it's all good on the comment...this CH doesn't hold any grudges. ;P

                                    1. re: azhotdish
                                      Firenza00 RE: azhotdish Apr 6, 2007 10:05 AM

                                      Last I heard, BW only gave you 1/2 of drinks only if you wear blue on Sundays. I used to go every Sunday (my poor g/f got burnt out because of it) when they had the 1/2 price if you wear blue on Sundays. However, once they got popular and the A-Hole contingent started showing up, it got horrible, atmosphere-wise. Food was usually still great, but the other customers make me want to shove an icepick deeply into their cerebellum. We haven't been in well over a year. Tokyo Lobby doesn't have quite as interesting a sushi list, but the quality of the food and the inventiveness they do have more than make up for it. Plus, the prices are lower and the crowd is much more down to earth. Not that I don't miss my Killer Bee roll or Eating Nemo. :)

                                      1. re: azhotdish
                                        ccl1111 RE: azhotdish Apr 7, 2007 12:19 AM

                                        thanks azhotdish

                                        with limited time, budget and date nights though (with a 2.5 year old and our 2nd about 3 weeks away), it's hard to experiment instead of going with the safe bet. will see what we can do though. : )

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