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May 4, 2007 12:47 PM

Help! picking b'day sushi spot

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:

R-23 (heard they do live sweet shrimp - is that true?)
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.

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  1. 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

      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

        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. 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

        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. 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

          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

            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. 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

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

          2. I would go to Nishimura.

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

            9 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

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

              1. re: gomagoma

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

              2. re: ipsedixit

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

                1. re: The Oracle

                  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

                    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

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

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        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

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

                  2. re: The Oracle

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