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Can someone explain what the deal is with South Bay sushi?

p
purediva Jun 21, 2007 01:21 PM

My BF and I are something of sushi fan-atics, and we recently moved down from the Westside to Hermosa Beach. We have had the typical evolution of sushi aficionados, having graduated from overly sauced "creative" maki rolls to the purist, luscious, buttery, melt-in-you-mouth edo-style sushi a while ago.

With such a great selection of serious sushi venues up north (Sushi Zo has essentially ruined us to any other sushi), I was more than just a little concerned that we wouldn't be able to find quality of that kind down in our new hood. I mean, we need to have our fix a minimum of 1x/week, but usually twice. It seems like everywhere you go in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa, and Redondo it's all trendy sushi places, which as I mentioned, is so five-years-ago. So I naturally did my research on CH as any good 'Hound would, and came up with only two potential candidates...Tomi in RB and Kanpachi in Gardena.

My BF and I trepidatiously visited Tomi right after we moved down to our new house. Tomi was described here as being very traditional and having 14th-generation sushi chefs. Hmm, I took one look at the cheesy plastic promo card on the tables with the lame sushi pics and thought, nope, this isn't going to cut it. We started off with a house salad. How much mayonaissey dressing can you possibly put on top of iceberg lettuce? Well apparently at Tomi, a huge ladle full. There was seriously more icky dressing in the bowl then greens. A little mayo in dressing doesn't usually hurt, but in theirs, it's the only thing you can taste. We had to send it back. Things didn't get any better once the sushi arrived. The fish was all extremely dry and the antithesis of buttery. Ugh. My BF and I lamented the handful of happy-go-lucky other customers going about their sushi dinners. None of them seem to have a problem with it, but then again, far be it from me to rationalize other people's sense of what good sushi is.

Man, did it ever hurt to see that bill. We didn't enjoy a single piece of sushi and it ended up being an $85 learning experience. So strike one. Last night we decided to give Kanpachi in Gardena a try. When we got there, we both immediately thought, ok, this looks promising. It's a cute little place and almost everyone in it was Japanese. Good sign. We order a few basics to start. Salad (here it's very good, shoyu based dressing)...salmon, yellowtail, red snapper, kanpachi, spanish mackeral. It was ready nice and fast. So, the salmon wasn't bad. Salmon's one of those things that's pretty hard to screw up. I'd say it was almost as good as the salmon at Irori. The yellowtail, was well, passable. Definitely not buttery. So I expected great things from the eponymous kanpachi, which of course failed to deliver. First of all, they didn't serve it with the usual requisite yuzu. Second, we didn't even realize it was kanpachi when we ate it at first...that's how not good it was. The snapper was downright fishy and the mackeral, while edible, was nothing to write home about either. Ugh. We really wanted to like this place.

So we ended up ordering two toro/scallion rolls, some albacore and another round of salmon. The toro rolls came cut, so they ended up redoing them for us b/c we'd wanted handrolls. The albacore came w/o any of the usual fixings, no ponzu or anything. So we had to ask. Albacore is another one of those things that's extremely difficult to screw up. We couldn't believe it...the albacore was some of the toughest fish we've had. It wasn't just seared, it was barely even sushi anymore. Judging by the two experiences we had at Kanpachi and Tomi, we noticed that they both had a dry, non-buttery fish thing going...like it wasn't accident or out of carelessness, it seemed to be purposeful, as though that's the "style" in the South Bay. I guess we just don't get why that would be something there would be a demand for.

When we were waiting to pay the bill, another $80 out the window, I told my BF, this is pretty much it. This is the closest thing the SB has to offer us to what we have up north. He said, well then, we're going to have to fill up the gas tank, b/c it's up to Sushi Zo we'll be going.

That's just fine with me.

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  1. z
    zruilong RE: purediva Jun 21, 2007 01:34 PM

    Others will be able to fill more detail on specific places, but until that time, I will give the general advice "don't worry too much." South Bay does have good sushi, but you are not going to find it in the Beach Cities where Sushi is a quasi trendy-foodie thing.

    You are looking for chowhound worthy sushi, and you are more likely to find that in Torrance and Gardena. Search for these two cities, epecially the latter and you will find the results you desire. If I have time later, I will post some links to threads unless some other hound beats me to it.

    1. omotosando RE: purediva Jun 21, 2007 01:42 PM

      Tsujiki in Gardena used to be good, but it has been quite a while so I can't vouch for current quality.

      9 Replies
      1. re: omotosando
        p
        purediva RE: omotosando Jun 21, 2007 01:58 PM

        Would you have ever described the fish Tsujiki as being "buttery" or "melt-in-your-mouth"? Is SenNari in Gardena worth trying? I'm really starting to think there's a conspiracy in the SB, Gardena and Torrance included, where everyone is supposed to offer dry, non-buttery sushi.

        1. re: purediva
          omotosando RE: purediva Jun 21, 2007 06:04 PM

          Tsujiki buttery? I don't know. I don't think it is in the same category as Sushi-Zo. But I do remember that it was consistently good, and back in the old days before we had Sushi Zo, Kiriko, Mori and Sushi Tenn (which has sadly closed) on the Westside and when one wasn't in the mood to drop $400 pp at that late great Ginza Sushi-Ko, it was good enough that I would drive down to Gardena from the Westside to eat at Tsujiki.

          I do agree with what Rizza says below that you can get better sushi if you build a rapport with the chef and let him know you are serious (try ordering kohada). Maybe at a place like Sushi-ko, you don't have to build rapport to get the best stuff, but I think it is definitely true at most sushi restaurants. I remember a particular sushi chef with whom I had a very good rapport at a restaurant that has since closed, and when I would try to order a particular fish, he would flat out say no because he knew that it was not the best that the restaurant could offer. I'm sure he would have served that very same fish to another customer who he didn't like as much (he was not the owner of the place and it was not a "little labor of love" restaurant like Sushi-Zo, but rather a restaurant in a very high rent district that was trying to survive).

          1. re: purediva
            westsidegal RE: purediva Jun 22, 2007 03:37 PM

            i read a blistering review (negative) about sen nari on another board.
            the reviewer implied that there is a WIDE disparity between the quality of food that is served and the prices charged from one customer to another.
            they had ordered from the menu and had calculated ahead of time what the tab should have been.
            not only was the food bad, but they were substantially overcharged.
            the reviewer believed that others in the restaurant were being served better food at lower prices.

            1. re: westsidegal
              velozo155 RE: westsidegal Jun 22, 2007 04:20 PM

              Could be just a couple of haters posting negatively about Sen Nari. You should go and check it out for yourself at least once. The main chef there is a classically trained chef, meaning he didn't come out of no Manhattan Beach sushi school. Classically trained means about 12 years of strict training in Japan. I like Sen Nari sushi, but just can't afford to eat there as much as I'd like. One other note on sushi...yes, the freshness of the cut is important, but the main thing is the preparation of the rice. So try it out. Maybe you'll like it maybe you won't. But at least you will know for yourself. The place is xlnt quality.

              1. re: velozo155
                westsidegal RE: velozo155 Jun 22, 2007 04:42 PM

                probably won't risk the money to find out for myself.
                it sounds like a sizable investment.

                i live about equidistant from sen nari and sushi zo.

                keizo san at sushi zo has taken my tastebuds to places that they didn't know existed before..

                every single meal i've had at zo has been exceptional whether i've ordered from the menu or i've had omakase.

                1. re: velozo155
                  mpken RE: velozo155 Jun 23, 2007 11:40 AM

                  I've really enjoyed all my meals at Sen Nari. All the cuts were expertly prepared with such precision can care. A nice place to splurge.

                2. re: westsidegal
                  m
                  mrhooks RE: westsidegal Jun 24, 2007 10:51 PM

                  I don't know about that, but I do know from ordering omakase there that it's pretty expensive (over $60+tip per person), and while the chef obviously has skills, I thought the quality of the fish wasn't quite there. Not worth it when I can get a fantastic omakase at Shibucho for about half the cost (I live roughly equidistant from both). I hope it was just an off night.

                  1. re: mrhooks
                    westsidegal RE: mrhooks Jun 25, 2007 05:58 PM

                    are you talking about this shibucho?

                    3114 Beverly Boulevard
                    Los Angeles, California 90057-1016

                    1. re: westsidegal
                      SauceSupreme RE: westsidegal Jun 27, 2007 05:32 PM

                      Nope, this one

                      Sushi Shibucho
                      (949) 642-2677
                      590 W 19th St
                      Costa Mesa, CA 92627

                      Shibutani-san has the best knife skills I've seen there at Sushi Shibucho. His son Kaga also mans the bar (and, I believe, is the true owner of the shop-- his dad works for him!)

            2. r
              Rizza RE: purediva Jun 21, 2007 04:49 PM

              Sadly Tomi is not what it once was. The chef seems to be getting a little careless as he ages. 10 years ago it was awesome. You may want to gain the chefs trust a little too. Maybe by starting off with a salad they might think you're not so serious, not that it should make any difference, but you know how chefs can be. I'm a big saba fan, and find that it is a good indication on the quality of the chef sine they all prepare it differently . I have been enjoying Katsu in Manhattan Beach. It is awesome, and I had the most buttery scallop sashimi there. He also loves saba and prepares it wonderfully. I am constantly surprised by what he prepares. i always just ask him what's good and go with the reccomendation. He has been trying to turn me on to abalone which I keep telling him I don't like. but last week he made me a believer. It came as sashimi on the same tray as the scallop with octopus as well. There were two small bites of each item, and each bite was prepared differently ( ex:one seared, one with a dollop of tamarind). just an increadible sushi experience. He is very big on "don't dip". He also makes an amazing yellowtail tartar with pink peppercorn. It takes him 12 hours to prepare the peppercorns. But I never would have been able to order this, it's not on the menu. just like back in the day at Tomi when he would make me "something special", it took me a couple of visits to get the royal treatment at Katsu. I think you just need to find someone with fresh fish and get to know them, or get them to know you. Good luck. Report back if you try Katsu. It's in the El Porto building on the corner of Rosecrans and Highland right by the beach.

              1. n
                Nicole RE: purediva Jun 21, 2007 06:40 PM

                I have the same problem as you...moved to Hermosa from the Westside. And I have yet to find excellent sushi here. The best quality fish I've found is at Taiko on Rosecrans in Manhattan Beach, but the cuts of fish are small and expensive. And while it is pretty good, it is not great...it's only good by Southbay standards. And it's hard to ignore the fact that the Taiko branch in Brentwood is at once much better and less expensive. So we generally just drive up to the Westside for high quality sushi. But if you do get the occasional craving for heavily sauced, "fast-food" sushi rolls, Kai on Sepulveda in Manhattan Beach does this distinct genre of nontraditional sushi really well. They have some limited seating, but it's really a take-out place. My favorite Kai roll is the "hot night."

                1. s
                  spicychow RE: purediva Jun 22, 2007 12:09 PM

                  Hey Purediva,

                  You might want to try Miura on PCH. I think the cross street is close to Narbonne. It's a total hole in the wall, small, authentic sushi place. I also love Sushi Zo, Hiko, and Sasabune, so I think I know what you're going for here.

                  I've only ate at Miura once, but I was pretty impressed, esp their scallop sushi. It is exactly the way I like it, with rock salt and just a dash of lemon. The owner is very nice, and I had a very good dining experience. It's been a while though, so let me know what you think when you try it out...

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: spicychow
                    p
                    purediva RE: spicychow Jun 22, 2007 12:12 PM

                    Thanks Spicychow! I will google it, but what town is Miura in?

                    That's how we love our scallop too...

                    1. re: purediva
                      s
                      spicychow RE: purediva Jun 22, 2007 12:16 PM

                      I think if you google it, it says Lomita. If you're going south on PCH, it's on the right hand side, past Crenshaw, but before you hit Western. It's really small, but I don't think it will be too hard to find.

                    2. re: spicychow
                      b
                      baloney RE: spicychow Jun 24, 2007 04:28 PM

                      Tried Miura the other day on your rec, spicychow, and I was glad I did! I haven't found any place I would consistently go for sushi around here, but I would definitely return to Miura. The quality was great, service was sweet and the prices are reasonable. Granted, my fellow diners and I did not eat much as we were not very hungry, but the three of us got out of there at around $30pp after tax and tip. For sushi we had toro, tuna, scallop, giant clam, uni, snow crab, and spicy tuna roll(might be missing something). We also had a red bean miso soup for one, shrimp tempura app., and a broiled flounder app. Pretty good deal IMO.

                      1. re: baloney
                        s
                        spicychow RE: baloney Jun 25, 2007 02:26 PM

                        Oh, good!
                        I had a real positive experience there, but wasn't sure if I should recommend it, since I'd only been there once. But the fish was very fresh, and I'm glad you had a good dinner.
                        Wasn't sure about the price, since I didn't pay that time, but 30pp after all that sounds like a real good deal. I guess I'll just have to go back sometime soon.

                      2. re: spicychow
                        b
                        bulavinaka RE: spicychow Jun 24, 2007 04:34 PM

                        Over the past decade, Lomita has become somewhat of a hotbed for great food - please let's try to keep this to ourselves... :)

                      3. E Eto RE: purediva Jun 23, 2007 12:18 AM

                        Did you really want Edo style sushi? If so, you should have asked for it at Kanpachi (I'm assuming at Tomi as well). From what you've described, I'm having trouble accepting that you have a good grasp of what edo-mae sushi is. When I read something like "they didn't serve [kanpachi] with the usual requisite yuzu", or "albacore came w/o any of the usual fixings, no ponzu or anything"... it seems that you've come to understand sushi within the narrow context of what's marketed and served in LA. There is no requisite yuzu with kanpachi, or ponzu for albacore (I'm not sure if albacore refers to shiro maguro or katsuo either). Since you believe they are requisite ingredients, then I think you're being misled somewhere. Adding yuzu or ponzu is just one style of serving any of these fish, not THE way to serve it.

                        This leads me to another point. I'm perplexed as to why the blue crab handroll is so popular in LA, and has become a staple item on most sushi menus, when it's 1) not something served in Japan (none of my Japanese expat friends are familiar with it), and 2) it's not even a local ingredient (blue crab comes from the Chesapeake, doesn't it?). It's an LA invention, and it seems to have taken a life of its own here, and breeding on its own popularity. I've had it in LA, and like it, but I've never seen it in any of the sushi places in NYC (until Sasabune opened in NYC). What seems to be happening here is that the sushi chefs in LA have created their own sushi formula for Los Angelenos, I believe mostly because they've discovered what sells to the wider Los Angeles sushi eating public, without really dumbing down the sushi so far (it seems Sasabune has brought that formula to NYC). I also believe that this is sushi based on what is available locally at the market, which is why we see so much salmon, albacore, and hamachi (which aren't popular sushi ingredients in Japan). We're now seeing the availability of fish straight from Japan at the serious sushi places, and this is where you'll get real edo-mae sushi ingredients (Edo-mae sushi, while it refers to the style of nigiri sushi, also refers to the fish in the waters around Tokyo that's used in making the sushi).

                        Leading me to another point. Like it or not, sushi chefs bifurcate customers into two broad categories: one they take seriously and another who will most likely not get the best items available at a given time. This point has been discussed to death on the Not About Food board, so you can try to search for it (I couldn't find it). It seems to me that because of the heavier expat Japanese population around the South Bay, that bifurcation is probably more pronounced than in West LA (or LA proper, including Studio City) because there is a more educated sushi eating public that has learned to appreciate the standard courses set by the Nozawas, Sasabunes, and Gens. Ordering omakase is a good way to get into that first category, but not necessarily a guarantee (as omakase courses themselves can be bifurcated as well).

                        My dinner with my parents at Kanpachi a couple years back was pretty fantastic, and most of what we got was the stuff that was flown in from Japan. They didn't serve us any salmon or hamachi or albacore since the itamae sized us up as wanting a real edo-mae sushi experience. I wrote about it here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/62661

                        I hope I'm not being discouraging with this post. My tone might be a bit snarky, but I just want to point out what I feel is the state of the sushi economy. The bottom line seems to be that the first category of diners make the work interesting for sushi chefs, but it's the second group that really pays the bills. Even though a bad experience at one place might turn you off, persistence is key to get to the treasures, which is why it's important to establish a relationship with the chef. If you're led to believe this is a matter of ethnic discrimination, know that this is even more true in Japan.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: calabasas_trafalgar
                          omotosando RE: calabasas_trafalgar Jun 23, 2007 08:34 PM

                          I also wasn't sure if the OP was talking about $80 per person, or for two. Unfortunately, in my experience $40 does not in L.A. (or anywhere) buy a great sushi meal.

                          1. re: E Eto
                            E Eto RE: E Eto Jun 24, 2007 10:15 PM

                            Purediva, I hope this doesn't feel like more piling on, as that isn't my intention. You mention "buttery" which I take to mean mouthfeel and probably taste sensation. The most commonly associated fish to this description is hamachi. And after discussing this with some Japanese people, I came to better understand what it takes to make it "buttery". Basically, the buttery texture means that the hamachi is properly aged to attain that texture. Really fresh hamachi will be hard and chewy, and most of the websites I've perused recommend that hamachi rest at least 12 hours before it is served as sashimi, but even 12 hours doesn't give hamachi that buttery quality. It probably takes a couple days. There was an interesting graphic (graphic alone: http://www.sunny-net.co.jp/shiken/ken...) on this website on how to eat fish (in Japanese--scroll down to the graph): http://www.sunny-net.co.jp/shiken/ken...
                            This is a 3-D graph charting the optimal time to eat hamachi. The left axis measure the amount of "inocin" (not sure what the proper English term is--which is an acid that is associated with increasing the umami levels of the fish); the bottom axis measures time in hours, and the three lines represent the temperature levels at which the hamachi is kept, and the peak measures the best time to eat the hamachi. So, if the hamachi is kept at 10°C, then it'll reach its peak umami at 6 hours and diminish sharply after that, while the hamachi kept at 5°C will peak at about 10 hours, and diminish at a slower rate, and at 0°C, the hamachi peaks at 15 hours and remains pretty steady.

                            Unfortunately, this site doesn't talk about texture as much, but I'm led to believe that the buttery texture that most Americans like in hamachi is something that is attained some time after the first 36 hours. Most fish are a little firm and the meat "crunchy" when you try to eat it right when it's killed. Sushi chefs (at least the good ones) certainly know this and age the fish properly to get the optimal texture of most of the fish they serve. So it's possible that you got fish that was actually fresher than you might like. I'm going to have to do some more research on the texture issue, and see if I'm right on this.

                            1. re: E Eto
                              omotosando RE: E Eto Jun 24, 2007 11:33 PM

                              There does seem to be this trend in L.A. of serving very soft fish, sauced. I find the trend repugnant. To me, all the fish at these kinds of establishments tastes exactly the same -- soft, mushy and sauced -- but many many people on this Board rave about the establishments that specialize in this phenomenon.

                              1. re: E Eto
                                g
                                Goofy Yno RE: E Eto Jul 10, 2007 09:42 AM

                                E Eto,
                                I was reading this thread looking for a south bay sushi place. while your post didn't really help that pursuit, I did find it very interesting. thanks for posting it.

                              2. re: E Eto
                                e
                                Ernie RE: E Eto Jun 24, 2007 10:29 PM

                                Extremely well said, Mr. Eto. Japanese food in Japan is quite different than what LA westsiders consider "great"

                                1. re: Ernie
                                  p
                                  purediva RE: Ernie Jun 25, 2007 07:05 PM

                                  It looks like my earlier post was deleted by the moderator, and I'm not sure why since there was nothing inappropriate in it. So I'm going to try this again.

                                  I'm not interested in soft, mushy and sauced sushi. I'm interested in silky texture and pure, intense flavors. Bottom line, this comes down to personal preference. Omotosando, E Eto, Ernie...you're totally welcome to your opinion. As am I.

                                  1. re: Ernie
                                    velozo155 RE: Ernie Jun 25, 2007 07:36 PM

                                    Very true. Taste is very subjective. It's based on what people have eaten in the past. They should just realize that there's more out there than just what is on the westside, and it will most likely be different. With so many different places and different tastes, you can't just become a self-proclaimed sushi expert by hitting every sushi bar on the westside. I mean, can most of the people on this board even tell the difference between a Japanese or a Korean sushi chef?

                                    1. re: velozo155
                                      c
                                      calabasas_trafalgar RE: velozo155 Jun 27, 2007 01:09 PM

                                      I can. Just listen to them talk among themselves.

                                      1. re: calabasas_trafalgar
                                        velozo155 RE: calabasas_trafalgar Jun 27, 2007 02:17 PM

                                        My point is most people probably can't...

                                2. xhotelie RE: purediva Jun 23, 2007 09:50 PM

                                  Had a very good omakase at Sushi Ken in Torrance last weekend. Worth the trip to this part of the South Bay -- I think it was around $35 pp for the omakase, followed with a multitude of extras. Spirited staff, and a visit from the chef to check on our satisfaction. No hesitation recommending this one.

                                  Sushi Ken
                                  22831 Hawthorne Blvd # Bi
                                  Torrance, CA 90505
                                  (310) 378-9595

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: xhotelie
                                    TonyC RE: xhotelie Jun 25, 2007 09:31 PM

                                    definitely have to give a huge "Second" to the Sushi Ken rec. $30/pp omakase and all the freshly grated wasabi you want. killer deal.

                                    and in the same train of thought, Sushi Bei dserves a mentioning as well.

                                    Sushi in South Bay is powered by Japanese ex-pats. There is no "deal". It's doing just fine.

                                  2. kealoha RE: purediva Jun 25, 2007 06:23 PM

                                    My husband and I have the same dilemma as you! We've lived now in all three Beach Cities (Manhattan, Hermosa, and now South Redondo), and we are constantly on a quest for authentic, fresh sushi... without commuting to Gardena (yes, we consider driving to Gardena a "commute"... just laziness). Most of the sushi restaurants here are more about fun and atmosphere than the food. We've tried them all: Octopus, Penny Lane, Sushi Sei, Tomi, Club Sushi, Sushi Nari, Taiko, Fusion, Banzai Beach (new), Sushi Duke, Miyado, Gu Gu, Sun & Moon, etc. etc. And we've had to put up the with mediocracy, until we tried Japonica (Redondo Beach) and Momoyama (Redondo Beach), both on the advice of friends. Japonica is not your typical sushi restaurant, it's small, has sort-of tatami rooms, and a killer cold sake menu! We told our server to bring what he thought we might enjoy,... and enjoy we did! The ahi appetizer was absolutely melt-in-your-mouth, and was comparable to a dish we ordered at Nobu's, but for probably a fraction of the price. However, Japonica is not cheap by any means, it's actually pretty pricey, but worth it! Last Saturday night, we decided to give Momoyama a try. It opened in Redondo about 4 years ago, and just haven't gotten around to trying it. So GLAD we did! My test at every sushi bar is tuna tataki. Momoyama's was spectacular,... and the chef kept saying he made it special for me. I have a feeling that he makes all his customers feel special. Not a great sake menu, but the beers are nice and icy cold. I'm now a fan! My husband and I will probably not go back to the other aforementioned Beach Cities Sushi restaurants, unless forced,... we like quality and great taste.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: kealoha
                                      westsidegal RE: kealoha Jun 25, 2007 07:57 PM

                                      how pricey are these options?
                                      i live equidistant to sushi zo and to the south bay (torrance/gardena etc).
                                      would you say there is any advantage in terms of either food quality or price to driving south rather than driving northeast?

                                      1. re: westsidegal
                                        kealoha RE: westsidegal Jun 26, 2007 08:17 AM

                                        I've never been to Sushi Zo, so I don't know what you would consider "pricey", it seems to be different for everyone. Nobu, Matsuhisa, and Katsuya are what I would consider "pricey". Momoyama is more reasonable than Japonica.

                                        1. re: kealoha
                                          m
                                          mrhooks RE: kealoha Jun 27, 2007 06:23 PM

                                          Haven't been to Zo yet, but my friend went a couple of weeks ago. He had omakase, and was quite hungry. By the time he stopped, he had eaten over $120 worth of sushi. I don't recall how many pieces that was exacty, but I think it was somewhere in the low- to mid-20s.

                                          I'm somewhat reluctant to spend that much on sushi. I don't know how much more I'd enjoy it compared to what I can get at Shibucho (yeah the OC one) or Tama, unless I were to go to Urasawa.

                                          1. re: mrhooks
                                            SauceSupreme RE: mrhooks Jun 27, 2007 06:28 PM

                                            I enjoy Shibucho in OC, and while it's very good, it's a whole new ball game once you try out Zo. I tell people that you might not notice the upgrade, but you always notice the downgrade. Shibucho and Zo both have their place in the sushi spectrum, and I highly recommend people to try out both, especially since they represent different price points.

                                        2. re: westsidegal
                                          s
                                          spicychow RE: westsidegal Jun 26, 2007 01:14 PM

                                          I've been to momoyama's, japonica and sushi zo. I'd definitely stick with sushi zo.

                                          1. re: spicychow
                                            westsidegal RE: spicychow Jun 26, 2007 02:22 PM

                                            thanks so much.
                                            that's the info i needed

                                        3. re: kealoha
                                          n
                                          Nicole RE: kealoha Jun 26, 2007 10:06 PM

                                          Haven't been to Japonica, but we weren't impressed by Momoyama. The sushi was reasonably good, but not great. "Spectacular" definitely does not come to mind. I'd rather drive for better food!

                                          1. re: kealoha
                                            b
                                            BeachGrub RE: kealoha Jun 26, 2007 11:16 PM

                                            Just my thoughts but I can walk to Japonica and Momoyama. Japonica is very nice but much more an Izakaya (pub food like Musha) rather than a sushi place. They have sushi but not their specialty. The have a great sake selection and food is very good. Much more of a hollywood hipster/german techno vibe compared to Musha though.

                                            Momoyama was really good first time we went. They have changed things up a bit and the past few times we have been the fish quality and prep have steadily dropped. Mostly the cuts (not well prepped, lumpy, jagged) through us off if you follow. Haven't been back in a while because of it.

                                            I like Eki Eki (in the Creshaw/PCH center). The owners really seem to care and take great pride in their dishes.

                                            I wouldn't say it compares with the best in West-LA but I like it and the parking and crowds are much easier to deal with.

                                            It does seem like their should be much better around but haven't found it yet.

                                          2. OCAnn RE: purediva Jun 26, 2007 10:33 AM

                                            Funny...Years ago, with all the hoopla of the sushi-yas in WLA, I went and tried quite a few. They were anywhere from okay to very good, but I wasn't blown away. They were, to me, variations of neighborhood sushi-yas.

                                            Like you said: "...far be it from me to rationalize other people's sense of what good sushi is."

                                            Me, I'm not a sushi fanatic; but I love me some goooooood sushi. I've had them up & down this coast and on both sides of the Pacific Ocean. Everyone's experiences, palate, preferences and perception are different. Not saying one is better than another...just different. So no more driving out to WLA for me; I've found a great sushi restaurant in my neck of the woods.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: OCAnn
                                              t
                                              Tkn RE: OCAnn Jun 26, 2007 01:24 PM

                                              And that great sushi restaurant in your neck of the woods would be . . . ? C'mon! Enquiring minds wanna know!

                                              1. re: Tkn
                                                OCAnn RE: Tkn Jun 26, 2007 02:21 PM

                                                I'm sure every neighbourhood has a great sushi-ya. For Fullerton, it's Sushi Momo. If you can get past the decor, the sushi is sublime. I've been there many times, and each time I see the sushi bar, I stop in my tracks b/c the bar seems so...weird.

                                                Sitting @ the counter is a must; the service in the dining room can be terrible w/the exhaustedly long waits (particularly on Fri & Sat nights). Owner-itamae is Suzuki-san. He's not adverse to serving American rolls and has a great spicy tuna salad. Me, I usually order a combination of whatever he suggests and/or hamachi, toro, sake, amaebi and uni. He's closed Sundays; freshest sushi seems to be on Mondays.

                                                1979 Sunny Crest Dr
                                                Fullerton, CA 92835
                                                714-525-8974.

                                                Note: with the expansion of St Jude's, he's expected to relocate sometime this summer.

                                                1. re: OCAnn
                                                  g
                                                  Grubber RE: OCAnn Jun 26, 2007 07:52 PM

                                                  I'm with you, OCAnn. Had lunch there again today. Fresh and delish!

                                                  1. re: OCAnn
                                                    t
                                                    Tkn RE: OCAnn Jun 26, 2007 10:11 PM

                                                    Excellent! That's only 10 minutes away from my house. Thanks for the rec!

                                              2. m
                                                MahiMahiFish RE: purediva Jun 26, 2007 11:56 AM

                                                South Bay sushi is horrible. Hop on the 405 to the 90 West, exit Centinela. Hang a right and ust past Culver (west side of the street) is:
                                                Sakura Japanese Restaurant
                                                4545 Centinela Blvd.
                                                Los Angeles, Ca 90066
                                                866-703-3664
                                                We live in Hawthorne, west of the 405. If traffic is right, it can take about 10 minutes. However, sometimes the wait at Sakura can be 30 mins. Worth every second of your time!
                                                On another note, I have lived here for almost 10+ years, my wife and I are STILL scratching our heads why the south bay can't get a GOOD sushi bar.
                                                The Whole Foods opened about a mile from our house, sometimes, when I'm desperate, I head to their takeout counter, some items can provide a fix in a pinch.
                                                I have never tried Sushi Zo, sounds like I might be interested!

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: MahiMahiFish
                                                  velozo155 RE: MahiMahiFish Jun 26, 2007 07:45 PM

                                                  "South Bay sushi is horrible" but you'll eat sushi from Whole Foods. Wow, I guess I just didn't realize how crappy South Bay sushi really is...

                                                  1. re: MahiMahiFish
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                                                    BeachGrub RE: MahiMahiFish Jun 26, 2007 11:23 PM

                                                    I will say I have been to Sakura many times and it is good but it seems much more about the other home style dishes than the sushi there. They got the history, pretty low prices, and interesting dishes, but the fish quality for pure sushi, I don't see it.

                                                    I much prefer Irori nearby for pure quality sashimi and sushi.

                                                    1. re: BeachGrub
                                                      p
                                                      purediva RE: BeachGrub Jun 27, 2007 12:05 PM

                                                      Yeah I used to work by Sakura and I have to say I was underwhelmed by their sushi. Wasn't sure what all the hype was about...Mahi, try Zo. It'll knock your socks off.

                                                      Irori was our weekly sushi standby when we lived in MDR. Great quality to price value ratio, we could get in and out for under $60 for two no problem. Zo has forever ruined me for all other sushi, such that we don't enjoy Irori like we used to, but I would still recommend it over Sakura or anything we've had in South Bay yet.

                                                  2. r
                                                    Rizza RE: purediva Jun 29, 2007 03:52 PM

                                                    FYI - if you'reonsidering trying Katsu, he is in Japan for the next two weeks. I know the other chefs will be good, but for a first timer, wait for Katsu.

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