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Honestly ?

Does everyone truly agree with the reviews that say Sake Cafe is the best sushi place in N.O.?

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    1. No, I don't even think they're top 3. My current favorite is Ninja on Oak St.

      1. While we did not do any other sushi, while in NOLA, I would hope that there is better. Our dining was good, but not great. However, I do not feel that is fair to rate a sushi restaurant in NOLA, against ones in other spots - SF, Hawai`i, even Phoenix.

        I'll watch this thread, to see what we missed.


        1. Horinoya on Poydras consistently serves the highest quality sushi in New Orleans. I have heard several comments from others that it's expensive, but these are usually the same type of diners who buy higher grade toro and then wonder why their bill is higher than usual! The owners are always there and always gracious. She is always in the front helping out; he is always behind the sushi bar working hard. ((BTW - this is where Chef Scott Boswell of Stella! took the French Iron Chef Sakai (of the original Japanese Iron Chef series) to have sushi when he visited New Orleans last March!))

          2 Replies
            1. re: mhiggins

              Me three on Horinoya. Not only is the fish always of good quality, the chef/owner features local species. His whitefish is often snapper, flounder, cobia/lemonfish or other gulf species, not some flown-in escolar or generic sea bass from God knows where. The nigiri & rolls aren't huge, bloated, american-style pieces, either; you can fit them into your mouth in one or two bites.

              H is also aesthetically superior to some other sushi spots in town. All of the dishes are ceramic or wood, seasonally appropriate, and selected to complement the items served on them. No cheap restaurant-grade white plates or (worse) plastic. In addition, the place is sparklingly clean, quiet, and soothing. It also has a couple of private tatami rooms in the back.

          1. Not a fan of Sake Cafe. They've been off the list for years. In addition to Horinoya, which I agree is the best, I like Ninja and Wasabi a lot. BTW, have you guys seen the advertisement for the WWII Museum on the side of the Horinoya building?

            1 Reply
            1. re: uptownlibrarian

              Another vote for Horinoya--in fact, Im thinking that might be today's lunch spot. And, yes, I've noticed the ad. Interesting placement.

            2. I like Horinoya too, but my current favorite is a little place in Fat City called Kanno. The same things people like about Horinoya (fresh fish, owners on the premises and working) are true at Kanno.

              I think the key to having a good experience at a sushi restaurant is to go a few times, and sit at the bar. Get to know the chef, and order omakase; let him feed you. He'll undoubtedly ask you questions about what you like, and you may end up trying something you hadn't before.

              1 Reply
              1. No. Our two favorite sushi places are Yoko and Ninja.

                6 Replies
                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                    Yoko is on Vets in Metairie between Cleary and Clearview. I think it used to be Miyako.

                    1. re: mrsfury

                      Has it improved substantially since it became Miyako? 'Cause Mikayo's sushi was nothing special, that's for sure.

                  2. re: mrsfury

                    Maybe you see something I don't, because I think NInja's rice is excessive and not fresh. and their service is terrible.

                    1. re: Troika

                      That's funny Toika because you've hit on two points that I can't speak to: I always get sashimi, never any rice involved, and I always pick it up to eat at home.

                  3. I completely disagree that Sake Cafe is the best. If you want the best Sake Cafe has to offer, you have to go to the Kenner location. And who wants to go to Kenner for sushi?

                    The best sushi before the storm was at Kyoto on Prytania. After the storm, it's Ninja on Oak. I think one of the keys to that is my favorite sushi chef, Steve. Of all the things I miss about New Orleans, Steve's sushi is #1 on the list.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: rapunzel

                      Even the Kenner location is, well, eh. I recently went to Kyoto 2 on Citrus in Elmwood for the first time in a while, and I was quite surprised & pleased by the quality of the fish. A lovely chirashi with very fresh selections, good presentation, properly sliced fish, nicely garnished, etc. I'd scratched them off my go-to list pre-Katrina for bad fish, but clearly someone new is weilding the knives these days.

                      1. re: Hungry Celeste

                        I'm so glad you mentioned Kyoto 2! I love to go there pre-Elmwood movies. The crispy baby crabs are wonderful, and I had some mussels there recently that were better than I've had anywhere since the storm.

                        1. re: uptownlibrarian

                          Has anyone tried Mikimoto before? I went there once postk and i thought it was pretty good

                          1. re: Troika

                            Very American. Everything is too big...nigiri, rolls, whatever. What's the point of a roll if I need a knife to cut it into four bites to fit it into my mouth?

                            1. re: Hungry Celeste

                              True, that was one of the things i didn't like about it either. but it was fairly inexpensive and the service was good. but i agree with you about kyoto 2. I was suprised by that restaurant's versatile menu

                    2. As one who has been a very serious foodie for almost ten years, but a fan of sushi for only a few years (I made a serious commitment to sushi after having a chef's tasting at Blue Ribbon Sushi in NYC 2 years ago), I am curious to learn what the criteria are for great sushi (especially in New Orleans where sushi is not appreciated overall as much as other cuisines by the N.O. foodie populace at large.) What do you look for in great sushi? Please do not state the obvious. (i.e. fresh fish,...)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: gmk

                        I haven't "studied" sushi, but I know what I like! For me, properly cut fish is important. Does the size, shape, and contour of the sliced fish complement the texture of its flesh? Or is it chewy, stringy, or does it fall to bits? (Kinda like badly cut roast beef; the flavor is there, but it is spoiled by being cut with the grain, rather than across it.) I also look for the flavor of the fish to be enhanced by any garnishes or embellishments, so goopy mayo, overloaded too sweet eel sauce, and too many layers of competing flavors ruin it for me.

                        1. re: Hungry Celeste

                          well, i feel as though rice plays an important part of sushi. It has to be fresh, soft, moist, and small. Some places I have been to use large dry grains of rice, which just feels like they are trying to fill you up. I agree with Celeste that bad sushi just tries to splatter excessive sauce or just gobs of ingedients to make it look "impressive". One thing i hate about NO sushi is that factor of overload

                          1. re: Troika

                            I could not agree more with the two above posts. I find it fascinating however, that in N.O. many, if not most, sushi rest. create exactly the opposite of what great sushi should be -- a focus on the visual beauty, fresh and vibrant aromas and flavors and ability of great fish to be enhanced by simple, yet sharp accompaniments. I like many of the other places mentioned above, but I find that Horinoya has far more respect for the beauty born of simplicity in preparing sushi. A talented artist knows when to put the brush down!

                      2. No way!

                        I like Kanno & Little Tokyo (Causeway)

                        Cafe Zen when on the WB

                        I never did care for Ninja. I really need to try Horinoya.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Isabella

                          I had never been, but am now a believer - it is heads and shoulders above the other places in town

                          1. re: Isabella

                            I like Little Tokyo fine; they know what they're doing, but I always seem to go there when it's filled with screaming children. Maybe I just have bad luck.

                          2. i love Rock-n- Sake on Fulton st.

                            1. No way. Before the storm we ejoyed a few good meals there, but since our move back to New Orleans it's been the pits. It's like a Japanese Copelands.
                              I think Ninja has been disappointing since the relocation. When I think of eating sushi there, I think of old stale hay. Lose the haunted house. Next, when your favorite sushi chef gives you the heads up that maybe you SHOULDN'T order the Tuna... I rest my case.

                              1. Yes, Horinoya is excellent. And don't limit yourself to the sushi. I think of it more of an izakaya that happens to have a sushi bar. (By izakaya, I mean there is an extensive menu of tons of small dishes perfect for sharing.) Yakitori, hot rock beef, squid, and so much more.

                                I think Mikimoto is great for what it is. Not the best sushi, but still very good and reasonably priced. It has a drive through after all. Eat in, and the $1 sushi is a bargain.

                                The new Little Tokyo on N. Carrollton is also quite nice, mid-range sushi.

                                I have to give a thumbs down to the Asian Pacific Cafe on Esplanade near Cafe Degas. The outside seating is pleasant, but the last time I ordered sushi there, the fish slices were so skimpy and thin, I couldn't even taste anything but rice. And it was about $5 for two pieces.

                                And after a few mediocre meals at Hana in the Riverbend with indifferent service, I won't eat there again. There are plenty of better places.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: landmark

                                  Horinoya is fine if you don't care whether you get to interact with the sushi chefs. Maybe my recent experience was anomalous, but I sat at the bar, and tried in vain to get the attention of the chef. It was lunch, during the week, and the place was busy, but he kept shooting me these surreptitious looks, like I was out of my mind for trying to get his attention. I finally ordered a sunomono salad from the waitress, and eventually, when I still couldn't get the chef's attention, a couple of orders of nigiri. They had specials on the board of kanpachi (kampachi?) and blue fin tuna. I got two pieces of each, and an iced tea.

                                  The blue fin was damn near frozen, though it was tasty, and the snapper was very good. There was no sauce involved, and the rice was a little tight. The waitress came by to ask if I wanted anything more, and I just said no. I figured I'd eat somewhere else later. The bill was $32.

                                  I'm absolutely spoiled by Kanno.

                                  I've had good fish at Horinoya, and I like the folks who run it, but I'm no longer under any illusions about where it ranks in the local sushi hierarchy.

                                  1. re: Robert Peyton

                                    Hey, follow your own advice: keep going back & make friends with the chef. I find the folks at Horinoya to be (reservedly) friendly, always happy to accomodate any request, and forthcoming with tidbits & good stuff. That said, I've never been at lunch, only at dinner, when it's a fairly quiet, laidback place.

                                    1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                      Hungry Celeste,
                                      I am curious and perhaps I just don't have the refined taste for good sushi but I am never quite blown away by Horinoya. I go fairly often at lunch since my office is close. I usually order a sushi lunch special and the quality is indeed fresh but I don't find the sushi specials to be very imaginative. For instance, when I go to Saki Cafe or Kyoto, there is usually some fancy, beautifully presented, and creative plate with all kinds of interesting sauces and combinations of crunch and soft etc. I imagine Horinoya to be more pure with a concentration on the fish rather than all the fillers. I guess I prefer more explosions of flavor and texture than just the fish. On the other hand, I do think that Horinoya wins hands down on the cold plates and appetizers which are absolutely delicious. When I go back to Horinoya and want sushi, is there something in particular that you recommend or a style that may have more interesting flavors. Basically, I wonder what I am missing. By the way, I went to Nobu in Miami a few weeks ago and found Kyoto to be better. I think it has fallen into the chain category. Have you been yet to Kanno? I have to give it a try.

                                      1. re: mikey

                                        It's not about "refinement" (a word I don't like, as who decides what is refined?), but about your personal taste. What you don't like about Horinoya is what I love...it's about the fish, not about sauce. For example, I always get the whitefish salad (only on the dinner menu), which I like for its simplicity and directness. Small, one-bite bits of whitefish (often flounder or red snapper) draped over a tangle of ponzu-dressed cucumber batons, garnished subtly with tiny slivers of greeen onions, a little bit of sichimi or a few grains of pepper, and maybe two shiso leaves on top. Cool, balanced, delicate. Easy to eat with chopsticks, everything sized for a single bite. I also like the wide variety of small plates (both cold & cooked), which offer greater variety than most of the standard-format japanese places around town.

                                        Again, I can't speak to the lunch specials, I never go at lunch. I need to go to Kanno; if Robert says it is good, then it is.

                                        1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                          I will give it a try at dinner. The cold plates are fantasic so perhaps I should stick to those but the whitefish salad sounds intriguing. Thanks.

                                          1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                            Well, I was just going to say, if you think I ought to give Horinoya another shot, I better do so. I've never been for dinner, but that whitefish salad sounds exactly like something I'd dig.

                                            And you're right, too. It took me a while to get to the point where I let the chef at Kanno just feed me. Also, Kanno is a one man operation, which means there's necessarily more interaction with him than during the lunch crush at Horinoya. Finally, I tend to go to Kanno on Saturday, when it's pretty slow. He's actually told me that's the best time to go if I want more attention.

                                            In short, my bad.

                                            Though I still thought it was funny the way the guy behind the bar at Horinoya would look up at me, then look quickly away.

                                  2. I'm surprised noone here mentioned Little Tokyo on Causeway. They don't go out of their way when it comes to decor, but the fish is very good and fresh - mostly because of the volume they do. When I just want my regular sushi fix I go there and am never disappointed - Johnny does good work.

                                    I agree however with those who've said that Horinoya is the best sushi restaurant in the area - it's really in another class. Based on what I've read here I'm extremely eager to try Kanno, and might just do it for lunch tomorrow.

                                    I also agree with those who've poo pooed Sake Cafe - I've been to the uptown location several times and really only had one meal that was above average.

                                    One sushi restaurant I'd like to comment on is Ninja. Ninja this, Ninja that - everybody just loves Ninja. I first tried Ninja several years ago and was not that impressed. I gave it two more shots over the years and was never wowed, although I wasn't disgusted either. I think that all the press this place gets is directly related to its being a bit of a hole in the wall in the college area, and appealing to a crowd of diner that is decidedly college in nature - the more obscure or unlikely a music band for instance the better - and in this way Ninja serves as a sort of backpocket sushi restaurant. "You've never heard of the Flaming Lips? You've never been to Ninja? Ohh man..."

                                    But Little Tokyo on causeway really needs more recognition. Unlike some of the crowd here, I like my big American sushi portions, and I like that their price point is slightly lower, and that's why they're my number 1.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Soco

                                      Little Tokyo definitely doesn't do it for me. You're right about the decor; those bathrooms desperately need an overhaul, and the plastic plates/dishes suck. What really ruins it for me: every doggone time I've dined at LT, it's been packed to the gills with ugly Americans. One night, I sat next to a crowd of 20-somethings who insisted on drumming on the tabletop with their chopsticks, en masse. At lunch, I endured two mamas and three spoiled kids who unwrapped their entire order of rolls because "the green stuff is icky!" (yes, the mamas, not just the kids). I always feel like I need a stiff drink and/or to meditate after I leave the joint. Shogun always gives me the same feeling. It's like they're two steps removed from the mall food court.

                                      LT does have a good grilled "tofu steak" entree, though.

                                    2. Speaking of sushi, has anyone been to Takumi at Magazine and Washington?

                                      1. I'm surprised to see no mention of Shogun on Vets. I've been going there for over 20 years, and it never dissapoints. The atmosphere isn't much to speak of, but no Japanese restaurant in the city has as wide and complex of a menu. The menu boasts items I've never seen at other sushi joints. Grilled yellowtail neck, japanese calamari, very fresh sushi.

                                        I've been to Horinoya several times for luch and agree that it is overpriced, if they are using higher grade/quality fish, I couldn't tell.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Overweight

                                          See my Shogun comments just above...the place is too loud, crowded, and bustling for my tastes.

                                          1. re: Hungry Celeste

                                            I'll certainly agree with your comments....it's the food, and the menu that bring me back. They also do some of the best tempura I've ever had.

                                        2. I moved here several months ago form SF, and haven't had the chance to have any sushi - This thread is a heartbreaker, for sure.

                                          1. We like Little Tokyo on North Carrollton. It's newer than the one on Causeway. We also get takeout from Mikimoto on Carrollton as well. We've definitely liked these two better than Sake Cafe.

                                            1. I've been to Mikimotos, Kanno, Horinoya, and Little Tokyo in the past six months, and I have to say...I like them all! Each has it's own distinctive personality...
                                              I usually go to Mikimoto's to get quick takeout. It's certainly not the best quality sushi, but that doesn't mean that it is bad quality. It has "fun" sounding rolls, and probably geared for a more americanized palate, but I still think it's good!
                                              I went to Kanno a little less than a month ago. I suppose since I'm mostly a nigiri and roll gal, I didn't get the most out of the experience. It was a small, sweet looking place, and I enjoyed the food.
                                              Little Tokyo is the sushi place my friends rave about. It's probably the best sushi place for big groups.
                                              Horinoya, in my opinion, offered the simplest food, which, in my opinion, was the best. I could actually taste the seaweed in my rolls, and I was pleasantly surprised. The fish on my sushi was the perfect size. So many times I encountered titanic sized pieces of fish...But as a plus, the restaurant had gorgeous looking rooms in the back.
                                              In my opinion, none of these restaurants were bad. But I'm also a strictly sushi, sashimi, and roll eater, so it makes it difficult to judge these restaurants on all levels.

                                              1. Little Tokyo on Carrollton is GREAT. My friends and I went there for lunch today. Beware of the portion sizes though, they are huge! I ordered a lunch combo box with chicken/beef teriyaki, chicken katsu, and tempura... it turned out to be enough food for 5 people! Along with all the protein, it also included clear soup, lettuce salad, seaweed salad (with meal), as well as white rice. ALL FOR $17! If you ever need a date place, go there and share it! My friends ordered a couple of rolls, which were extremely large as well. They put a lot of effort in the presentation of the food, and the kicker is that everything tasted as good as it looked! That doesn't always happen! The type of rice they use is also great, it is shorter and more sticky than the long grain versions most sushi places in New Orleans use, so it stays on the roll and doesn't collect in your soy sauce by the end of the meal. It is within walking distance of Brocato's too! Get the strawberry ice and honey& milk flavors! Y-U-M!