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May 20, 2008 06:43 PM

This is not another best sushi topic

I need a recommendation. I need a very good / great sushi bar that's hopefully not too far away with great atmosphere for an occasion dinner near Silverlake / Downtown (hopefully)
Here's the rules:
I sit at the bar.
I respect the chef and would like him to respect me, he's a part of the meal so it's nice to have a rapport.
I want sushi, nothing fusion.
There's a little place in Kyoto above a train station, if I could be transported there...

Yes, Urasawa is good, but I can't afford it, there's no need to recommend it.

Here's the places I have ruled out:
1. Shibucho, I love Shige but the atmosphere is is a little tired. Still a great find and great wines but not quite right.
2. Sushi Gen, it's good, but I don't want to go to dinner at 5:30, it's always rushed and there's no rapport.
3. Sushi Go, it's not that good.
4. Sushi Zo, it's too far, and I have heard mixed reviews about the atmosphere.
5. Saito Sushi, not that great, bad attitude from Saito (not so far to me but I have seen it with others) and horrible decor.
6. Nobu, Matsuhisa, Wa, Roku, et al.

Is R23 still any good? I haven't been there since Nishimura left. The reviews are mixed.
Is there anywhere else downtown that would be good?
Maybe I would go to Gardena if there was something exceptional.

Thanks for any consideration, and yes, sushi snobs only should respond.

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  1. I think Mori Sushi (on W Pico) fits the bill. (Oh, except for the location...)
    He was one of the few LA chefs who gained a Michelin star.
    The ambience isn't super fantastic, but I think it's a perfect place to dine at the sushi counter.

    info here:

    Also, I recently went to R23 for the first time in ages and we had a fab, if pricey, meal. I loved the crab salad and the sublime lobster tempura and the sushi - esp the toro - was excellent, too.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Maxmillion

      I forgot about Mori. I went a few times when they first opened and it was great. His wife is a first class server as well. My problem with Mori these days is I don't think I would be able to sit with him so the rest probably doesn't matter. It's the same problem I have with Nishimura, it's hard to pay $200pp and be served by an overworked apprentice while Nishimura stands with his arms folded and won't serve me.
      Doesn't R23 have a menu price for Omakase?

      1. re: cls

        Hi cls,

        I feel your pain. I would say that if you call far enough ahead of time (or just the luck of the draw, depending on luck/timing), you can definitely still get a seat in front of Mori-san.

        On my first visit to Mori-san (with only 3 days advanced notice), I was able to get a seat in front of him at the Sushi Bar; he's not "retired" or just sitting back.

        He's a nice guy and the atmosphere is decent (better than Zo). The only thing is the distance, if you think Zo was too far, Mori is even farther. But that's the only one I can think of that fits what you want for truly great sushi beside the U-word which I won't mention. :)

        1. re: cls

          Actually, the two times I've dined at Mori Sushi we sat in front of Hiro-san, who is/was Mori's teacher. So, I figured we were in good hands, non?

          Excellent fare. Also wonderful cold sake. Basically omakase until we'd had enough. It came out swiftly enough, too, but my guy has decided he doesn't like to eat this way, meaning piecemeal (?!) so I don't know what I'll do next time we have a hunger for fine sushi... Go somewhere and order an assorted platter?!

          Actually the next place was R23 and we both loved it.

          So I dunno about comments in this thread about R23 having "gone downhill - steeply" -- I really don't. I simply could not fault our meal (link to my review is above).

      2. You ought to give Sushi Ike in Hollywood a try. A bit west of your comfort zone but it's not going to make your nose bleed getting there. There have been some recent and extreme downhill alerts on R23, so approach with caution.

        Ike Sushi
        6051 Hollywood Blvd # 105
        Los Angeles, CA 90028
        (323) 856-9972

        2 Replies
        1. re: Servorg

          I like Ike. My problem would be it's really crowded (I am going on a Friday) and it's tough, if not impossible to sit with him. It's also a bit casual.

          1. re: cls

            ah cls, you might well be in one of those moods (like me) when you're looking for something that doesn't quite exist. compared to (insert any random city outside of japan), we have it incredibly lucky here in LA. i keep forgetting that myself =).

            that said, i've heard good things about sitting in front of katsu-san at tama in studio city. have only tried the table omakase there, which could have been better, but just to throw it out there.

        2. Asanebo is probably 20-min drive from Silverlake/DT area on a good day--very good sushi & the chefs really care about what and whom they serve.

          4 Replies
          1. re: fdb

            Asanebo is on my list to consider, I wish it had a better interior though.

            1. re: cls

              Problem is you stated you wanted sushi, nothing fusion. Although Asanebo does serve sushi, it is not their forte. I have had omakase there several times (although it's been a while) and I don't remember being served any nigiri, mostly sashimi and fusion style dishes, I remember a warm spinach salad, some great soups, toro tartare with caviar, once a kobe beef dish, lots of sashimi, etc.

              1. re: markn

                I guess it depends on the night. Last time I was at the bar for omakase, there was plenty of nigiri. To clarify, sashimi is fine, I originally used sushi as a term to describe a restaurant type and to contrast a more "Japanese" style from a fusion style.

                1. re: cls

                  My omakase lunch also did include excellent nigiri, and of course sashimi and other very well-cooked dishes. Can't help with the interior though. Btw, I've given Yuzando's nigiri two chances but was very very disappointed both times.

          2. OTOM
            (310) 391-8011
            3936 Sepulveda Blvd
            Culver City, CA 90230
            Sit with Shige-san.
            Call in advance, ask him to prepare for you an omakase special.
            If you not 100% happy, I'll eat the monitor in front of me. Raw.

            4 Replies
            1. re: RicRios

              I don't think he's still there.

              1. re: cls

                New owner a couple months ago.
                Also new name, something generic like "Sushi Bar".

                1. re: cls

                  Shige-san has returned. Or at least, he was the chef working the last time I went there for omakase. Taka-san is not bad either.

                2. re: RicRios

                  My fave is Pancho (the weightlifting chef) but he's only there certain days. Pancho isn't his real name, btw.

                3. Not near Silverlake, but maybe sitting in front of Ken-san at Kiriko (on Sawtelle) may sate you.

                  You may actually find your 'Holy Grail' at Yuzando, on Sawtelle. Not crowded, and they have good fresh traditional sushi, including excellent kinmedai and tairagai the last time I went.

                  R23 has gone downhill lately. Steeply.

                  A word about "rapport"... I consider myself a fellow sushi "snob", but I've always not quite understood the need for all that banter between customer and itamae. I mean, my mouth is chewing most of the time, not talking. Asking your itamae what's fresh is OK (albeit kinda offensive if you consider that most itamae takes great pride in his offerings that day). Letting him know your food allergies is definitely OK. But after that, as long as you're smiling from the great meal, respecting the chef and his choices, and tipping (very) well at the end, I think that's what it's all about. Certain very able itamae out there do occasionally get sick of having to drink all that alcohol (BTW if you must buy him a drink, most Japanese prefer beer, not sake), and listening to so-called-foodies talk on and on...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: J.L.

                    About rapport: to me it means a variety of things and you're right, not necessarily talking. When I first started learning about sushi one of the chefs at Iroha was very friendly and helpful and would spend the meal explaining everything (he now works at Asanebo.) When I used to frequent Take Sushi, Nobu was the keystone cop of rapport. At Mori, I feel there is a great rapport even though he is a man of few words, same with Shige at Shibucho.

                    Rapport-less include: places that just want you in and out quickly (Sushi Gen although the fish is good) Nishimura, reason stated previously, Most trendy spots where the itamae doesn't really practice a craft, it's just making food.

                    I will look into Yuzando.

                    1. re: cls

                      How about Nozawa... the king of no-rapport sushi.

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        IMO also the king of decent fish brined beyond recognition.
                        Although I like Mr. Nozawa and I would say I have a rapport with him. We have disagreed about eel and sancho though...