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Jun 15, 2009 12:15 PM

Sushi-imbecile desperately seeking help

Hello everyone,
Embarrassed to admit it, but here it is: I don't eat sushi.
My boyfriend does. Loves it, it's his favorite thing.
As it's his birthday, I was planning to take him to Sushi Zo, as I'd seen it batted around this board so much. However, the most recent post about Sushi Zo made it seem like an expensive, miserable, unfriendly place.

So here are my questions:
1. Is Sushi Zo only Omakase? I saw a reference to having to have the omakase, so I wanted to check
2. Is there any moderately priced sushi place that is also westside that people would recommend over sushi zo? I went with some friends to the Hump a few years back and they were mostly disappointed... I could spend about $100 just on him (since I'll pretty much just be having a glass of sake or a bowl of miso or otherwise going "along for the ride")

Thank you for your help. I'm completely out of my element here!

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  1. another piece of info regarding the hump: the final bill is sort of like a wild card--it could end up costing SEVERAL hundred dollars per person.

    sushi zo is OUT for a number of reasons in addition to the one you cited.

    if i i were in your shoes i would go to k-zo in culver city. they are reasonably priced, the room is pretty, there will be many non-sushi items that you could eat, and, most importantly, the fish is good. i would ask if they would let you reserve the sort of 'private' booth that is divided from the rest of the room by bead curtains.

    5 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      Thank you so much for the recommendation, I'll look it up!

      To clarify though, while it's great that a place has non-sushi items, I really don't mind not eating if the sushi is highly superior than what one would get at a restaurant that has a broader menu. Assuming the restaurant will let me sit there without eating... It would be a Tues or a Wed though, so I wouldn't be taking up space on a prime night.

      1. re: hyacinthgirl

        realistically, and REASONABLY, no restaurant is going to be really pleased with you sitting there and not eating. some will hide their displeasure more than others.
        also, i would absolutely not take up a space at a sushi bar if you are not going to eat.

        (if you are intent on doing that, please DON'T follow the suggestion i made above about reserving the private booth. )

        1. re: westsidegal

          Oh by no means am I intent on doing that! And I certainly understand that no restaurant wants a gawker at the table. And in my ideal world, I would of course prefer to go to a place where I could eat a full meal as well.

          I'm simply saying that, as I don't know sushi, if the fish is of a much higher quality at a place where there is nothing for me to eat, I would do it as this dinner is really just about the boyfriend getting the best sushi I can afford to buy him. If it were the case that a place that Only served sushi/sashimi were much better than a place that had other options, I would reserve a very early or very late table on an off night and tag along. (and tip well!)

          1. re: hyacinthgirl

            truly, i would re-recommend that you both go to k-zo and that , while your boyfriend eats the raw fish, you eat a few of their fine non-sushi items.
            i fear that you could possibly be setting yourselves up for an uncomfortable experience by trying to game the situation.

      2. re: westsidegal

        How about something like Hachi in West LA with a sushi bar and a robata / sake bar?

        Hachi Sushi & Robata
        12009 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

      3. K-Zo is a good idea. Also, what about Bar Hayama on Sawtelle? Lots of items on the menu that aren't sushi. I had a great experience there, especially with their great sakes! I was actually at Sushi Zo this weekend and it was amazing and service was friendly - not one complaint about the evening. the food was incredible, but on weekends it is Omakase only.

        1. I highly recommend Kiyokawa located at 265 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills. Sushi Chef/Owner Satoshi can easily design an Omakasi to meet your budget and can provide a myriad of exciting dishes to meet your non-Sushi requirements.

          For a fun evening that will make your loved one very happy and not break the bank Kiyokawa is the place.

          2 Replies
          1. re: caldad02

            Thank you for that recommendation. The link doesn't work unfortunately, but other reviews I just read were equally as glowing.

            Can you all kindly help educate me, how does Omakase work? It sounds to me like it's not neccesarily the same as a prix fixe, where you know going in it's $75/person, or whatever. Do you give them a budget when you sit down? Do you call in advance and advise? Am I completely off base here? Thank you!!

            1. re: hyacinthgirl

              actually there was a poor review of kiyoka a couple of days ago. . .

          2. Our favorite places are Kaya Sushi -there's one in Marina del Rey on Washington and one in El Segundo. They have LOTS of non-sushi items ( if I'm not in a sushi mood, I'll order the sol dot bi bim bop, and their miso has more flavor than the average place). We llive in Westchester, so our closest place is Kabuki on the second floor of the Howard Hughes Promenade.
            And I agree with Westsidegal; do at least order a bowl of miso if you sit down. It's light and usually inexpensive ($1.50 - 4.00), so you don't have to feel like you're taking up space.
            By the way, have you tried any of the sushi that are not raw fish - unagi, which is cooked eel, and the egg sushi? Also check out the rolls available, as more and more places are catering to the vegetarian crowd, as these might appeal to you as well.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Michelly

              Please understand, if there's something there for me to order, I will do so! If there's nothing to eat, I'd drink sake or something. I am not in the business of taking up space and not ordering.
              Additionally, if I were not eating, I would not sit at the sushi bar taking up that valuable real estate. Instead, I would sit at a table. As it's rare that they'd have a table smaller than a table for 2 anyway.
              And having lived (and socialized) in LA for sometime, I have been to Many sushi restaurants and have always found something I could order. Vegetarian rolls are actually usually very yummy.

              I was simply saying, I'm not familiar with the places that serve Only fish, though I know they exist. And if the quality were much higher there than at a place with a more varied menu, I would be interested in knowing that.

              And thank you for the Kaya recommendation, it's very close to us! : )

            2. You sound like a very sweet GF, being prepared to not eat at the sushi bar so that your BF could enjoy himself...

              Keeping this in mind, I think both of you will be happy at Kiriko (on Sawtelle) - the quality is high, and there is other stuff on the menu you may feel more comfortable with.

              PLUS, if you tell Ken-san and his highly competent and friendly staff beforehand that you're a sushi novice and "tagging along", they will do everything in their power to treat you & your BF right. Usually I spend around $120 per person (with alcohol & tip figured in). I've never had a bad (or even mediocre) meal at Kiriko.

              I used to go to Zo every 3 months or so, but recently Zo has fallen out of my favor, both in quality & attitude. The Hump is still great, but HIGHLY variable in terms of price.

              Bon chance!

              3 Replies
              1. re: J.L.

                ~$120 per person is about what i've ended up spending at kiriko as well.

                1. re: J.L.

                  Thank you so much! I'm comfortable with that price range. I have to say, in one day, I've learned more about a sushi than a non-sushi eater has any right to know! : )

                  1. re: J.L.

                    Just wanted to say thank you again, I did end up taking him to Kiriko.
                    It was a great recommendation. He really enjoyed the sushi and even now has it down as his second favorite sushi place that he's tried in this city (his favorite being Sushi Spot in Tarzana.) I've compiled a list of other places for him to try, so we'll see how long that holds.
                    Kiriko was great for me as well, as I had a lovely chicken and watercress salad. We also each had some drinks and it was still exceptionally reasonable. $75 total for the two of us (before tip- though notably, only one of us was eating sushi)
                    I'd recommend it to others, a lovely place!