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Mori Update

Went last weekend just to see what he was up to these days.

Amuse: Vietnamese spinach with bonito broth. Slippery, crunchy texture of the spinach was interesting and different

Appetizer 1: smoked octopus eggs, marinated kinmedai throat and liver, abalone, and young bamboo.

This was Mori showing off. The unusual offering, the quality of the ingredients, the juxtaposition of textures and tastes. The packed and smoked octopus eggs were very rare said Mori-san. It was slightly salty and only very slightly smoky. Very subtle. The marinated kinmedai organs was a wonderful treat. The kinmedai throat was a bit firmer while the liver was delicious and earthy. The young bamboo was also served in 2 pieces. The top tender shoots and the bottom crunchier portion. Genius.

Appetizer 2: Manilla clams cooked in white wine and tomatoes topped with grilled Santa Barbara Prawns. Simple, elegant and as delicious a prep I’ve had in any high end French restaurant. The clams were perfect, tomatoes amazingly sweet, and the grilled prawns were sweeter than the salt baked prawns I had at Providence the week before.

Sushi

-Hirame
-Tai no konbu jime
-Big eye tuna. Mori, being environmentally conscious, has stopped serving bluefin and is now only serving bigeye. I respect his decision but now I need to find someone that’s still serving blue fin.
-Chu toro from near the tail portion
-Kohada
-Aji. Delicious. Sweet. He said saba and sayori were out of season now but that this Aji was in its prime. It was indeed delicious
-Aori ika. Creamy, soft. Still the best ika I’ve had anywhere
-Santa Barbara spot prawn.
-Mirugai.
-Kamasu. (Baby Barracuda)
-Santa Barbara Uni
-Hokkaido Uni.
-marinated ikura
-Fresh grilled Anago
-Second and last piece of chu toro from the tail portion that night because I told him it was so good.

Dessert: perfect and amazingly sweet strawberries and ranier cherries from the Santa Monica farmer’s market.

Mori is still my top pick for pure sushi in LA. I’ve had kinmedai with kinmedai liver in NYC but this is the first time anywhere I’ve had kinmedai throat and liver served side by side. It was a delicious treat and at $120pp for the omakase (actually a little less than what Keizo charged me last month) makes it a no brainer for me where to go for my sushi cravings.

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  1. Yum!
    I love Mori.
    Funny I had Kohada there on Tuesday night this week.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ciao Bob

      Bob. You're absolutely right. So did I now that I think about it! It was mackeral and sayori that he said was out of season.

      I updated my post. Thanks for catching that.

      1. re: Porthos

        I love your Mori reports, Porthos, you are largely why I went on Tuesday. It had been some time and I think you are right - he's as good as it gets here in LA. The rice is nice...but not as mindblowing as I've had in Japan.

    2. Thanks for the update.

      Buy the way, Porthos, have you had a chance to try Kiyokawa?

      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Haven't been to Kiyokawa. I hear that the cooked stuff is better than the sushi.

        You should just go and give us a report :)

      2. It sounds like Mori himself made those amuse & appetizer dishes! Did he or did a separate kitchen chef make them? I'm curious if he had kaiseki training before (sorry if I didn't read all the older posts on Mori)

        Yeah Japanese aji is in prime season now, May through September.

        1 Reply
        1. re: K K

          Mori made the appetizers by himself. The kitchen was probably responsible for the clams and grilled prawn in white wine.

        2. Takao on San Vicente in Brentwood is still serving blue fin, for better or worse. Haven't been to Mori in almost a year, but this sounds awesome. They did the two styles of uni then, too, and I absolutely loved it. Thanks for the report!

          -----
          Takao
          11656 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

          1 Reply
          1. re: daftpunkxl

            Went to Takao last weekend and there's no comparison to Mori (which is way better). I didn't like their tuna, for example.

            -----
            Takao
            11656 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

          2. Hi Porthos,

            Ah I can always count on you to "remind" me to get over to Mori-san for some wonderful creations. (^_~) Thanks for the reminder. :)

            This time it seems like he provided you with some cooked dishes along with sushi, so you went for a full Omakase? (not just Nigiri-only?) That's a great price, and I'll have to remember to not order any Sake the next time we go to get the price down. :P

            Thanks~

            19 Replies
            1. re: exilekiss

              I asked for omakase and "a few cooked items".

              Yes, your sake addiction does seem to get the best of you. Try beer with your sushi. He has a pretty good selection.

              1. re: exilekiss

                Beer or sake with your sushi? That's a personal preference.

                I don't always drink beer (with my sushi), but when I do, I prefer Sapporo Premium.

                Stay hungry, my friends.

                1. re: J.L.

                  LOL. :)

                  Don't forget Koshihikari Echigo. :)

                  1. re: exilekiss

                    Or Yebisu, which is also Japanese brewed; I believe Sapporo Premium is made in Canada.

                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                      I actually left out Yebisu on purpose.

                      I don't care where the damn thing is brewed - it goes down great with my fish!

                      1. re: J.L.

                        I visited L.A. over the weekend and went to Mori as it's been highly regarded; I was underwhelmed. Had the lunch specials of the sushi and sashimi combos, and the spicy tuna tacos. Very mediocre. Coming from Minneapolis I expected much more (and I used to live in L.A.).

                        1. re: SmartCookie

                          Unfortunately lunch specials at Mori are not in the same universe as dinner omakase. Mori is definitely not one of those places you can get get a feel for by spending half the money at lunch. I don't even think dinner at a table is in the same league as sitting in front of Mori. IMHO if you're gonna go, the only way to do it there is to go big.

                          1. re: la2tokyo

                            it should be better than whatever the hell he can get in MN REGARDLESS

                            1. re: la2tokyo

                              i have to disagree. mori should keep his standards high across the gamut.......be it an $150+ omakase or a lunch/dinner special.

                              1. re: wilafur

                                Disagree with me? I'm not defending Mori or saying it's OK, I'm just saying that for better or worse eating a lunch special there is like eating in a different restaurant. I don't have any opinion on whether he should invest more time and money on lunch, all I am saying is it's not the same experience. Personally, I would rather eat omakase there once than eat five lunch specials. There are lots of restaurants I'd rather experience at lunch in order to save money - Mori is not one of them. I'm sorry SmartCookie had to find that out the hard way, like I did.

                                1. re: la2tokyo

                                  Hi la2tokyo,

                                  "Personally, I would rather eat omakase there once than eat five lunch specials. There are lots of restaurants I'd rather experience at lunch in order to save money - Mori is not one of them. " (la2tokyo)

                                  Totally agree. :) I understand that there should be a minimum quality at any highly regarded restaurant (after all your name is on the line), but I know that visiting any restaurant that serves a limited menu for Lunch / Lunch Specials is going to be different than going for their full dinner menu with the Chef de Cuisine at the helm (in this case, a full Omakase meal made by Mori-san at the Sushi Bar).

                                  I haven't tried the Lunch Special at Mori before so I can't comment on that. If it was truly horrible, then that's unfortunate and something Mori-san should never serve.

                                  1. re: la2tokyo

                                    The lunch specials are very good. I think you get a taste of what he can do, but no, it's not an omakase. Bento vs omakase. Not a fair comparison.

                                    However, you can get the omakase for lunch. I've done it many times. (fun lunch too! I like to take friends there for birthday lunch - they love it. They come back.)

                                  2. re: wilafur

                                    "i have to disagree. mori should keep his standards high across the gamut.......be it an $150+ omakase or a lunch/dinner special."

                                    Sorry to disagree with your disagree but quality costs money. You're not going to get toro, Hokkaido uni, or buri belly on a lunch special. This holds true for any high end restaurant. The Dine out LA menu will not be the same quality as the chef's tasting menu on any night anywhere...be it Mori, Providence, or Lucques.

                                    The lunch menu at Campanile, Spago, etc. is very different from the dinner menu in terms of price, quality of ingredients, etc. Why would Mori be any different?

                                    Urasawa does what he does on $500pp. Do you think he could do the same charging $100pp and still be able to keep his standards or his restaurant for that matter?

                                    -----
                                    Spago
                                    176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                    Lucques
                                    8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      guys/gals, i am not saying that mori is obliged to provide the "high end" cuts such as kama toro, etc to folks that come in for a lunch/dinner special. however, the items he serves with the specials need to be of quality.

                                      will you get the same experience sitting at the table vs the bar? hell no, sushi aficionados know that, however, if there is a huge disparity in quality between the two, i'd be pretty damn upset. for example, if i sat at the table and ordered toro and uni sushi. i expect it to be of the same quality as if those items came as part of the omakase.

                                      1. re: Porthos

                                        The point is that Mori should basically pwn anything that comes out of MN hands down, at any time.

                                        FWIW, my lunch special @ Mori was INFINITELY better than any sushi dinner I've ever had in NJ or OR

                                        1. re: ns1

                                          Having never had sushi in MN, I cannot say. I'm betting Mori is superior.

                                          Smartcookie may prefer the Sasabune school of sushi and thus find the simple straight forward offerings at Mori "mediocre".

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

                                        2. re: Porthos

                                          porthos,
                                          of course you're right.
                                          truly, how many customers will be willing to pay well over $50 for a 'lunch special?'
                                          the rent on the space needs to be paid 24/7/365.
                                          whatever is offered at lunch needs to be something that enough people will actually buy so that it makes financial sense for the restaurant to be open at lunch, as opposed to something that meets one person's ideal about how the restaurant should be managed (that person being someone who has NO money in the game).

                                      2. re: la2tokyo

                                        even though i am crazy about their lunch specials (as a matter of fact had lunch there today), i COMPLETELY agree with la2tokyo on this.
                                        their lunch specials are terrific compared to other lunch specials available at that price, but, in no way compare to omakase at dinner at the sushi bar.

                                    2. re: J.L.

                                      I've never been to Mori for lunch, so I can't comment on lunch.

                                      BUT I highly recommend against sitting at the tables at Mori - Choose to sit at the bar to optimize your Mori experience... I learned that the hard way before.