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Apr 20, 2009 05:28 PM

Sushi in the SFValley, p l e a s e!

I know...a lot has already been written on this, but I am searching for current input. Sushi bars have a way of changing quickly in quality, so please post your recent experiences.

I am taking a friend for a sushi birthday lunch. In the past we have enjoyed Asanebo (Studio City) and Sushi Iki (Tarzana). What else is as good on the sushi bar stretch of Ventura Boulevard from Studio City to Woodland Hills?

I sincerely thank you for your ideas!

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  1. Sushi Ichiban Kan is a place I just stumbled onto (thanks to some other Chowhound recommendations) in the Woodland Hills/Tarzana area.

    I've had lunch there a couple of times now and have really been impressed by the place. I've only tried their chirashi combo so far but it was more than satisfying and only came to 14 bucks total before tax and tip.

    The decor was very nice and the staff were very friendly. This is probably my new fav for sushi, at least between Woodland Hills up to the 405.

    Haven't been to Iki and Ichiban isn't as high end as Asanebo, but I think its a great value.

    Sushi Ichiban Kan
    19723 Ventura Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA

    13 Replies
    1. re: RacerX

      Hello, RacerX!
      I so appreciate your response to my search! Actually, I had written down Sushi Ichiban Kan from another post...perhaps it was yours? If not, someone else posted recently about liking this sushi bar. I am glad to read your current review and thank you for the details of your visits.

      My preference is for very traditional sushi; I like the taste of the fish. This means that the quality of the fish is important to me. I am not much into rolls and bowls with sauces and slurries, so have you been impressed by the fish itself?

      Someone also told me about Kazu in Studio City. Does anyone know of this sushi bar?

      1. re: liu

        My new fav, Go's. Mart. Although probably not the beat locale for a b'day.

        1. re: Sgee

          Hi, Sgee!
          I have been to Go's Mart a few times in the past. My reservation with Go's is that it can be a very s~l~o~w least, that has been my experience there.
          I agree that he serves some of the best fish around -- and I especially love the way he adorns everything with special toppings.

          Has the service changed or might this still be a two-hour lunch?

          1. re: liu

            Unfortunately, 2hrs is very likely. I went on a Friday for lunch, took about 1.5hrs. Had to cancel a meeting at work to finish up my meal :-)

            1. re: Sgee

              Yeah...if we're scoring, that's both a plus and a minus! His food is very good and prepared with exactness, but the pace is very slow if you are planning on an hour for lunch.
              Still, sometimes, it is nice to have a slow trickle of deliciousness for a couple of hours...what a pleasure!

        2. re: liu

          From your mention of Sushi Iki and Asenebo, I figured you were more interested in traditional sushi. For that reason, I cannot recommend Sushi Ichiban Kan (which is basically a nicer version of Hirosuke, the owner's prior restaurant, which is still in Encino). It specializes in nontraditional sushi. (I don't mean to put down Hirosuke, which I still like for what it is and the fact that it is more convenient to where I live, but it lost something both in preparation and quality of fish when Hiro sold the restaurant.)

          For traditional sushi in the Valley, I've never tried Go's Mart, but I think Sushi Iki is superior in terms of quality than any other place I've found in the valley. (I would recommend it far more than Taka, 4 on 6, or Brother's.) For an experience -- and to say you've been to the sushi nazi -- you could try Nozawa -- even though I don't think the fish is anywhere near as good as Sushi Iki.

          1. re: Jwsel

            Jwsel -- I have followed your posts for a long time and I know you have been around the Valley. Thanks for all this information. You are correct; while I am not opposed to wandering a bit from a strictly traditional sushi bar, I exclusively will order traditional sushi. My birthday friend will meander around the menu a bit more.

            I have visited Hirosuke a few times in the past. It was good many years ago, although I found it to be a little "sloppy" sometimes -- for my tastes -- when they were busy during lunchtime.

            I completely agree with you that Sushi Iki is capable of the best for traditional sushi in the Valley and compares well in quality with anything else in the city...except, of course, Urusawa and maybe the Hump. However, we have been to Sushi Iki multiple times and I was hoping to enjoy a different space.

            Years ago I tried Taka and 4-on-6 and Brothers and the like. They are good, but not my style. Nozawa is an experience, but again, I prefer a "cleaner" sushi; I wish he wouldn't drown his fish in so much sauce. I completely agree with you that his fish selection and quality currently does not compare with Sushi Iki...although at one time many years ago his sushi "reigned supreme."

   are convincing me that I should go to Sushi is so much better than my other Valley choices! Thank you, Jwsel, for all your input.

            1. re: liu

              As I said, I like Hirosuke for what it is, and it happens to be a few blocks from my mother's, so if is our fallback place. But I generally limit what I have in terms of nigiri and stick to rolls, because I have been spoiled by places like Iki and Kiriko.

              With respect to Ichiban Kan, I shouldn't make it sound like the fish is bad. To the contrary, the fish quality I had was superior to Hirosuke and I would probably put it at the level of Katsu-Ya. However, their strength is in non-traditional preparations with sauces, so it is probably not what you would like.

              1. re: Jwsel

                I'm pretty much in agreement with Jwsel on his assessment of both HIrosuke and Ichiban Kan; and to again echo Jwsel , I found the quality of fish at Ichiban Kan to be very good.

                I'm a nigiri, sashimi, and chirashi eater typically, and Ichiban hits the mark for me in that regard. They do have quite a few rolls on the menu which I have yet to try, as they are not normally my thing.

                Based on what liu, Jwsel and others are saying I may have to get over to Sushi Iki soon, as it definitely sounds like a winner and is pretty close to me.

                Its just that these days I'm trying to find more reasonably priced sushi options that don't skimp on quality and freshness.

                1. re: RacerX

                  Well, if you are enjoying nigiri, sashimi and chirashi, then surely I trust that you are tasting the fish. With your nod, I am keeping Ichiban Kan on my very short list, along with Kiwami and Kazu...all three I have never tried.

                  Thank you for your focus and taking the time to add the details.

                  1. re: RacerX

                    RacerX -- Sushi Iki is very good! I have tried all the others mentioned here, except for three: Kazu, Kiwami and Ichiban Kan. With my reference being everything else on this stretch of Ventura, I think Sushi Iki is excellent...and that comes with a price. Chef Eddie will try to make you some of his "special" items, like live scallop and live everything else. This is where he excels and what he does best! But you can keep your tab a little lower by ordering those items that are more common and not live. Still, you will have a very good sushi meal.

                    1. re: liu

                      The live items are pretty ridiculously priced for what they are. If you stick to more common items, it can make a meal at Sushi Iki reasonable. If not, it is easy to go nuts. Bear in mind, also, that the cuts at Sushi Iki are very big (which offsets the price).

                      Just to give you an idea about the price. I was at another restaurant where the chefs were joking about what Sushi Iki charges for some fish.

                      1. re: Jwsel

                        "...where the chefs were joking about what Sushi Iki charges..." That's a little unsettling.

                        I think there are two different ways to view this. Chef Eddie at Sushi Iki offers something that many other chefs don't. He is a master with live creatures, AND he has some really fine fish. There is a price for this. If one wishes an extraordinary sushi experience, then Chef Eddie can offer this. He can take his diners beyond what they usually experience...and your meal will be memorable.

                        On the other hand, if one wishes to be served some very good fish -- the usual suspects like yellowtail, tuna, red snapper, salmon -- Chef Eddie can also offer this. The sushi will be very good to remarkable, and the diner will keep the bill in check...although your sushi experience will not be stretched to something that is beyond ordinary.

                        Sushi Iki can be what you want it to be. If I am at all concerned, I will tell the chef as I sit down that I would like to keep my bill around a certain amount. Chef Eddie can work with that...with a smile!

        3. I'll always be a fan of the first place I ever ate sushi... Iroha Sushi in Sherman Oaks/Studio City, between Woodman and Coldwater.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Emme

            Yes, Emme, Iroha is one of the originals! I know it's difficult to remember when we had only a couple of choices along the many miles of Ventura Boulevard. Those were the days when I used to eat at Edo Sushi on Ventura at Fallbrook with Nobi at the helm.

          2. The original comment has been removed
              1. re: jencounter

                jencounter -- I was in Tatsuki only once many, many years ago. If I remember correctly, the atmosphere was...well, not memorable...but I remember the sushi being quite good.
                What do you like about Tatsuki? Have you been recently? What do you order?

            1. Go's is good but I wouldn't pick it for atmosphere for a B'day lunch. Sushi Spot on Ventura is excellent for traditional sushi. They urge you to eat sushi in one bite, the traditional way. They also can do the exotics.

              3 Replies
              1. re: TomSwift

                Hi, Tom Swift!
                Go's is good...we agree! And your point about its atmosphere is right on! It's a lunch counter...reminds me of eating a tuna sandwich at a dime store (Kresge's) lunch counter when I was growing up...with a drink...all for 75 cents!

                Unless Sushi Spot has redecorated, I don't like its interior much; it feels damp and old. I do, however, agree with you that the sushi is very good. A couple of years ago it was Nobi's (of Edo fame) favorite "spot" to dine and we would see him in there with his family quite frequently...answering the question "Where do chefs dine?"

                So, tell me that Sushi Spot has remodeled in the last couple of years...please! Then I could have it all!

                1. re: liu

                  Sushi Spot has remodeled but I think longer than a couple of years ago. Their entrance door has a split personality, changing from one side of the restaurant to the other. Echigo is owned by Toshi, a longtime chef at the Spot who left several years ago to open Echigo (more traditional sushi). It's always a challange at the Spot to get the owner, Taku, to laugh.

                  1. re: TomSwift

                    We liked Echigo when we tried it a couple of times several years ago.

                    Actually, Tom, I am glad to hear you stand firm in support of Sushi Spot. I always liked the sushi, but I also wished for a cleaner, brighter space. We always sit at the bar and it can be dark there. If not for this occasion, I will be sure to give it another try.

              2. Does anyone have any recent experience with Kazu in Studio City or Katsu-ya? Is there also a Katsu that is different from these other two forementioned? All of these would be in Studio City. (I now reside in the Westlake Village area in Ventura County, so I don't explore this area much anymore.)

                Kazu was mentioned to me just a couple of months back. Still, I don't know anyone who has been there: 11440 Ventura Boulevard.

                14 Replies
                1. re: liu

                  Katsu was the name of the owner of Tama Sushi in Studio City, named for his wife, which was our favorite sushi restaurant for many years. He moved to Beverly Drive just north of Wilshire and now has a smaller but somewhat more upscale Katsu. It too is top-notch. Katsu has a great eye for fish. Watching him work with a knife is a theatrical experience and we've never had a dish there that wasn't superb.

                  The former Katsu place has been remodeled and turned into, I understand, an izakaya place, but we haven't been there yet. Katsu-ya is a different place altogether, highly regarded by many, but it hasn't yet drawn us in.

                  Someone mentioned Iroha. It was one of the first places we ate sushi many years ago and was great at the time. It had some down years (the former owner was murdered), but in recent years it has again changed ownership and has returned to a place of prominence--and the decor is charming.

                  Any of these would be vastly superior to Nozawa, where the fish is sub-par and the prices are too high for the grim quality of the food, not to mention the abusive service.

                  1. re: farmertomato

                    farmertomato -- I so appreciate your clarification of the "Katsu's." I was fortunate enough to be able to experience Tama Sushi...and it was the whole package with a clean space with very good sushi!

                    I am so glad that you have restored my interest in Iroha with your details about their change of ownership. I will put it back on my list and try it for this occasion or another.

                    1. re: liu

                      Liu - no sushi reco since Iki's already been recommended, but I wanted to mention that you're so great to follow up this way. Feedback is nice!

                      1. re: jencounter

                        jencounter, how dear you are with your kind words...thank you.

                        Although I don't follow the very liquid movement of the sushi chefs from bar to bar and I don't really remember who is related to whom (Brothers vs. Little Brothers, etc.!), I am very serious about the fish. The problem, of course, as I mentioned, is that the quality of sushi bars changes quickly. Unless one regularly patronizes a particular bar, there are surprises to be had. Memory serves only for a day or two...and then one never REALLY knows how good the next experience will be.

                        I do appreciate everyone's opinion...and we all seem to agree that Iki is one of the best around these parts.

                    2. re: farmertomato

                      Tama is now Kiwami (owned by Katsu of Katsuya to contribute to the confusion). Unlike Katsu-ya, it is supposed to have serious sushi & I've heard that it's excellent, but I haven't tried it yet. It might be worth exploring for this b-day meal. Kazu is not related to either Katsu; I haven't been there lately, but I remember that it had excellent fish & a great omakase.

                      1. re: archer

                        archer -- In just 5 lines of text you have given me a LOT of information...all things I was wondering about. I used to frequent the area but have not been around there lately. I SO thank you!

                        Between Kiwami and Kazu...any ideas?

                        1. re: liu

                          Try Kiwami, and see what the new Sushi Joint is like. Then report back!

                          1. re: Brussels Sprout

                            I tried Kiwami a few months ago and enjoyed it. I've never been to Katsuya though so I can't compare them.

                            The nigiri and handrolls were good, though they didn't stand out from what's available elsewhere on Ventura Blvd/Studio City.

                            We did sample a few good appetizers, including yellowtail with jalepeno and an albacore sashimi covered in crispy onions.

                            I posted a review and some pics.


                            All in all though, I still miss the old Tama.

                            1. re: RacerX

                              maybe just go for the special omakase and the tiny sushi bar on the right hand side.

                            2. re: Brussels Sprout

                              Kiwami is one of my three choices for this birthday celebration...along with Ichiban Kan and Kazu. In any order, I will try all of them over the next several months and report back. I do hope others will continue to post of their sushi bar experiences along this SFV Ventura Boulevard strip.

                          2. re: archer

                            oh, katsu-ya (of the sbe extension) is in the same space as tama, oh, that makes sense since tama had two sushi bars, one long and regular, and the other for the omakases that chef Katsu MIchite served up before he departed to beverly hills. they probably didn't have to do much with the space. does it look the same as when it was tama or have they redecorated the space.

                            1. re: kevin

                              Hi, Kevin!
                              I believe the Tama space has been completely redesigned and redecorated for Kiwami. However, to me, the spacious, modern "feel" is the same.

                        2. re: liu

                          Try Agoura Sushi in Agoura Hills (south of the 101 off Kanan). It's owned by Megu, who is Go's brother. It gets really crowded and he does less traditional sushi and more exotics. I haven't been there for a few years.

                          1. re: TomSwift

                            Tom, I believe Sushi Agoura is gone. I heard that Megu sold it and another sushi bar has moved into that space. Can someone confirm this?

                            If there is another sushi bar there, I'd like to hear from someone who has been there.