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Jun 19, 2007 02:21 PM

Japanese Dinner to Celebrate Graduation

My step grandson is graduating from high school - he is obsessed with everything Japanese and will be majoring in Japanese Studies at UCSB next year. We'd like to take him out for a special Japanese dinner (something beyond sushi as he has a part time job in a sushi restaurant) to celebrate his graduation and are happy to drive anywhere in the LA area for something special. Must be open on Sunday. Suggestions?

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  1. Yamashiro just off the 101 in Hollywood is really nice and has arguably the best view of LA. I took someone there for a birthday - it's definitely a great special occasion place. The food is just ok - it's really more about the ambience. Request to be seated in the Japanese Garden Court - it's beautiful. They have a nice sake list and sushi, along with some good meat entrees, but nothing really adventurous if that's what you're looking for...

    2 Replies
    1. re: LisaStitch

      Thanks, Lisa. I do know Yamashiro but I think he's too sophisticated (in the foods/culture of Japan) for it. I would like to dazzle him with a find!

      1. re: LisaStitch

        The food at yamashiro sucks big time.

        Musha in Santa Monica is supposed to be very good. I don't know if it's open Sunday. Japanese small plates.

        Asanebo is sushi bar, bt I think it would qualify as "beyond sushi" Their cooked dishes are amazing, and a joy to behold. In Studio City.

        You could always foot the bill for Urasawa. Sushi, but sushi of the divine gods. What is the price now, $450? Per person? I forget.

      2. There's the obvious high-end places like Matsuhisa or Urasawa, but those are sushi places so you may have ruled against that already. You might consider some of the yakiniku (grill at your table japanese bbq), or izakaya (food on sticks cooked over bintochan charcoal) places. Ramen would seem a little too subdued for a special celebration, and at $275 per person (food only) Urasawa may be too far the other end of the spectrum.

        You can do a search for yakiniku or izakaya to find the great places in LA - I'm only familiar with the ones in the OC.

        Congrats on the boy graduating from high school, that's a great achievement and UCSB is a good school. You done good, grampa!

        1. If you'd like to dazzle your grandson with Japanese culture, then you could go to Gonpachi on La Cienega Blvd. It took 4 years and $18 million to build, 11,000 sq.ft. and has more than sushi. Read the pictured blog report to get a feel for the place:

          131 No. La Cienega Blvd. (310) 659-8887

          Open on Sunday ?

          1. You say beyond sushi, so I'm not sure if that includes sushi or not. For places with a nice combination of sushi and cooked foods, I would recommend Kiriko, Nobu in Malibu, or Matsuhisa. (Urasawa if you want to splurge would be the ultimate special Japanese meal.)

            Orris on Sawtelle and Mako in Beverly Hills are more pan-Asian and serve small plates. Excellent food, but not purely Japanese.

            In Little Tokyo, there are some great izakaya places that serve Japanese-style tapas. They would probably be a new experience for him. I have heard very good things about Izayoi. The only thing that would be a downer is that izakaya is meant to be served with sake and your grandson is too young to drink.

            Thousand Cranes at the New Otani Hotel is a nice place for a special occasion. You could have a traditional kaiseki dinner. You can ask to be seated overlooking the Japanese Garden. If you have a large group, they have private rooms where you sit on the floor.

            1 Reply
            1. How about Gyu-Kaku? It's Japanese/Korean bbq grill, but I think there is a chain in Japan.

              Shin Shen Gumi in Gardena for very yummy yakitori (grilled skewers). They get really crowded, so go at 5 or 6 when they open.

              2 Replies
              1. re: WHills

                Taking him to Gyu-Kaku is not much more of a celebration than going to Benihana. It's a decent dinner place, but hardly a special occasion restaurant.

                1. re: WHills

                  I went to the Shin Shen Gumi in Fountain Valley for a birthday and it was a lot of fun. The whole staff was friendly and most of them were exchange students from Japan. I hope the one in Gardena is just as fun.