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Apr 21, 2008 01:54 PM

R23 - Did not live up to Expectation

I have always wanted to try this so called sushi destination spot, that I finally had the chance last week to try it over lunch. I have great expectation based on fellow chowhounders recommendation of this restaurant, a place that is "worth the trip". I have to agree that part of the fun was finding this elusive place. When I finally located the restaurant, it reminded me of Katsu (when Katsu Michite (Tama Sushi in Studio city) had his restaurant on Hillhurst in Los Feliz in the late 70s thru mid 90s).

I went specifically for the Dungeness Crab Salad ($21). It was good but not great, the salad was swimming on a bed of watery dressing (forgot to tell to put dressing on the side based on another chowhounder's recommendation). Next was the assortment plate and sashimi plate. I judge a Japanese sushi place on 2 features, rice and food presenation. The bowl of rice was terrible, it looked and tasted like what they would serve in a chinese restaurant (the kind they would use for fried rice). My wife and I were very disappointed, rice is sacred to the Japanese culture, I never had it that bad in a Japanese Restaurant. Next came the sashimi and cooked stuff from the assortment plate. The presentation of the the assortment plate is at best mediocre, the sashimi plate looked unappetizing. This is our take, stick with the cooked stuff, and you can take a pass on the raw stuff (tasteless). We were clearly not too thrilled about our experience. Service was very good but if the cooked stuff is the only good thing here, there are other better places to choose from.

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  1. My friend and fellow chowhound JeffW and I went to R23 last Tuesday for lunch. I'd never been. Jeff wanted the fried oysters that had been written up in the LA Times. He said they were decent but probably not good enough to make another special trip and deal with the nightmarish parking. I had the assorted chirashi. I was nursing a cold so maybe my taste buds weren't in top shape, but the fish was definitely bland. Nothing seemed of particularly good quality except the squid which was simultaneously crunchy and creamy. All in all I'm glad we went because I've always wanted to try it, but I don't see myself returning.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Sorry to hear you were let down. We ate there 2 weeks ago and we were delighted. We didn't have sushi (I go to dedicated sushi places for my sushi) but cooked entrees and their Dungeness crab salad. My recollection is we had their scallops with asparagus and shimeji mushrooms, stuffed duck, tofu miso soup and cold sake. The presentation was beautiful, the taste was a treat. I thought their cooked food compares well with Asanebo. The only thing I didn't like was the valet parking. I'm cheap that way :-)

        1. Have been about 5 times, but more than a couple yrs ago. Back then, our impression was to go for dinner not lunch. Was not impressed w/ my last midweek lunch. I agree, the cooked dishes are a safer bet though. We debated whether or not the day of the week mattered for the raw stuff.

          Are they still using the cardboard chairs? Last time, I thought they looked weathered.

          9 Replies
          1. re: pharmnerd

            Yes, they are still using the cardboard chairs, and still weathered.

            1. re: jotfoodie

              FYI, those chairs were designed by Frank Gehry.

              1. re: Renault78law

                fyi, they were not designed by frank gehry

                  1. re: mollyomormon

                    Does it really matter?

                    People always banter that little nugget of info (or misinfo?) around as if it somehow makes the restaurant better, or the food taste tastier, or the room seem roomier.

                    They're just chairs! Sit on them. Eat your food. Pay your bill. Go home. Sorry for the rant ...


                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      No, you're right that it doesn't really matter. Although I'd be annoyed if I was Gehry and that information/misinformation was being bandied about.

                      Back to the food, I had lunch there most recently last summer and the sushi was decidedly underwhelming. I still like the crab salad quite a bit, but even the other cooked dishes we ordered weren't all the great. Too bad, because I really enjoy the space (and the chairs ;)).

                      Oh, maybe someone reading this will know the answer. The last time I was there was for a work lunch where we ordered a huge amount of sushi for the table. They ended up comping us a couple of pieces but no one at the table was exactly sure what sort of fish the two comped pieces were and still were uncertain after we asked the waitress. The sushi in question was sort of a mound of bright pink fish paste that was secured to rice with a strip of nori. After my co-worker tried the first piece and nearly spit it out, I had to try it. Because I'm a chowhound. God, it was like the fishiest, saltiest mush you can ever imagine. I still cringe to think about it. Any Idea what this mystery sushi was?

                    2. re: mollyomormon

                      it is urban legend... one person says it was designed by frank gehry because it is made of cardboard, then it gets passed down and down and down....

                      just to double confirm, i just emailed franks right hand man and he definitively said, no, frank did not design them...

                      interestingly, i called r 23 because i wanted to get it from their mouths, and they said it was an early frank gehry design, which is totally inaccurate...

                      and yes, back to the food, i haven't been back in years because the food is overpriced and not that great...

                      1. re: modernist

                        Yes, they are just chairs and this site is about food. And yet, I feel compelled to reply here because I actually know the real story: Those chairs were designed and made by a furniture designer I once knew named Joel (can't remember his last name, but it started with an S) who once worked with Frank Gehry back in the day. That last detail is probably where the rumor came from. The chairs were NOT designed by Gehry himself. It's a shame that the real designer is not receiving the credit.

              2. i went there for dinner 3 yrs ago and thought the same thing about the rice. our sushi rice was cold, like premade sushi rice from ralph's that's been sitting there all day. except we were not paying ralph's prices nor expecting a supermarket sushi experience. the fish was ok. nothing spectacular. i think it's one of those places that lives off of it's hype from when they were once good. my co worker went and thought the whole time "why didn't i wait on that line at Gen?"