Matahisu-Omakasa Thumbs Down!
Well, it was one of those weeks with the boss in town enjoying a bunch of good restaurants. Unfortunately the last meal was the worst.
First we're mingling over a cocktail at Hotel Sofitel and he says to me, pick any sushi bar your in the mood for. I'm thinking about Chef Nobu and always wanted to try Matahisu so we attempt to get a reservation. Being at a hotel the concierge got us in.
Once seated we see the 3 prices for their Omakasa and choose the $120.00 each.
Now I've had Omakasa at Tama Sushi and loved it, not sure what I'm in store for.
As we wait we see people order the regular way at the bar dish by dish and I see some nice cuts of fish, why didn't we get this?
Instead once our food arrives its 1/2 cooked items, tempura, and the raw fish we did get was paper thin rip off.
Very disappointing, out of the entire week I thought our meal at RITUAL (the old White Lotus) would of been on my list yet sadly it was Matahisu
Even our Katsu-Ya Encino lunch ranked very high and our Bev. Hills sushi outing is a thumbs down...
although my experience with omakase at that restaurant is several years old, i too, was served a TERRIBLE omakase there.
my dinining partner and i never set foot in the place again.
amazingly expensive, amazingly bad.
what small amount of raw fish was served, was doused in overpowering sauces including a garlic/olive oil sauce that sloshed around on the plate which ruined our palates for hours afterwards.
the sauce was similar to the stuff served at alejo's, the cheap italien restaurant in westchester which adds raw minced garlic stewed in cheap olive oil to most of their dishes.
Sushi, believe it nor not, is NOT Matsuhisa's strong suit. What Matsuhisa is truly known for is Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine. The restaurant declares itself as "Japanese" to attract L.A. diners, but it's really fusion. Their hot & cold specials are why I go back again & again, and not for their sushi.
So, if you are expecting pure edo-style, Sushi-Gen sushi, they you are in for a big shock.
Example dish: New-style sashimi - Matsuhisa uses a Chinese style of cooking in which hot oil is drizzled over raw fish, in this case over usuzuruki (thin cut) halibut. There is a scant amount of fish so it is properly cooked. It is all done with purpose.
my wife isn't a big fan of certain types of food (ankimo, salmon eggs, caviar, etc.) so we've never been in the omakase room at matsuhia. she orders the sashimi salad, sushi, and rolls off the menu and i usually order some of the more exotic dishes and finish off with some sushi.
they don't have a "everyone at the table must get omakase if one person gets it" rule so i've had their 3 omakases ($90, $120, and $150) a few times.
the specialty of matsuhisa really is in their cold and hot dishes. there are a few gems in there that everyone talks about...black cod miso, rock shrimp tempura, ankimo, oyster/uni shooters, sashimi salad, etc. it's the peruvian influenced japanese food that sets matsuhisa apart from your local sushi joint. if you don't like these dishes and just want to go for some sushi and rolls, matsuhisa isn't really the place for you (ok, my wife goes there EXACTLY for the sushi and rolls but anyway...).
i'd say that the $120 one is the best one. the $150 one is slightly better (more toro instead of tuna, etc.) but not worth the price difference imo.
i don't think the omakase is terrible, i just think it's a little lacking. it's certainly not exciting...it generally includes the ankimo (monk fish liver) + caviar, salmon tacos, etc. overall, i still think it's better than most but not as good as some.
by far the best omakase is at urasawa but you're paying $300+/person so it's just not fair to compare the two. urasawa is at least 2X at good though.
i've been to matsuhisa over 20 times over the years (my wife really likes it). at this point, i've had most of the items on their menu and these days, i usually just order off the menu. i'll mix it up with an omakase every now and then to see if they came up with anything new, and they haven't changed much over the last 10 years.
the prices aren't that bad if you order right. i actually went to matsuhisa last night (2/8) so if you were there, i may have seen you. i was at a table for 4 right in the middle of the restaurant. i was there from 6:30-8:00.
we ordered (from memory so things may be off): oyster shooter (for me), ankimo (monkfish) pate with caviar, new style sashimi (salmon), 2 rock shrimp tempura, sashimi salad, and lots of sushi/rolls (2 salmon, 2 yellowtail, 2 albacore tuna, 1 spanish mackerel, 2 red snapper, 3 spicy tuna rolls cut, 3 avacado rolls cut, 1 house special roll cut, 3 shrimp tempura handrolls, etc.), dessert (sorbet). we also had 2 bottles of beer (nobu + asahi), 1 small kettle of sake. we were stuffed and the total was about $320 before tax, tip. i've spent that much for 4 people at my local sushi place (sushi sei in hermosa beach) and i'd say that matsuhisa is definitely better than my local place.
here are some pics from my prior trips to matsuhisa: http://www.danpaik.com/gallery/312335...
I had one of the best meals I've ever had in my life at Matsuhisa about 7 or 8 years ago. Maybe it was the night; maybe I hadn't been exposed to anything better (though I'd had some very good experiences in Tokyo and Osaka). For me it was still an almost out-of-body experience. It was what it was and I'm sticking to that story.
Reading some of the posts below, however, I would have to say that what I remember of specific dishes WAS a range of specialty items, not simple nigiri sushi. Oyster Shooters, something like a small taco, and other hot and cold specialty items. Really unbelieveable but maybe not for the purist.
My omakase experience was much like yours...an experience I'll never forget. What made it over-the-top for my mother was when the itamae-san gave her a small jar of prepared squid that the chefs concocted for themselves at the end of the evening. The food and service were phenomenal.