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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 lunch...at 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."

            Uh-oh...you are convincing me that I should go to Sushi Iki...it 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.

            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?

            2. 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.

                        3. I know I'm waaaaay west of the geography of my original post, but does anyone know what is in the space of the former Sushi Agoura, Megu's sushi bar? I heard that there is another sushi bar there, but I have not had the chance to check that information.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: liu

                            That's news to me, I haven't been there in awhile. I'll have to try it out. I've been going to Sushi Raku across the freeway.

                            1. re: puppychao

                              Do you like Sushi Raku?
                              I went there a few times, with various friends. It was good when it first opened; then there were some staff changes and it felt like every other pop-up sushi bar in this area. I had no compelling reasons to return.
                              If you tell me that it is really good, I will give it another try.

                          2. Have you tried Uerukamu?

                            19596 Ventura Blvd.
                            CA, 91356

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: puppychao

                              Hi, puppychao. That's one I usually forget about.
                              Uerukamu is the one on the South side of the Boulevard in the same shopping center with Mrs. Grace's Lemon Cakes...yes?
                              It was always the mystery sushi bar because it never had a name on it.
                              I tried it a couple of times, I believe, very long ago. I thought it was good.
                              You? Have you been there? What did you think? Do you think it is worth placing on my list for a current re-visit?

                            2. I am overwhelmed by the volume of replies to my inquiry here, and by the promptness of the responses.

                              Thanks to all who have offered their suggestions and experiences. Really, all the bars that have been mentioned are good ones for various reasons.

                              At the moment, Kiwami sounds like it might be a nice place to celebrate a BIG birthday; I will appreciate the quality of the fish and my friend will enjoy the space. My lunch is not until next week, so I will continue to read with much interest anyone else who might choose to share his/her details.

                              Ichiban Kan interests me just because I have not been there. Kazu was recommended to me, so I will have to try it in the next few months. I will return here to post.

                              1. Im my opinion, Kazu is the best sushi that I've had, and it has also spoiled me to the extent that it is difficult for me to stomach other sushi restaurants. It is pricey and some on this board have had a problem with Kazu himself, but if you want great food and a quiet atmosphere, I would give it a try.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: jenngen

                                  I'm glad to hear about Kazu, jenngen. I have asked around and no one knows about it. However, it was recommended to me -- while eating at another sushi bar -- so I am very curious to know about it. What is the decor like? Does it feel open and modern, or more closed in and dark?

                                  If you have been to either Iki or Kiwami or Ichiban Kan, can you compare them? I know Sushi Iki. Now I am trying to decide between three that I have never been to: Kiwami, Ichiban Kan and Kazu.

                                  Thanks for any further information.

                                  1. re: jenngen

                                    He is a lot to deal with, but so are a whole bunch of other sushi chefs too.

                                    he makes a triple caviar topped Toro Tartare at Market Price but's it around 75 bucks for that dish alone have you tried it ? jennjenn?

                                    but he does have other interesting dishes too, and lots of different styles of sashimi along with bite sized hairy crabs that you pop your mouth just like beer nuts.

                                    It must be said that it is very expensive.

                                  2. It is actually very light and open. No television on, usually some jazz playing. Omakase will run you about 80/pp and he doesn't serve any of those crazy rolls or crispy rice that are at other sushi places. Kazu may seem a bit grumpy, but he's actually really nice once you get to know him and he gets to know you. Service is very good also. Hope that helps. I haven't been to the other places that you mentioned, can't help with those.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jenngen

                                      Light and open...this is what I like! No tv with a little jazz...sounds good!
                                      So, now I am vacillating between Kazu and Kiwami...

                                    2. Thank you, thank you to all who responded here with your very helpful ideas!

                                      Actually, we checked out both Kiwami and Kazu, both in Studio City not too far from one another. Kazu, upon entering, had a funky, damp bleach smell going on; I will go back to try it a different day. In contrast, Kiwami is very bright, open and modern inside; also, they were quite busy immediately when the doors opened. This one felt right for a birthday celebration.

                                      We sat at the bar with Patrick-san. He was very spirited and eager to please. We pretty much let him select our nigiri items and everything was very good! We even ordered a few side-by-side comparison items: seared scallops v. fresh scallops, fresh water eel v. sea eel, and two different yellowtail bellies. Patrick-san took great care with his toppings of yuzu paste, ginger, sea salt, glass seaweed, soy; these adornments really enhanced each fish item.

                                      The service was very attentive. Although the entire experience was not "amazing" or "OMG," I will return. It was solid and very pleasant!

                                      Again, I thank all you Hounds who were so focused and helpful with my search for a sushi bar in the SFValley. You did well in directing me to Kiwami for this celebration lunch!

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: liu

                                        did you walk inside kazu check out the scene and then bolt?

                                        thanks for the notice on that.

                                        1. re: liu

                                          I'm curious what Kiwami wound up costing you. How did it compare to Sushi Iki and Katsu-Ya in price?

                                          I find Sushi Iki expensive, but the fish is extraordinary. By comparison, I find Katsu-Ya overpriced for solid -- but not incredible -- fish. For what Katsu-Ya charges, I generally feel like I should save my money, particularly as Katsu-Ya's strengths are mainly dishes that use sauces and mayonnaise that can cover the difference in fish quality, and I can get similar dishes (though slight less fish quality) at Hirosuke and Ichiban Kan for less money.

                                          1. re: Jwsel

                                            my favorite hands down is still Go's Mart or rather Go Smart.

                                            1. re: Jwsel

                                              Hi, Jwsel!
                                              Kiwami, before tax and gratuity, was about $115 for two; we ate only nigiri items...and not too many of those. Yes, it is rather expensive, but the space is very pleasant, the music is nice and the service is attentive. It's about the price of the entire experience.

                                              For an occasion, I think Kiwami is perfect; both the bar and the tables offer nice seating. Simply for the fish and the SFValley location, Sushi Iki is extraordinary.

                                              1. re: liu

                                                can you explain Sushi Iki further? I've never been but seem to have heard much praise over the years. You wouldn't go there just for nigiri, like he serves live lobster sashimi or somethinig of the ilk?

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  kevin, you can go to Sushi Iki (Eddie-san) just for nigiri; make your wishes known when you sit down. You can also let the chef serve you omakase; he has a lot of "tricks" up his sleeve that will not disappoint. It is pure sushi, in that his fish is of such good quality that he does not cover it with lots of "special" sauces.

                                                  His real strength is with his live items; his presentations are exquisite as well...but it is here, with the wiggly creatures, that you can easily spend $$$.

                                                  You can try it for lunch and let him know about what dollar mark you wish to meet. His skills go deep, so it is important just to let him know what you would like. He is friendly (not at all intimidating) and passionate about what he does, and he will gladly talk with you!

                                                  1. re: liu

                                                    I actually prefer the nigiri at Sushi Iki and my one gripe is that it seems like certain fish is only available live. For instance, to get scallop one time, I had to get the live scallop at somewhere in the vicinity of $20 per order. I received two pieces of incredible scallop nigiri and then some dynamite made from the rest of the scallop. The dynamite was nothing special, and I was annoyed that I could not just get the nigiri.

                                                    On the other hand, the basic fish nigiri -- bluefin, toro, yellowtail -- are expensive, but exquisite.