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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.