Neighborhood Japanese in Silverlake or Los Feliz
Hi hounds: I recently moved to Silverlake from Orange County, and I wonder if you could help me find a good neighborhood type Japanese place close to my home? Something for those weeknights when I am tired from a long days' work and just don't want to drive far or spend a fortune for a really great Omakase dinner.
My ideal restaurant of this type would be a place I can get good fresh well made sushi, but also has good cooked items if I am not in the sushi mood. The seats should be comfortable and it should have a relaxing, homey atmosphere. (I don't care about the sushi bar... I will probably be tired and won't feel like interacting with the chef.) Finally, I don't want a hip "fusion" kind of place. Just good, solid Japanese food at reasonable prices.
Silverlake, Los Feliz, and Atwater Village are all close enough. I know there are likely to be better places farther afield. Remember, though, I don't want to "dine," I just want dinner.
Shibucho is not in little Tokyo, it is on Beverly east of where Silverlake/Beverly/Temple/Virgil divide. It is pricey, and does mainly sushi.
Unfortunately, I think that J.L. has given you the best answer you are going to get, for a place that does both good sushi and cooked items in/near Silverlake.
Saito is the best sushi place in Silverlake. They will do food to go, and the atmosphere is definitely down to earth, if a bit spare. The fish is quality, especially if you stick to what Saito says is good that day. It has gotten more expensive over the years, and they have limited cooked food.
I for one am not a big fan of Sansui, which others have recommended, but it is probably your best bet for cooked Japanese food in the neighborhood. I've been to many other neighborhood Japanese restaurants (in other neighborhoods), where the food is superior, but Sansui is the best you will find in Silverlake/Los Feliz.
After living in Silverlake for 10 years, I have shared your quest time and again, but with few other results. There is a California Sushi Roll next to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Hillhurst near the Albertsons, which is better for sushi than Gelsons; and for rolls and maybe some albacore sashimi, but their cooked food is unexceptional. There is also En Sushi on Hillhurst, which does do both cooked food and sushi. I liked it better under it's previous incarnation, but it does have what you are looking for and might be worth checking out. It's more trendy, expensive and less authentic than I think you are looking for, but in a pinch it would probably do.
I suppose that because Silverlake is so close to other Asian food/cultural centers, i.e. Koreatown, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, etc., it has very limited offerings in these cuisines. There is decent Thai food, and some Vietnamese places that are okay. I've thought that a person could make a KILLING if they opened a great Chinese restaurant in Silverlake that delivered. Add to that a place with terrific cooked Japanese and a little sushi on the side, a la neighborhood restaurants in many other parts of the city. They don't really exist in S.L. though!
1972 N. Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
California Roll & Sushi Fishi
2081 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Sansui is ok, try it and report back.
Saito has good sushi, but a little pricey and no cooked items.
People seem fairly happy with En Sushi, but I haven't tried it.
It's downhill after that I'm afraid. I haven't been to Kuma since it reconcepted from Asia -- I imagine it's not very "homey" though -- anyone tried it lately?
(Caution recommended for Koda, the place by Say Cheese, and the place next to the Los Feliz theater)
2040 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
4339 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029
1972 N. Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
3179 Los Feliz, Los Angeles, CA 90039
It really depends on your definition of "well made," IMO, nothing in the area is that good. Saito is the best of them, but I think overpriced considering the decor and hit and miss quality. Shibucho is by far the best sushi in the area but a little out of the way and $$$.
There is nothing else worth mentioning in the area, if there was, I too would be there.
I think Sansui would be your best bet as well. If you want to drive to Eagle Rock, there is Mia Sushi and if you want to drive towards K-town you could always do Noshi Sushi which is really cheap and so crowded that their fish is pretty fresh because they have a high turnover. So none of those is super fancy or high quality but might hit the spot.
I have now tried Sansui, Saito's, and En Sushi from the places mentioned above.
Saito's was certainly the best sushi of the three. From last night's dinner, the Spanish Mackeral and the yellowtail were particularly good. It was not perfect (a bit of connective tissue in the Toro, for example). However the rice was good, with nice flavor and texture, and the fish was of good quality. The seating is not that comfortable, however, and the setting is a little stark. All that being said, though, I like this place the best of the three.
Sansui really deserves another chance. I went only once, right after I moved to town and before I lowered my expectations about local Japanese restaurants. I remember it being attractive, with lovely green bamboo all around, but with bench seating. It was fine, but not outstanding. I will try it again and see what I think.
En Sushi is the most comfortable of the three, with booths and more comfortable chairs. The food was OK, but not outstanding. We didn't have sushi that evening, so I cannot comment on the rice, but the ordinary sashimi we had with our combination dinners was fine. The Miso soup was the weakest dish presented to us that evening. It lacked depth of flavor.
So.... my fantasy of an ideal neighborhood Japanese restaurant doesn't exist in my area at least, but thanks to you hounds who helped me find the best alternatives! I will happily eat at any of these three places again on those nights when I just don't want to face any more LA traffic.
Thanks for reporting back, OCchowman!
Re. Saito, you hit the nail on the head on at least two of the standardly-good fishes -- I didn't even think I liked mackeral until I tried the spanish mackeral at Saito, and the yellowtail is almost always great there. A couple of other regular standouts, when he has them, are sweet shrimp and fresh scallop sushi. Also, if you like tamago (I like to have a piece at the end of the meal sort of as dessert :-), Saito's is very good.