Sushi Mori Omakase Report!
All the photos are up on my blog: http://tinyurl.com/5ot7d5
Sushi omakase for lunch on a weekday. I probably shouldn't have done it - such an indulgence for a weekday lunch, don't you think? But too late now. I was meeting a good friend, Kat, and her sister who was coming straight from LAX that day and we decided to try out Sushi Mori.
Mori was marked with a fish sign on a small street corner of Pico and I had to loop around until I was kinda sure that was the right place. On a weekday lunch time they're fairly empty. I sat at the sushi bar and ordered omakase - but told the sushi chef (not Mori) that we would like mostly sushi - maybe just one kaiseki.
He started us off with some tofu and tomatoes in vinaigrette.A nice, light way to start off. The tofu was smooth and silky and the tomatoes were fresh and flavorful.
We had some soup with seafood
Pretty standard, too much soup for one person, in my opinion, and were antsy for the sushi, so we didn't finish this. I had this at Sasabune also and was never very keen about it. The one at Mori is better, but either way, I want to hurry and eat my sushi.
We also had a nice little platter with eggplants, beets, and a caviar gelee.
The eggplant with miso (yellow) was great, and the beets were flavorful. Everything was well prepared and we had a good variety of cooked appetizers this way.
We started with some red snapper marinated in seaweed
Really fresh, the subtle taste from the seaweed is amazing. Great first impression!
We then had some big eye toro
Again, very fresh. The big eye toro had a very smooth texture but it's not as oily and fatty. I personally prefer the fattier one but for those more health-conscious you might like this leaner big eye toro :P
Next is an interesting one I haven't had before: wild eel tail
So far I've only had unagi or anago, cooked with eel sauce, so this is new to me. A little fishy and chewy, but it has a nice flavor and texture.
Also had some japanese mackerel
Next is fresh octopus with yuzu chili
I was quite impressed by this one. I normally don't like octopus that much, but this one was delicious. Nice crunchy texture.
We also finally got some bluefin toro.
I think all three of us agreed that we like the bluefin better - it's oilier than the big eye, but hey, we're eating toro here, of course we want oil and fat :P
It's definitely very fresh, but it's not the best toro ever as far as the texture and taste though - although this preference of mine can't be very healthy for me ...
Another interesting piece we had that day was this baby barracuda:
It was seared and had a very nice seared flavor. The fish itself is a little fishy but it's very2 tender. First time I had this as sushi and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
I finished the meal with some spanish mackerel
Again, very fresh fish, but the flavors are pretty subtle.
My friend and her sister had another dish, mirugai with yuzu chili
Didn't taste this so I won't say anything.
They served us some fresh fruits with azuki paste for dessert
Great fruits, although the mangoes weren't particularly ripe (then again I always compare mangoes to the South Asian mangoes, so ... ). Loved the azuki paste, a nice simple ending to the meal.
After tax and tips I came out of there for $102. Kind of a lot for a quickie lunch (less than 1 hour)! The sushi was definitely very fresh, no doubt about that, but it's definitely pricey. I think Sushi Zo is on par with Mori and for a bit cheaper, so I would be coming back to Zo more than Mori. That said, there's no denying the quality of fish at Mori. I don't think I can justify another $100 lunch anytime soon, but I'll come back one of these days!
If you want sushi only, you can request sushi or nigiri omakase. That way you don't get any of the cooked stuff. I was there last Friday and we had:
-Tai marinated in konbu kelp- delicious and subtle. He's started with this the past few visits though.
-Sayori with shiso- delicious but I've had better with Mori in the past
-buri- regualr cut. Meaty and delicious but I was already eyeing the buri toro
-buri toro- wow. Spectacular. White, rich, and about 10x better than the best bluefin toro I've had...which incidentally was also at Mori about 5 years ago.
-big eye toro- decent and the only bum dish of the night. Slightly past prime
-'seta'? toro- Not sure about the japanese name but according to Mori, the toro just behind kama toro. Ultra fresh, very silky and nice. Not as nice as kama toro.
-kohada- slightly fishy in a good way and perfectly marinated
-aji- wonderfully delicious. No fishiness, tasted like delicious oily meat.
-mirugai with salt and yuzu.
-botan ebi from Santa Barbara dusted with sudachi zest. The light citrus perfume was perfect with the sweet ebi.
-aori ika. wonderfully creamy.
-santa barbara uni. spectacular. So sweet it was like eating fruit
-ikura- salmon egg marinated in shoyu. Briny and delicious.
-torched baby barracuda
-tamago- the one with more egg yolk and less white.
-toro scallion handroll. Again, once you've had the seaweed here, you're spoiled. The seaweed at Kiriko tasted horrible on my last visit.
-repeats of the uni, sayori, and buri toro.
Finished with that spectacular matsutake dobinmushi. This batch being from Oregon.
As always, we were served genmaicha and fresh fruit at the end.
This visit was a bit pricier...probably due to my additional consumption of buri toro. But it was $110/pp vs previous $85/pp.
When I mentioned buri toro at Mori I got a 10 minute lecture on the different types of yellowtail and where they're found in Japan, based on the water currents. Following it was a talk on how there is no such thing as buri toro. I assumed from the beginning that you meant fatty buri but the person on the phone insisted that there is no fatty part of buri. I suspect something was lost in translation and that you're right; my memory tells me I've had it before as well.