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Help! picking b'day sushi spot

The Oracle May 4, 2007 12:47 PM

I've spent hours searching the million threads on sushi - the result, only more 'finalists' on my list.

Here's the scoop:

BF's b'day falls on Sunday, Father's Day (ugh). He wants to go to sushi. He will want to sit at the sushi bar.

Last year (thanks to the 'hounds), I took him to The Hump - which he LOVED. He got a kick out of the beheading of the live sweet shrimp - as he had never experienced anything like that before.

SO - this year, I'm stumped. I'd love to take him to Urasawa, but I can't afford a min $250pp.

On my list (in no particular order) are:

Sasabune
Kiriko
R-23 (heard they do live sweet shrimp - is that true?)
Mori
Matsuhisa
Tama
Nobu Malibu
Sushi Zo

We've never been to any on the list - and I have no idea what the variance is on cost - but I'd like to get out of there spending no more than $200 for the both of us (not including alcohol) (Does that rule out any?)

While quality of fish is important (seems like all of the above get top nods on quality) - I'm also looking for something with ambiance (as it's a special occassion ie: a friendly sushi chef, perhaps not a generic sushi joint feel (The Hump was great for that) but that's more for me than him!) - If they offer 'live' fish (like sweet shrimp or others) - that will definitely put it ahead of the pack.

I'm in Pasadena, but traveling to the westside, valley, or elsewhere is not an issue.

All input is greatly appreciated.

  1. annalulu May 4, 2007 01:07 PM

    Hopefully he will consider celebrating Saturday...many places aren't open on Sunday, and if they are, it's doubtful the fish is fresh from that morning.

    2 Replies
    1. re: annalulu
      The Oracle May 4, 2007 01:38 PM

      Shoot - I had thought I read something about that on a thread before.... are the fish markets actually closed on Sunday?

      1. re: The Oracle
        m
        mojoeater May 4, 2007 09:54 PM

        Actually, very few places get fish on Saturdays either. Only the most upscale joints get fish on a daily basis, and most get it two or three times a week. You are safe going pretty much any day.

    2. e
      eetl May 4, 2007 01:16 PM

      R-23
      I have been there a few times on trips to LA, and local friends who love sushi are regulars. The food, the service, and the ambiance have always been reliably delicious and friendly.

      1 Reply
      1. re: eetl
        The Oracle May 4, 2007 03:11 PM

        I was leaning towards R23 - and just checked and found out they are closed on Sunday's. ... per annalulu's comment - will check and see which of the list are even open. this is getting more difficult by the minute!

      2. d
        Diana May 4, 2007 03:17 PM

        Go to Asanebo in Studio city. they do Live Shrimp (in season) and live lobster sahimi..a few others I think. not cheap, but very good. Lots of other amazing dishes.

        You can also try in the valley
        Sushi 4 on 6 in Encino-good selectiog of interesting fishes, and live dishes, including octopus and sweet shrimp in season.
        Some people keep reccomendding Sushi Iki (ikie?) in Tarzana I've never been.

        Wherever you go, if the sweet shrimp isn't live-DON'T get it.

        also, make sure if you get Uni that it's local Santa barbara Uni.
        Finally, see if they have fresh Monk Fish Liver. yum!

        For less $$ but good basic sushi try House of Taka in Sherman Oaks.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Diana
          s
          stacyface May 4, 2007 03:44 PM

          Sushi Katsu-ya, either the ones in Studio city or the one in encino. i hear the one in brentwood isnt all that great, its super pretentious...

          1. re: stacyface
            d
            Diana May 4, 2007 06:27 PM

            Actually, for real sushi, none are all that great. I find it swimming in sauce or fried bits. But if I crave sauce and fried bits, I'd go there! Theya re the best sauces and fried bits. Much better than say, Sushi Dan!

        2. Emme May 4, 2007 09:41 PM

          I'd personally skip Nobu... I've never been impressed with the cuts or quality, especially given the price tag. So loud too, and service is not stellar by waitstaff at the bar, at least not on Fridays and Saturdays.

          Depending on where you want to go, out of your list, R-23, Zo or Tama, though each definitely have varying price tags. I'd do Zo if you're gonna go omakase.

          And I certainly wouldn't do Katsu-ya; some love it I know, but I never have.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Emme
            h
            handlertaper May 4, 2007 09:48 PM

            We love Hama Saku on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Los Angeles. Super fresh sushi.

          2. ipsedixit May 4, 2007 10:07 PM

            I would go to Nishimura.

            But from your list, and based on your parameters, I would suggest Mori.

            9 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit
              gomagoma May 5, 2007 01:29 AM

              Mori Sushi is closed on Sundays, but they do have live sweet shrimp. I'd also skip Matsuhisa.

              1. re: gomagoma
                The Oracle May 7, 2007 10:16 AM

                I've always been curious about Matshuisa -- but had the feeling it's overrated -- thanks for the 'skip' advise!

              2. re: ipsedixit
                The Oracle May 7, 2007 10:14 AM

                ipse - curious as to why your suggestion for Nishimura? don't know much about it....

                1. re: The Oracle
                  ipsedixit May 7, 2007 10:28 AM

                  Well, you said you wanted live sweet shrimp right?

                  Nishimura does it as well as anyone in LA. Plus, they deep-fry the head and serve it with this incredible ponzu-ginger sauce.

                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    d
                    Diana May 7, 2007 12:09 PM

                    I've never been anywhere that didn't deep fry the head!

                    Asanebo gives you a choice, they'll deep fry it, or make it into a wonderful broth.

                    House of Taka will deep fry or broil it.

                    1. re: Diana
                      ipsedixit May 7, 2007 08:19 PM

                      Nishimura does it better than any other sushi place I've been to -- both the shrimp body and the head.

                      1. re: ipsedixit
                        The Oracle May 7, 2007 11:22 PM

                        even though they aren't open on Sunday - Nishimura definitely leads the pack... thank you! I think this will be the destination of choice.... how does it compare price-wise to Mori??

                        1. re: The Oracle
                          ipsedixit May 8, 2007 10:12 AM

                          A little bit more expensive than Mori, in my experience.

                  2. re: The Oracle
                    yinyangdi May 7, 2007 08:17 PM

                    Nishimura was the original itamae at R-23 and then The Hump before he opened his namesake sushi-ya.

                2. z
                  zoomchic May 5, 2007 09:14 AM

                  Zo is great, Echigo is also very good but has no ambience. IMO Sasabune has good fish but is a factory. Kiriko is a fun place and has alot of non-sushi options that are very interesting. The last place I had live shrimp was Irori. The tentacles were very mobile post chop. I like the place and depending on which chef makes your sushi, very good. I like Masa.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: zoomchic
                    The Oracle May 7, 2007 10:15 AM

                    thanks for this bulletpoint review -- that's really helpful in sorting out my list!

                  2. westsidegal May 5, 2007 10:30 AM

                    Zo is closed on sundays.
                    also, imho, zo is for the TASTE experience, not the 'show' experience.
                    depends on what's more important to you.
                    sometimes, for a celebration, the 'show' is important.

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