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urasawa....too expensive? help!

four of us want to try urasawa but the steep bill is giving us second thoughts.
any other option thats a little cheaper than urasawa but will provide a somewhat similar experience?
we can probably do $200 for the omakase per person and will have some extra for drinks.
the thing with Urasawa is that we need about $100 more per person
any rec's? or are we being foolish about saving $100 and should just make the rsvp at urasawa?

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  1. There is certainly nothing else like Urasawa in Los Angeles or California (and maybe just one other in the US). That said, if the price point is so far out of your budget range that it causes you a financial hardship then your experience may be ruined by the feeling that you splurged to the point where you could no longer enjoy your dinner. If that is not the case, then go to Urasawa.

    1. There really is nothing like it in California. I would recommend saving up and going. It is a experience you will remember forever.

      2 Replies
      1. re: funkyshanna

        thanks...so we decide its a little too expensive for us now...what is the 2nd best choice? mori? sushi zo?

        1. re: samtron608

          Mori or Zo. You can't go wrong with either one.

      2. I'm gonna go ahead and call inaka seafood the budget urasawa lol

        clearly nothing comes close, but @80pp, it's close enough haha

        1. I went to Urasawa a few years ago and I still can't get it out of my mind. Yes it is expensive but so it sitting on the floor at a Laker game. You will have a Los Angeles food experience that is beyond comparison.

          The personal service at Urasawa is incredible. You have a master chef (Hiro) preparing your food directly in front of you. Further, Hiro will rarely be serving more than 10 people at the same time.

          The proteins that you get at Urasawa are just not available at most sushi bars. I had fugu (apparently off the menu now), kobe beef, and numerous varieties of clams and fish that I had never had before and haven't had since. The food was prepared right in front of us and was intended to be savored within seconds of its preparation. The attention to detail and quality of preparation is beyond what you can find anywhere else. Urasawa got two Michelin stars and I can not imagine what would else Hiro could do to get a third star.

          I too was concerned about the price at Urasawa and chose not drink water when I was there. I have found for me that alcohol takes away from my dining experience. If you want the best food experience in Los Angeles, then hands down it is Urasawa. Go to Urasawa and then go out for drinks, if you have any room, after dinner.

          As an aside, I went to Mori Sushi for the first time last Friday and thought that it was good but would not return. I did not feel that I was getting the value and level of service that I got at Urasawa. The cuts of sushi were great but quite small. Maybe we missed out on the experience by not sitting at the sushi bar. I especially felt that way when some punk kids were aiming a laser pointer in my face while they waited for a red light at Gateway and Pico. You cannot compare eating area with Urasawa (even without the laser pointer). We left hungry and went out for cocktails and bar food after dinner!

          Sushi Zo, where I have been fortunate enough to have been taken twice, is very good. Each piece of fish has been perfect. The dining experience and variety of food is way above average but is no where near the league of Urasawa. The sushi bar at Urasawa is an oasis.

          1. Why not just wait and save up a bit more $$ and go to Urasawa.

            Otherwise, you'll always be left wondering "what if..."

            2 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              I would definitely wait and save the xtra $$ - it is THAT good... and even though it is insanely expensive, we left feeling it was worth every penny.

              Incidentally - we ate there with my folks who had recently been to Masa in NY which is MORE expensive ... they thought Urasawa was a hair better - not so much the food but more the total experience.

              Aside, I am also interested in trying Inaka - but I can tell you already it will be in a completely different league.

              1. re: truefoodie

                thanks all. urasawa it is. just gotta save a little bit more dough.
                so...tips on best day to go? is there a dress code? any tips?

            2. Hi samtron608,

              There's some excellent advice from Servorg and everyone in this thread: If you're willing to splurge for Mori's full Omakase, you might as well save up a bit more and go for Urasawa. Chef Urasawa is in a class by himself here in LA. A truly unique culinary experience; highly recommended. :)

              No dress code per se, but I would think you'd want to show up in presentable attire. But as Servorg said, if it's so far out of budget that it causes you serious financial hardship, it might cause you to overscrutinize or worry about it the entire evening, and in that case, it's not worth it to go.

              1 Reply
              1. re: exilekiss

                servorg, brought up an interesting point. if you feel bad that you are spending that kind of money when going to urasawa than that might ruin your experience. so only go if you can throw away thoughts of money while you are there.

              2. from what i've been told, you should expect to spend more than $300/pp for urasawa--possibly up to $400/pp

                4 Replies
                1. re: westsidegal

                  $300 is just the base price of the food alone. With tax and a 15% tip, you're already looking at around $375. Throw in a couple bottles of Evian or Pellegrino at $10 a pop and you're easily at $400 per person. And that's with no alcohol at all. I took photos of the wine and sake list on my last visit, so see here to get an idea of the prices: http://www.kevineats.com/2008/10/uras...

                  Anyway, with that being said, it's totally worth it!

                  1. re: kevin h

                    Your photos really capture it, most don't. I did Masa solo last summer and it was memorable, coming in with wine and sake at about $450. My recommednation to the original poster is to eat in for a month or so, save and then go for it. You'll never forget the memory of the experience and will leave with a much broader appreciation of the good versus the truly great.

                    1. re: Dan Wodarcyk

                      Only $450? You got out relatively unscathed! I'd expect $450 for food only there.

                      1. re: kevin h

                        I'd have to check my cc statement for sure. I only had a glass of wine and a carafe for one of sake. Could have been slightly over $500 with tip, but not much more (much!?!)

                2. My brother loves sushi and he was visiting for the holidays and I also got a commission bonus so I thought we'd go to Urasawa. I got on the wait list a week before Christmas and luckily, the 6:00 pm party cancelled. We were in! I had old information and thought the price per person to be $250.00 so I thought no sweat, it's a definite splurge but from all the raves I've been hearing for years, I had to go. Plus with my brother and it being the holidays, why not?

                  Amazing meal, amazing service, expert preparation as a master watchmaker putting together a complicated movement,. As everyone says, Hiro is an excellent host, personable and speaking with him throughout the meal, we got to know him a little bit and got an idea of how much he values quality and doing things well.

                  We had two bottles of sake, one bottle of water and I was stuffed, I could barely finish the desert. The bill came out and brother could not himself but gasp. The bill came out to about $830.00!! With tip, it was just under $1,000.00. The price per person was $325.00.

                  So several weeks later and I get my credit card bill. My wife looks it over and from her line of quesitoning, I can tell I'm in trouble. She can't believe it was just my brother and I and thinks I'm having an affair! I'm flabbergasted... It's ridiculous but it's still an on-going thing right now. It's funny how this great experience opened up a can of worms for me on the domestic front.

                  In one way or another, I will never forget this meal, for its excellence, the devotion to quality by the proprietor, and the aftermath afterwards. It is worth every penny.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: ladius

                    So the base price is $325 now? The price keep creeping up; I remember it was $250 the first time I went, then $275, then $300, now $325 apparently.

                    1. re: kevin h

                      What is the B.Y.O policy at Urasawa

                        1. re: Servorg

                          so just to be on the safe said with a bottled water and the whole omakase meal think about $450 per, now that $300 per for all the food and wine and booze you can eat and drink at the meals on wheels festival sounds like a steal.

                          1. re: kevin

                            the sake list sounds great, and it does not seem like they offer any crappy sakes, which is a good sign.

                            kubota manjgu is still my favorite didn't notice it on the list though.

                            1. re: kevin

                              Kubota's there, at $160 for the 720mL bottle and $45 for the smaller 6oz.

                        2. re: sethd

                          $50 per bottle on my last visit: http://www.kevineats.com/2008/10/uras...

                          I remember it used to be $0 a couple years ago.

                      1. re: ladius

                        it would be cool if he opened up for lunch too, and the prices were perhaps 250 then. i remember when it changed over from ginza sushiko to urasawa, when hiro first took it over after masa decamped to the time warner center, he charged $250 per.

                        1. re: kevin

                          I believe he is open for lunch by special arrangement. I think you need a certain number of people to attend.

                        1. re: wilafur

                          awesome, awesome, awesome.

                          i just hope he's still open.

                          it seemed like he was hurting for customers even when times were good and now that times are a tad bit less than peachy, who knows?

                          1. re: wilafur

                            Go's is a strong contender for the #2 spot behind Urasawa. Still the best abalone I've had.

                            A report for the uninitiated: http://www.kevineats.com/2007/05/gos-...

                            1. re: kevin h

                              shhh, I like not having to wait when I go to Go's
                              Don't tell.

                              1. re: Clyde

                                It was $185pp all-in last time. But at the same time, you can get out of there A LOT cheaper if you just stick to the rolls and whatnot.

                                1. re: Clyde

                                  I usually just eat sushi and maybe share a roll and get out of there fully satisfied for about $70 or less. And I always get a least a piece or two of Toro, and 1-2 Holy Cows.

                              2. Just piping in to mention that I'm going to Urasawa tonight! When I made the reservation, I believe I was told that the price for food is now $350. Last time I went it was $325 (I got charged $425 because I eat a lot).

                                Keep in mind that Hiro told me on a previous visit that during March of 2008, he was busy the entire month, and actually lost money because his food costs had increased so much. That was what prompted the increases in price.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Six_of_One

                                  Wow up to $350 now? It was $300 on my last visit in October 2008. I do understand about his food costs though.

                                  1. re: Six_of_One

                                    I imagine it's because of how much stuff he gets from Japan, and how much weaker the dollar has gotten versus the yen. (For example, photographer Thom Hogan reported that Nikon will be increasing lens prices somewhere in the high teens (percent) in February.)

                                    I'll pay whatever he charges and forget about the cost while I'm there, but if it's really $350 now, it's definitely harder to afford. Then again, I just got laid off, so I'll be lucky if I get to go anywhere nice this year.

                                    1. re: mrhooks

                                      I had a fantastic meal there last night...it is indeed $350 (if only I had enough self-restraint to only get charged that much). I didn't ask, but he volunteered that the reason for the quick price increases is the strength of the yen, just like you said.

                                      He also said that his business has not been affected at all by the economy, and that 2008 is going better than 2007 so far.

                                      1. re: Six_of_One

                                        wow, not effected by the economy. really? i'm sure a bunch of hounds who were somewhat regulars due to the food alone, have dropped off in recent months following the recession. but who knows. hounds have an inelastic demand for exceptional, one-of-a-kind omakase/kaiseki meals.

                                        1. re: kevin

                                          Is Urasawa really twice as good as Per Se?

                                          1. re: sethd

                                            i would say the reason why it would be yes, even though i haven't been. at per se, thomas keller is not really cooking and preparing your food. but at urasawa, hiro urasawa is preparing the meal right in front of you as if you were eating a meal at a michelin-three star restaurant, with the head chef actually making the food for you.

                                            also, per se may be about a dozen courses, while at urasawa it may be three dozen courses. BUT and this is a big but you have to like Japanese food to be blown away by Urasawa. If you don't care for sushi, sashimi, cooked Japanese homstyle dishes, izakaya style dishes, elaborate, fragant Japanese soups, and Lilliputian portions of Kobe beef charred on the bincho grills along with exotic mushrooms too. then you might not like Urasawa as much as Per Se. Urasawa is not California-French cuisine.

                                              1. re: sethd

                                                For me, it's better, no question, though I can't quantify its "goodness" so readily as to say that it's twice as good as Per Se; it's certainly not twice as expensive.

                                                I do agree with the other "kevin" that dining there is a much more intimate, personal experience. I also agree that I'd be wary of going if you're not truly committed to Japanese cuisine.