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Sushi Newbie -- Suggestions, please.

I've searched the board many times and I'm still not coming up w/ answers to my pretty basic question so I'm hoping someone can help me out. As a newbie to sushi, I'd like to find a list of good restaurants to try on the westside, nothing too expensive but I'm not necessarily looking for a bargain either. I'd like to be able to dine solo so an interesting, friendly atmosphere where I can be sure to have quality sushi is most important. I'm new to the world of sushi so I welcome suggestions on what to order as well. Any help would be much appreciated. Many thanks.

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    1. re: yoginla

      I live in the valley, so I can't help you with places to try. However, I can suggest that whatever place you try, sit at the sushi bar rather than at a table. You can then talk to the sushi chef, explain that you are new to sushi, and get recommendations.

      Two of my favorites the first few times I had sushi were the tuna and the yellowtail. I also like spicy tuna roll.

      1. re: yoginla

        I really like the neighborhood sushi hang Nagao in Brentwood... he has quite a following and many regulars that are there nightly... His Cajun Sashimi is amazing and the albacore is perfect... also moonlight rolls are a specialty( tuna and halbut wrapped with cucumber) and soy paper wrapped hand rolls. Oh, and the spicy baby octopus salad is fabulous!!!! Katsu Ya in Brentwood is also good but a bit flashy and expensive .. I always love going to the original Katsu Ya in North Hollywood....

        1. re: bellabar

          actually, the original katsu ya is the studio city location, and then the encino location. the ones in brentwood and n. hollywood are a diff branch but under the same creator, aiming towards the hip/flashy crowd... the studio city and encino ones def have better food.

      2. On a price/quality basis (with the emphasis on quality), I think Sushi Sushi (despite the name) on Beverly Drive, a half block north of Olympic, is hard to beat.

        1. I think Kiriko on Sawtelle (but with an Olympic Blvd address) in West LA is a good place for you to go. They're not cheap, nor are they floating in the stratosphere like Urasawa (but rightfully so). Although they can be kinda izakaya-ish, the focus is definitely on sushi and sashimi. As they say in real estate jargon, it's cozy and cute - a little tight in there, but it's very conducive to someone like you who wants somewhat of a friendly environment for a single eater, and where Ken-san can give you some Sushi 101. I don't know what your budget is, but I think if you plan to spend around $50 to $70, you will have a pretty good lay of the land there. Like any other sushi experience, once you start ordering alcohol, the tab will jump some. In fact, if things are still the same, you will even get charged a couple of clams for green tea (get used to it - more places are starting to do this). And I'm guessing they still have lunch specials - I think around $30 or something like that. Ken-san takes great pride in smoking his own salmon and making his own ice cream. They may be worth a try if these things suite your tastes...

          http:www.kirikosushi.com

          2 Replies
          1. re: bulavinaka

            Whoa there.

            Just as you wouldn't serve a $300 bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothchild to a wine newbie, I wouldn't send a sushi newbie to Kiriko either. When I ate sushi for the first time, one piece of raw fish tasted just like any other. I would have felt ripped off had I blown my paycheck on Kiriko before I had grasped the subtleties of hamachi vs kanpachi.

            I would suggest familiarizing yourself with places like Hide Sushi before you go to Kiriko. At least at first. Very fresh fish, won't break your wallet, and pretty friendly people (when they're not really busy). Make sure you're seated at the counter, figure out what you like and what you don't.

            When you think you get the hang of it, go ahead and expand your horizons even further at Kiriko.

            1. re: WBGuy

              I was thinking about Hide, but using your wine metaphor, that place to me is the sushi equivalent of a Gallo 1.5 litre bottle of red wine. It's okay, it's reasonably priced and may pass as a sushi joint, but you're definitely not going to pick up on any subtle nuances, nor are you going to be offered anything that will open your mind to venture further into this realm. I think a $300 bottle of good French might be pushing it. You pay a hefty premium for French wines that rate a 90+. I think it might be more along the lines of a great Spanish wine that can be had for around $35 - hopefully the same for Kiriko if they still have their lunch special.

          2. OP should specify interest in classic or modern sushi, which would greatly influence the recommendations. Mayo and spicy are a delight to some and anathema to others.

            1. I second the Hide suggestion. Very good sushi at a very reasonable price. I also really like Yabu on Pico and about Bundy. It is authentic Japanese with good sushi and handmade soba and udon. Also try the seared black cod. If you want to spend a little more cash, try K-Zo in Culver City.