Omakase at Azami
I just had the most wonderful lunch at Azami today. Let's cut to the chase and have the rundown, shall we:
1. Yellowtail carpaccio
2. Salmon spring roll with wasabi cream
3. Big eye tuna
6. Yellowtail belly
7. Spanish mackerel
8. Sea scallops from Japan
9. Japanese snapper with salted lemon
12. Blue crab hand roll
The standouts were the carpaccio, albacore, kanpachi, and Japanese snapper. The variety (and piquant qualities) of the seasonings used along with the quality of fish made this one of the most memorable sushi experiences in recent memory. The price was almost $50, a bit more than some of the other bloggers have reported. Having said that, the meal felt completely worth it and I will return and pass the good word on. This is the best sushi experience I have had since my Urasawa bank-breaking ah-ha moment earlier this year - and a mere fraction of that hefty price.
Not sure all of the posts about standoffish and lackluster service. Everyone there was perfectly attentive and really warm and approachable. The staff made the afternoon all the better for me and the much needed respite I needed from the city heat.
ZO is the current buzz for good reason. TAMA and ZO are difficult to compare side-by-side. the fish, service, creativity are all of a much higher experience at ZO and the price is higher to reflect this. TAMA is a really great value for the money. TAMA and AZAMI are a fair QPR comparison, however I think TAMA's fish and execution are better as much as i really like the AZAMI-gals.
dj, " - and a mere fraction of that hefty price," looks and feels like a comparison and some assumed, as did i, that you were making a relative value comparison.
my point was you can have a great experience as you did at AZAMI, but it does need to be near empty to do so. i think nikki and sayori know who their core clientele is and i acknowledge they try to go all out for us because they know what we like, but i don't what recommend to other hounders on the weekend lest they'd expect a more ethereal experience.
With open mind and sushi fever, I went for lunch today to Tama. Very good, but I must say disappointing as well. Let me elaborate on the meal.
Amuse: steamed Japanese eggplant in miso - served cold and a perfect summer dish. Had me eager for the rest of the experience.
Nigiri (2 pieces each)
Scallops from Boston with fresh lime juice and black sea salt
Yellowtail with green onion and roe
Amberjack with yuzu juice and salt
Huh? I was kind of surprised that I got ten pieces of five fish rather than ten unique pieces. So, the quality. Very good fish, indeed. Of great note, the scallops and the yellowtail belly were exceptional. However, as the meal progressed, and it did at a rapid clip, the placement of the wasabi (or ersatz wasabi) started to hit the bottom of the rice and made each bite a bit of a stun. The service from the chef was warm, convivial, and attentive, and appreciative. The floor service was rather slow though.
It wasn't that much of a trek. I live in WeHo and it was a hop skip over the canyon, but not itching to race back. Zo is next on the list for sure.
Having said all of this, it was a perfectly wonderful sushi lunch. And a good value for the quality and volume of fish I received. Not the end-all-be-all that others have reported. If there are any hints on how to maximize the experience at Tama, I am all ears.
we had roughly the same omakase menu on friday night. sayori's first course was some hamachi encased in avocado sitting with yuzu sorbet. very good. very inventive. we didn't have the salmon and only the guys had enough room for the crab roll. that being said, service friday night was pretty atrocious and we were expecting it to be pretty slow. a couple who arrived after us was served before us and one of our guests received three of their non-omakase dishes before we ever got one. subsequently, that guest had to wait for the omakase guests to be served. it also took them a long time to bring the check and there were people waiting for our seats. they are terribly understaffed.
i appreciate what these gals do and when we do go, we try not to go on a weekend, but your lunch may have been less crowded than our dinner service. sayori always came back to check on us, but it was hard to get more beer and sake.
the sushi was not top flight. i also think the saucing is heavy handed to the point where i can't taste the fish. i'm not sure they should have even attempted to serve the uni.
the trick is not to go when it's very, very busy. that being said, the joint was packed and we had our usual celeb sighting. this time it was adrian grenier (entourage). i must concur with russkar, it's a real stretch to compare the relative value of URASAWA and AZAMI.
TAMA is putting out higher quality fish at roughly the same price.
Well, I did go at lunch and was the sole diner. I practically had the place to myself and was able to have a really intimate and well served meal.
As for the Urasawa comments, I stated that it was the best sushi meal I have had since my Urasawa experience. I did not state that is was a similar experience. After being wowed at Urasawa, I have been trying earnestly to find other sushi joints that might sufficiently state my cravings as $300+ a dinner is something I probably won't be doing very often. Azami is the first new place I have tried since that evening that made me feel extraordinarily good on a visceral and emotional level.
We all know on this board that taste is subjective, so it often surprises me when I experience such overt and knee jerk snobbish comments to what was a genuinely wonderful meal that I wanted to share with the other 'hounds. I mean, people on here defend Tijuana dogs off street corners and behemoth sized products from Costco. There really is a great equalizing force that takes place within this community from the open minds that venture out into the world of eating in Los Angeles and report back their pleasurable memories.
That being said, I had a great experience at Azami. And it is possible.
A guest and myself had omakase dinner at Azami friday night, but on the early side (6 p.m.). We began with a lobster roll, then the yellowtail carpaccio (love those pink peppercorns!) and then the sushi (don't remember all the pieces; bad foodie, better dining companion. i remember the Scottish salmon, albacore, Spanish mackerel, sea scallop [my fave] toro, eel...) and finished with the blue crab hand roll. Unfortunately we couldn't be seated at the bar, which was a bone of contention with me. They had all the seats marked for reservations, and insisted our omakase would take 90 minutes (so we couldn't sit where the 7:30 peeps would sit when we arrived at 6)--our meal took less than an hour, and i knew it would; meanwhile a couple who came in after us were allowed to sit at that aforementioned bar seat. I must say that ticked me off, but our server was extra congenial, and he even joked with us--when they served our blue crab handrolls to the baffled women a the table next to us (they didn't eat them, either, what a shame!)--that things only go wrong when it's slower in there, and that when it's packed things always go smoothly. I guess, after reading what other posters say, that is merely the insider's perspective. Interesting.
I would agree that nothing compares to Urasawa, but there's nothing wrong with using it as a point of reference. (LOL, I just did!) Frankly, nothing does compare, and to say that you're spoiled for "regular" sushi after Urasawa is understandable; I know I am. Curiously enough, Azami ranks second as my favorite "non-Urasawa" sushi place, only behind TAMA, as revets2 mentions. But I'll somehow spend less money at TAMA (Azami charged me $47 a person for omakase, which didn't seem to jive with what was listed on the menu) and TAMA comes in around $40.