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R.I.P. Azami as we knew it...

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cookgirl Aug 17, 2008 02:56 AM

I was surprised that there weren't any posts about this yet...Azami has officially changed hands and re-opened, complete with a fancy remodel. Having been my neighborhood sushi restaurant for a couple of years, I had to give its new incarnation it a try although it just felt wrong being in the space without Niki at the helm.

The new Azami..It's not good. So not good, in fact, that after sitting down and ordering a beer, then perusing the menu, my boyfriend and I looked at eachother with raised eyebrows and wondered how we could best escape. There's an entire page on the menu devoted to ridiculous, over-the-top cut rolls. We ordered their 'ceviche' which was advertised as 'citrus marinated', then ended up just being overly-doused with rice wine vinegar. With a lot of mango on it. Also ordered tempura avocado, which I love, but was served fried calamari instead. Didn't really care at that point. The calamari came with a bizarre chipotle/overly paprika-ed/overly honeyed olive-oil based dipping sauce. Very weird. And lastly, had a very uninspiring spicy tuna roll with cold rice (sigh...loved Azami's warm rice...). I also remember one of the entrees being listed as some sort of steak with 'the perfect pear sauce'. Right.

For fans of the old-school Azami, check this out: Niki's doing dinners at her sister's seafood market.

http://inakagourmet.com/chefstable.html

Any recs for good sushi that won't break the bank in the general hollywood/west hollywood area? Since my fave is now defunct?

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  1. Servorg RE: cookgirl Aug 17, 2008 06:37 AM

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/542724

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5400...

    1. rednyellow RE: cookgirl Aug 19, 2008 02:29 AM

      I went there for luch recently, right after the change, very disappointed. Not good at all and service was a mess.

      1. s
        SouthernFoodie08 RE: cookgirl Aug 19, 2008 03:19 PM

        This makes me so sad. . . This is in my neighborhood as well and I loved going there for business lunches. I am glad to hear Niki is doing an omakase meal elsewhere. Has anyone been?

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          slacker RE: cookgirl Aug 19, 2008 06:32 PM

          Inaka had its grand opening last Saturday, unfortunately I wasn't able to make it, but am planning to check it out this weekend. I already have my reservation for Niki's Chef's Table. Can't wait!!!

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            alfmetals RE: cookgirl Sep 5, 2008 03:06 PM

            Too sad and now Niki's too far away! We had the exact same experience as you-slowly realizing everything was different-finally asking if there were new owners-wishing we could get out of there. They did send over lots of free dishes to try to win us over, and I wanted to like the food, but it's not in the same ballpark as the old Azami. Does anyone know why Niki sold it?

            5 Replies
            1. re: alfmetals
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              Dave and Stuff RE: alfmetals Sep 9, 2008 11:52 AM

              Niki told me and wifey that it was just too much work and not enough payoff. She worked Azami for years, and it just wasn't rewarding. Her parents own the seafood purveyor where she is now located, and she lives out there, too, so the commute wasn't very fun. The new owners made her a nice offer, and she took it knowing that she could focus on "chef's table" service.

              1. re: Dave and Stuff
                liu RE: Dave and Stuff Sep 9, 2008 11:58 AM

                Thanks for this report, Dave and Stuff. It's nice to know that Niki is doing exactly what she wants to do!

                1. re: Dave and Stuff
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                  slacker RE: Dave and Stuff Sep 9, 2008 01:38 PM

                  Sorry, I'm not really understanding what you said. So, her parents used to own Inaka and don't anymore? Or they never did, but sell seafood to Inaka? TIA for clarification. But I think she runs the place with her sister?

                  1. re: slacker
                    Servorg RE: slacker Sep 10, 2008 04:56 AM

                    Dave and Stuff is saying that Niki's parents own Inaka, which is located in Arcadia, and since Niki lives out there on the east side she no longer has to commute from Arcadia all the way to Azami on Melrose.

                    1. re: Servorg
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                      Dave and Stuff RE: Servorg Sep 12, 2008 03:27 PM

                      Damn! Couldn't have said it better myself...or maybe I could have in the OP!

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                Clyde RE: cookgirl Sep 5, 2008 05:41 PM

                i just got sad reading this, remembering how i used to call in orders to go during lunch once a week during a particular time and Niki would recognize me on the phone and ask if it was me. i miss that. i realized back in february that something had changed. then i went again a few months after that and had to spit the fish out of my mouth it was so bad.

                1. liu RE: cookgirl Sep 5, 2008 06:06 PM

                  I, too, am very sad to lose Azami and Niki. At her best, she was amazing, but I don't think she ever completely recovered when her partner (cousin) left for Japan many months ago.

                  1. meganinlosfeliz RE: cookgirl Sep 5, 2008 08:32 PM

                    Actually, I believe Niki felt that it was time to move on. She said her goal is to expand her culinary horizons for a while (and take a little break), and then open a more upscale restaurant more focused on tasting menus. But believe me, she is going to be missed in the meantime. Even my family back east is devastated to hear they won't be able to dine at Azami during their visits.

                    I am hoping to check out the chef's table soon though, despite the distance. If anyone has gone, can you post a review? Thanks.

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