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First Time Omakase

So I have never gone out to Omakase in Los Angeles and would love for people to point me in the right direction. I know the price is probably my biggest guidance, but it's not that important of an issue as it may be my first/only time as I'm moving away in a month or two. I want to keep it under $200, so pretty much I'm saying no Urasawa.

I'm thinking either Sushi Zo, Sushi Park, Mori Sushi, Kiriko, possibly one of the places on Ventura in Studio City.

I'd like to go to something that would be easy to navigate and not too intimidating for a first time.

Please help?

Thanks!

-Scott

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Urasawa Restaurant
218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Sushi Zo
9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

Kiriko
11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Mori Sushi
11500 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

Sushi Park
8539 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

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  1. Sushi Zo and Mori Sushi are my choices on that list. I've had friends - TWICE - take me to Kiriko - raving about the place (and both are pretty reliable about sushi), but both times it was disappointing - and both times the friends apologized. So, I know people have good experiences there, mine has been only very good.

    Because Sushi Zo feels a little mechanical - I prefer Mori. He's easy to engage in conversation, has a great twinkle in his eye, and if want any kind of an education, he will be your humble teacher. When you reserve a table, request for Mori at the sushi bar. (just tonight I ran into a couple - a photography dealer - who thanked me for leading them to Mori.)

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    Sushi Zo
    9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

    Kiriko
    11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064

    Mori Sushi
    11500 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

    1 Reply
    1. re: foodiemahoodie

      Right on, foodiemahoodie! I concur 100%.

    2. Your generous budget per person will allow for almost every place except Urasawa.

      First time (and only?) omakase - I'd actually go with Kiriko - More fun than Mori and Zo, and very, very tasty.

      But... If you had said that you were planning on having more omakases in the future, and that you're only looking for an "intro to omakase" this time around, then I'd ask you to try Sushi Sasabune, as they serve a standard decent (but not outstanding) omakase which has all the usual favorites. From then on, your experience would allow you to more fully enjoy more advanced omakases at places like Zo, Kiyokawa, Mori, etc...

      Go on a Tue,Wed,Thu, or Fri.

      Enjoy!

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      Kiriko
      11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064

      Sushi Sasabune
      12400 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

      5 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        I understand your logic JL--you can't appreciate the sweet without first tasting the bitter. But seeing as how OP is moving away and this is one shot at LA's best omakase, I'm gonna have to recommend Mori.

        I detest Sasabune. The rice is hot. The fish is precut. The nigiri is drowned in ponzu sauce. There is no seasonality. I wouldn't waste my money on that place ever again.

        At Kiriko, I've had some interesting stuff like shirako (cod sperm sac) and live mantis prawn. However, the rice and quality of the fish is not up to Mori and Sushi Zo. The price is about the same though.

        Sushi Zo. I was there 2 weeks ago because Mori-san was on spring break. The rice was much better than I remembered. In fact, it was excellent. The quality of the fish was very good, but not as good as a couple of years ago and the variety has decreased significantly. His knife work is still off. Some irregular strips of fish here and there. Overall, a solid place but a clear notch or two below Mori in my book..

        Mori is the best traditional sushi in town in my opinion. And yes, I'm including Urasawa in that statement. The rice is excellent and while the selection of fish is not extensive (about 15-20 types), the quality and care that goes into each piece is evident and far exceeds the other places in town. Yes, that includes Urasawa. If you watch the way Mori-san brushes each piece of sushi with shoyu and if you watch him dust freshly grated sudachi zest on certain pieces, you'll understand. Make sure you sit in front of Mori-san himself.

        Go Tuesday or Friday and go early. It's not as busy and you'll have more one on one interaction with him.

        -----
        Urasawa Restaurant
        218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

        Sushi Zo
        9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

        Kiriko
        11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064

        Sasabune
        12400 Wilshire Blvd Ste 150, Los Angeles, CA 90025

        1. re: Porthos

          I would have to agree with Porthos on this especially when cost is considered. I would also add that, for the most part, once you order omakase, there's nothing to fear. Most restaurants will treat you much better if you leave things in the chef's hands. It's an honor for them to take care of you.

          If you have anything you can't or don't want to eat, be sure to specify before the chef begins though. It can be very frustrating and also costly for the chef to prepare something, that when served, you tell him you can't or won't eat. It's also generally bad form to direct the chef too much once the meal has begun. The best chefs will take subtle clues from you when deciding which dish comes next.

          1. re: Porthos

            I guess it depends on how purist you want the OP's first experience to be. I would tend to guide him/her to a more fun, creative itamae like Ken-san at Kiriko.

            This is taking nothing away from Mori-san's mastery & artistry - I just find Mori-san to be more austere and "ol' skool", that's all.

            I find Sasabune to be average, BUT it does serve as a decent "primer" to sushi omakase overall.

            1. re: J.L.

              I don't know if I'd call Ken creative. More relaxed yes. But I haven't had anything "creative" from his omakase. Any examples of Ken-san's creative offerings?

              1. re: Porthos

                IMy visits with Ken have been less old school, I guess.

                He uses a tad more "fusion-y" approaches to some of his omakase offerings. Examples include dishes such as wild salmon with mango slice and caviar, and homemade black truffle ice cream.

        2. As a first timer, I would start with Sushi Ike, then move on to Zo, then end up at Mori.

          1. I am leaning towards Mori based on the responses. How do I set this up?

            I know it's usually based on how much you eat, but how much for each of these places?

            4 Replies
            1. re: sarcasmsk

              Call Mori Sushi, make a reservation at the sushi bar (NOT at a table), preferably for the first seating (6PM?) on a Tue.,Fri., Wed. or Thurs. Tell them your budget, and any of your food preferences and allergies, so the itamae (sushi chef) can accommodate you accordingly. You can ask to be seated directly in front of Mori-san. if you want. His other chef is quite gifted as well, so as long as you score a bar seat, you'll be in good hands.

              Mori-san's standard omakase (rough ballpark estimate): $125 - $175(high end) per person without tip.
              Kiriko's: $85-$135pp
              Zo's: $95? (but I haven't been lately because of my self-imposed moratorium on Zo)

              Enjoy!

              1. re: J.L.

                Zo was $150 pp (before tip) on my last visit 2 weeks ago. Roughly 15 pieces, 2 glasses of junmai daiginjo sake each.

                1. re: J.L.

                  Hi J.L.,

                  Like Porthos, my last 3 Omakase experiences at Zo were also in that price range (~$150 range pre-tip).

              2. I would do the Kiriko lunch omakase...it's 10 pieces including a delicious crab roll, miso soup and salad...they got rid of the ice cream, but i was never a huge fan...go to yogurtland across the street.

                It's around $33 I think...a great introduction a half the cost.

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                Kiriko
                11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064