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Boston chowhound seeks LA sushi

I'm going to LA to visit a friend in a few weeks and really want to try some great LA sushi. My friend lives in Pasadena, right outside LA and has a car so I don't think there are any restrictions on location. A friend here who considers himself a "sushi snob" (his words not mine) highly recommended Masu. Another friend from CA recommended sushi nozawa or sushi echigo. I'm hoping to keep the dinner less than $100 (not including drinks) so I'm not sure if sushi nozawa is out of this price range. Any suggestions? Would Masu be good for what I'm looking for? Thanks in advance!

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  1. You'll never get a consenus on best Sushi for $100; however, the following on Sushi Zo might tickle your fancy since you'll probably not order as much:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/418716

    6 Replies
    1. re: JBC

      I like the spicy crispy tuna there...and the miso sea bass but the sushi I wasn't overly enthusiastic about.

      1. re: aflores

        are you talking about spicy crispy tuna and miso sea bass at SUSHI ZO in culver city? are you sure? to my knowledge keizo only serves sushi and sashimi and the only thing i've ever had cooked was lightly cooked fish on top of sushi (butterfish, i think). or maybe because we only do omakase there, i've never really looked at the menu.

        1. re: revets2

          You're right, revets. There's definitely no spicy crispy tuna on the menu at Sushi Zo nor any miso sea bass. Maybe alflores is talking about K-Zo?

          1. re: mollyomormon

            You said it as I was thinking it mom. Undoubtedly K Zo

            1. re: Servorg

              molly...i think you're absolutely right. for the price, anjlm should eat at SUSHI ZO coming from boston. they should order รก la carte or let keizo know their limit is $50 per person. they should also order the "live" sake.

              we also have friends who have extraordinary sushi taste who really enjoyed their omakase meal at echigo.

      2. If you don't want to venture too far from Pasadena, I've always had good omakase at Z Sushi, in Alhambra, just south of Huntington. I think a friend and I have gotten out of there for around $40/person. I haven't been there for over a year, though, so I don't know if things have changed a lot.

        Sushi Masu is very good also - I took a friend there for her birthday, and we got omakase, and that came out to just over $100, with 3 beers. I especially liked how our sushi chef (the younger of the two), took care in the presentation of the fish. We got an assortment of sushi and sashimi, and everything was very good. I don't know if it's worth the drive from Pasadena, though, especially since I haven't been to Sushi Zo or Kiriko or the other places mentioned on the board.

        10 Replies
        1. re: jacinthe

          I second Z Sushi. Great place. I think it's a perfect neighborhood sushi joint. Not enough for me to want to drive from my end of LA, but if I'm in the Pasadena area, it's definitely on my radar.

          1. re: SauceSupreme

            coming from the area we much prefer to drive to the valley, downtown, even the westside than eat at Z SUSHI. we think it's not even remarkable enough to scratch the itch. you can always let the chef know you have a $50 limit. lots of other good reccs being made here.

            1. re: revets2

              I would NEVER, EVER, go to the Westside or the Valley rather than eat at Z Sushi. Downtown, maybe.

              1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                i think we know this about you CT. thanks for reminding us!

          2. re: jacinthe

            I will 2nd Sushi Masu, my current fav (with Sushi Gen still on the waitlist...)

            It was 60 for omakase w/o tip 1 drink (me + gf). Best sushi experience ever, done by Masu himself.

            1. re: jacinthe

              We go to Z Sushi a lot. It's hit or miss regarding whether the sushi is fresh. My husband has a theory that the sushi is fresher on busier days like the weekend. The teriyaki chicken or beef is just americanized chinese stir-fry! and the tempura is not light/flaky/crunchy like it should be.

              1. re: malisa

                not sure how that theory is valid considering the wholesale fish markets are not open on weekends.

                1. re: malisa

                  if you stick with toshi's recommendations you're usually ok. but there have been times when toshi has told me that i wouldn't want to order a particular item that day - something that he might serve to someone with a less discerning palate - and i've ordered something else instead. also, if you let toshi know what day you plan on visiting, he'll make an effort to have your favorites on hand - especially if you favor some of the esoteric stuff that might otherwise go to waste because so few patrons will order it.

                  1. re: barryc

                    we've returned a few times with open minds and always done omakase with toshi. we always leave disappointed. bear in mind, we're not looking for the temple of sushi, here. just looking for something to scratch the itch.

                    i find it disappointing that a sushi chef might have two standards in the quality of fish being served.

              2. Also consider (but maybe over your price range):

                Asanebo in Studio City: better to me than Nozawa or Katsu ya.

                Sushi 4 on 6 in Encino.

                Ike Sushi in Tarzana

                Good and affordable compared to others: Sushi House of Taka on Van Nuys in Sherman Oaks.

                A more affordable Omakase is Tama in Sherman Oaks..but I had a super bad experience there with service. I seem in the minority, though.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Diana

                  Diana -- I am responding to change one letter ("Ike" to "Iki") because I really like Sushi IKI in Tarzana, but I don't care for IKE Sushi in Hollywood (although there are many posters who do like the latter).

                  Sushi Iki
                  18663 Ventura Blvd.
                  Tarzana

                  Ike Sushi
                  6051 Hollywood Blvd.
                  Hollywood

                  1. re: liu

                    You're right..Iki is the better one!

                2. dinner for two less than $100 or $100 for each person?
                  before or after tax and tip?

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: westsidegal

                    $100 for 2 before tax and tip. I don't mind going a bit over $100 for good sushi, but I am a medical student so price is definitely a consideration.

                    1. re: AnjLM

                      I got out of Sushi Zo last week a la carte for $97 for two before tax and tip. We ordered until we were full and also shared a bottle of their live sake (which I think is $40) and a beer.

                      1. re: mollyomormon

                        although i've done that on occasion too, i couldn't get near being full on that amount if i walked in really hungry to begin with.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          i was really disappointed the last time at zo, no caring and the fish just wasn't as good as at the other omakase places around town, the slice were super tiny too.

                          never again.

                          and they were also gauche enough not to have me try some of the yuzu smoothie.

                          oh, well, now there are much better places around town.

                          1. re: kevin

                            what yuzu smoothie do you speak of? all i know is that they provide a chilled yuzu shot at the end of an omakase.

                            a yuzu smoothie...that sounds good.

                            1. re: kevin

                              i've never seen a yuzu smoothie there.
                              do they even have a blender in the place?
                              when did you see a smoothie?
                              what did it look like?
                              i've only been given yuzu juice when i've had omakase there.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                Zo's yuzu "juice" is, to me, more like an elixir or a nectar. It has perfect clarity -- that of a plum wine -- without the alcohol. It is almost like a reduced yuzu syrup.

                                Last year, I tried reducing some yuzu fruits with sugar and water, but I did not come close to Zo's. He told me he imported it from Japan and that it was not available in the States. Perhaps the next 'Hound to go to Japan will check this out????!

                                1. re: liu

                                  so that means he doesn't make it himself?

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    Hi, kevin!
                                    The message he sent to my inquiry about where to purchase this divine nectar was that it was an imported product and that I could not obtain it in an Asian market. Since this was about a year ago -- just after he opened -- he may be doing something else at the present time.
                                    Perhaps you or anyone else could ask him and share his response.

                          2. re: mollyomormon

                            My bad, that was two glasses of sake, not a bottle. A bottle would have been way more expensive.

                          3. re: AnjLM

                            Tama on Ventura Blvd. (btwn Radford & Colfax) is definitely the place to go.

                            The quality of the fish and the atristry of the chefs is top notch, plus you are about a 20 minute drive from Pasadena - barring a traffic disaster.

                            Try to reserve seats at the bar. Their menu offers 6 different omakase options (3 are sushi/3 are sashimi) - the most expensive of which is the $50 dollar option which works out perfectly for your budget.

                            Asanebo is great but you'd be hard pressed to come in at $50/ person at Asanebo without feeling famished and resentful of the pricing and portions.

                            -----
                            Tama Sushi
                            11920 Ventura Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 91604

                            1. re: bodie

                              Does Tama do mostly straightforward suhi/sashimi? or do they have some creative rolls as well? .

                              1. re: AnjLM

                                Ummmm..many here consider "creative rolls" not real LA sushi.
                                Tama omakase will be either all Nigiri/basic rolls or all sashimi, or a mix if you request. You ask the itame for come sort of creative roll, you will be labeled as sort of a "sushi newbie" (hey, I dig theme rolls now and again, when I'm in the mood. SOmetimes, you just want the junk food!)

                                If you want "Rock N' Rolls" or "Philadelphia Rolls" or "Sumo Rolls" or such thing, I highly reccomend you go to some place like Sushi Dan Rocking Sushi, which has a huge menu of giant themed rolls, as well as the basics. I find it gross, really, but they do focus on themed rolls.

                                1. re: Diana

                                  Thanks for the advice...coming from Boston I guess I do consider myself somewhat of a "sushi newbie" which is why I'm excited to try it in LA. Basic rolls are perfectly fine with me. I just thought it would be good to have a mix of sushi and a few rolls which it sounds like I can request at Tama.

                                  1. re: AnjLM

                                    I'd say Tama is a really good choice.

                                    Also, think of trying Sushi House of Taka on Van Nuys in Sherman oaks

                                    I wouls sort of think about skipping omakase meals, and just go in and ask the itame what's really fresh.

                                  2. re: Diana

                                    "real LA sushi" - now there's an oxymoron if i ever heard one!

                          4. How about sushi plus drinks for less than $100... Kabuki has two locations in Pasadena; the Hasting Ranch area on Foothill or in Old Town Pasadena on Colorado.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Young K.

                              kabuki is just not up to par with the others reccomended. It's sort of cheap chain sushi.

                              1. re: Diana

                                Kabuki would be my last pick for "great LA sushi". I'm sorry, but I had the worst sushi experience there.

                                1. re: spicychow

                                  As bad as it is, Kiku Sushi in Monrovia is even worse. When we were there we witnessed a chef putting frozen tuna IN THE MICROWAVE to defrost it. Unbelievable. We'll never go back!

                                  1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                                    Wow, that's so bad it's hilarious. You're right, that is the worst I've heard!!