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Non-foodie sushi places!

Ok this is chow hound so we're all about good food. I'm all for that. However sometimes i'm looking for a good time with friends as opposed to a Zen experience with the perfect piece of raw fish.

In a sentence: Has to be a fun place for a bunch of friends in their 20's, but still have decent sushi and not break the bank.

The criteria:

Atmosphere: Stunning decor is not required, but not a place with a cafetria or diner type feel to it. Most importantly, has to be lively and fun for a bunch of friends out at an evening dinner.

Food: A full sushi menu with at least "decent" quality is a requirement, but NOT limited to just sushi. Some people in the group will definitely want their dragon and spider rolls. A good drink selection would be a plus, but as long as there is something alcoholic in the place, it should be fine.

Location: The west side. Santa Monica, WLA, West Hollywood, etc.

Price: Affordable! Something around $20-$40 pp. Please do not suggest sushi roku.

From what i've read Musha on Wilshire sounded kind of like what i'm describing, but i'm not sure how much of a sushi place it is and what their prices are like. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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  1. Musha is fun, has great food, and is right around your price range. However, I personally find their sushi and sashimi to be by far their weakest offerings (and I'm pretty sure there are no rainbow-type rolls to be found) but the rest of their menu is excellent.

    14 Replies
    1. re: nimo

      I love Musha, but my husband refusesto go back because of the grade they keep receiving from the Board of Health. It's kind of scary.

      1. re: cupcake

        Musha has a B rating, not that scary! Plenty of great places have a B.

        1. re: hrhboo

          When it comes to sushi, a B scares me.

          1. re: cupcake

            I agree with you on that! I thought you were referring to the other dishes at Musha, which are superior to their sushi and arrive nice and hot.

            1. re: hrhboo

              And it actually had a C for a little while there which didn't stop me from going, but I don't ever go there for sushi. Mmmm...pork belly.

              1. re: mollyomormon

                It wouldn't stop me either, nothing could keep me away from that belly!

            2. re: cupcake

              To paraphrase a scene from West Wing:

              Molly: "If you want to go to Musha, a C Rating wouldn't stop me."

              Boo: "If we're ordering the pork belly, red lights wouldn't stop me."

                1. re: hrhboo

                  So I had the pork belly last night at Musha -- awesome.

                  Reminded me of home as my mother prepares stewed 'lechon' the same way... with rice instead of a giant potato.

                  -----
                  Musha
                  424 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                   
        2. re: nimo

          What about Hama Sushi on Main Street in Venice?

            1. re: nimo

              I love Musha too, but they do not serve sushi, and their sashimi is definitely their weakest offering. I do love lots of dishes there.

            2. Chaya Venice, Wabi-Sabi and Akwa would all fit your requirements. Not *amazing* sushi, but good sushi in a fun atmosphere. Great cooked dishes too. I agree with Nimo above, the sushi offerings at Musha are not their strong suit.

              1 Reply
              1. re: hrhboo

                I do adore Musha's spicy tuna dip. Sigh.

              2. En Sushi on Santa Monica Blvd. in West L.A. -- Fresh sushi, affordable, and hip decor. I love Musha for their tapas, but like some of the others have said, their rating dropped to a C! Yikes.

                1. U-zen on Santa Monica just a block or so east of Bundy would fit. They have a lot of small cooked dishes as well. Try the chicken, (or you can sub shrimp, scallops or squid) with garlic sprouts -- addictively good.

                  http://losangeles.menupages.com/resta...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Servorg

                    I second U-Zen. Another possibility is Hakata on Wilshire. They have a wide selection of sushi rolls, cooked food, and a full bar. They can also accommodate a reasonable sized group. It's our neighborhood sushi joint and sports bar.

                    Musha is fun, but has almost no sushi, and it's not the reason to go there. Also, they aren't open for lunch, dinner only (not sure what you were planning). If you want an izakaya with more sushi, Sasaya on Santa Monica (not too far up the street from U-Zen) has rainbow rolls and a few other sushi offerings in addition to other izakaya treats. Shochu cocktails, beer, wine, and sake (similar to Musha). Also, 6pm on as well.

                  2. The Canal Club, though possible to get expensive, is perfect for what you want.

                    Also, Yabu on Pico and Kifune on Washington

                    Taka-Sushi (yummy shiitake salad!!!)

                    The Hump is probably too pricey.

                    In WeHo, Katana and Koi I fear would blow the bank too, but they are sushi/Japanese/fusion cuisine. More reasonable in the area is Umai on Santa Monica.

                    I do second Chaya Venice and Akwa.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Emme

                      Chaya is a great rec - it's got a nice dining room that's kinda hip, the crowds will probably be what they're looking for, and the food is great and sushi one of the offerings as opposed to the main attraction. It would be money well-spent for this group...

                    2. Midori all you can eat sushi, with several branches on the Ventura Blvd Strip, can meet your needs. Sushi isn't a life-changing experience there, but it's decent, and has a good miz of sashimi, nigiri and rolls. The one in Sherman Oaks is my fave-they have reasonable decent drinks. If you buy a certian sake, you get to write all over the wooden square cup and they keep it for you.

                      The sushi on the all you can eat menu is surprisingly diverse and tasty. not all theme rolls, but there is penty of everything.

                      All you can eat is under $40 per person for dinner, less for lunch.

                      I know it's out of your location, but it ain't bad. I like it when I want to gorge on reasonable sushi.

                      When I have more $$, I go to Asanebo or 4 on 6.

                      1. How about Cafe Sushi on Beverly Blvd, just east of La Cienega? I realized it's not west side but it's festive and fun, reasonably priced and has trendy sushi as well as traditional fare.

                        1. Azami is a friendly casual place with great food. They have beer and sake. Prices around $30-40 per person. They don't list the rolls on the menu but will make pretty much anything you want.

                          But it is a foodie place because it's so good. You will just have to suffer!

                          1. Thanks a lot for all the recs. I drove by a few places mentioned after work today and I think we'll try En Sushi. I'll let you know how that goes. My back up plan is Hide in case I can convince them to go for a more food oriented experience :)

                            There are so many places to check out, I hope this will be just the first of many. En looks best right now for the atmosphere and it's really close for everyone unlike some of the weho/culver city locations mentioned. I curious what our bill be in the end, but I guess we'll find out.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: karamazov

                              If you go during happy hour, then you shouldn't have a problem meeting your budget. 5-7 every night and they also have a late night one after 9 or 9:30 on Thursday nights.

                              1. re: mollyomormon

                                yep, great pricing on thurs after 9:30pm. but you need to fight for space at the bar or snag a table in the bar area otherwise they will not serve you food unless you have a spot to put the food.

                            2. I'd suggest taking a look at Bar Hayama. My feeling, after a few visits, is that it is a perfect SoCal place to kick back, drink some sake and have a good time. You'll notice I didn't mention the food (or sushi specifically); it has been OK to good the times I have been. But, that said, I'll still return for the nice, lively atmosphere, pleasant outdoor areas and a huge sake list.

                              Bar Hayama
                              1803 Sawtelle Blvd.
                              http://www.bar-hayama.com/

                              1. Hirozen, in the corner of the strip mall on Beverly & Orlando. Heard about it from a coworker of mine who has similar sushi standards as what you're describing, and she actually drives from the valley to eat sushi here she loves it so much. Also the fact that it is relatively inexpensive. I took the SO here for a birthday and he went to town (I think he ordered 4 rolls), loved everything, and the total cost for both of us with drinks was about $70-80 if I recall correctly. Nice enough interior but it's pretty small, so if your group of friends is over probably 10 people it wouldn't be a great place for you.

                                -----
                                Hirozen
                                8385 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: LisaStitch

                                  Hirozen is definitely one of my favorite neighborhood joints. My only complaint is that the sushi tends to be heavily "sauced" whereas a place like Sushi Ike minimizes the amount of stuff that gets added to the fish. Kiriko is somewhere in between in terms of the amount of sauced nigiri items.

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                                  Ike Sushi
                                  6051 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                                  Kiriko
                                  11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064