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First date, sushi, west side

I'm in Santa Monica on Main..doesn't have to be right around here...looking for high quality fish that won't break my wallet. Thanks!

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  1. you could shoot for happy hour at Chaya Venice.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      fwiw i once had sushi at chaya venice on a sunday night.
      never again.
      old, slopped-together fish. poor in every way.

      i love going to chaya venice for the vegan entree they serve, but i won't trust them with sushi again.

      i know that sunday night is not the best night for sushi anywhere, but hide regularly serves far better sushi on sunday night than did chaya venice on that night-truly there was no excuse.

      1. re: westsidegal

        that sucks, and you're right - there's no excuse, even on a Sunday. i've never had anything but good sushi there (not necessarily *mind-blowing* but always solid)...but it's been a long time since my last visit.

    2. best priced of my recommendations:
      k-zo in culver city. also very nice room, very civilized
      here is a link to their sushi and sashimi price list:

      closer to you:

      3 Replies
        1. re: westsidegal

          i love the sushi at Hamasaku, but it's pretty pricey!

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            yes, it is.
            big, fancy rolls are approximately $15 each.
            also, hamasuku, the times i've been there, has been packed.
            imho, for a first date, it's better for the restaurant to not be packed.

        2. Just as an alternative and probably just as delicious in a stylish way, OP might consider Wakasan kaiseki/omakase on Westwood in West LA. I haven't tried it yet but it's on my list because some solid posters have spoke well of this place, including a timely comment by poster laureate Thi N. Look for his particular post about halfway down the thread.


          1. BiMi sushi on Wilshire, make reservations.

            1. What do you mean by won't break your wallet? K-Zo ,which was recommended, is a good date place,but it's a bit pricey. I'm not a huge fan, but I think a lot of dates go well at En Sushi on SM Blvd. Definitely serviceable sushi and fun atmosphere.

              1 Reply
              1. re: NAspy

                i went to en sushi once, and didn't remember their prices as being any less than k-zo.
                i've posted k-zo's prices above.
                their portion size is very generous.

                really, are en sushi's prices any less?

              2. Kiriko on Sawtelle is low key, authentic, and the sushi is fantastic. Just know that if you order omakase, they won't stop until you tell them.


                I second Hamasaku, too. It's stylish, great food. Pricey, but delicious. Not too crowded on a weeknight in this economy.

                7 Replies
                1. re: grubtrotters

                  in my experience, kiriko is pricier than hamasuku.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    They have a $30 omakase lunch special at Kiriko. Dinner can add up fast. It just depends. If you give them a budget/ limit on omakase, that helps.

                    1. re: grubtrotters

                      1newyorkguy specified that this is for a first date. i assumed, therefore, that this meal was unlikely to be a weekday lunch.
                      evening omakase at kiriko is definitely expensive.
                      also, on a first date, it might not work well to start your meal by having a conversation about it's cost with the itame in front of your date.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        >>also, on a first date, it might not work well to start your meal by having a conversation about it's cost with the itame in front of your date.<<

                        I was thinking the same thing as I was reading through this thread. In the old days when ID theft was hardly an issue, I'd call ahead or drop by prior to a date or meeting. While making the reservation, I'd give the folks my credit card/number and any parameters concerning the meal in advance. This was to avoid this issue. Smooth in and out - just sign, smile, thank the folks and leave.

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          a friend of mine, an ex-restaurant owner, once started to regale me with stories about how restaurant's employees could improperly use customers credit card numbers. after twenty minutes of solid talking he was still listing out the ways. . . .

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            And I am sure it's much worse now. My father recently went to his dentist of 50 years. After services, he paid with his credit card. One of the dentist's staff decided to go on a Nordstrom's shopping spree that afternoon.

                            I personally never had a problem - probably because of luck, and also tried to be very selective, polite, and well-tipping.

                  2. I went to Bar Hayama on Sawtelle (where Sasabune used to live) recently and found it to be a fabulous date place. The outdoor dining area has a firepit bar area that is sultry at night. The sake menu has flights that make sharing fun and the sushi is high quality.
                    The cost makes this a special night only type of place but that- my friend- is what you are looking for.

                    1. not much for ambiance but echigo in west la serves up good sushi for a reasonable price. the last omakase i had was roughly $120 for two, tax and tip included.

                      1. Remember - you are setting a precedent for all future sushi dates. I would take her to your favorite sushi joint - in SM there is a great little place on Wilshire and 10th south side of the street - a litle hole in the wall but the fish is great.

                        You start with The Hump or Chaya Venice then that is where the expectation level is set for all future dates. Tell her point blank, not the greatest atmosphere etc etc but the fish and service are great.

                        1. Bar Hayama on Sawtelle. Fabulous quality. They also offer amazing other dishes. The spicy tuna on crispy rice is ridiculously good. They have a large firepit in the courtyard - very romantic - and have blankets in case it's a cold night. Every time I've been the service and food have been fantastic. And an amazing sake list!

                          1. OTOM sushi: delicious, tasty, funky, out of the way, GREAT sushi date spot for adventurers. Never heard of it? until last month this sushi spot was a black hole in the wall off the 405 onramp @sepulveda between Venice & Washington. AWESOME sushi chefs, ate for 2 under $70 always w/ drinks! Newly renovated but yummy as ever, great specials.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: annerene

                              i will try this restaurant again on your recommendation, since it's near me.
                              i hope you're saying that it has reopened and that the fish quality is better than it was.

                              1. re: annerene

                                i tried OTOM tonight for dinner.
                                truly AWFUL fish quality.
                                here is my complete review:


                              2. California Roll Factory in West L.A. on Santa Monica Boulevard near Federal -- two doors down from Cafe '50s. GREAT sushi, very low price for what you get (which are huge delicious rolls), and the menu is 3 pages of really unique rolls.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: rocktheglobe

                                  1newyorkguy specified that he wanted high quality fish.

                                  1. re: rocktheglobe

                                    replace "GREAT" with "MEDIOCRE", then you got it right.

                                    1. re: wilafur

                                      replace GREAT with BARELY EDIBLE, then you got it right.

                                  2. What about Sushi House, the tiny hole in the wall place on Pico across the street from the Arsenal just east of Bundy?

                                    Sushi House
                                    12013 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      pricey but yummy and has a great view. The HUMP at the santa monica airport. good luck.

                                      1. re: ermoloff

                                        i've heard several stories of people getting their tab at the hump and finding that they've ended up spending several hundred dollars PER PERSON.

                                        the hump can end up costing more than urasawa.

                                    2. happy hour sushi all night at canal club sunday-wednesday. wednesday is also half price on sake.

                                      1. I'm suprised nobody has mentioned Hide Sushi on Sawtelle. It's my go to place for sushi in that part of town. Menu is fairly standard, but good quality. Not a whole lot of ambiance, but still works for a first date.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Bict

                                          Something a first dater should know to avoid embarrassment if choosing to go here. Unless things have changed, they're cash-only and no reservations as well.

                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                            and, expect it to be crowed at any normal mealtime.
                                            and when you walk in you take a marker and write your name on a dry erase board to hold your place in line.
                                            the tables are very cramped.

                                            i go to hide fairly regularly, but would NOT recommend it for a first date.
                                            it is my to go place when it's just me or me and a girlfriend and we happen to be eating at an unusual hour so that we won't be stuffed in the place like sardines..

                                            if you have any romantic intentions, the general atmosphere, and the fluorescent lights there will not help.

                                          1. Chances are the date has already happened, but fwiw, I'd go with westsidegal and pick U-Zen. Very good sushi with a large selection of cooked dishes in case date is not a sushi purist. Very reasonably priced: total with tax and tip will probably be about $60. Never too crowded or noisy to talk. The ambiance lighting could be a bit better, but much better and tastier than the other affordable places.

                                            Sushi King and Noma Sushi are similar picks for similar reasons.

                                            The Hump and Kiriko are too expensive -- closer to $100 per person. Bar Hayama probably the same.

                                            CA Roll Factory is great value for giant rolls but is not a real sushi place and certainly not a date place.

                                            Hide is too crowded and bright.

                                            Echigo has a pretty nice atmosphere and pretty reasonable, but they serve nothing but sushi so be sure she's a purist. The bill would be more like $100 total, verses the 3 recommended above.

                                            I used to recommend Niko Niko but sadly it's slid fast in these hard times.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: chowmominLA

                                              my experience with u-zen is that the $60 number can only be achieved if i'm eating with my girlfriend who has had gastric bypass surgery (this prevents her from eating very much at any one sitting) otherwise, i'd expect to pay more.. . .

                                              sushi king, imho, doesn't begin to offer anywhere near the quality of u-zen. it doesn't even offer anywhere near the quality of Hide. . .

                                              the hump can easily end up costing MORE than $100/pp.

                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                I was just at U-zen 10 days ago with a friend who, despite being all of 95 lbs soaking wet eats as much as I do. We left very well fed for $82 + tip.

                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                  i've gotten out of there for $85 plus tip too, but can only achieve the $60 number when dining with the gastric bypass girlfriend.

                                            2. bar hayama on sawtelle. fantastic food, even better atmosphere. you can sit around the outdoor firepit! they will even give you blankets if you are chilly
                                              love this place!