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Sushi question - with a few stipulations.

Will be visiting the LA area for my yearly pilgrimage from 12/21-12/24, traveling with family this time around and planning on plenty of great eats (Melisse, BistroLQ, Drago Centro, Pizzeria Mozza, Bouchon.)

For lunch one day my sister and I would like to enjoy some great sushi - the sort you can't get in Ohio. Unfortunately my mother/aunt are completely opposed to raw fish and would need alternative options (cooked fishes, tempura, chicken, shrimp, etc.) Clearly this eliminates Zo which would have been high on my list, and likely Mori as well. Was thinking about Matsuhisa but clearly reviews here are mixed.

Location does not really matter provided it is somewhere between Santa Monica and downtown, just want fresh top quality fish for two of us and something else for the others to enjoy.

Thanks, as always.

http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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Matsuhisa
129 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Drago Centro
525 S. Flower St., Suite 120, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

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  1. My first choice would be Matsuhisa. Another option would be R23.

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    Matsuhisa
    129 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

    R23
    923 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

    1. These days there are so many Japanese hybrids, where you can get good sushi and good cooked dishes.
      Here are some of my favorites:
      K-Zo, Culver City
      Yabu, on La Cienega in West Hollywood
      Asenebo, San Fernando Valley
      Kiriko, Sawtelle
      Sushi Wa Bistro, WeHo

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

      Yabu Restaurant
      521 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048

      Sushi Wa
      9319 Foothill Blvd, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730

      K-Zo
      9240 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

      1. Jinpachi is also a great choice, on Santa Monica in WeHo.
        As is Bar Hiyama on Sawtelle.

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        Jinpachi
        8711 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

        1. i think K-zo or Kiriko are great ideas. Also, not sure of everyone's opinion on Katsu-ya, the studio city location - but i've been there twice years ago and remember they had some really good non-sushi items. R23 is also a nice choice as well. Honda Ya for something a bit different- they have TONS of non-sushi items on the menu and you can also get sushi- so that's something to consider as well. Or, you separate and have them go to Honda Ya and you can go to Sushi Go 55, right next door. You probably don't want to do that, but it's an idea.

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

          R23
          923 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

          Sushi Go 55
          333 S Alameda St Ste 317, Los Angeles, CA 90013

          1 Reply
          1. re: Clyde

            Sushi Go 55 is outstanding and they have a few cooked dishes like spider roll and fried oysters
            while not in the same league I like Noshi Sushi on Beverly and they have Tempura and the prices
            are very reasonable. The rolls are huge its like a family style sushi place that has been there
            foreever ,warning cash only. Regarding Mori this place is in my opinion overpriced with attitude.
            It really has snob appeal although I must say the fish quality is good but the portions so small you
            can hardly see them. My Japanese friend an expert says Sushi in LA is in serious decline with
            only 4 or 5 being worthwhile. He says the orginal owner of Katsu is one of the people to follow.

            -----
            Sushi Go 55
            333 S Alameda St Ste 317, Los Angeles, CA 90013

            Noshi Sushi
            4430 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004

            Katsu
            306 Rosecrans Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

          2. I say Kiriko. My seafood-averse friends from the Midwest (what is it with fish aversion and living in the Midwest?!) even liked it.

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

            1. I actually wouldn't rule out Mori as they have plenty of cooked options that are delicious as well. My mother loves their eel tempura but I believe they have other tempura options too. Everything I've had there, cooked or otherwise, has been delicious.

              3 Replies
              1. re: baloney

                Go to Kiriko, but ask for a table. You and your sister can can get the lunch omakase -- a little over $30 for excellent fish, consisting of 9 nigiri and usually a blue crab hand roll. I believe you still get miso soup and salad with it.

                Your mother and aunt can get very cooked good items off the menu. (Dinner would have more cooked options, but there are still options at lunch). You also might get them to try some pseudo-sushi items like the smoked salmon sushi (Ken smokes it in-house and it's fantastic) and seared toro sushi.

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

                1. re: Jwsel

                  what about the homemade ice cream to go with it?

                  1. re: kevin

                    I don't think they still include ice cream with the lunch omakase. They used to.

              2. Robata-Ya on Sawtelle would make anyone happy.

                2 Replies
                1. re: maudies5

                  I thought of that but I couldn't vouch for the sushi - is it good? Most everything else there is.

                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                    Sushi is very good. Everything I have had at Robata-Ya has been superb. Best deal in town has to be the $8.00 Bento Box during the week. Incredible deal for incredible food
                    Also: There are a gazillion Ramen places on Sawtelle. Robata-Ya does not advertise itself as a ramen restaurant and their ramen is the most clean and delicious of all. The broth is the best on Sawtelle.

                2. I'm wondering if you could do a two-step. First a night time visit to Orris. Then a later visit to R23. Maybe with this progression, you could bring them along, especially if you do the seared salmon sushi at R23.

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                  Orris
                  2006 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                  R23
                  923 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                  1. Downtown, I think R23 or Sushi Go 55 would be a good choice. R23 if you prefer an artsy, trendy atmosphere; Sushi Go 55 if you prefer a multicultural, lively atmosphere. Personally, if I were doing this with family, I'd do Sushi Go 55 or another place closer to the heart of Little Tokyo -- then stroll around and have some mochi ice cream or a dessert at Fugetsu Do. But I've done R23 with my parents and with clients before, and it's been fairly successful.

                    On the Westside, my instinct is to say avoid Mori and Zo. Their sushi is very good, but the atmosphere is nothing special. There are tons of sushi places that likely have much better sushi than what's available in Ohio. The things that make Mori and Zo special probably aren't evident to people who haven't had a lot of good sushi. That was my impression when I took my parents to Mori -- wasn't a great choice.

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                    R23
                    923 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                    Sushi Go 55
                    333 S Alameda St Ste 317, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: sushigirlie

                      Thanks to all for the pointers.

                      Like mentioned above, we are landlocked aside from the great lakes and while the older folks will eat lake fish it has to be fried or pan seared - lake fish raw would be.....interesting.

                      I've traveled the US rather extensively and had some great fish - raw and cooked - at most of America's "best" restaurants, but admittedly have not had a myriad of great sushi so I get the idea sushigirlie may be correct........as much as I'd love to someday experience Urasawa I think I'd be better off taking a second trip to a place like The French Laundry or Providence as my ability to gauge the quality is probably more capable.

                      R23, Matsuhisa, K-Zo, and Asanebo all look promising. I have to look at the others.

                      I'll report back, at length (as is my custom) regardless of where we go. :-) Thanks again!

                      http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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

                      Matsuhisa
                      129 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

                      Asanebo
                      11941 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                      R23
                      923 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                      K-Zo
                      9240 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                      1. re: uhockey

                        This thread reminds me of just how much good fusion sushi we have in LA. I'm more of a traditionalist, but these suggestions are all very good choices. My first choice would be Asanebo given these recommendations. I have some doubts about sushi go, but it's still a fine choice.

                        -----
                        Asanebo
                        11941 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                        1. re: uhockey

                          "much as I'd love to someday experience Urasawa I think I'd be better off taking a second trip to a place like The French Laundry or Providence "

                          Urasawa was a more satisfying, rewarding, and just better tasting experience than TFL in every way for the same price.

                          R-23 is way past its prime.

                          As JL said, your best bet is Kiriko. The problem is, if you want great sushi, you'll need to sit at the bar. But the other 2 members of your party will be ordering cooked items so that pretty much forces you to sit at the tables. If you want traditional sushi, Kiriko. If you want fushion/cooked stuff and new wave sushi, Matsuhisa or Nobu may be your best bet.

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

                          Matsuhisa
                          129 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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

                          Nobu
                          11357 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                          1. re: Porthos

                            I find the comments about Urasawa extremely unlikely - but then again, I did 20+ courses at TFL so my experience differs from the "norm." I guess YMMV depending on how much you enjoy sushi.

                            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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

                            1. re: uhockey

                              "I find the comments about Urasawa extremely unlikely..."

                              Why? What does that mean? Are you basing your reaction on a side by side comparison of your experience at both places?

                              1. re: Servorg

                                No - I just know what sort of food I prefer. It is nothing against Urasawa at all. Additionally, Urasawa is $350.00 + tax/tip while TFL is $250.00 with gratuity included, so the price isn't the same.

                                Comparing the two is truly apples and oranges, but there is a "magic" quality to TFL, Yountville, and that room that I've not experienced anywhere else. I did an extended tasting at Per Se and would rank it inches below TFL.

                                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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

                                1. re: uhockey

                                  Urasawa is very different from TFL.

                                  Both are great, but very different. Unfair, and almost impossible, to compare the two. The answer is not which is one better, but which one to go to first if you've never been to either.

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

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Agreed - and neither are really relevant to the topic of my thread here. :-)

                                    Urasawa will see its visit some day, but not on a visit with two people decidedly anti-raw fish.

                                    http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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

                                  2. re: uhockey

                                    For what it's worth:

                                    My average bill at TFL (on my 2 visits) was $440 per person, after all's said and done.

                                    My average bill at Urasawa (on my 7 visits) was $442 per person.

                                    (Yes, we drink.)

                                    Apples & oranges... DELICIOUS apples & oranges, mind you, but nevertheless apples & oranges.

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

                                2. re: uhockey

                                  Actually, the sushi was my least favorite part at Urasawa and only half the experience. The japanese hairy crab roasted in its own shell and brains was the highlight--a rare ingredient and a wonderful treat. TFL was not worth the price for me. In that style, I like Per Se (service was more polished and the "oysters and pearls" was not unpleasantly warm as was the case with TFL), Manresa, and Joel Robuchon more. Maybe I went to TFL on an off night, but for the ingredients and the uniqueness of the experience I would go back to Urasawa many times over before I return to TFL.

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

                                3. re: Porthos

                                  I went to Kiriko for dinner the other night and sat at a table with friends who wanted cooked dishes. We received excellent sushi. I've never experienced a difference with the sushi at tables or the bar. For lunch at a table, I believe you can still order the lunch omakase; you just get most of the nigiri together, not piece by piece.

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

                            2. will dissent.
                              I used to love Susho Go 55. When Mr kawasaki left a few years back, sorry, neve rthe same. (He's at Kiyono sushi in beverly hills now).
                              I'm also more of a traditionalist so I'd recommend the followoing for lunch - Izayoi downtown on Central.
                              Why? first - (crazy but) parking is easy, one parks in the home depot lot next door at 2nd and central.
                              2nd - it's an izakaya place BUT is run by Junichi-san (name right?) who used to hvae an excellent sushi bar, Sushi Ryo in Hollywood. His sushi is fine. Lunchtime, there are plate specials with sushi that are reasonable, BUT i'd say ASK FOR THE DINNER MENU. the variety of cooked dishes (steamed, fried, sauteed) is fantastic, the homemade tofu will make you cry it's so good, steamed shrimp dumplings, foil cooked mushrooms, and a huge variety of things. Plus the sushi is first grade top notch, imho. The have kller ankimo, kampachi (in season), and when I order the aji tataki, not only is it some of the best sushi in town (bar none) but the quicki fried bones are a wonderful accompnaiment.
                              The selections for a person who avoids raw fish are astounding and the sushi selection will blwo most folks away.
                              But remember to ask for the sushi list and the dinner menu if you go at lunch time. Or go for a liunch bento or set meal if you like. They're fine.

                              -----
                              Izayoi
                              132 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Jerome

                                Agree with Izayoi, although the izakaya is a shadow of it's former self.
                                Still a solid choice.

                                -----
                                Izayoi
                                132 S Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                1. re: Jerome

                                  i never knew this joint had good sushi, it's right next door to a starbuck's and quizno's, right?

                                  1. re: kevin

                                    Jun, the owner, comes from sushi Ryo and is very good. I'm not sure if he's still there, but the former owner of Murakami also worked there.

                                    Yes, it's next to Starbucks and Quizno's

                                    -----
                                    Murakami
                                    8730 Santa Monica Blvd Ste F, West Hollywood, CA 90069

                                    1. re: cls

                                      he was there last time i was there. I think he's owner, co-owner.

                                      folks - a 30buck sushi special that doesn't vary with client or season isn't omakase. just syaing.

                                2. was jsu;t at shibucho last thursday night. two for dinner, around 120 with drinx and tax. The quality of the fish was outstanding. had forgotten how good it was. melitningly soft, sweet, high quality all the way. no regrets.
                                  and if it's your first visit, no omakase. he doesn't know you or your tastes and you don't know his offerings.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Jerome

                                    $120 for 2? that's a great deal!

                                    1. re: wilafur

                                      With drinks, including tax for top quality sushi? I would have to say yes.

                                      1. re: cls

                                        We didn't eat a TON. and had one drink.
                                        But usually i've found it reasonable. Again, he may hvae cut me a deal without my knowing it. Read up on teh place and you'll see that pricing may not be consistent. Again, I believe it may be because sometimes he pays more for the fish, sometimes less and the price fluctuates. It's all MP really.

                                        1. re: Jerome

                                          usually, the last coiuple times i was there it was about 100 per person incl tax and tip.

                                          great stuff: toro sushi, toro hand roll, maguro sushi, yellowtail, spanish mackerel, eggplant parmigina, i think i had two of the toro handrolls, and tiramisu for dessert, and a glass of red wine, it is truly one of the best sushi bars in town, if not THE BEST, and definitely at times very underrated. (although a lot of celebrties do go there, so some celebs do know good food).

                                  2. Kiriko or Kiyokawa. Kiyokawa serves a beautiful omakase which includes both cooked and raw items, but is not opposed to serving california rolls. There may be an issue with the timing as your guests may be watching and waiting as you go through the courses. Also at Urasawa, you don't need to be have much experience to appreciate the beauty of this food. His food is very approachable.

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

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

                                    19 Replies
                                    1. re: peppermonkey

                                      How much is Urasawa omakase running these days?

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

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          It's really omakase. CH'ers' views otherwise are baseless.

                                          1. re: sushigirlie

                                            What basis is there for calling it omakase when the bill comes hand printed and clearly says "kaiseki"? If the proprietor thought his cuisine was omakase he would have written omakase. I assume Hiro-san knows enough about the difference between the two.

                                            1. re: Porthos

                                              This is starting to remind me of what Fox does to the news. Of course it is Kaiseki. That's the whole point of the restaurant.

                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                Yes, Porthos, you are now with base.

                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                  Omakase has a simple definition. A meal at Urasawa meets the definition. Literally the term means to entrust. The term is not limited to sushi. Nobody here has offered any basis for rejecting the conventional wisdom, expressed on numerous and diverse food sites, that Urasawa serves omakase. The fact that the meal qualifies as "kaiseki" does not imply that it cannot qualify as "omakase." There is no basis for the implicit but unsupported assertion that the terms are mutually exclusive. It's quite interesting and illuminating, moreover, that a Google search for "Urasawa omakase" turns up five times as many hits as a Google search for "Urasawa kaiseki." It's unclear what CH'ers hope to achieve by redefining omakase to exclude Urasawa.

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

                                                  1. re: sushigirlie

                                                    The fact that the meal qualifies as "kaiseki" does not imply that it cannot qualify as "omakase,"

                                                    ==========

                                                    Exactly. The fact is that the meal qualifies as kaiseki.

                                                    ============
                                                    It's unclear what CH'ers hope to achieve by redefining omakase to exclude Urasawa.
                                                    ============

                                                    No one is seeking to redefine omakase. Kaiseki is a more precise definition of the meal than omakase when describing Urasawa. Hiro-san himself describes it as "sushi-kaiseki". How many bloggers does it take to negate Hiro-san's self description?

                                                    Finally, no one said they were mutually exclusive. You implied that they were with: "It's really omakase. CH'ers' views otherwise are baseless."

                                                    In summary, you can call it omakase, au plaisir du chef, chef's tasting menu, prix fixe, or whatever...but don't say it's not kaiseki because it is indeed a kaiseki meal.

                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                      As I understand it - all kaiseki is omakase but not all omakase is kaiseki. So kaiseki in this case is the more precise term for what Urasawa is doing (by Hiro-san's own definition). And I'm firmly of the belief that Hiro-san has forgotten more about this than I'll ever know.

                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                        We're way OT here, but kaiseki is generally a fixed menu, and not really omakase. i.e. the chef is not deciding for each customer what the menu will be. I have been to non-sushi restaurants in Japan and told them omakase with no problem, but for a kaiseki restaurant I think the term would cause a lot of confusion. I think Hiro is using both terms rather loosely.

                                                        1. re: cls

                                                          As far as I know, Hiro only used the term kaiseki.

                                                          1. re: cls

                                                            My understanding is that while kaiseki is a fixed menu, you have no choice at Urasawa as to the individual dishes that Hiro-san is preparing for that part of the dinner (outside of something you might be allergic to or hate perhaps) so that you are "trusting" Hiro-san as far as his choices of what he is serving you. Hence, kaiseki that is omakase in nature.

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

                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                              If we operate on the premise that all kaiseki is omakase, isn't it redundant to say kaiseki that is omakase in nature?

                                                              I don't know enough about japanese dining culture and history to be able to say that all kaiseki is omakase. Perhaps someone like Silverjay could shed some light on this matter.

                                                              I'll post to the general board to see if we can clear this up or just obfuscate it some more.

                                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7525...

                                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                                I would imagine that if you are given two or three set kaiseki courses to pick from, then that wouldn't be omakase. But if you go in and you eat whatever the chef wants to feed you (hopefully based on what he or she feels is best that night that fits the kaiseki parameters) then that would essentially be omakase? On the other hand I could be totally wrong about all of this. In that case I'll expect to hear from sushigirlie's lawyer's in the morning... ;-D>

                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                  As cls mentioned kaiseki is usually a set meal without choices. Omakase doesn't just mean "trust me". The meal is usually tailored to the diner's likes and dislikes based on what the chef knows about the diner from previous experience (if a previous experience exists).

                                                                  As you mentioned, everyone essentially gets the same meal at Urasawa which again goes for it being kaiseki. My sushi omakase at Mori is different from the person next to me who ordered omakase. But my kaiseki meal at Urasawa is identical to the person next to me (regular or newbie alike). It is just what is being served that evening based on what is good and what is in season and what the chef has decided to prepare but not specifically tailored for me or anyone else.

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

                                                            1. re: K K

                                                              Would the kaiseki meal served on Japan Airlines Executive Class, be considered omakase?

                                                              http://zh.wikipedia.org/zh/File:JAL_E...

                                                              Oh look there's 2 pieces of nigiri in the set! Urasawa airlines?

                                                            2. re: sushigirlie

                                                              "It's really omakase. CH'ers' views otherwise are baseless."

                                                              begs to differ.

                                              2. Remember when this thread was about a good sushi place for lunch - one that also served good cooked dishes?

                                                http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                                8 Replies
                                                  1. re: Jerome

                                                    Haha - I actually don't mind, I just think it is silly arguing semantics.

                                                    Urasawa is arguably the best omakase/kaiseki/sushi restaurant in the US. Isn't that enough?

                                                    If it matters to anyone, we decided on Matsuhisa for lunch - it appealed to the non-sushi folks, has some "LA Tradition" to it, and even if the sushi isn't the best in LA it is definitely better than anything in Ohio.

                                                    Urasawa, like Animal and Hatfield's, will remain high on the "future must visit" list.....and on that note, how early does one generally have to make reservations at Urasawa to assure a seat?

                                                    http://uhockey.blogspot.com

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

                                                    Matsuhisa
                                                    129 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

                                                    1. re: uhockey

                                                      still think izayoi was the way to go.

                                                        1. re: uhockey

                                                          I just think it is silly arguing semantics.

                                                          Urasawa is arguably the best omakase/kaiseki/sushi restaurant in the US. Isn't that enough

                                                          =====================

                                                          You answered your own question. Best kaiseki and best restaurant in LA? Possibly best restaurant in the US? Urasawa.

                                                          Best sushi in the US? Yasuda, Mori, Masa, and maybe even 15 East before I would mention Urasawa.

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

                                                          Masa Restaurant
                                                          2063 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                            " Possibly best restaurant in the US?"

                                                            From Michelin to Zagat to Gayot to Forbes/Mobil to S. Pelligrino I don't think there is anyone outside LA making that claim.

                                                            http://uhockey.blogspot.com

                                                            1. re: uhockey

                                                              That was your own claim and that's why I substituted possibly for your arguably.