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Jun 21, 2007 10:47 PM

HIKO SUSHI | Great sushi, Heartbreaking Experience [moved from LA board]

I am a Chowhound fanatic. I love reading this board - namely because every single recommendation I've taken from this board has always turned out to be a positive experience. I love the whole concept of this board, enough to even buy a nice camera to help document my eating adventures in Los Angeles.

I experienced the *worst* dining experience ever at any dining establishment tonight. I am sorry to say I will never goto Hiko Sushi again. Having grown up in different places in the world, I've never put a premium on service when eating at a restaurant. Great service is always a positive in my book, but if I've had lackadaisical service, so be it. I'm originally from Hong Kong - I've had great food with the worst service ever but I'm still fine with it. It's when the OWNER/CHEF - insults your intelligence - that's when it got to me.

Let me tell you the story...

I wanted to take my friend who supposedly HATED sushi to an establishment I really liked. Now, I only discovered Hiko out of luck - previously I had always gone to Sasabune or Nozawa to get my warm rice sushi fix. I stumbled upon Hiko through blind sushi luck.

I was determined to "convert" my friend to like sushi, or at least appreciate it. What better place than to take them to Hiko, which decidedly became one of my top spots for sushi.

Granted, I loved eating and I decided to capture my experience with photos - I wanted to post up photos of delicious food and spread the word. The experience was MINDBLOWING. I love eating at Hiko. Fresh fish & warm rice with a cold glass of beer. Simply heaven, right?

I took photos of every piece of sushi I ate - up until the last plate, the waitress said "Sorry, no photos". At that point, I was slightly confused but obliged - if there were no photos allowed then I should have been warned way in advance. For God's sake, there were at least ten "No Cell Phones" signs posted in the restaurant, they should post "No Cameras". I walked in the restaurant with a big ol' DSLR. Anyhow, that's besides the point. After that moment, we decided to leave since they were closing up.

Upon paying the bill, which was close to $170-180 for two people, we walked out of the restaurant. Then...

Chef Nazi asks: "What are you taking the photos for?"

I replied: "I like to take photos of food, and I like sharing the pictures with my friends."

Nazi: "If you had common sense, you would have asked for permission first."

I paused for second and didn't believe what I was being told. Dumbfounded..

I replied: "I'm sorry, I should have asked."

Nazi repeated his words sternly: "You should have asked for permission if you had common sense. But that was ONLY if you had common sense."

I walked away insulted, embarrassed, and everything that I had enjoyed - developed a very unpleasant taste in my mouth. Sad to say, I won't go to Hiko Sushi ever again. Quite unfortunate, as I thought I had such a great meal...

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  1. Sidenote - Granted, I should have asked for permission out of respect for the chef - I realize that. However the nazi chef could have been more tactful in the way he talked to me - I was, at the end of the day, a patron. He's not the first to invent warm sushi nor the last... respect your clients and they will keep coming.

    1 Reply
    1. re: thehungryman

      Sorry to hear about your experience. I've heard several similar things about the chef there. No food is worth insult and humiliation.

    2. Thanks for sharing your experience.
      I agree 100% with cfylong 'No food is worth insult and humiliation.'
      Definitely, we wont' be going to Hiko Sushi.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lvgoodfood

        Terrible experience you had. I went here w/ my gf after reading Gold's LA Weekly article about him being an omakase warrior. The overall caveat of this place was that fish was pre-cut, even when it was slow during prime time. Everything tasted fine, but the temperature of the fish was warmer than usual. Nothing really blew my pants off here. He was a nice chef but not a man of many words, but that doesn't bother me - I'm used to chef Keizo of Sushi Zo. I'm glad I tried this place out, but will probably try other places for their omakase.

      2. There's too much good sushi in this town to bother dealing with an itamae who makes a customer feel that way.

        1. Just have to share my Hiko experience. My husband and I went a few weeks ago. I was looking up a phone number on my blackberry to give to my husband. I was not using my phone nor sending emails....just needed to give him an imporant phone number. Yep, you guessed it, I was scolded for having my blackberry out of my purse. I agree with the no cell phone policy but not sure I'm willing to pay to have my every move controlled.

          4 Replies
          1. re: priscilla2

            Wow, wonder if cell phones and blackberries are allowed in the restrooms, or does chef have cameras monitoring the stalls too ;-). Maybe he should just put in walk-thru metal detectors at the front door and have security employ 'the wand'...

            1. re: silence9

              He had a sign that says no cell phones. While no one should be scolded, but if people would read and follow the sign there'd no need for "scolding".

            2. re: priscilla2

              While I agree with you about the "scolding" part, no cell phone means no cell phone. I cannot understand the need to have cell phones at everywhere, restaurants, concerts, lines in coffee shops, grocery stores. Even though you were not actually calling anyone, just to have your blackberry on means someone may call you and your phone would ring, thus disturbing others who were there with the expectation that no one would use cell phones.

            3. that sucks, however, it is common courtesy to ask for permission prior to taking pictures inside a restaurant. however, i do not condone him waiting till you were done with your meal to berate you. that just plain blows.

              10 Replies
              1. re: wilafur

                Is it common courtesy to ask first? I wouldn't have thought twice about it. Hungryman was taking photos in order to document his delicious meal and share the find with others, thereby popularizing the restaurant. I do this all the time myself and witness many others doing so as well. $180 for two people would make this a special occasion for most people, and I really can't see what he did wrong. Perhaps the chef is paranoid of sushi spies or something?

                1. re: BobtheBigPig

                  if they dont care that you take pictures (and eagerly help you with the pictures) at Urasawa, i really don't think people should have a problem.

                  i bet its because the chefs are insecure and worried people will "steal" their ideas

                  1. re: clayfu

                    There is a Kaiseki place in Toronto that doesn't allow you to take pictures -- they take them for you. They are worried about less than great picture of their food being seen. This way, they please their diners and don't have to worry about their image being tarnished.

                  2. re: BobtheBigPig

                    I think it's more that it's really annoying for other diners. Especially if the flash is used.

                    1. re: hrhboo

                      There is nothing more obnoxious than a camera flash going off throughout one's meal. If pictures are taken discreetly and without disturbing the other diners, then I don't have a problem with it.

                      But I do understand where the chef is coming from -- which isn't to say I condone how he expressed himself. I would think a chef wants his customers to relax and experience the meal, not analyze it as if it were a science experiment.


                      1. re: hungrygirl106

                        I agree about the flash. However, aside from that, I actually like seeing people taking pictures of their food - they are enjoying it and are enthusiastic about the dishes.

                    2. re: BobtheBigPig

                      Yes it definitely is common courtesy to ask first. Esp in high end restaurants others don't want to disturbed by cameras clicking away.

                      1. re: PeterL

                        I really doubt that the clicking of camera shutters will drown out the laughing and talking in the restaurants I find myself eating at.

                    3. re: wilafur

                      Why should someone have to ask? What if they are reviewing the restaurant? To ask permission to take photos -- instead of doing so surreptitiously -- would be breaking cover.

                      1. re: Covert Ops

                        Professional reviewers usually schedule to have pictures taken after they have been the restaurant.