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Dec 26, 2008 06:10 PM

Bad Experience at Shibucho in Los Angeles. Are we the only ones?

I have always spoken highly of this restaurant, been going for a few years, now. We have had a few problems off and on, but have always decided to overlook it. But I think they pushed us too far.

We were there Xmas eve, sat at the bar. We brought expensive bottle of wine and shared a generous amount of it with Shige as usual. The meal was great, although the Toro was just fair this time. We were not that hungry and stopped him a little early, and skipped his dessert completely. Being Xmas eve, he was making special dishes for others, I think they might have been his friends or special regulars.

We only got standard menu items, no special dishes. When we got the bill, it was $295 before tip. It was not itemized in any way, just said Sushi - $295. It was disconcerting, but we just paid and quietly left.

We went back to about a half dozen Shibucho receipts over the last year or so and found that we were charged 25-50% more than all our other visits, and again, we definitely had less food this time. And note it was proportionally less in terms of the most vs least expensive items, so it wasn't like we just went to town on toro, uni, and marugai.

Someone talked us into calling and asking about it. We called today and asked if perhaps a mistake was made, as Shige never wrote down what he gave us, and the other people at the bar had much more elaborate dinners than us that night. We were told it was probably the $25 corkage, and that his prices have been going up. Well, we never have been charged corkage before. I asked how much their corkage was once a long time ago and was told they did not charge. And you would think that it would have been listed separately on the bill. Also, the glass we gave Shige was easily worth that amount.

We asked how much his Omakase costs now and they said between $100 and $150 a person depending on what is served. This sounds extremely arbitrary to me, and it implies we got the top of the line quality/quantity, which we really did not have.

Has anyone else been to Shibucho recently and had a similar experience? Is anyone finding that other high-end sushi bars have been raising prices?

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  1. i can't comment on shibucho, but the last time i went to zo, the tab was about 20% higher than normal. . ..

    sadly, this rise has caused me to favor k-zo now as the budget alternative (despite the fact that k-zo charges $3 for their green tea) obviously, the food at k-zo is nowhere near the quality of sushi zo, but until my bank account recovers. . . .

    1 Reply
    1. re: westsidegal

      went for the first time in ages to zo, it's all omakase, all the time now, whether you're at the bar or table. there's no way to get out of there for less than 100 per person, and that's not including tax and tip.

    2. I have found all of my recent sushi experiences more expensive than I was used to, but with rising costs it's to be expected, especially with sushi which has such a high cost of ingredients.

      I don't know if I would qualify an expensive omakase and a corkage a bad experience though. Most restaurants charge a corkage and many if not most sushi bars do not set a price on omakase. Shige has always been very gracious however, when I asked him to stay within a price range.

      1. Recently had omakase lunch at Zo (with only hot tea to drink) which ran $120 pp before tip, so your tab (with the corkage included) sounds like it is well within bounds for the higher end LA sushi places these days.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Servorg

          I normally pay around $120 as well when we get the full Omakase, both at Zo and Shibucho and other semi-high end places around town. But this was $150/pp with less courses that what we usually get for $120. Unless you believe the corkage argument, but even then it is still $135-$140 pp. I have no problem paying it, certainly there have been nights at certain sushi bars when we get xtra of this or that and it has gone much higher, but we always knew why. In this case there is no rhyme or reason to it.

          1. re: wasabica

            I *do* think that sushi bills--particularly when dining at the counter--tend to be arbitrary. I keep a rough estimate of what we eat; and fortunately, we've been on the generous end of the bill ($85 for 4 people, $40 for 2 people; dining @ different locations, with alcohol and eating well). I agree with you that there is no rhyme or reason....

            1. re: OCAnn

              Agree agree, and this could be easily remedied if they would just itemize the bill per omakase and put the corkage on separately (I always bring wine too). At least then you would know what you are paying and judge whether that particular spot is worth it.

              Sushi houses, are you listening?

              1. re: Adsvino

                It is a bit antithetical to omakase to ask to view an itemized bill however...

                1. re: cls

                  me and my friend actually asked one, and shibucho scribbled an itemized list just for us. but yeah, re: the main poster, 300 bucks for two people is expensive considering that you didn't go to town on the special dishes nor toro nor uni nor any other expensive stuff, and the fact that you ate much less than usual, here's roughly what it might cost"

                  albacore salad 12 bucks (minimum)
                  tuna, perhaps 7-8 per pair
                  toro handroll, 20 bucks
                  toro, 20 bucks per pair.
                  dessert 8 bucks,

                  but these are my prices from 2-3 yrs ago so adjusting those for inflation and see what you arrive at.

                  in some ways, i still have a soft spot for shibucho considering that it's open until MIDNIGHT (what other sushi bar, or at least high quality sush bar does that?), there are interesting dishes such as the albacore salad, and french foie gras at times, etc. and great desserts such as chocolate mousse, and tiramisu and tarts.

        2. We are giving serious consideration to putting a price tag on it when we get Omakase (at places that don't announce tiers/prices.) Something like "We'd like to do the Omakase tonight, can we do something at around $130/pp?" Of course, that doesn't address the other issue we run into where they load us up with multiple orders of Toro, a good way to quickly get the bill up while saving the chef lots of labor. I guess we could say "Can we do Omakase at $130 pp but please keep it to one order of Toro..." No, I guess that would not be appreciated.

          Ordering a la carte would be safe, but then unless you have an exceptional relationship with the chef, you would probably not get the most interesting selections. The whole idea with Omakase is that you are are TRUSTING the chef, right?

          Well, I for one feel like my trust is being taken advantage of.

          19 Replies
          1. re: wasabica

            I think he has very good fish. That said - for some reason, I've never clicked with shige as i have with shibutani. I think i had real omakase once and I've been going to shibucho since 1980.
            Ordering a la carte makes no difference as I've never ever seen a price list nor asked for one. I trust him even on the a la carte level. His real omakase is wonderful - looks like it especially when i see others. I don't like grape wine with sushi particularly, and I don't esp care to enjoy premium red bordeaux with his food. He has said several times that he himself enjoys the wine and the sushi separately.
            And without liquor it's still not a cheap cheap evening. although not as expensive as other places of lesser quality.

            When i first went to shibucho, with shibutani, we were students, young and set a price on what we wanted for a selection of sushi for the table. We were newbies and trusted shibutani and it was wonderful and reasonable. I wouldn't be surprised if the prices aren't always standardized there. Have YOU ever seen a price list? Its just not the vibe place. It's almost like the lottery - sometimes more expensive, sometimes i feel i got a few freebies.

            But I think he's a wonderful asset. His place is often discouragingly empty, so if he charges more to keep the lights on, that's his prerogative. For me, I eat sushi at very few places. For serious sushi - shibutani's shibucho and shige. I've gone with peer pressure to hidei - it's ok but the quality and variety of fish isn't as high. Sasabune, is - to me- not a serious place. Echigo was a joke again to me. For a while I liked Nami sushi in the valley - at this point, ok for chirashi, not for aserious evening for me.

            Kiyono or whatever the one is beverly where kawasaki works impressed me, with kawasaki.

            If you have other places where you're happier - go. Shige is inconsistent in mood and customer accomodation, but he is an artist and I have never been disappointed in his food.

            - also, when -what's his name,,, used to be sushi ryo now owns izayoi downtown, he has interesting things, definitely worthwhile although it's not sushi only anymore. I had excellent hoya there once when I asked in advance. The ankimo is a poem... etc.

            But again, I will say nothing against shige as a purveyor of sushi and sashimi. IMHO - he's excellent. with a cost.

            1. re: Jerome

              Thanks for your thoughts and recommendations, I will look into them for sure. FYI, it is not about what we are spending or trying to save a buck; I am more than happy to spend hundreds on a quality Omakase experience; and we do this often at many places all over town. Also, I am certainly not expecting a price list, the idea is to trust the chef. My issue with Shibuchu/Shige was not the overall cost, it was the inconsistency of the experience (versus many prior visits) for the cost.

              1. re: wasabica

                We had been loyal customers of Shige's for years. My family went almost every Friday night for all 4 years of high school, and continued to go when I would come home from college. Shige would always greet us with a huge smile, some amazing sushi and my favorite dessert, a napoleon, at the end of the meal. We stopped going about 4 years ago. After several (and I do mean several) disappointing meals where the check was completely arbitrary, we gave up. I had seen enough of his bills to know about how much I would pay for what he served. We never ordered, just let him lead the way, but his prices got ridiculous. He lost his assistant, and the meals and prices became completely unpredictable, and seemed to depend entirely on his mood that night. After a couple nights of walking out of the restaurant spending over $300 for 2 people, when he hadn't even served any of the specials or dessert (because he dessert guy hadn't come that day) we just gave up. I still miss this place terribly, but refuse to return based on his shear arrogance. At Zo, you do know what you are getting into, at Urasawa you know what you are going to walk out the door paying, and at least you know that quality will be amazing. I am glad to hear that he still has it in him to put out some great meals, but sadly we won't return.

                1. re: Food622

                  this was always the way with shige - and i had written about it back when i first was here many years ago (quanjude was still open, if that gives you an idea). Luckily you had a good rapport with him, and I noticed when i went with certain people - not famous people or anything, certain friends of mine clicked with him and we seemed to get out for a bit less. It was never more than a 15%-20 % difference. But sometimes we would be astounded as to what a bargain it had been. So the inconsistency was something I believed to have noticed, BUT i could never swear to it. No proof. just a feeling.
                  and still I go back. Because he is that good.

                  He is skilled and respects the materials. and is a master at his work. I stand by his artistry and still believe he is superior to what i've had elsewhere, esp including mori and nozawa who are quite good.

                  1. re: Jerome

                    I have to say that I have always been a bit dismissive of people who have faulted chefs like Shige at Shibucho and Keizo at Zo with having "attitude" towards customers that are not in their inner circle. I figured they were misinterpreting the situation in some way. I am starting to rethink my position. Maybe we annoyed him by coming in on Xmas eve and bringing in our own wine, and then having him stop early. Perhaps he overcharged us as some kind of passive-aggressive punitive thing. Hmm, now I am sounding paranoid. Still, we as much as we love the sushi there, I think it is time we found a new favorite.

                    1. re: wasabica

                      i hate to say it, but he might be punishing you for the whole christmas eve thing. he is tempermental at times. i don't know why he would do that, especially now in this economy of all times, wouldn't he want to open up at least somewhat to his customers???

                      just to fuel my curiousity, what other special dishes was he serving to the other loyal customers at the bar? it would be interesting to note if there bills were even cheaper with the special dishes? also, what desserts was he serving on that night?

                      1. re: kevin

                        Re special dishes, it is worth noting that the other people were there way before we got there and presumably well after we left. We overlapped mostly for the main pieces of sushi. But it was quite clear they were getting many more items then us, especially hot dishes from the kitchen like chawan mushi. There was a lot more variety on the sushi as well; they got Ikura and we did not. I think it is also worth mentioning some more specific details: One of the dishes he gave us was a salmon skin roll where the salmon had clearly seen better days. Also, there was a mixed clam dish done in a sweet miso sauce that overpowered the clams. We each received a total of 2 toro sashimi slices and 2 sushi pieces that might have been otoro and chutoro, but neither was that great. Not that buttery, no marbling. So I didn't want to muck up the message in the original post with quality issues, but we did have them. We don't know what desserts others had as we passed and they were still going. They offered us the menu which had all the standard french pastries he usually offers. We were just supposed to pick 2. As far as the service that night, to Jerome's point, the older woman (who knew us and was very chatty) was actually a customer that night, perhaps SHige's way of an Xmas bonus? A younger woman I have not seen before waited on us. When it was time for the bill, she went to Shige and they huddled in a corner for a bit where it seemed like he told her what to charge us. When we called 12/26 to ask about the bill, the girl had us talk to the guy who works in the kitchen.

                        1. re: wasabica

                          Whenever I went sometimes my friend would mention don't question the bill at all. Shige is very imposing, it must be said.

                          as for the special dishes you mentioned, chawan mushi, ikura and clams in miso sauce, none of the sound at all out of the ordinary, unless perhpas the chawan mushi had matsutake mushrooms in it, to make it more extravagant.

                          i actually tried to email shibucho through their website email, but they didn't answer.

                          as for your toro sashim AND toro sushi, it could have easly been 30 to 40 bucks for the toro sashimi and easily 20 bucks for the toro sushi par (10 bucks for each nigiri), so that would make it possibly 60 bucks for the toro alone.

                          do you happen to know if he was serving up French Foie Gras or any dishes with Beluga Caviar, etc.

                          1. re: kevin

                            I did not see the foie gras or any caviar as we would have asserted ourselves at that point ;) So to use the prices you mentioned earlier, it could be
                            Toro sushi/sashimi - $60
                            Toro Handroll - $20
                            Albacore salad - $12

                            So that is $92. Add on the hirame carpaccio, the eggplant parm, 2 pieces of uni, 1 amaebi, 1 konpachi, and a couple misc pieces of sushi, plus perhaps corkage and I guess you have an argument for $150 pp. But being that Shibucho told us that $150 is the highest price for Omakase, and we did not get caviar, foie gras, etc, it is still a question. Also, that Toro quality was simply subpar for it to be $60. But the math does work. HMMM

                            1. re: wasabica

                              Sounds like he charged you $125 each for the omakase, even though you got less than what he had planned for you--you did say that you stopped him early. Perhaps if you had your fill w/o stopping him early, then you would have seen your $125 worth? That (2 x $125) plus $25 corkage + taxes = $295.

                              I'm not trying to defend the guy, just figuring on the math.

                              I'm sorry a place you once enjoyed is now a thorn in your side. It would bug me too....

                              EDIT: $250 for sushi + $25 corkage = $275 + taxes = $295.

                              1. re: OCAnn

                                We only brought one bottle at $25, not two at $50, (and the $295 included tax) but yes, if the Toro was in fact $80 pp including the handrolls the math is close enough to say it was not a blatant overcharge. So that changes this discussion to be one of value for the money. Perhaps if the Toro was really good that night (it wasn't) I would be assuaged right about now. But even if it was good, Omakase should transcend Toro being 50% of the cost of the meal. Maybe it is not a price tag I want to request of the sushi chef it is to say keep it to 1 order of Toro so that we can experience a greater variety (and quantity) for the same money. If the Toro turns out to be spectacular it's easy to add more on. I wonder if Sushi Chefs would be cool with that approach.

                2. re: wasabica

                  yeah, if it was appreciably more expensive then something was wrong but he does have mood swings.

                  i've gone and it's been a 100 per person, and once i went and ate a much lighter meal at it was 65 bucks, but this was a while back., maybe 3 yrs or so, so prices of course have gone up.

                  what dishes were others eating on chirsmast eve that were so special?

                  thanks. and you're not crazy in making your statements on the inconsistency of pricing here.

                  1. re: kevin

                    Thanks for the validation, kevin. :)

                3. re: Jerome

                  Shige has prepared many fine courses. However, I have had some salmon that was definitely off. Also, I had an albacore tuna prepared as one of the courses. A few of the pieces were off. I do not know about you, but I would be terrified to tell Shige that his fish was off. He is the "Sushi Nazi."

                  That being said, he usually does serve some of the finest sushi I have ever had. Not to mention that he uses real wasabi, yuzu, negi, etc. I enjoy his element of surprise, and appreciate his skill. I also enjoy his hot courses through the middle of the meal. His use of European dishes with Japanese ingredients, are of Iron Chef quality.

                  As far as beverages go, Shige is well known for his Burgundy pairings. I find it rather interesting and hard to believe that he would ever say that he himself enjoys the wine and the sushi separately. That does not sound like the Shige I know. He would never call it "grape wine" either. He has served fine aged Burgundies that pair extremely well with his Omakase. Maybe, he said that he also likes to drink Bordeaux and Burgundy separately. Fine food and fine wine are meant to be paired together, and when done properly, have perfect harmony. I am an extreme foodie and enjoy a very good wine with fine food. I would be the first one to say that this food is good but the wine is not doing it for me with the meal, even if the wine was a good wine.

                  I often eat meals that are very expensive. The most expensive meals have been at Alinea in Chicago, and Urasawa in Beverly Hills. Both meals were absolutely awesome. Both meals were an all night event 5.5 to 6 hours long. I would also expect a high price tag on a meal like that, and have no problem paying for it. I also enjoy small "hole in the wall" ethnic places throughout LA that come to less than a bottle of Evian. However, I expect to get consistent experiences, even if they are different, every time I visit. I do not expect a Urasawa experience when I go to Shibucho, nor do I expect to pay that price. Just the same, I do not expect to receive Shibucho talent at K-Zo. If I go out to eat a particular meal, I expect that the price would be roughly in the 20% range of that experience the last time I had that experience (within a few months to a year). If the experience (meaning the type and quantity of food) is different, then all bets are off for 20%. I guess what I am trying to say, if a meal that you typically get at a certain place costs price X and then the next time you went back and received a lesser experience or even an equivalent experience and the price was 50- 75% more, I would be very disappointed and would not go back.

                  I have also had inconsistent pricing and quality, and do not plan on ever returning. When you trust the chef, that includes trusting that he will not take advantage of you as well as trusting him with his skills.

                  1. re: ThePalate

                    I call it grape wine. He didn't. as opposed to shaoxing wine, etc...

                    I remember eating at Shibucho on beverly blvd long before it was shige's place. I remember when he started selling French wines. Your incredulity is sweet, but the pairings are relatively recently for a thirty year old restaurant - maybe just the last decade.
                    Next time you go ask him. My memory is quite clear. When he first started serving wine which he collected, the idea of pairing in a european sense was foreign to him. His dismissal of western esp american methods may have tempered over the years. He became friendly with italian chefs (i believe the ones at madeo originally) and developed an appreciation for some non-traditional japanese approaches.
                    But again - the inconsistency which can sometimes be delightful when the evening feels as though some things were comped, has been a hallmark of this restaurant since before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
                    Additionally, the use of real wasabi is not ubiquitous by Shige-san. It is used for his high-paying omakase KNOWN customers without question. When I once asked about having it, he told me it would add $50 to my dinner and gave me the option (since my orders there are rarely real omakase).
                    If I came off strongly before regarding Shige - I will say the relationship is contentious but friendly. He knows me well-enough and I have never bought his wines ( HE DID SO make that statement, although it was over 15 years ago) which are very impressive.
                    I certainly accept your proclamation of extreme foodie, although this forum is made up of many whose reaction to that position might not be exceptionally positive. I also believe in how wine and food can match up. I'mperhaps less extreme and more traditional or even Luddite. I believe in wine and terroir and the cuisines that develop as the wine develops. Traditional sushi developed in a culture that did not drink GRAPE wines but did consume other alcohols. The cuisine developed to complement rice-based and sorghum and millet based alcohols. As well, german style beer and western influenced distilled liquors have been available since long before the second world war- Japan occupied previously German-adminstered Qingdao in 1914. Wikipedia claims that the dutch opened beer halls during the edo period. Maybe.

                    But french, italian or other wines were unknown. Pairing sushi with them might lead to delicious results. Pairing sushi with a selection of bourbons or grappe might also. But I'd rather explore what I consider more organic pairings. I would love to have a matelote of Loire eel coupled with a bright chinon. and would love to see if they balance each other. Or Sologne style game. Sushi and wine? Does it matter what French wines would pair well with an imperial style chinese Man-Han banquet at Fangshan? Why not try the traditional accompaniments?

                    We seem to differ. For me, premier cru and sushi is like gilding the lily. (or prime burgandy if you like...).

                    In any case, I will continue to make my more infrequent trips to Shibucho on Beverly. If only to continue a nearly three-decade old tradiiton with a man who still, is an artist.

                    1. re: ThePalate

                      I too have stopped going to see Shige. I have had the same experience as others...charged much too much for too little one time, and then paid half as much for twice the food another time. Once I brought in a 1970 Bordeaux after having ordered an equal bottle from his list. When I gave him a glass....he exclaimed loud and clear "that's good grape juice" HE was smiling and meant it as a joke/compliment i believe...but it seems to be his stock response. I have, though, noticed a path to his graciousness or too avoid the fickle high prices....make sure that you bring pretty Japanese girls with you...your bill will go down, and specialty dishes will appear. No, I am not kidding. Try it and see...just make sure to sit at the bar....and thank me later :-)

                      1. re: dtranquil

                        Now this is going to be ONE damn expensive evening:

                        Omakase at Shibucho: $130 per person

                        Vintage Bordeaux: $300 per bottle

                        Japanese "Hostess" Rental: Melted down my Master Card

                        Explaining about my "hostess" rental to the LAPD: Priceless

                          1. re: Servorg

                            we won't dare mention the hostess rental. but it will be an interesting evening.


                  2. Maybe the very fact that this thread has gone on for so long indicates an inherent billing problem from the restaurant management (whether or not Shige-san even sees the final tabulation at all at the end of each meal, I am not sure).

                    Shige-san needs to read this thread.

                    We're talking Beverly location and not Costa Mesa, right?

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: J.L.

                      Yes, this is all based on the Beverly Blvd, 3114 Beverly location. Not to be confused to the other master's sushi bar on 19th st in costa mesa, which is actually much much much much cheaper, and more traditional, of course.

                      1. re: J.L.

                        why should he read this thread? he seems perfectly content to run his establishment the way he's been doing it for over a decade.

                        As for seeing the tabulation - there's only him and the woman who serves the alcohol and restocks the tea. No one else deals with the customers.

                        1. re: Jerome

                          I've gone to Shige-san's 3 times. Each time I've gone, his server was the only one scribbling stuff down on the bill. I did not see him touch my bill even once. Therefore, I surmise from my experiences that he may not actually see the bill before it's handed to the customer(s)...

                          1. re: J.L.

                            i don't think that's possible, are you absolutely sure. there must be some communication between him and the server.

                            1. re: J.L.

                              I've often seen him making notes with a pencil.

                          2. re: J.L.

                            I think the fact that the majority of items on the menu are MP and subject to extreme fluctuation is more likely the cause of billing inconsistencies. If you want omakase, and a seasonal menu developed around current and sometimes unusual or rare offerings, then the bill with vary accordingly. Tell him in advance if you have a price range, otherwise, what's the point? If you let him choose, then he is also in control of your bill.

                            1. re: cls

                              but i think i now what the above poster is getting at. they went and had nothing that was truly seasonal and still the bill was extremely egregious. also, i don't know if others will agree but i have never seen anything really exotic there for some reason or another.

                              1. re: kevin

                                Correct. Nothing remarkable in any way. The kampachi was very good. A hirami carpaccio was nice. There was a single amaebi that was good, but isn't that out of season now? Nothing else memorable at all. Uni and Toro better at the torrance hole-in-the-walls I frequent. There were only two things we never had before: the cooked fishy-tasting salmon handroll (yuk) and the mixed clams drowning in miso dressing (also yuk), Even the albacore on the salad was a bit fishier than usual.

                                Quality on all else was acceptable but not remarkable.

                                1. re: wasabica

                                  why is that even though he, i'm sure, tries to get good fish, there are so many stinkers on the menu at times. i hate when i'm spending over 100 per and higher and a few of the pieces are terrible that would pretty much ruin the whole meal for me. and sometimes it does, case in point, had a disgusting piece of sushi with a disgusting sauce at Zo, but then everything else was super fresh and super great.

                                2. re: kevin

                                  Perhaps their meal was not subject to wild fluctuations, but still, the items are all MP. Tuna, for example, can vary from 10-12/lb to easily $100+/lb. Sometimes even if the restaurant seems to be offering "standard fare" the wholesale pricing that day may well above the norm.
                                  Shige has plenty of exotic items, most of which he does not offer to non-regular customers because he is unsure of their tastes or budgets.
                                  To one of the OPs previous posts, salmon with skin (Shige frequently leaves a thin layer on) is much "fishier." The typical Japanese customer has a much greater appreciation and tolerance for items that taste more of the sea, and the flavors are frequently confused by Western diners as being not fresh. At a meal I had recently at Shibucho Costa Mesa, after developing a rapport, we were served nothing but what could be called fishy tasting sushi. Most of the fish was exotic, and Shibutani told us that it was mostly reserved for his Japanese customers because Westerners don't typically like the stronger flavors. BTW, he insisted we eat ginger between courses to cleanse.
                                  It is very difficult to know how to approach a strict Japanese chef. Manners are everything and it is easy to offend. I would definitely ask in advance about pricing and tastes if that's a concern. If you are not happy with the results, find another place. Although I wouldn't be too quick to judge a sushi chef as being arrogant or not accommodating because of their reaction.
                                  If there's one thing we have a lot of in LA, it's good sushi restaurants, and a good relationship with your chef can make all the difference.

                                  1. re: cls

                                    CLS, While I am not Japanese, I have been eating it for multiple decades now and consider myself fairly well-versed on Sushi that would appeal to Japanese locals. That said, perhaps you can teach me something, as I have never heard of what you described before now.

                                    Besides the big names, we frequent many off the beaten trail sushi restaurants in the Torrance area run by Japanese where the clientele are pretty much only Japanese expats from the car companies. We have been told by the chefs we have a Japanese palate because we enjoy the oily fishes, exotic roe, live sashimi, and other unusual items. I am also familiar with the dirty little secrets of how "fresh" tuna is actually best not off the boat but after it has undergone rigor mortis and has actually aged a bit. So for me, the preceding = good fishy. However, the salmon we had was fishy as in it it has been in the case a couple days too many. I buy a lot of salmon sashimi from marukai, etc. and I know the smell of fish being close to/just at the "sell by" date. It had that aflatoxin aroma. (As did the albacore in the salad, something I never experienced before at Shibucho.) I figured both items were cooked for a reason. Am I missing something?

                                    1. re: wasabica

                                      Agree with the aging of that tuna. Is it true that "fresh" tuna is actually also "flash frozen" on the boat, in order to kill parasitic worms?

                                      1. re: wasabica

                                        Given your description, it sounds that you aren't missing anything. J.L - Yes, Tuna is gamey fresh and is generally frozen and defrosted. There is a government guideline for the flash freezing of all seafood in the US. Given that many fishing boats are not day boats, it follows that they freeze their own fish on board.

                                        1. re: wasabica

                                          Sam Fujisaka - I guess that explains all of those expensive sushi meals I have had in Japan served by masquerading Americans. Of course, your sansei self can explain what traditional Japanese is...

                                          1. re: cls

                                            Look, I have a lot of respect for all of you who pay big bucks. You obviously know a lot more than I do. But to sneer at the sansei is uncalled for: ask people in Japan who are the quaint throwbacks in terms of language, manners, and customs.