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This is not another best sushi topic

  • c

However...
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:

    http://la.foodblogging.com/2008/02/08...

    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.

    http://la.foodblogging.com/2008/02/03...

    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...

                  2. I have been going to a good place in Gardena, Kanpachi. It is unique for the kinds of sushi they serve. At lunch I order their excellent omakase offering (and a great bargain at $34)

                    The last time my favorites included kohada, sea bass, baby octopus, sanma and tai.
                    Other favorites included mussels, tobiko (flying fish roe), salmon roe, uni, amaebi.
                    18 different pieces plus ice cream.

                    The chefs have been very helpful in explaining what some of the unfamiliar sushi are. Kanpachi is truly a unique sushi experience in LA.

                    -----
                    Kanpachi
                    1425 W Artesia Blvd Ste 27, Gardena, CA 90248

                    1. You do know that Sushi Gen takes reservations, right?

                      Out of curiosity, which sort of sushi place above Kyoto station are you talking about? They've stuck a hotel, a department store and a full shopping mall on top of that place, and is filled with hundreds of places to eat, so I'm a little confused by your reference...

                      Mr Taster

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        It's not really a sushi restaurant although I had a great omakase meal there at the bar. It's not Kyoto station, but above the train station which is I think Sanjo Keihan in a new development on the second floor.

                        1. re: Mr Taster

                          Do they take reservations at the bar?
                          I was just assuming they don't.

                          1. re: cls

                            Ah, good question... not sure about that. I'm always there for the sashimi specials, which you can only get at the table.

                            As far as rapport at Sushi Gen, I can recount to you one particular visit when, despite the fact that we sat at a table, the old owner of the place took a liking to my wife as she hopped giddily (as she does) past the sushi bar to the bathroom, and he said a few kind words to her. We asked that he prepare our sashimi platter, and he sent us over a generous extra helping of toro for free!

                            Mr Taster

                        2. My recommendation is Izayoi on Central just North of 2nd Street. Ask to be sat in front of Jun-san at the bar; he always excellent sushi and sashimi.

                          Izayoi
                          132 S Central Ave
                          Los Angeles, CA 90012
                          (213) 613-9554

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: yinyangdi

                            Ahh, Izayoi. I used to go for sushi lunch when they first opened and it was excellent. I have been a few times for sushi dinner and it has been just ok. (although the izakaya is great and a great deal) Is Jun the owner who serves at the left side of the bar? If I could be served by him for dinner I am sure it would be good but they are so crowded on a Friday that I don't think I would be able to.
                            I think I may give up and just go to the raw bar at Water Grill and save sushi for a less "occasion" evening. I spoke to a sushi chef friend of mine today and told him we NEED another Urasawa, perhaps $150-200pp. Any investors out there?

                            1. re: cls

                              Only places I will eat sushi in L.A. is Nishimura in West Hollywood which is too expensive and currently Suki 7 in Westlake village. I know Sakai-san who used to be executive chef at Umanohama and Gonpachi restaurant is by far the best sushi chef in West coast. He's sushi is Osaka style sushi and he can do both very traditional and fusion. His Omakase is amazing as he never seems to run out of new things to make and I have been going to see him for years. I have traveled to Japan on business 5 or 6 times a year for week to two weeks at a time and have been taken to supposed best restaurant all over Japan and I think Sakai-san's sushi is at par with best if not better. Suki 7's prices are also reasonable ( I think I paid $60 for last Omakase) so it make the driving worth while for me.

                              1. re: cls

                                You were looking for Silverlake/downtown; that's why I offered up Izayoi. But, wow, just okay sushi dinners at Izayoi? Say it ain't so! :-( And, yes, Jun is the owner who serves at the left side of the bar.

                                Well, what about Mako Sushi on the third level of Weller Court connected to Kyoto Grand, fka New Otani? It's been a while since I've eaten at Mako, but the chef/owner knows fish and used to serve the good stuff.

                                And, as others recommended: on the westside I'll echo Kiriko & Mori, and Asanebo in the SFV. FWIW, I like the atmosphere at Asanebo.

                                1. re: yinyangdi

                                  My OK experiences at Izayoi were not with Jun then, but rather the chefs to his left. Everything was fine but omakase there was a bit off. Because I have had trouble sitting with him, I have restricted dinners to izakaya since.
                                  I like the look of Mako but haven't been impressed with the food. What's the place on the 2nd level of Weller with a sushi bar?

                                  I know, it's a bit impossible. I was hoping there was something great I had not yet discovered.

                                  1. re: cls

                                    Go's Mart in wherever the heck that is. Thousand Oaks? Tarzana? You've pretty much vetoed every other place in town ;)

                                    1. re: rameniac

                                      I know. If I still lived more West, I would be able to get a better seat at some better places. Part of my veto is not being able to get a good seat, which usually requires familiarity. It's too bad that there are only two places downtown with good sushi and each requires a min. 1hr wait.
                                      The other problem is more an LA problem. Most restaurants are a bit too casual for an event dinner and there's a horrible lack of design when it comes to most sushi bars.

                                      1. re: cls

                                        i would say there are pretty few places in that strata just under urasawa, and this thread has probably covered them all.

                                        go's mart is supposedly up there, but it's in the boondocks, and it literally looks like a convenience store.

                                        in the OC there may be a place or two, but that's like going to a whole 'nother country.

                                        which is why i just settle for reasonably awesome $15 combos at sushi don sasabune like, several times a week and then wait for that occasional trip to japan.

                                        nothing beats $30 omakase at sushi dai or daiwa at tsukiji at the crack o' dawn, where you can get drunk on sake and beer before 9am, then spend the rest of the day going from one ramen shop to the next! =)

                                        1. re: rameniac

                                          I prefer the toast set and coffee with the fish mongers, then a dirty walk through the market before my Daiwa, but to each his own.

                                          1. re: cls

                                            lol i can never wake up early enough to catch that dang tuna auction!

                                    2. re: cls

                                      hmm, I am unfamiliar with the 2nd level of Weller Court...

                                      As for Go's Mart ... closes too early and is too far away, deep in the west valley (well, for me, at least) and whoever said that it looks like a convenience store is being kind...but, the itamae knows his fish ( A+ excellent, gold-star, etc.). The only real complaint I could have about Go's Mart is that he put truffle oil AND goldflake on the ankimo; everyone else loved it that way.

                                      I missed the part about you wanting sushi as an "event dinner" in the OP. That being said, the most beautiful room I've had sushi in LA was at The Hump at Santa Monica Airport.

                                      1. re: yinyangdi

                                        I will report back one day on Weller Court 2nd level place to be named.
                                        This has been an interesting exercise. I guess I was hoping that someone could direct me down an alley in some nearby neighborhood and I would find sushi nirvana.
                                        The end result is I want Urwasawa (a bit better decor, sorry) for $150pp, and it needs to be close to home.
                                        If I wanted a bit of a drive I would go to Jinpachi I think, although I am not sure if Taka would serve me on a Friday at this point.
                                        I need to get out more.

                                        1. re: cls

                                          if $150 pp is your price range, i'd say give zo a shot at some point. not the greatest ambiance (but it's modernish and spartan). a little out of range for you but could be worth the occasional drive. zo is controversial for some, but i haven't had a bad experience there, and the fish has always been a notch above the rest. not counting urasawa and possibly mori, but it's definitely up there.

                              2. I noticed that a couple of posters on this thread recommended Kiriko on Sawtelle and Olympic at the Olympic Collection. You never directly said whether you had been there or not? I would also strongly recommend it to you, and didn't do so on the first pass based on it's location. But since it seems that the area being considered has gotten larger it really ought to be in play here.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Servorg

                                  I like Kiriko. It's a decent room, a good sushi joint although last I went it was $120pp for omakase and we only had seven dishes and left hungry. In this case it's a bit far.

                                  1. re: cls

                                    the pricing at kiriko at lunch is also a wild card.
                                    they list a lunch omakase price on their menu, but don't tell you when you've exhausted the omakase deal; they continue to serve you stuff and then will charge you an additional amount for it. this means that the amount on your check will be a surprise, somewhat higher than the posted omakase price.