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Best Omakase (L.A.)

I have a huge dinner next week, and my friend would like to experience omakase at one of our best sushi spots.

And, seriously, I'm not willing add any more zeroes to my Amex bill this month, so Urasawa is definitely out. OUT!

I would love to hear (read) suggestions and prices as well, please. Thank you!

How is The Hump's Omakase? And, how much is Mori's and Zo's?

Thanks again!!!!

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  1. My pick: Asanebo (the B course, which is around 100-120 per person)

        1. re: valleychowhound

          Love love love Sasabune. Best Omakase in the city. A bit pricey (I think it was $100 per person) but worth it.

          1. re: ExtraCheesePlease

            isn't sasabune the place that serves presliced fish?

            1. re: westsidegal

              If so, that's news to me. Not at those prices. I'll inquire next time I'm there.

              1. re: westsidegal

                Sasabune DOES precut their fish. It's not great sushi, although most people don't know that because it's the trendy choice. Zo is the best omakase I've had in the city, although I've never been to Urasawa. Omakase at Zo will always costs me slightly more than $100, but I'm a hungry guy. The downside with Zo is that Keso (sp?) is often unwilling to cater the omakase to your own personal tastes. It's usually whatever he feels like making.

                1. re: PlatypusJ

                  i still like sushi zo but lately, i feel that keizo is leaning more to the assembly line method ala sasabune. nothing really changes in the omakase. doh.

                  1. re: PlatypusJ

                    Yeah I tried Sasabune for the first time a couple weeks ago. Nothing to shout about, bit disappointing really, fish quality was very average....

                    http://www.vslperformance.com/catalog...

            2. Not counting Urasawa ($$$$$+), here are my top 5:

              By the way, try to have sushi on a Tue.-Fri.

              5. Sushi Masu - Westwood... probably the least expensive of the 5 ($$$)
              4. Mori Sushi - on Pico... killer uni ($$$$)
              3. The Hump - at the Santa Monica Airport... fresh fresh stuff, a lot of it from Tsukiji; hairy crabs can get expensive ($$$$-$$$$$)
              2. Sushi Zo - on National... much lauded on the Chowboard. Beware, it's in one of those famous SoCal mini-malls; make sure you get the yuzu drink concoction ($$$$)
              1. Kiriko - on Sawtelle... My dark horse favorite omakase. Ken-san will treat you right ($$$$-$$$$$)

              Yes, I did notice they're all on the Westside. So be it.

              6 Replies
              1. re: J.L.

                second sushi masu, great guy good food ridiculously cheap

                1. re: ns1

                  ...and third sushi masu: great option, particularly if you're looking to save some $...

                  1. re: ns1

                    heh, just came back to Masu yesterday after a few month hiatus. Good as usual. Stuffed ourselves with some ridiculous oysters (last ones that he had), anago, kanpachi, red snapper, salmon, spanish mackeral, sweet shrimp, + a few others that I don't remember, as well as 3 large asahi's

                    Total for me and the wifey? 90 bucks!!!!!!

                    I ate a bit less than that and did not drink @Sushi Gen 2 days prior and THAT total came out to a hundred bucks.

                    I think Masu does a better fried head than Gen; the only dish that I thought was noticeably lower quality than Gen was the spanish mackeral. Still good, but not like Gen's. I also did not get any attitude @Masu; he's actually a real nice talkative guy.

                    I feel like I always get attitude @Gen and that they're always trying to hustle you.

                  2. re: J.L.

                    What's the yuzu drink concoction???

                    1. re: fatassasian

                      it's a shot of yuzu juice that is presented at the end of an omakase meal at sushi zo.

                    2. re: J.L.

                      i totally agree about the killer uni at mori. this is the uni that turned me on to uni.

                    3. Wa in West Hollywood is pretty fab. omakase is (i think) $75 a person. sit at the sushi bar and ask for tito. enjoy the fois gras!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: hughman

                        Is Wa the place next to the Palm Car Wash? If so, then I agree it's fab, but not amazing. The only sushi places worth trying in Weho are 1) the place across from the Palm Car Wash, 2) the place on Sunset and La Cienega in the strip mall that includes Sunset Tan, and 3) the place next to Aahs on the corner of Sunset and San Vicente. Zo is better than all of these, however.

                        1. re: PlatypusJ

                          no.
                          wa is on the second floor of a structure on la cienega, east side of the street, between holloway and fountain.
                          it's ex-chefs from matsuhisa.

                      2. Let's see I've done Zo's omakase twice. The first time came out to about $70 ? That includes toro and uni, and oh, they always serve the yuzu drink at the end.

                        The second time was $50 only, for some reason he didn't serve toro or uni etc. We also stopped him kinda early I guess? After 11 pieces or so :)

                        --burumun
                        http://gourmetpigs.blogspot.com

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: burumun

                          Ate at Sushi Zo recently and, for me, it was the best sushi i have had in the US...and perhaps outside the US as well. I almost got down on my knees and cried after seeing and eating the toro and uni. He had a behind the counter helper that needs a little work on presentation but on the other hand, it helped remind me I was in LA, not outside Tsukiji...well that and the strip mall setting. Price was also around 75.00ish a person.

                          1. re: tomritza

                            There are a few Zo naysayers on the board, but I am in total agreement with you, Zo rules Los Angeles for a straight up, unadorned sushi experience. Yes, Urasawa is a better restaurant, but it also costs 3 or 4 times as much as Zo.

                            1. re: tomritza

                              i am in complete agreement with you and with servorg.
                              every so often i try another place, and invariably the new places just are not quite as good as zo.

                              1. re: tomritza

                                Ditto. Except that I end up paying about 150 per person by the time I leave (plus sake).

                                I went recently with a friend from NYC who lived in Japan. We've had great omakase meals in NYC at the best places but he said nothing touches Zo.

                              2. re: burumun

                                actually, they don't always serve the yuzu drink. i've been to zo numerous times but it wasn't until the last time that i learned you have to spend a minimum of $80 pp to get the yuzu. my friend and i had stopped the omakase as we were full, and the girl brings us our check so i asked her about the yuzu shot and she told us about the min. (our check was like $76 pp) we were a ridiculous $4 off!! anyway so i offered to pay extra for the yuzu shot but she told me that that's not allowed. i was so put off.. haha. altho that was just the cherry on top. the last couple of times i had been to zo the quality was noticeably not up to par. that and the service. keizo-san is so in his own world and most of those at the bar end up getting served by the other guys. also the rice texture was off.

                                anyway, just a note that they don't technically serve the yuzu everytime.

                                1. re: namstermonster

                                  This sort of inflexibility is another strike against Zo.

                                  1. re: namstermonster

                                    that makses sense. too much sense.

                                    although since they started the whole omakase scheme a couple yrs back, i've always had the yuzu to my knowledge but then again i also had a bill of at least a 100 or more like 125 before tax and tip.

                                    1. re: namstermonster

                                      I love Zo and always spend way too much there but that's annoying about the $4 short = no yuzu.

                                      I don't like how none of these sushi guys are particularly generous. When I eat at some restaurants here and there the chef will throw in something, saying HERE, TRY THIS. That makes the experience better.

                                  2. Hi Frank,

                                    I won't mention the "U" word (^_~), but besides that, to answer your questions and my vote:

                                    1. Sushi Zo - We average about ~$140 - $150 per person (this includes some excellent Sake, so if you don't drink, it'll be much less). :)

                                    2. Mori Sushi - Mori-san is a great Itamae, and I think his knife skills are probably better than Keizo-san (at Zo), but it's pretty expensive. It cost us about ~$260 per person (including some excellent Kokuryu Sake), so again, if you don't drink, it'll be less.

                                    22 Replies
                                    1. re: exilekiss

                                      Thank you very much. I live in Santa Monica, so these places are perfect. Trying to decide between Zo, Mori or The Hump. By the way, The Hump's omakase starts at $150!

                                      1. re: exilekiss

                                        agree with Exilekiss, except I like Zo's cuts more. Both are wonderful.

                                        Whatever you do avoid Sasabune.

                                        BTW, hump is a very different kind of omakase. I've spent 1000 dollars for 2 on food there so Urasawa could be a bargain.

                                        1. re: epop

                                          1000 for 2!??!?!

                                          what are they serving you, gold ingots?!

                                          n/m answered the question myself

                                          http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-hump-sant...

                                          1. re: ns1

                                            it was actually $1200 just for the food but i didn't want to throw people off. it is called
                                            life lived fully. we
                                            then went to nobu for dessert and had several courses there.

                                            (But I prefer Zo for omakase, hands down)

                                            1. re: epop

                                              1200 for only food = urasawa TWICE.

                                              1. re: epop

                                                GOOD LORD!

                                                Can't say that I was impressed with the hump. Found the fish to be pretty good, but I didn't lose my mind. And the service was pretty terrible. I even got into it with the waitress as she tried to unload 5 orders of toro on me - when I originally asked for a cheaper tuna. She didn't like that I wasn't going to eat her $100 mistake.

                                                1. re: fatassasian

                                                  That meal was impressive in every way (although the service can be spotty, yes). But I wouldn't go there for omakase.

                                                  The live lobster was probably the best I've had.

                                                2. re: epop

                                                  wait a second.

                                                  the bill for each person food alone at the hump was 600 per.

                                                  that is expensive considering it's not even urasawa, i would think that the hump would top out at most at 200 maybe 225 per without any alchohol, etc.

                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                    There are some sea critters at The Hump which I haven't even seen before on my visits to Urasawa. One does pay a premium to try them...

                                                    Thank goodness for corporate expense accounts.

                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                      yes, each person for 600. I think the lobster alone was 150-200, plus several live fish cut razor thin at 100 a piece. then there are the critters. i wish we'd had the corporate expense accounts.

                                                      1. re: epop

                                                        i'll have to warn people about that. had no clue always though it would top out at no more than 150 200 per, if you're really pushing it.

                                                        for instance, there's no way Nozawa, Sasabune, Mori, Zo, or Kiriko, or even Matsuhisa would be 600 per.

                                                        I presume the lobster itself was a 4 or 5 pounder. was there any osetra or beluga caviar in the meal or white truffles, etc.

                                                        Thanks for the heads up.

                                                        As a side note, if you ever go to Kazu Sushi in Studio city the toro tartare itself is about 75 bucks.

                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                          no caviar or truffles to jack up the bill, kevin -- just 2 rather driven people

                                                3. re: epop

                                                  i've heard of those kind of numbers coming out of the hump before. i used to think that they 'couldn't be THAT high.' i guess i was wrong

                                                   
                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                    Oh, you can REALLY rack up costs at The Hump... Last meal we had there, we had omakase at the bar, which came out to $450 per person, after all said and done. Total for our group of 6 = $2700.00.

                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                      we had several live fish cut razor thin and the live lobster. true that would be urasawa twice over.
                                                      to be honest we didn't know what the bill would be and kept ordering for 4 hours. as i said we were hungry when we left and went to Nobu for oyster shots and dessert.

                                                      1. re: epop

                                                        Can you please invite me the next time you go live life fully like this? :)

                                                  2. re: exilekiss

                                                    $260 per?

                                                    I was there last week - took a friend for their birthday, and it was closer to $300 total with sake. Not a lot of sake though.

                                                    Mori's great.

                                                    I've tried Kiriko and though it was good, it wasn't stellar. That said - I've been taken there by two seperate serious foodie friends - and both said the nights were were there it wasn't on. Jutie's still out for me.

                                                    And love that handle EXILEKISS.

                                                    1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                      Unless, or until, you have had omakase at Sushi Zo then you have not yet tried the benchmark for sushi (excepting Urasawa) in LA.

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        I have since tried Zo - and it was excellent. To say I prefer Mori's is not a put-down to Zo. Would love to go back to Zo and feel confident I would have terrific fish. But Mori is more personable and the omakase I got - the cooked portion, was more creative. (I don't remember the cooked portion at Zo - not even sure if it was there. That was for lunch BTW, which might be a different experience that the daily service.)

                                                        Sasabune? Great? Really? Do I have to go back again and try it? When I could go to Mori's or Zo?

                                                        My vote - Mori & Zo.

                                                        1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                          Skip sasabune. 100%.

                                                          Zo has no cooked food (except the butter fish, monkfish liver, etc.).

                                                          1. re: epop

                                                            Yeah, that pretty much tips the hat in favor of Mori for me, as well.

                                                    2. re: exilekiss

                                                      Mori's omakase seems to run around $90-140. Start buying sake and it could get expensive.

                                                      I went there on a date about a month ago - we both got omakase, a bottle of wine, and then four glasses of wine. (should've just bought another bottle of wine).

                                                      But with tip it came in around $450-$460.

                                                    3. Mori! Realy wonderful. Menu price omakase is $120 pp. Some of the nigiri was made using yuzu kosho instead of the freshly grated wasabi. Love it. Chef Morihiro was nowhere in sight when I was there.

                                                      Also love Sushi Zo, our omakase was about $75-80 pp.

                                                      Please don't go to Sasabune.

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: slacker

                                                        okay..this is crazy! is there any decent omakase for around $50-75 per person. i went to one a while ago..cant rememeber the name for some reason..but its on melrose jsut a few blocks west of la brea.

                                                        1. re: samtron608

                                                          Nozawa is in that range if you skip the sake and don't order a lot of extras. On Melrose I wonder if you are thinking of Azami.

                                                          1. re: samtron608

                                                            lunch at kiriko or echigo would work in that range as well

                                                            1. re: epop

                                                              if you do the lunch at kiriko and money is an issue, be SURE to tell them to notify you when the set omakase meal is over.
                                                              if you don't do this, they will keep serving you and adding extra to your bill without saying a thing... ..

                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                In all fairness, every time I went they finished the lunch omakase then asked me if i wanted to go on. The blue crab hand roll is the sign most everywhere, in case not.

                                                            2. re: samtron608

                                                              samtron, are you remembering Azami Sushi? If so, I read here http://sevendeadlyseans.tumblr.com/po...
                                                              and elsewhere (somewhere) that Niki, owner and head chef of azami sushi sold her business and is serving an “$80 seasonal omakase for just 10 lucky patrons a night” (five nights a week) at “her sister’s gourmet seafood store in arcadia”
                                                              http://sevendeadlyseans.tumblr.com/po...

                                                              1. re: yinyangdi

                                                                Hello, yinyangdi!
                                                                I am so glad that you posted this about Niki, and am very happy that she found a place to do what she is so good at!

                                                                We think she is one of the best sushi chefs in LA; she is such a natural, and she really knows fish. I trust that she will continue to offer a wonderful omakase in her new "home."

                                                            3. It's kinda pseudo-omakase, but check out SugarFISH in Marina del Rey, particularly if you're interesting in saving $ -- Nozawa-level yummy at a discount...

                                                              12 Replies
                                                              1. re: t0mk7d

                                                                i completely disagree with this recommendation.
                                                                sugarfish is, at best, a mediocre dining experience imho.

                                                                before eating at sugarfish, i had planned to try nozawa. knowing that his name is on this place that served me such a nothing meal, i have no plans to try the father restaurant.

                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                  Wow -- sorry to hear that: I LOVE Sushi Nozawa, and they're definitely different dining experiences. Please don't let your experience at one keep you from checking out the other...

                                                                  Then again, if you hated everything about SugarFISH -- sashimi, nigiri et al -- you might well hate Nozawa.

                                                                  What it is about his sushi that forces such strong reactions? Lines out the door every night, and yet so many people HATE his stuff... it's different -- looser rice, distinctive cuts -- but to me, it's consistently a grade above everything else: I've never found anything that comes close.

                                                                  1. re: t0mk7d

                                                                    i can tell you what it was about sugarfish that turned me off:
                                                                    1) the white gristle in the tuna sashimi that made eating it a get-in-between-your- teeth experience.
                                                                    2) the tremendous amount of ponzu sauce that drowned the tuna sashimi. the gristle was bad enough, but the swimming-pool of sauce made a bad situation worse.
                                                                    3) the nothing-with-nothing cucumber roll served as a filler
                                                                    4) the fact that in the whole meal only one piece of nigiri (the yellowtail) could be called excellent
                                                                    5) the toro roll had such a small amount of toro in it that they might as well have just served a rice roll. (if you're working with good toro, it probably doesn't belong in a roll anyway. it think this is where the toro scraps from nozawa may end up)

                                                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                                                      Yikes -- how soon after they opened did you go there? I went very early on and was disappointed, but have been much happier with more recent visits -- they've ironed out a lot of kinks...

                                                                      1. re: t0mk7d

                                                                        i went there about the second week after they opened.
                                                                        the white gristle in the tuna sashimi is, imho, inexcusable in any sushi restaurant--ever.

                                                                      2. re: westsidegal

                                                                        westsidegal, i've been to nozawa many times over the past times years and i'm not saying your experience with SugarFish is wrong. But Nozawa is different in most ways. At sugarfish, yes, they serve a cucumber roll for some inexplicable reason. I have never seen a cucumber nor a cucumber roll anywhere at Sushi Nozawa. Also, the toro roll at SugarFish is tiny (you are correct), but at Nozawa it is not. and is served as a handroll at Nozawa. The excessive amount of ponzu sauce you see at SugarFish will also be there at Nozawa. But I do like ponzu sauce topped with chopped scallions on top of my fresh baby tuna sashimi. Just call me crazy. Is Nozawa better than Sugar Fish? Without question. But does Sugar Fish remind me of Nozawa in some ways? Yes.

                                                                        If I'm not mistaken, you're one of the Sushi Zo fans. In my opinion, Sushi Nozawa is better than Sushi Zo. And Zo does serve his fish in the same assembly line/sauced style as Nozawa. There are many many many chefs around Los Angeles that have adopted the style of Nozawa and Echigo, Sasabune, Wasabe, Hikko, are all some of them.

                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                          As Kevin alluded to, there are two camps of LA sushi.

                                                                          1. The more traditional edomae sushi camp. Here you'll find carefully blended, measured, seasoned, and cooled rice because these places consider rice as important as the fish. The fish selection is seasonal, more varied, and higher quality. Fresh wasabi, fresh yuzu, and fresh sudachi are used. Skillfully prepared sayori, kohada, winter buri etc. are offered. In this camp, I like Mori and Zo (though Zo has a few touches of Nozawa)

                                                                          2. The LA style sushi camp courtesy of Nozawa. The rice is hot, ponzu is used excessively, scallion and ginger is used to cover the inferior saba and the fish variety is standard with minimal variation or seasonal consideration. The blue crab handroll is a giveaway (though the good Keizo also uses this)

                                                                          As if there were any doubt, I am obviously in the first camp and the two camps rarely agree. It is best to figure out which style of sushi you are looking for before following certain recommendations.

                                                                          Mori has several omakase. One includes beautifully cooked items with a nigiri flight and another that is nigiri only. Request a seat in front of him if possible. His knifework and art is beautiful to watch. The quality is top notch and nearly rivals the great Yasuda.

                                                                          Sushi Zo has a larger selection than Mori but I feel the art is a bit less refined (in terms of knifework and rice). It is a touch cheaper though and the quality is also excellent.

                                                                          Kiriko is one of those places that is able to satisfy members of both camps. The sushi is a notch below Mori and Zo but the cooked items can be spectacular...especially their matsutake dobin mushi (available in the fall).

                                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                                            fair summary of the sushi landscape. btw, my last visit to Zo was a bit less amazing than usual and I felt it was equal to Mori this time.
                                                                            I'm hoping something new opens, as I am going to these much too often...

                                                                            1. re: epop

                                                                              Haha. Epop. It's actually not that fair since I trash Nozawa and his spawn...but then again, our sushi preferences are similar.

                                                                              It's not season now but let me know if you see anyone doing scallop roe nigiri in LA (or fresh grilled eel for that matter).

                                                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                                                I can understand not liking Nozawa as much but trashing it seems unnecessary (I save that for sasabune and mozza), at least from my perspective. I sometimes need to branch out from the usual suspects, after all... That did me in on grilled eel.

                                                                                I had a whole grilled eel (all by myself) on the foggy Adriatic coast, served head on.

                                                                                At this point I'll keep my eye out for scallop roe. That is great stuff.

                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                  I had an excellent cooked (not quite grilled) sea eel at Shibucho in Costa Mesa last week. Shibutani-san had a filet on a metal skewer and held it over a burner until cooked. Then he cut the fillet for nigiri, which was eaten without soy sauce.

                                                                              2. re: Porthos

                                                                                I have revised my rankings - Mori has been demoted to #5 in my book.

                                                                                Just had very mediocre omakase at Mori this past week. The uni is still worth going for, but the rest of the offerings were sub-par when compared with past meals there. Sad. I so much want to like this place, but it keeps sliding.

                                                                                Agree with the huge dichotomy btwn the 2 schools of thought in the LA sushi scene. I too like Edo-style sushi, but Mori has disappointed on 2 visits in a row now.

                                                                    2. I went to Asanebo recently....disappointed by the nigiri sushi. Wasn't that fresh, you can tell by looking at the Uni. The creative/fusion stuff was good though. The place is like a Matsuhisa.

                                                                      If you want to spend the least amount of money, why not go to Katsu-ya (the original one, not the Starkified one)? They have omakase there, it may not be as good as some of those other mentioned places, but it is a lot cheaper. I recently brought my friends from Hokkaido (very famous for their fish) there, they thought it was amazing quality for the price.

                                                                      1. You've gotten a lot of great responses here but I just wanted to add one thing: omakase is very different in different places, so it depends on what you are looking for. If you want *only* nigiri sushi, beautiful cuts, top quality, and a large variety of fish, but no hot dishes and little sashimi (unless requested), go to Zo. It is simply presented, and in somewhat rote fashion, that's true, but truly amazing sushi and reasonable, I think, for the quality.

                                                                        At other places, such as Kiriko, you'll receive a much broader variety of dishes, with more elaborate presentations, and both hot and cold selections. I think the fish quality is slightly lower, but if you are looking for a more varied omakase experience than fish on rice, you'll get it at Kiriko.

                                                                        1. I'm going to kick it way old school and say that for quality and consistency - omakase or just straight sushi, Shibucho is theway to go, whether it be the slightly pricier Shibucho on Beverly Blvd near Commonwealth (Shige is the owner chef here) or Shibucho in Costa Mesa (Mr Shibutani's place).

                                                                          Classic and imho still among the best - I'd say the best but that's a bit much. Haven't tried every place else.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Jerome

                                                                            Concur with Jerome on Shibucho. BTW, their wine list is amazing & daunting at the same time.

                                                                          2. Don't get out to the westside much, but around Hollywood/BH/Studio City I suggest:

                                                                            1. Asanebo (ask for sushi bar and to sit in front of Shige) $120 pp
                                                                            2. Sushi Park ~$100 pp
                                                                            3. Sushi Sushi $80 pp

                                                                            1. Nishimura on San Vicente & Melrose. They don't get a lot of love on this board, but I was pretty blown away by a nigiri-omakase dinner there a few weeks back. Every piece was transportive. Not cheap; this is an expense account place.

                                                                              Kiriko is my go-to reasonably priced omakase. $35 pp for lunch including the salmon they smoke in-house and top with a dollop of caviar, and hon-maguro.

                                                                              Very honorable mentions to Zo (baby squid!) & Mori & of course Asanebo (most artistic). Mori seemed most overpriced, but the uni was truly memorable.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: alexfood

                                                                                Wait, are you saying that Mori is overpriced compared to Nishimura? I found the quality and traditional nigiri at Mori to be much better than Nishimura at about $30-50/pp less.

                                                                                To be honest, the horrendous service on consecutive visits by the outrageously disdainful hostess was too much...$150/pp tab aside. Quality as you said, can be very good.

                                                                                J.Gold also reported similiar "minimal courtesy" in his sushi roundup.

                                                                              2. Hiko on National is my current favorite, with Zo and Mori a close 2nd and 3rd. Hiko is a more simple approach. $60-90 depending how hungry you are....but beware the rules.

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: COhound

                                                                                  I was going to try Hiko based on a friend's raves, but then found out they do the hot--not warm--rice, like at Echigo, and that's big sushi turnoff for me.

                                                                                  1. re: COhound

                                                                                    I've done omakases at Sushi Zo, Sasabune, Hiko and Echigo and I find the sushi at Sushi Zo to be vastly superior to the other three. I think Echigo comes in a distant second and the bill tends to be about 20% - 30% less than Zo. Didn't understand the rave about Hiko although only went there once, and Sasabune... well, I think we can pretty mich all agree that it's really gone downhill after moving to Wilshire.

                                                                                    My biggest gripe about Sushi Zo is that the bill is a complete crapshoot... I've had omakases about seven times there that all seemed equally sublime and with the same amount of food (and one serving of alcohol), yet the bill has ranged from $45 to $120 for me only. Plus I've never been to such a completely child unfriendly place (not just in terms of food they serve, just the attitude about kids being there at all), but that's a gripe for a different thread.

                                                                                    1. re: chowmominLA

                                                                                      I, also, do not understand the pricing sometimes when we order omakase; I guess "market price" gives the sushi bar the license and space to wiggle their pricing.

                                                                                      Ideally, I would like an electronic counter at every bar seat so that I could watch my bill and know where I am. Truly, it might not change my ordering, but it might request some accountability for the chef's pricing.
                                                                                      As the system is now, the final tab is always such a surprise!

                                                                                      1. re: liu

                                                                                        i try to avoid ordering omakase towards the first of the month when mortage payments are due.

                                                                                        =) lols.

                                                                                    2. re: COhound

                                                                                      I love Hiko. I have one friend who thinks Hiko's the best place on the westside and makes Zo and Mori taste like dog food. I think he's nuts, but it is quite good. I'd rate it below Mori and Zo, but it's a slightly simpler experience. The baby tuna he starts off with is killer. One thing I was surprised about during my last visit, though, was that his uni SUCKS. Worst Uni I've ever tried (I usually only sample it at highly regarded sushi restaurants). He finally offered it to me after doing omakase there about a half dozen times and I was looking forward to trying it. Seriously funky. Avoid it if he asks if you'd like some. Since he asked, I'm assuming he won't be offended by declining (dangerous to assume with him, though).

                                                                                      1. re: GuidoTKP

                                                                                        Just thought I would update my previous entry to note that I recently tried the Uni at Hiko again on the chance that my previous taste was an aberration ... and it appears that it might have been. The uni was perfect the last time I tried it; sweet with a hint of the ocean. Guess I'll have to try it one more time!

                                                                                    3. If you really want to try an affordable omakase I too recommend HIKO. It may not be up to par with all others mentioned on this board (many of which are exceptional) but it's damn good. The space itself is quite dull, the chef can be "not so nice" - but if you're going simply for an affordable omakase experience I highly recommed it...

                                                                                      Funny to hear about the bad Uni experience though...he's never offered it to me and I've always wanted to try it...! Maybe that's a good thing.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Hoover13

                                                                                        wait a second it's not that affordable, it's still about 75 to 80 per not much difference than zo.

                                                                                      2. The conversation makes me laugh. Daring to give your opinion about your favorite sushi in LA is a no-win situation. Angelenos are PASSIONATE about their sushi bars and will fight to the death to be right.

                                                                                        That being said: my favorite Omikase joint is on Santa Monica Boulevard in a crappy strip mall next door to the California Massage School. I have no idea what the name is, but I am the only Round Eye in there when I go. The fish is so fresh, it's not even thought about rigamortis yet.

                                                                                        It's ugly inside with formica floors, but amazing.

                                                                                        And, of course, like every Angeleno, I consider myself quite the sushi expert.

                                                                                        So there.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: FoodKitCat

                                                                                          Bravo/a! What is this place called?

                                                                                          1. re: FoodKitCat

                                                                                            Sounds like Echigo, which is good.

                                                                                            But Sushi Zo is better :0P

                                                                                            1. re: chowmominLA

                                                                                              Ugh. If it's Echigo, then I won't go.

                                                                                              I am a fan of Zo, but not rabidly so (unlike many others on this chowboard).

                                                                                          2. You HAVE to check out Takao in Brentwood. Not a lot of people here have mentioned it or even know about it because it's a small place for the well-to-do foodie locals. The omakase is amazing!!! And the prices can be fit to your wallet. Its almost as if they do a small, medium, and large offering depending on what you want to spend....$60, $80, $100 or $120. Worth every penny!

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: hdalsy

                                                                                              Concur with Takao, but it's not that amazing. Just had the $120 omakase there 2 wks ago. My 3rd visit there.

                                                                                              Since I have Olympics on my mind, I'll give Takao a 7.5 out of 10 (but the Russian judge may disagree).

                                                                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                That's a funny post, J.L.!

                                                                                                I'll have to agree with you; Takao is good and very much has that "neighborhood feel" going on, but I don't think it is "amazing." For me, their salads are their strength, especially their salmon skin salad and their fried calamari salad! Their sushi is good, but I would not go here specifically for their omakase.

                                                                                                1. re: liu

                                                                                                  I did Takao's tasting menu recently and was rather disappointed.

                                                                                            2. So Frank, where did you wind up going? I see the debate continues long after your "next week" has probably come and gone.

                                                                                              For the record: I would say yes to Shibucho on beverly, no to sasabune because it is now mediocre and trendy like Roku, No on Mori as while it was excellent, we have been PO'd ever since we ordered the amaebi and one shrimp which is usually 2 or 3 "lobes" was split into single "lobes" per order at $15 per pop. I have never seen anything like this before or since.
                                                                                              I have not been to Zo or Hump, dying to try. Love Urasawa, and seriously folks, check out Kress, it is quite high-end, at least right now. I have some hole-in-the wall good value edomae places in torrance area we like also, not sure that is of interest

                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: wasabica

                                                                                                i'm interested in "hole-in-the wall good value edomae places in torrance area" … start a new topic, please?

                                                                                                1. re: yinyangdi

                                                                                                  lete me know about the edo-mae places too.

                                                                                                  what do you like about shibucho on beverly?

                                                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                                                    Kevin:
                                                                                                    It's been a while since I've eaten at Shibucho on Beverly--but when I was eating there it was about 1-2 times a week! That being said, I liked everything about the place: quality of food & service. I especially liked that fact that Shige never served me the same omakase twice, unlike that other board favorite (that shall remain nameless) where one is served virtually the exact same meal at EVERY visit.

                                                                                                      1. re: yinyangdi

                                                                                                        well,
                                                                                                        serving the same thing every time isn't really omakase.
                                                                                                        it's just a "sushi special" meal served up one piece at a time.

                                                                                                      2. re: kevin

                                                                                                        Heh - things have changed a lot since this post. I am still boycotting Shibucho. Read on: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/540093

                                                                                                        My current fave for Omakase is a little known amazing place called Nozomi - but ONLY on wed or fridays when they get their "Omakase" shipment from Japan

                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                        Shibucho
                                                                                                        3114 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

                                                                                                        Nozomi
                                                                                                        1757 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

                                                                                                        1. re: wasabica

                                                                                                          where's nozomi located at?

                                                                                                          how much per omakase?

                                                                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                                                                            address should show up on this post - carson & western.

                                                                                                            Prices range - anywhere from 55-65 pp, but you could go higher if you want a lot of toro. I would give them a budget ahead of time to ensure you get what you want. Here is a very short review I did a while ago:

                                                                                                            http://foodandwineblog.thefoodietrave...

                                                                                                            -----
                                                                                                            Nozomi
                                                                                                            1757 W Carson St, Torrance, CA 90501

                                                                                                          2. re: wasabica

                                                                                                            why are you boycoting Shibucho, I used the link but it just sent me back to this very thread?

                                                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                                                              I think wasabica was referring to this thread from a while back...

                                                                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/582989

                                                                                                    1. First post - thought i'd chime in on some of my experiences. I checked this thread because i was living in LA for the past few years, then moved up to norcal for a bit, and now am likely going to move back down to socal so i'm anticipating eating some sushi in LA. I can't determine with authority any objective "best," because i haven't been everywhere, but in my limited experience, my favorite omakase dinner in LA is Kiriko Sushi. I haven't been to Mori, Urasawa, or Asanebo, and while i'm sure that Urasawa would be a sublime dining experience, i'm curious how Mori and Asanebo would compare to the 3 places i favor in LA: Kiriko, Sushi Zo, and Sushi Sushi.

                                                                                                      I consider the fish quality at Kiriko, Sushi Zo, and Sushi Sushi to be on the same level - "great" to "excellent" (with the occasional "amazing"). I've eaten at them about 12-16 times in the past two years, so i think i'm familiar enough with each of them to draw some comparisons. My first meal at Sushi Zo was phenomenal. But i find that the dining experiences in more recent visits have been great, but not amazing as they once were, partly due to the pacing of the meal. I feel too rushed at Sushi Zo, as i'm often in the middle of chewing one piece of nigiri while being served another piece. The service was very good to begin with but hasn't been able to keep up with the quick pace of the meal in the past few visits. I've always been full after Zo, but dinner would always end rather quick for a meal that cost $120-150pp (w/o any alcohol, just tea). When deciding where to go for an omakase dinner in LA, i always end up opting for Kiriko instead of Sushi Zo (though i love the Yuzu shot at Zo). What i appreciate about Kiriko compared to Sushi Zo is the creativity, pacing, service, and ambiance. Like i said, overall i consider their fish to be about the same - great to excellent (the fish during my first visit to Zo was better than my first visit to Kiriko, but it was friday dinner omakase compared to a tuesday lunch at 2:30 a la carte). What i mean by creativity is that i've had two different omakase dinners in the same week at Kiriko. I went on a Tuesday night and returned on Saturday night, and the appetizer dishes as well as the progression of nigiri was different than the visit 4 days earlier. I like how they varied the dinners a bit. By pacing, i mean that the itemae (Shinji and Ken are always pleasant) are sensitive cater to us - when i was having an involved conversation, the meal slowed down; when i was ready to eat, the meal picked up. On multiple visits, the dining experience proved more pleasant and better acclimated to the diner than at Zo, which seemed a bit formulaic as of late. For omakase dinner at Kiriko, it has been $100-130pp, so a little less than Zo. While i prioritize the sushi and dishes themselves, the restaurant's ambiance does contribute to the overall dining experience, which i take into consideration for how i rank a restaurant. Don't get me wrong the sushi at Zo is excellent, and i would gladly eat there regularly, but i just find that Kiriko offers a better omakase dinner alternative. Sushi Sushi serves excellent traditional sushi, but it seemed perhaps a little less personal and inspiring when compared to Kiriko. I do like how you can choose a fixed-price omakase level at Sushi Sushi so you know how much you're in for, but it's also been a little predictable (an unchanged menu from appetizers to nigiri - though some side dishes to order are seasonal). If i want to spend a little less, Sushi Sushi is a great choice. Given that i find the fish to be about equally great between the three (Zo, Kiriko, and Sushi Sushi), i find myself continually opting for Kiriko.

                                                                                                      For reference, we've also been to Sushi Gen, Echigo, Matsuhisa, etc. (none of which i would rank with Zo, Kiriko, or Sushi Sushi); also Sushi Yasuda, Dai at Tsukiji, Kyubey; and (here in the Bay Area) Sawa, Ino, Sakae (when it was around), and Sebo. I'm a little apprehensive about the cost at Mori. Excited to see how Mori and Asanebo compare though. I don't want to spend >$200pp, so Urasawa's out of the question, but i'm still searching for the best in LA so i enjoy reading all of your posts.

                                                                                                      14 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: kyee87

                                                                                                        Very thoughtful kyee, thanks for posting. Here is my extensive post on Zo: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/559195
                                                                                                        For the purposes of your comments, my biggest complaint is that one of their sauces that they use with some frequency is very heavy on ginger juice. I don't like ginger juice. I used to love sushi sushi but grew tired of the monotony of them using the exact same dashi/soy sauce on pretty much every piece. Kiriko? Yes, they are creative, but I think some of their stuff is over the top and too far to the left of authentic so that the fish is obfuscated. Mori? I am still mad at them for splitting the ama ebi in half so I only got one "lobe" and paid $10 for it. I have never seen that done before or since. As you read, I bear a grudge against Shibucho. So we have been spending lots of time at Nozomi for now. Still looking for something better (but NOT Urasawa prices - such as what one can expect from Hump/Nishimura)

                                                                                                        1. re: wasabica

                                                                                                          you hvae a grudge, granted, but as you said you had YEARS of excellent service and rapport with shige. I wonder if you wouldn't suggest he try shibucho on beverly just the once, and not ask for omakase as he's a first-timer.... just curious if you don't think he might enjoy it?

                                                                                                        2. re: kyee87

                                                                                                          My $.02

                                                                                                          Kiriko's omakase - What more can I say? We love it. Ken-san always treats us right.

                                                                                                          Echigo - I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it - Echi-don't-go.

                                                                                                          Sushi Gen - I always feel rushed by the management there, for some reason. There's a feeling of "We have people waiting outside - Please eat your food quickly, pay, and leave". Nothing wrong with the food, but not leisurely at all.

                                                                                                          Zo's food is getting too predictable, for lack of a better phrase - kinda "been there, done that" for me, if you know what I mean. Zo's quality is about the same (though some on this board would say that it's slipped a bit), and he's been stingy with his yuzu juice at the end on my last 2 visits. There are entire threads devoted to Zo's "less-than-sunny" disposition at times, for what it's worth.

                                                                                                          Mori's omakase runs about $150 (food only), unless you go over and above the set number of courses. It is worth every penny. Been there 5+ times.

                                                                                                          The Hump is another one of my favorite omakases - It can be absolutely phenomenal. When the hairy crab from Hokkaido is in season, the cost of the omakase can potentially run higher than Urasawa! We ran up a tab of $2500 for our party of 5 at the bar once.

                                                                                                          Don't underestimate Matsuhisa's omakase - I'm referring to the private omakase dining room only. There can be some really good meals in that room, if you make the reservation for seats. After almost 50 meals (some for business, some on my own dime) in that room, the whole experience continues to delight.

                                                                                                          Shibucho - It's been there forever, but I've only eaten there twice. I need to try it more before I get a feel for it. Judgment is reserved until then.

                                                                                                          1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                            Private room at Matsuhisa? Please...tell us more...? What is different from their regular Omakase? I only went once, spent a bzillion dollars, and really did not love jalapenos on my Hamachi (this is back when this was a cutting edge thing to do) Is it Urasawa priced? Can anyone get in?

                                                                                                            1. re: wasabica

                                                                                                              The door to the private dining room at Matsuhisa is located near the Maitre'D's podium area as you walk in to the restaurant. The room seats 8 to 10, I believe. There is a dedicated kitchen and staff, and lots of interaction and banter with the chefs all evening long. Anyone can get in - When you make the reservation, just specify that you'd like to sit in the omakase room.

                                                                                                              Matsuhisa is NOT a straight-up Japanese/sushi restaurant in the traditional sense - It should be considered first and foremost a FUSION restaurant which happens to bring Japanese and Peruvian cuisines together. It serves sushi, but that's not their strong suit. Rather, I like their "hot & cold specials" the best (these dishes showcase the fusion elements of Nobu's signature style).

                                                                                                              My faves in the omakase room: Corn tempura (one of the only dishes unavailable to "the general population" dining outside), New Style Sashimi, toro tartar with caviar, wagyu beef (real premium Japanese beef) on hot stone. Definitely get the house-made pineapple infused sake to drink. Oh, and definitely get the bento dessert box (including their outstanding molten chocolate cake).

                                                                                                              Price is usually $150-$300 per person, depending on how much you order. Like I've said before, I still think it's one of the best nights of dining to be had in L.A.

                                                                                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                I am usually not one for "fusion" style sushi (Despite trying almost every sushi place Miami Beach has to offer ;) , but this does sound compelling. It is going on the "Must try" list for sure. Thanks J.L.!

                                                                                                                1. re: wasabica

                                                                                                                  I am continually mystified by the quality rankings of sushi restaurants on this board. To me freshness is most of the sushi quality issue. So, I have some questions about sushi sourcing:

                                                                                                                  1) Are the fish suppliers for LA's sushi restaurants all over the western seaboard, or are there pretty much three suppliers for LA's sushi grade fish?
                                                                                                                  2) Is the supplier who supplies Sushi Nozawa the same supplier as say Midori down the street? Does anyone know this for sure? A Midori chef told me he knows the supplier delivery guy and he says that Nozawa and Midori have the same supplier, different grades. Could he be confused not knowing that it is just a delivery service?
                                                                                                                  3) How many sushi restaurants really source their own fish from small fishermen? How many sushi restaurants share the same suppliers? What are the suppliers' rankings of fish?

                                                                                                                  To me, to click on the "Suppliers" question gets at the heart of quality sushi, and whose is better. After all, freshness is about 80 percent of what makes sushi great and preparation/presentatino is about 20 percent.

                                                                                                                  So, who are the suppliers? How is sushi sourced? How does it work, and why has no one mentioned this key factor? Is it a secret underground world of intrigue and special interest groups, lobbyists and payola?

                                                                                                                  1. re: brutusln

                                                                                                                    Well, other places might serve odds and end but at say one of the top sushi places the odd and ends are scuplted away if you will to get at that prime morsel.

                                                                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                      Not to mention (I guess I am mentioning it so never mind!) that places like Urasawa bring some fish in from Japan. Finally the whole notion of the best sushi is that which is freshest is also complete bunkum as it turns out that good sushi chefs actually know that the peak taste (or a different taste that they and some of their diners prize more highly) comes from actually aging the fish. So getting fish straight off the boat and serving it may well not be the ideal for most sushi.

                                                                                                                    2. re: brutusln

                                                                                                                      Even though different restaurants might and probably do use the same suppliers, there is another question of who gets first crack at the good stuff.

                                                                                                            2. re: kyee87

                                                                                                              I eat at the places you mention, regularly. I think Zo is better than all to those you mention, except, perhaps, Mori. Mori and Zo earn top honors in my book. I prefer Zo at lunch, btw.

                                                                                                              1. re: epop

                                                                                                                what's your bill usually at zo?

                                                                                                              2. re: kyee87

                                                                                                                I have to put in another vote for Sushi Sushi. Have never had better quality fish anywhere else in LA. Our friends visiting from Japan LOVE this restaurant and, compared to Zo and Kiriko, is the best value. Omakase recently runs $90/pp + sake for an incredible meal.
                                                                                                                Some have complained that the owner is not engaging, but I have found him to be a genuinely warm person who is very proud of his skill.

                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                Sushi Sushi
                                                                                                                326 1/2 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

                                                                                                              3. Sushi Nishi-ya on the Burbank Glendale border.

                                                                                                                You will not be disappointed in Kenji-san's Omakase.

                                                                                                                OUTSTANDING by all measures guaranteed!

                                                                                                                1. Is the best Omakase I've had in la... 2 people - about 17 rounds - sake - $250 ish.... Was worth it!

                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                  Sushi Zo
                                                                                                                  9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: minkie123

                                                                                                                    250 per person, or together.

                                                                                                                    yeah, zo is very good, i think it is the best in LA or almost the best.

                                                                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                      I consistently run $120 pp (drinking only hot tea) plus tip at Sushi Zo for what is now standard - omakase.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                        it is pretty standard now but where else are you gonna get that kind of variety ? i love that oyster kumamoto to start and the yuzu shooter. and the toro, the uni, and of course those blue crab hand rolls. and sometimes not your everyday varietals of hamachi and kampanchi, as well as ono, bonito, different versions of claim, tamago, the list goes on and on. it seems like sasabune and nozawa only have a little more than a half dozen variety at times. i just don't like the butterfish with that sauce at zo nor the warmed up ankimo (monkish liver), i can't stand warm ankimo, just not my cup of tea.

                                                                                                                  2. Just to bring it up-to-date, lately i've been enjoying the omakase of kawasaki-san at sushi Kiyoko in beverly hills.

                                                                                                                    i don't order the special rolls that most of the clientele enjoy. And I ask for him specifically. Tell him you want traditional omakase. And you will not be disappointed.
                                                                                                                    ok. maybe you might be. I"m not.

                                                                                                                    1. How about the great K-Zo in Culver City? -- not to be confused with Sushi Zo -- K-Zo is on Washington Blvd next door to Trader Joe's in downtown Culver City (in the large parking structure at the east end of all the restaurants in CC).
                                                                                                                      K-Zo is outstanding -- 2 extremely good omikase choices -- something like $55 & $75 -- both are wonderful. It's also a beautiful, cool interior run by Chef Keizo.

                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                      Sushi Zo
                                                                                                                      9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                                                                                                                      K-Zo
                                                                                                                      9240 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: blueline

                                                                                                                        Zo is mo betta.

                                                                                                                        Shibucho might just be my favorite on the current scene. A true gem. And a free-form, improvised omakase if you will, which is a good thing comparEd to the prixe-fixe omakases out there.

                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                        Shibucho
                                                                                                                        3114 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

                                                                                                                      2. Try Nishi-Ya in Glendale. The quality of the fish was outstanding, in the same league as Kaito in Encinitas. My girlfriend and I were so impressed that we had a tough time telling the chef to stop. I counted the number of plates, and we both had 11 items before surrendering. The price was $180 plus tip for 2 people, including sake. Don't go there if you're starving.
                                                                                                                        (Photo of the Uni is attached)

                                                                                                                        I haven't tried Mori's or Zo's, so I'll defer when it comes to telling you which is best.

                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                        Nishi-Ya
                                                                                                                        1712 Victory Blvd, Glendale, CA 91201