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Feb 8, 2002 02:42 PM


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Has anyone been to Mishimura? Ive heard that it is located on Melrose near San Vicente but I have not been able to find a listing for it. I am somewhat of a late bloomer where Japanese food is concerned and am trying to learn more about it by sampling some of the dishes at various restaurants so I would welcome suggestions for "beginners".

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  1. I think you mean
    8684 MELROSE AVE

    I haven't been. Good luck and have fun.
    Quick beginners guide though.
    Japanese food is, in my understanding, divided into "japanese", "chinese" and "foreign" dishes. Japanese dishes include the noodle dishes like udon and soba, many of the appetizer-things we think of, like edamame, tuna with grated yam (yamaimo), the pickles, sushi and sashimi preparations, the japanese egg omelettes, the nabe (one pot soup noodle dishes), sukiyaki, items cooked on a hot iron griddle (teppanyaki cuisine), kushikatsu restaurants (stuff on little skewers that are then fried), kamameshi (steamed dishes of rice with fillings), shabu shabu, natto (preserved beans), mochi etc.
    Chinese are actually Sino-Japanese dishes, dishes that were taken from China and adapted by the Japanese. The best known of these is ramen and all the ramen dishes. Similarly, dishes you traditionally find in a ramen house, like gyoza are originally chinese, the pork cutlet dishes even with miso. Also, many of the stir-fried noodle dishes are in this category.
    Foreign dishes are japanese adaptations of usually European food. For purists this includes Tempura, brought to Japan by the Portuguese who know how to cook things by dipping them in batter and then deep frying them. The story goes that this was preferred during the Lenten period, so the Tempura is related to the Latin Tempora, rel. to English temporary, of a set period, etc. There are also the many japanese versions of French pastry, Italian pasta, breads (stuffed and plain, sweet and savory) etc.
    Within "Japanese" cuisine are specialty foods like sushi, like robata-yaki, a country style, like kaiseki dinners, based on court cuisine (I'm told). The thing that may be strange at first glance is that there is rarely (and this is even more common in Japan than here) a restaurant that specializes in more than one type of preparation. A tempura house won't serve sushi. A sushi house won't have varieties of grilled vegetables and small snacks that go with beer. A ramen house doesn't serve Udon, a Japanese noodle house doesn't serve ramen. Think of each restaurant as you might a pizza parlor. You don't go to a pizza parlor for a great burger, you don't go to a burger stand for a good pizza. This is taken to an extreme in Japanese cuisine.

    Best bet, go out to a nice little bookstore (yes, avoid the web) and get a little guide to Japanese food and menus and maybe a restaurant guide. And try stuff, you may adore chawan-mushi (savory egg custard with fish or other fillings) and hate ramen.

    I must admit that it took me a while to get used to what constitutes a meal at a traditional Japanese restaurant. But now I enjoy it very much.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Jerome

      I've been to Nishimura... twice... and I'd rank it as one of the better sushi bars in LA, also, alas, one of the most expensive.

      Great overview of Japanese food, btw, Jerome. I've been eating it all my life, in many forms, been there too, and I learned a lot from your post. Forgot that tempura came form the Portugese! (Know any good Portugese restaurants?)

      1. re: roger simon


        Thanks for your input. I will make it a point to try it soon. The person (Mineo Mizuno) who told me about it makes the serving plates that are used there. I purchased several of his pieces years ago but haven't seen any of his newer works. I will be going for both the food AND the plates. Is the fare strictly sushi?

        1. re: Barbara

          Actually the serving pieces are exceptional, quite stunning. THe first time I was there was for a sushi banquet with about ten people to celebrate a film my wife and I may be making with a Japanese company, hence there were Japanese people present as well as an American who lived several decades in Japan. All pronounced the sushi excellent and I don't think it was entirely politeness. We were served on long striking black and white ceramic platters which I assume were made by your friend. He is an impressive artist... And no, I don't think they serve anything but sushi and its accompaniments, except sashimi, obviously.

          1. re: roger simon

            Thank you for the additional info. I am hoping to go to Nishimura this coming week. As for those long black and white platters that you describe, they are the same platters that were used last week when we had lunch at R23. I'm not sure of this, but I believe that the owner of Nishimura is the former owner of R23. Per Jerome's suggestion, I purchased a couple of books on Japanese food yesterday. "at the Japanese table" by Lesley Downer and "The Foods of Japan" by Takayuki Kosaki & Walter Wagner" are cookbooks but they contain good descriptions as well as some history of Japanese food. There are several other books for sale online that appear to be true guides. We are also planning to attend a sake tasting class at the Wine House next week.

            1. re: Barbara

              Could you give the time of the sake tasting class? THat's something I've always wanted to try.

              1. re: roger simon

                Sure. Here it is, straight from http://www.wineaccess.com/store/wineh... (Select "classes"
                The Basics Of Sake, Wednesday, March 13 (#5866) $45.
                Tonight, we embark down a new path that takes us considerably farther East than our normal longitudes of tasting exploration. We're headed into the fascinating world of Sake. We'll start at the beginning with a little history, then we'll learn about such things as Kimoto and Yamahai (brewing processes). Tasting a variety of styles, ranging from Koshu (aged sake) to Ginjo and Daiginjo (degrees to which the rice is polished) to Nigori (unfiltered) and even sweet sake, will give us an excellent overview of this ancient, delectable form of liquid pleasure. We'll also be discussing Sake and food pairing with both American and Asian cuisine. Your host is Wine House Sake buyer Coffield Appiah. Kanpai!!

        2. re: roger simon

          Sorry re: portuguese restaurants. There used to be one in Artesia called the Navigator (after Prince Henry) but it's long gone. My guess would be in the Chino area. I know they sometimes have festas out there. (are you the Roger Simon who knows Beatrice Golomb?)

          1. re: roger simon

            We made it to Nishimura Wednesday night and were not disappointed. It was expensive though. $153 before tip for the two of us. We did have one bottle of beer and three glasses of (Yamahoushi) sake. As it turns out, I will be going to Tokyo and Kyoto next month so now the pressure is really on to learn more about Japanese fare.

            1. re: Barbara

              do you remeber exactly what sushi and sashimi you had there? as i recall from previous visits, the sashimi was very interesting and good though extremely pricey. it had garlic, chile peppers, and some sort of a sauce. but the dessert was outrageously pricey about $10 for what was merely three dinky mochi ice cream balls.

              1. re: kevin

                I apologize for taking so long to reply. Unfortunately, I do not recall exactly what we had a Nishimura. We did, however, have the hamachi with serrano chile and garlic-citrus sauce which we liked very much. I am off to Japan this coming week so it will be interesting to compare their restaurants with what we have here in L.A.

          2. re: Jerome


            Yes, that is the restaurant I was looking for. I was told about it by telephone, hence my mistaking "N" for "M". Thank you for your very informative reply; I have printed it out as I know that it will be most helpful. I have made it a point to only go to Japanese restaurants with people who know what they are doing because I've been so intimidated by the menus. Thanks to you, I will now be braver!