HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


Sushi Gen - WTF? Most overrated ever?

  • n

As of late my sushi joint of choice is Sushi Masu in Westwood for Omakase. No wait, friendly chief (Masu is awesome), reasonable prices, fresh and tasty.

I just got back from NJ and wanted to enjoy some Japanese food. Was thinking about going to Sushi Masu, but didn't want to drive 30 minutes to the westside at 6pm on a Saturday. SO headed down to Sushi Gen instead.

Host was nice, friendly, and knew his stuff. He quoted us 30-40 minutes for the bar, which was pretty spot on. Was the most massive sushi bar I've ever seen. Things smelled delicious, good sign. Sat in the middle/corner seat, asked for Omakase to which they were happy to oblige.

Night started off fantastic enough with some Tuna sashimi. Flavorful, fresh, fantastic. A+++. Went through about 2 hours of Omakase. Had a very recurring theme: shellfish. I remember 2 variations of abalone, giant clam, I remember Uni, and a few other ones. Had alot of new and unique sushi that I was not used to.

Pro's: quality of product. Amazing, top notch, definitely some of the best I've had in LA. No arguments there. Service was pretty good, they had alot of well qualified biligual chef's and apprentices which eased the language barrier. You can clearly tell the chef's now their shiz, and the turnover I imagine makes the fish incredibly fresh.

Con's: variety. I gotta say this was probably the most disappointing part of the night. Sure he gave us alot of different items we didn't expect, but it was all pretty much the same: alot of nigiri, uni, abalone, giant clam, etc. He did the sweet prawn with fried heads, which was fantastic. When I go to Masu for Omakase, he usually does a few seared portions (seared salmon, tuna, yellowtail belly (or something, I don't remember)..plus all the other things that I like to see.

Not to mention, @sushi Gen, he gave us a full order (ie 2 nigiri) each, whereas with Masu he split the nigiri between me and my gf. For some items this was great (tuna sashimi being the standout..), but for the rest, 1 would've sufficed (uni, giant clam, abalone, sweet prawn..).

Biggest con of the night: seeing the mf'ing bill. 210 pretax. I suspect that alot of that is because he booked us each for 1 order (for a total of 4 pieces...) per round. I wouldn't have minded so much if the items were "mind blowing". Sure they were fresh and fastastic, but most of them did NOT leave me wanting more. Ie sardines were cool, but would I order them again? No, not really.

I could've had 2 comparable meals @Masu and left feeling alot better.

Overall, I give them props to the quality of the ingredients. Huge negative marks for me not leaving like I got my money's worth. If I go back, it definitely won't be for Omakase.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. You can always ask the chef to split the orders between the two of you. My wife and I always do.

    It isn't unreasonable to offer each person a full order unless otherwise requested.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wakko11

      Maybe, but it's not very exciting either. Would rather have 20 pieces of different items, vs 10 x2

    2. You should of told the chef you wanted seared stuff. They are very traditional sushi chefs so that is what they stick too. Next time you should have asked and they will accomadate.

      3 Replies
      1. re: jkao1817

        Doesn't that defeat the purpose of omakase? If I wanted to ask I would've just ordered outright...

        I did ask for unagi, and it was mind blowingly delicious..

        1. re: ns1

          Agreed, but as you stated

          "I didn't really NEED to experience 6-8 pieces of abalone...or 4 pieces of sweet prawn, or 4 pieces of said uni and sardines."

          You should have told him that. he does not know your likes or dislikes.

          1. re: jkao1817

            I didn't know until he plopped them down on my plate. Re: the abalone, the first was some type of cooked abalone served in its own shell, the second were more traditional abalone nigiri

            He was serving 3 different groups at once, I didn't know which ones were mine until they landed on my plate.

      2. I'm slightly confused, as I don't understand how you would label this thread with "WTF" and "overrated" if you thought the quality of their fish was excellent and "some of the best". I think it is entirely reasonable to state your dislikes and preferences, even if it is omakase.

        2 Replies
        1. re: pinkshch

          Yeah, the review did seem somewhat overwrought compared to the title. Mainly he felt he got fairly good quality food andservice (sans selection issuses) but bad value due to the price. Which is a reasonable complaint but doesn't exactly measure up to "worst ever".

          1. re: broncosaurus

            True. Maybe it was a little overbearing ;)

        2. From the title of your post I would have thought you had a really bad time. If you paid $210 for 10 x 2 full order items and didn't specify that you wanted to split after seeing that they weren't going to do it automatically, I don't know that you didn't get your money's worth for the quality that you say you got. (I am assuming the $210 was for the entire dinner, not per person) That being said- sorry to hear it wasn't what you wanted. We all have nights where even though the food is great, it doesn't quite meet the price we ended up paying.

          14 Replies
          1. re: PrettyPlaty

            I'm not arguing the quality of the product. I will reaffirm that I think it's some of the freshest that I've found.

            That said, half of them didn't really hit my palette, and I wouldn't order them again. I can recognize the freshness/quality of the ingredients, even though I didn't particularly like them. The most notable of this group would be the uni and the sardines.

            I didn't really NEED to experience 6-8 pieces of abalone...or 4 pieces of sweet prawn, or 4 pieces of said uni and sardines.

            My beef is not leaving feeling like "damn, that was some of the best sushi I ever had." Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe they weren't the right fit for Sushi Gen. I mean, I REALLY wanted to love this place, and built it up for a while.

            I had this debate with the gf going into Sushi Gen. I want to throw down for Omakase because I want the chef to blow me away and make me want me to come back. I would say in this regard that Sushi Gen failed horribly.

            I would try it again, but definitely not on my dime. I'm not gonna risk blowing 2 bills on a meal that may or may not leave me happy. I'd rather go to hatfield's or something and grab a tasting menu.

            1. re: ns1

              I can definitely see your point- I would have definitely demanded a split on the orders. It happens- I think sometimes the chefs just get in a groove or think you really like a particular type of sushi- i.e. shellfish. I was once at Sasabune and got three different kinds of whitefish and saw other omakase partakers getting oysters and other items. I actually pointed it out to our chef and he changed it up. I've probably in general been much more forgiving about omakase in general- the BF had a problem with me paying $300 for sushi but absolutely no problem dropping $400+ for Joel Robuchon's L'Altelier (in Vegas). BTW- Hatfield's tasting menu is one of the best deals in the city for what you get, in my opinion.

              1. re: PrettyPlaty

                re: hatfields, why yes, yes it was haha. would probably ala carte there next time though. The lamb was delicious. If only they would serve a monster appetizer sampler...

                1. re: PrettyPlaty

                  Hi PrettyPlaty,

                  "absolutely no problem dropping $400+ for Joel Robuchon's L'Altelier (in Vegas"

                  Me too...I've left several sushi places pretty pissed off. But as far as L'Atelier and The Mansion, I've thrown down a weeks per diem for dinner by myself while I've been stuck in that awful city...well worth it.
                  I have enjoyed Sushi Gen while dining alone...but then, I love to speak up about my desires. I always say: I"'m in the mood for some traditionals tonight and I really need a Japanese Scallop Sashimi thrown in at some point, I'm small and can't eat to much so one piece of each will do for me so I can try as much as you have to offer..oh, and I only have $100 and I'm gonna order some sake and a beer".
                  When ever I do this, my dinners ROCK!!! the assortment and the quality is always amazing.
                  The only sushi places on my list at the moment are Izayio and K-ZO.

                  1. re: tatertotsrock

                    "I"'m in the mood for some traditionals tonight and I really need a Japanese Scallop Sashimi thrown in at some point, I'm small and can't eat to much so one piece of each will do for me so I can try as much as you have to offer..oh, and I only have $100 and I'm gonna order some sake and a beer""

                    wow, genius. I may have to steal that line.

                    1. re: ns1

                      Hi ns1,
                      It's worked great even at Nozowa (but I'd been going there forever before I finally grew the balls to do it), Asanaebo, what used to be Sasabune, Gen, Izayoi, K-Zo and a few others.
                      It does help since it is obvious that I am small and every place that has knocked my socks off had a sushi chef that appeared to be a bit refreshed that I gave him some direction or at least an opening so he could aske me a few questions.

                      On Sat, at Izayoi, I was with 2 of my adventurous friends and we wanted to try the cooked bits that evening..I asked the server to have my regular sushi chef reccommend a few warm and cozy items...what we got was perfect...beef tongue steak; beef tongue stew; creamy fish croquettes (amazing!!!); pickled sharks fin; homemade tofu; custard with sea urchin on top (one of my favorites); shrimp chili fondu (trust me, it's amazing); and a bunch of other good stuff. As always, everything was great (sharks fin, not so much), the service was perfect as always, and 3 great sakes...yum.
                      It was the first time in the year that I've been going that I finally got warm/fried food and it was great...my sushi guy sure knows what I'll love...yippee!!!

                      1. re: ns1

                        Oh, I forgot to add, when I went to Gen, I had an idea that it would be pricey and I don't make much money, so I said my liitle speachy-thing..that night I had a $75 limit and I told the chef tht I wanted some of the little clams that the guys next to me were eating and Japanese Scallop sashimi, and that he was free to surpirse me with whatever he though would excite me....he laughed along with the gents next to me, then asked if I had a preference for cooked or raw tradtionals, I asked for a mix of goodies and he said sure...I had a great meal and some sake, no beer, and the gents next to me sent me some sweet shrimp...good times.

                        1. re: tatertotsrock

                          damn, gangster. honestly, I never really even considered the idea of giving the chef an idea of what I wanted when going Omakase...

                          1. re: ns1

                            Aaah, but ns1, I never said I ordered "Omakase"...I just "make nice" with the chef, let him know my desires, my limits, and that I would love for him to "take care of me" and "excite me" with waht he has to offer...hmm, maybe it's my wording and the fact that I'm a girl that has always brought me luck.
                            I actually think it's the relief that the chef doesn't have the pressure to "impress" and be a mind reader...it also ensures that I can pay the bill and leave a good tip for my servers.
                            I've only done Omakase at Nozawa when I've been footing the bill and it was always good. After he got to know me and noticed my curiosity with everyone elses food, he began to ask me things like "ambejack today?" or "baby clam is good, you want?" and sometimes "something different?" and I would usully say "uh, sure, one piece of something" and he'd kinda grin.
                            I'll never forget when, one afternoon, he said "fish know what is good to eat, bait is good" and then he gave me anchovie, needlefish, and sardine sashimi...so good.

                            1. re: tatertotsrock

                              damnit all this talk about sushi makes me want more sushi

                              1. re: tatertotsrock

                                have you ever gone to Shibucho on Beverly blvd or the one in costa mesa?

                                Because i love some of the other places you've been (some like sasabune, not so much), and I think shibucho stands with any of them.

                                1. re: Jerome

                                  Hello Jerome,
                                  I had been to the one on Beverly a hundred years ago and I remember it being very good, even though someone else was picking up the bill and doing all the ordering...I did not have much comtrol of the items consumed.
                                  I never felt compelled to "go it alone" since it was a bit "serious/stuffy" or something..I don't know, should I try going solo?
                                  I have to dine alone 80% of the time and it's no fun when all the other sushi-eaters at the bar give off a "fwua-fwua" attitude.
                                  What do you enjoy about it and is it a lunch option?

                                  1. re: tatertotsrock

                                    the level of the tane is amazing. i don't get his wine fetish and don't order it. he will easily accomodate your requests. they had a great matsudake- soup in season. if fish are out of season - he won't carry them. shirako is season.
                                    no lunch.
                                    these days, the glitterati have moved on -some have died like brando.
                                    it's a small place - go in sit at the bar - open 6pm to midnight. and everything is first rate.
                                    no omakase until he knows you.\

                    2. re: ns1

                      I don't think your going to like Urasawa either? $750- or more for 2. Omakase Only.

                  2. getting omakase in a place you don't know and where the chef doesn't know you is, imho, a risk. a big risk. unless the omakase is just a sushi special - once the chefs know you and what you like and where your tastes lie, they can customize something for you and surprize you in interesting ways.
                    otherwise, omakase means that you give up your right to an opinion really. if the chef thinks that the abalone is great today and wants to make 10 courses of abalone, that's the way it rolls.
                    it's too bad since you did know what you wanted that you didn't just order or ask the chef if the particular fish you wanted was very good that day or was there something the chef could recommend - that works as opposed to a full omakase.

                    just my two cents.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Jerome

                      That's actually why I choose Omakase. I want to break out of my norm and see what the chef thinks is best.

                      I guess what this particular chef thought was best didn't really hit my palette (but it sure as hell hit my wallet. damnit.)

                      1. re: Jerome

                        HI Jerome,
                        Check out what I posted to Pretty Platty...it works every time.
                        I've learned to do this after several times having spent way too much money for a bunch of tuna, and more tuna, and then some tuna....I wanted to try all kins of goodies and kept waitning and was so full that I couldn't keep hoping...so, now I speak up before I order and they sushi chefs have always been accoommodating..and the really good one will ask me a few questions so they are also clear...it's great and there is still the adventure.

                      2. i rarely order omakase, because often times it can mean license to have an eye popping bill... when i order specifically, i know what im getting and i know roughly what the bill will be. abalone, high fatty tuna belly (oo toro), sweet shrimp, are all pretty pricey anywhere you go. the key is to ask what is in season. because 9 times out of 10 asking "what is fresh?" often gets you the ever annoying "everything!".

                        i have to say that i've had some frustrating experiences at sushi gen with regards to waiting for a table. the declining quality of the fish and the increasing price of the food is making the wait less and less appealing. (i used to eat here 2 to 3 times a week)

                        and these days i eat sashimi from mitsuwa at least once a week for lunch with my ramen or soba. so my pangs for raw fish are less severe...

                        on another note i had a second meal at ex sushi gen chef hiro's restaurant "takumi" i just really cant stand their rice...

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: modernist

                          yeah me and the gf are probably going to start picking up more raw fish from mitsuwa/marukai and just doin it out ourself. Slightly OT, but anybody have a recommendation for a good value sashimi knife?

                          I will say though to sushi gen's credit that their rice and ponzu sauce is godly.

                          1. re: ns1

                            FWIW a bit of knife geek here:

                            I have a couple of the Shun Pro's that I really like. Incredibly sharp (even more than my global's which when you slice yourself you get to think a while before you feel it).


                            If I were shopping now, I would look seriously at something like the Tomotsugu at:

                            If it weren't for the fact I can't justify it I would get:
                            Now that's a knife.

                            1. re: BeachGrub

                              Wow- when I am in the market for knives, I guess I know where I am going to look for them!

                              1. re: BeachGrub

                                holy moly $1,200 sushi knife? awesome!

                            2. re: modernist

                              Yes, I've become very weary of ordering omakase too the first time round in any sushi bar these days. Went to Hump and got nailed with $500 tab for two and for a terrible combination of items. ie. last couse was a huge plate of fried battered seafood and kobe steak. Jeez, must have had a "Pls screw me" pasted on my forehead.

                              1. re: Sgee

                                i had the same sign on my forehead, i guess. i once loved the Hump but won't return. in 40 minutes they charged me 200 dollars for an omakase that nobody would ever want: they gave me the kind of platters of shaved fish that you would order for a whole table. it was awful.
                                the chef didn't seem to understand balance.

                            3. I was going to protest bitterly, but now I realize I don't disagree. I think the fish quality at Sushi Gen blows away that at Masu. It's probably the best I've ever had. But I had the same experience as you re: the chef not choosing very creatively and the surprisingly high bill. I wasn't wowed with Sushi Gen, but for me it's mostly about the fish, so I was pleased. (My personal opinion is that most of the highly rated sushi places are too heavy with sauces and preparations.)

                              1. I think the best "deals" of going to Sushi Gen is ordering their dinner at a table. Their sashimi combo, sashimi deluxe combo and sushi combos are super deals, the best fish at those prices. The "deal" part falls away when you eat at the sushi bar.

                                1. Sushi gen is one of my favorite sushi joints in town. I think they hit a sweetspot between price and quality. It's more of a traditional sushi place, maybe not quite mori sushi or sushi zo, but definitely not the place that would automatically serve you a lot of the seared fish, unagi or cut rolls. I didn't know they serve omakase. I always order a la carte. To me omakase means they serve you whatever they think is best for the night. You probably could've split your orders and give the chef some hint on what you prefer. But consider what you had, $210 for two is really not that outrageous.

                                  1. Thanks for sharing your impressions, an interesting read. I don’t disagree with your take on the place (very high quality, not necessarily cheap), but I have a different attitude about it. I do hate leaving a place unhappy, though, and do understand your feeling there. Minimally, you know it’s not the place for you. I’ve been disappointed by meals I had been expecting a lot from, and that weren’t cheap. That really is disappointing. And given the bill, I’d want to leave (positively) impressed.

                                    But I don’t think that makes necessarily it overrated, and certainly not in the “WTF” category. It seems that your take was: “very high quality, good service, but not stylistically for me and too expensive for my budget”. In my book, that’s very different than WTF. Just not your taste, and that isn't inconsistent with others thinking it's among the best. And it does seem that you were impressed, going on about the high quality of the fish, which is of course what you pay for at a sushi place.

                                    On other fronts, I know it’s very pedantic, but it’s ‘palate’, not ‘palette’, assuming you put the food in your mouth rather than on a board meant for paint. Or a ‘pallet’, which we used to stack boxes on when I worked at a grocery store. Really pedantic, I know…


                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Robert Thornton

                                      good point robert

                                      my firefox spell check didn't catch palette, so I assumed it was correct. Thank you for the proper spelling, maybe now I can stop making an ass out of myself ;) I would edit my original title but unfortunately cannot

                                      1. re: ns1

                                        i do agree it's a bit pricey. the other day my mother and i sat at the bar for lunch and our bill was $110.00 not with tip and i was a bit taken back b/c the amount we ate wasn't that much. i went to kiriko last week with a friend and i swear we ate about the same amount and it came to about $90.00. gen is a traditional sushi bar and emphasis on the traditional. their light handed with the saucing makes it a nice change from the rest. they make their own shime saba imported from japan which is really delicious. perhaps your title of the post should have said overpriced versus overrated? imho, i think sushi gen is not overrated but perhaps about $20 higher then the rest of the better sushi places in town.

                                        1. re: trolley

                                          meh. I still find them both overrated and overpriced. it's not like the sushi to end all sushi joints as I had suspected. i mean really now, for that price i'd rather hold off for 10 weeks and go to urasawa hahaha

                                          now if urasawa lets me down, I even know what I would do....

                                    2. WTF? Let me get this straight. You asked for omakase and you got it, including some expensive seasonal ingredients, with enough variety to provide you with many items you've never had before. And you're complaining because you didn't get the usual seared stuff and gringo stuff? It seems like you're complaining because the itamae at Sushi Gen made the error of mistaking you for a connoissure. Reading through the post, there does seem to be something overrated, but it doesn't sound like it's Sushi Gen.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: E Eto

                                        Omakase has become a bit twisted in LA. It's pretty much come to mean "set menu for $75 with blue crab hand roll at the end". Deviate from this formula and people will get pissed. That's why you'll hear a lot of "how much does omakase cost" and most recently, "why didn't I get seared salmon?" Unfortunately, this misconception was propagated during the reign of terror known as Sasabune and it's never changing "omakase". Sushi Zo, Mori, and now it seems like Sushi Gen are trying to do "real" omakase but you see the problem these places run into.

                                        LA is used to pretty good quality sushi at decent prices. However, if you want "real" omakase, the next level in quality, and unique seasonal selections imported from Japan, it's going to cost you in the $100-$150 pp range.

                                        Sushi Gen sounds like a solid place with its "uni, giant clam, abalone" and all the "alot of new and unique sushi that I was not used to"

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          meh, fair enough. I suppose my thinking of omakase was "whatever the chef thought was best tonight"

                                          that doesn't necessarily mean obscure new things that I won't like, ie if I asked for omakase and he served me salmon sperm on roe, I don't know how i'd feel about it.

                                          but that seems like my fault for not being more specific/pointing the chef in the right direction, and one of these days I'll give them another shot

                                          1. re: ns1

                                            Different strokes for different folks. If I got shirako (cod sperm sac) the first time I ordered omakase at a new sushi restaurant, I would praise that place non stop.

                                            Sounds like he did serve you what was best that night. Maybe the standard stuff you wanted wasn't spectacular or was average that night and that's why you didn't get any.

                                            You don't *have* to get omkase. Next time just order a la carte and you won't have to deal with any surprises.

                                          2. re: Porthos

                                            "set menu for $75 with blue crab hand roll at the end".

                                            That's not omakase, that's oma$a$e, omaSasa. or omazawa!

                                            2 kinds of abalone or 2 cuts, sounds like a very serious place indeeed.

                                            I suppose we should be lucky the OP didn't get a plate of Kusaya as part of the omakase... (only Eto and Porthos and any hardcore nihonjin would get this joke), that would truly be a wtf experience ;-).

                                          3. re: E Eto

                                            omakase is not for everyone. Gen does a fine job even w/o the surprises the rarified places offer, especially considering how many people they serve daily.

                                            if we're going to call a place overpriced and overrated i give the
                                            academy award to sasabune.

                                            when with people who want miso soup, spicy tuna rolls and all that and we're downtown i always head to Gen, where i too can leave quite happily, which is more than i can say for most of the restaurants around.

                                          4. I'll have to go with the "Sorry you weren't happy, but if Gen is your idea of an over-hyped restaurant, you ain't been eating out in L.A.much" view.

                                            Gen is very good at what they do; maybe not "mind-blowing", but consistently good. The fact that they expanded, raised prices, and still have a huge following of regulars attests to that.

                                            As per wiser heads than mine, omakase with a chef who doesn't know you, without giving him some clues either as to what you want/don't want, or what you're willing to spend, is risking getting a pricey "nigiri sushi special plate". On those occasions when I go to a new sushi chef for the first time, I'm UNlikely to go with a straight omakase, and more likely to start with some stuff I know and like, if the chef says it's good, chat a little, and scout out the surroundings and what he's doing, to see if anything looks unfamiliar and interesting, or if adjoining diners seem to be in ecstacy about something (in my case, ALWAYS making sure that it doesn't involve natto. In any form. In any amount. EVER....) Then I'll ask what "that over there" is, and get some. Also, there are apparently some things, like kohada, which many chefs assume only serious sushi-heads want, and which may change a chef's view of how adventurous you're willing to be. . .

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: silverlakebodhisattva


                                              I agree. After giving it some thought, I will probably only go Omakase where I'm a regular (masu). Another reason I went omkase here because a simple search on CH nets a ton of "you need to get omkase" responses.

                                              I may go back when I have money burning a hole in my pocket and desire uber fresh fish.

                                              1. re: ns1

                                                I think I'm advocating what tatertots is pitching, except I'm more reserved about it (I'm just gettin' stuffy in my old age).

                                                I don't think there's anything wrong with ordering omakase "with suggestions and limits", and I've never had a sushi chef tell me "no" or treat me badly (admittedly, I've never tried it at Nozawa) If the chef doesn't know you, he's either got to get some idea of what you want somehow, or he's going to be tempted to give you the "generic sushi" assortment. If things are busy, even an immensely sophisticated sushi chef is not going to have the time and opportunity, in most circumstances, to figure out what you want from your reaction to each piece without some help.

                                                I don't eat mammals, and the Chowspouse's view is that "A menu is merely a list of ingredients and possibilities" so at this point, I'm already used to saying to chefs/waitstaff things like "I'd like the tasting menu, but only if you can substitute something for the pork", and saying "omakase, but no natto, and no urchin for my wife here, and how's the kohahda today?" seems like no big thing to say.

                                                1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

                                                  As someone who has been to both Gen and Nozawa many, many times (likely 3 digits each), thought I'd comment.

                                                  Giving respectful and appropriate guidelines are a good thing... even at Nozawa. No need to be intimidated there. Years ago at my first Nozawa visit, he even asked me if I had things "I don't like" and before serving Uni, specifically asked if I liked Uni before he served it. Sat at the sushi bar, and have never recieved any negative energy from him.

                                                  Gen also - EVERY single time I've been there I've had Omakase. By now they know me and it's always excellent. Prices are about 15% higher at Gen than other places (NOT higher than Nozawa)... but fish quality is far more than 15% better. The folks at Gen have absolutely no problem taking guidelines from folks and do an excellent job. Heck, even the OP said the fish was terrific. I'm with the crowd that says that the OP got great fish at a little higher price than s/he wanted/expected, but had every opportunity to 'direct the traffic' if need be.

                                                  BTW, I'm Asian and Nozawa still asked if I wanted Uni that first time. Go figure.

                                                  1. re: woojink

                                                    yeah, seems like I need to give Gen another shot, with more guidance

                                            2. Thank GOD the fiction of sasabune omakase = sushi special is openly exposed.

                                              Look folks the first time I had Hoya was at an omakase meal with a chef who had gotten to know me and whom I trusted. I loved it. one way to get the chef to know you is also the tip - in addition to the tip on the bill - a $10 or $20 handed at the end with a handshake (NOT THE FIRST TIME, and use your judgment) quietly and surreptitiously is good, or just offer the chef a glass of the large beer you're having, and be nice.

                                              And think of omakase as chef's table. Not the first visit, and not where you're a stranger (tatertot's suggestion notwithstanding - not a bad idea) but once you've established a relationship.

                                              And sorry - but it will be more interesting in a place that doesn't specialize in offerings stuff such as dynamite spider spicy spicy jalapeno tataki california philly crazy temaki.

                                              1. Hey ns1,

                                                I feel your pain and understand what you're feeling. Just my *opinion*, but I agree with you 100% on the feeling of not being "blown away" at Sushi Gen.

                                                I've been to Sushi Gen multiple times over the years, and it's always a feeling of "it's fresh fish, but ehh~." And yes, especially for the price you paid $210.00 *before* Tax, that's ridiculous.

                                                As a point of comparison, I think Sasabune's Omakase at $90 pp blows Sushi Gen's out of the water. It's not even a comparison. And the variety and new items the sensei gives me whenever I go keeps things very interesting and delightful. (Note: I've also taken at least ~10-12 other "Sushi Hounds" to both places, and they agree.)

                                                I'd also take Nozawa over Sushi Gen as well. My bill is cheaper at Nozawa and he, too, provides some wonderful fish and variety that's a cut above Sushi Gen.

                                                Even Shibucho (Costa Mesa) blows Sushi Gen away, IMHO. Their Omakase price is only ~$40-50 pp (and for lunch it's only $25 pp! (THE best bargain in South OC)), and their variety and quality is better.

                                                Sushi Gen has some good quality fish, but I'm never impressed when I leave, compared to the above 3 places, especially given the price you paid.

                                                12 Replies
                                                1. re: exilekiss

                                                  Welps, looks like it's gonna be sushi this weekend...and next weekend...and the weekend after....poor wallet =*(

                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                    Hah, nice! :)

                                                    Let me know if you need links / contact info for any of those 3 sushi restaurants.

                                                  2. re: exilekiss

                                                    i dunno about that. sasabune's "omakase" is the same stuff over and over and over again. always starting with a ponzu drenched fish (albacore i believe). of the 4-5x i have been there for the "omakase", the servings have always been nearly identical.

                                                    i need variety.

                                                    1. re: wilafur

                                                      When a place during omakase serves a cold egg omlette on top of hot unagi (from China no less), and a mediocre blue crab salad handroll, yet denies a request of a tekka maki cut into 4 pieces (truly WTF eh Sasabune when no rolls, all trust me?), yet Zo or Gen in this case offering two kinds of abalone plus stuff the OP has never tried or is used to before, obviously something really interesting and innovative or "exotic", and if it was a clam themed omakase, I'm inclined to guess there was tairagai, akagai, mirugai, maybe aoyagi, and hopefully miru himo, and if they had a superb brushed sauce over awabi, hopefully one raw one cooked... hell I'd fly down in a heartbeat! .....I dunno man, I agree with wilafur here.

                                                      1. re: K K

                                                        hah. Well let me experience a few more sushi places, and revisit Gen, and then I'll come back to this thread =)

                                                        1. re: K K

                                                          dang you kk. you made me hungry....and i just had lunch! =)

                                                          1. re: wilafur

                                                            If you really want to torture yourself, look at RVD's Urasawa pics (like I am right now). Maybe I'll just hold off on all these sushi places until I go here...lol

                                                            1. re: ns1

                                                              i did yday and bookmarked it......amazing!

                                                            2. re: wilafur

                                                              Clam season (for best quality) if all from Japan is winter to spring.

                                                              A place that offers the top notch clams/shellfish with all the varieties + abalone, in one setting, is truly noteworthy indeed.

                                                              I agree, my words are nothing compared to RVD and perceptor's pictures. :-)

                                                              1. re: K K

                                                                kk - noted; just wasn't expecting so much clam ;)

                                                          2. re: wilafur

                                                            Hey wilafur,

                                                            I haven't been to a single Omakase that had "dramatic variety" (completely different fish) every time I've visited. Not at Nozawa, not at Sasabune, Shibucho, Nobu's, nor Sushi Gen. So for me, it's a moot point.

                                                            The ~6-7 times I've been to Sasabune, I'd say ~75-80% of the dishes are the same, but there's definitely some change (maybe I was lucky?). But regardless of that, I'd take the consistent, melt-in-your-mouth, dishes at Sasabune (*and* Nozawa, *and* Shibucho) over Sushi Gen ANY day of the week.

                                                            It's not even close. As aforementioned, the ~10-12 (I've lost count) people I've taken to these restaurants all agree.

                                                            But again, your mileage may vary (^_~).

                                                            There are people out there that are perfectly content with Restaurant A vs. B vs. C, and that's their prerogative and their opinion. :p

                                                            1. re: exilekiss

                                                              agreed on dramatic differences, but sersiouly, when it comes to sasbune, it's not the 75-80% you experienced, but more along the lines of 90+%. kinda boring if you ask me. bummer.

                                                              to each their own. =)

                                                        2. I have been several times to the fish market where the best buy their produce from. Sushi Gen is royalty there. They, and a small handful of others get the best fish in Los Angeles, period. Many of the favorite Sushi places in L.A. mentioned here and on other boards get second rate fish. So first: the actual fish quality from Sushi Gen is really not-debatable. Kudos to you for recognizing that the fish was great and separating that from an overall experience you didn't like. Most people, if they have ANY bad experience, will end up trashing the whole experience. For example: "the hostess was mean to me = the food sucks". However primo fish is expensive. So I really don't think that value and truly great fish will ever be compatible. I have had a somewhat similar experience to yours in regards to Sushi Gen. The first time I ordered omakase at Gen I was underwhelmed. After that experience, I went back and started to order what I liked and didn't bother with omakase. But since I love few things more than great sushi, and given the fact that Sushi Gen's fish is of such quality, I went back and tried to finagle my way into a great omakase experience. 1) Show up early, before it gets mobbed. Not only will you get the best fish but their full attention. 2) Order what you like at first and show by what you order perhaps not really that you know your stuff but that you are truly interested. Point to fish you don't recognize and ask what it is. Try it. 3) That should get them going. Then they start to pull out the interesting and unusual stuff and become interested in your experience.

                                                          I don't go enough so that they recognize me really. Once every two or three months maybe. Given that, I think that half ordering my own stuff, half omakase is really the way to go. It's kind of like "hey, I'm hungry, I'm not into spicy tuna rolls, I'm not afraid, surprise me, please." A few more times of doing that should do the trick and get them to recognize me. Then I'll do full omakase. But for really great fish, if you're a healthy eater, $100 to 120 is definitely to be expected.

                                                          Now I understand that in an ideal world you should be able to walk in and get your great experience without effort. This is America and great customer service is something we rightfully expect. If we don't get it we huff, puff, blow the house down. The fact is that the pursuit of greatness, whether it be in Art, food, wine, etc... takes time and effort. And we often forget that we are dealing with different cultures than ours. I think the Japanese culture is not unlike the French in that they won't give you just because you're a customer. You have to express curiosity, passion and patience. I know... it's annoying. But if you do a whole new world opens up to you.

                                                          Anyway, a part from the title of your post, I thought this was actually a very measured, intelligent and honest review you did.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Reginald

                                                            hah thanks. I try to be objective as possible. I didn't leave with a bad experience per se, but I was very underwhelmed. We'll see what happens next time.

                                                            This market you speak of. It's not IMP is it?

                                                            1. re: Reginald

                                                              to put it very simply
                                                              would you patronize a store or restaurant that had a big sign out front stating
                                                              "CHEAP MEAT" ?

                                                              think of that when you're ordering sushi.