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Best Sushi Deal for those Wanting to Tighten their Belts

If those on this board are like me and are trying to conserve cash during this economic downturn, but also still need a quality sushi dining experience to get you through life, then I must guide you to the best place for it: Sushi Masu on Westwood in West LA. I've been eating there for a couple of years now, and must say that it is one of the most fantastic sushi deals in the city. The omakase for 1 comes in at around 30 bucks, and you get huge cuts of some of the freshest, delicious, and most diverse selection of fish that I've come across in this city. And I've been to most of the biggies: Sasabune, Hamasaku, Mori, and Hide. The first 3 are pretty steep when it comes to the bill. Hide is cheap, but I've noticed a decline in quality over the years and for some reason the place is always packed with crowd. In fact, I think I've tasted fresher fish at Masu than some of the more praised joints like Sasabune or even Nozawa. My advice is to sit at the bar under Masu. Don't go for the cooked food or even the rolls. Just the fish. The kampachi, king mackerel, butterfish, white tuna, and leather fish (i've never seen that anywhere else) -- all the best. Not only is he a master of the trade, but he might also be one of the most entertaining people I've ever met. He has a wicked sense of humor and will most certainly chat you up if you can get through his very thick accent. His conversations with me have run the gamut from women's thongs to fairy tale origins to the digestive system. He's a wonderful human being, who cares very much about quality and taste. And I know it sounds like I'm fawning at this point, but if you need another selling point, Masu's also a closet environmentalist (he doesn't advertise it, but he'll explain if you ask him) in the sense that he is conscious about serving fish that are in danger of being overfished like the bluefin. Masu is the real deal, and I can't recommend him highly enough.

Sushi Masu
1911 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

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  1. x10

    my goto place for cheap sushi

    me and the wifey usually get out of there for 80-110

    2 Replies
    1. re: ns1

      wait a second, cheap??? at a 110 bucks for two/ i shudder to think of what would be mid-range.

      1. re: kevin

        ~100 is cheap, 150 is midrange, 200+ is high IMHO

        (for 2)

    2. Can't say I feel the same about Masu. My impression after a recent visit. Pleasant sushi bar but does not compare to the likes of Mori. And I thought fish quality at Sasabune was better.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Sgee

        let's see..

        mori omakase = 75-120pp
        sasabune = same

        masu omakase = 75 - 120 for TWO

      2. I was just there last night, and was about to post something when I read this post. I agree 100%. I sat right in front of him, and was served sublime sushi. My omakase, however, was 51 dollars, though I did eat a lot... Still, considering what I've paid at Sushi Sushi and Mori recently, for the exact same quality (AND smaller pieces no less), Masu is hands-down the spot for excellent fish at very reasonable prices.

        1 Reply
        1. re: arisp

          i just had dinner at masu tonight.

          imho, it is a very nice neighborhood sushi bar that offers solid value for the money,
          definitely NOT sublime, and DEFINITELY NOT anywhere near the quality of sushi sushi or mori.

          masu serves good sushi quality and provides a very pleasant environment and pleasant service at a reasonable price. it's fine for what it is, but there is NO comparison to the high end, much more costly, sushi bars in town.

          fwiw, i believe that a better price/quality/quality ratio is to be had at k-zo in culver city. the price per piece at k-zo is higher but the size of each piece is larger and the quality of the fish is superior.

          masu's charm, and he is charming, can only be found at masu's

        2. sushi don sasabune on laurel on riverside and laurel in the valley. VERY simple, fresh sushi. great prices. Essentially, order the donburi combo. Its a plate of sushi (albacore, yellowtail, tuna, salmon, and one other, i forget). Then, you get a don-buri bowl of rice, topped with any one of the 5 fish. All-in $14 (replace donburi with a cutroll for $4 less). Amazingly fresh fish.
          No tempura, no avocado, no decor. This is where i go when i just need some raw fish in my belly. Quick, cheap, and very clean.

          1. In order to accurately compare what you get for $30 a person at Masu to other places, it would be helpful to know exactly what you're going to be served.

            Something like:
            7 orders of 2 piece sushi, no cooked dishes, no rolls...
            Sashimi instead sometimes ???
            And was this for dinner or for lunch ?
            Not that important but, someplaces throw-in a small basic starter salad and/or a simple dessert of somekind, like a sliced orange.

            1. For a great price and great sushi, I recommend Kiriko's lunch omakase. Around $34.00, and the blue crab handroll is often included.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ogawak

                be aware that at kiriko, they do not necessarily tell you when the omakase is over.
                if you innocently keep ordering, your bill will be MUCH higher than $34.

              2. Another shout out for Sushi Masu.

                While the quality is not in the realm of the established Mori/Zo standard, it is pretty good and astounding value. Two omakase, a large bottle of Sapporo and two 'boxes' of (awful) house sake came to a mere $95 before tax and tip. Fish was for the most part very fresh and generously portioned. The omakase consisted of toro, yellowtail belly, two different kinds of amberjack, spanish mackerel, bonito, uni, orange clam served 3 different ways, seared salmon, albacore, and two decent hand rolls (tuna, and scallop with shiso leaf). Nothing too adventurous or out of this world, but at $95 for 2, this was an incredible deal. I know some restaurants where the toro order alone would be more expensive than the entire omakase here (hi The Hump!).

                We sat at the bar with Masu, who is a nice guy with a dry sense of humor, and the place was pretty crowded and has a laidback, friendly atmosphere. As the OP states, the value here really is second to none, especially in these belt-tightening times.

                4 Replies
                1. re: nimo

                  The sake was that bad? Just curious - would you happen to know what kind they served you? Everything else sounded great...

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    It's nearly impossible to compare Masu with Mori based on $$ alone. The experience at Mori's sushi bar is very attentive and complete. Mori pickles his own ginger, makes all the dishes and sake cups and even has his own rice paddies in the Central Valley, growing a special blend of different varieties which he mills himself...I like a bargain as much as anyone, but I also don't mind paying extra for extra care being given to my entire dining experience.

                    1. re: luhkee

                      That's why you go to Masu when you're broke and <insert favorite sushi joint here> when you're not ;)

                      1. re: luhkee

                        I agree and am aware of those attentions to detail as well. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I've mentioned the same details in similar ways in past threads. But at the same time, it's kinda analogous to performance cars. Most are perfectly happy with buying their performance cars off the lot and keeping them stock. All levels can be had from Eclipses to Porsche Turbos. And even with a Turbo, most are happy keeping them exactly the way they are, while others are willing to pay for custom made exhaust systems, balanced and blueprinted engines, juiced up electronics, etc. The changes may or may not even be perceptible to the average enthusiast who is happy with a stock performance car. Those upgrades may not even be apparent to some of those who are willing to pay for them. But to those who can tell the difference, the extra level of attention is appreciated.

                        In Mori-san's case, there is no other option but to do everything within his power to enhance as many of the aspects of the experience which he offers. I think many of his patrons expect and appreciate this kind of focus. I don't think all appreciate and I would even venture to say that there are those that even notice some of the finer details. All of those painstaking efforts that he takes - from those that you mention above, to grating fresh wasabi on sharkskin (I know - no big deal anymore - but it sure was when he was one of the few doing it years ago) - he does because HE will accept no less. That's fine - I truly admire him for that. But for most, whether it's an issue of price, a willingness to accept less than Mori for other reasons, or just not knowing that these kinds of things are serious considerations to some, sushi houses like Masu offer a higher level of sushi dining that most would respect and appreciate.