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One Sushi To Rule Them All

  • b
  • Biff Wellington May 26, 2006 12:40 PM

So after going through posts of the last few weeks regarding sushi, I started wondering what place is the best in all of Los Angeles, regardless of price, location, etc.

Price is no object, with the one notable exception of Urasawa (once I'm done with law school I'll entertain the idea of going there).

SO, with the exception of Urasawa, where in Los Angeles is the best sushi?

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  1. I'm going to chime in early by saying that you'll hear a million viewpoints, as usual. That's because the "best" sushi really depends on what kind of food or experience you're looking for. some people love nozawa, others find him rude and his sushi boring. some people love no-frills value, others want a charming chef who makes omakase an educational experience or makes them feel like family. some want the reliability of the same top-notch fresh fish every time, others like being challenged to eat something exotic and scary. it's all personal preference.

    in the end, there probably is no real "best" place, because there is definitely a group of sushi chefs, all of whom get to the seafood market at 5 am and are capable of choosing the best quality fish and making incredible sushi with it. think of the fish selection the same way you do beef. although they aren't officially graded prime, choice, select, etc, fish can and are privately categorized the same way based on freshness, firmness and fatty content. so just as there is enough prime beef to supply mastro's, ruth's chris, lawry's, the palm, morton's, and others, there is enough of the "best" quality fish to supply the top sushi places. Some places may be more consistent than others, but you'll probably be able to find that "perfect" piece of toro at any of the following places, all of whom have a religious following on this board. If everyone chimed in, you would hear a lot of passionate, convincing, and genuine arguments that each of these places in the BEST in LA. I think it would just show how lucky we are to have so many great sushi bars in town, all of which are capable of putting on incredible dining experiences. I'm sure I'll miss a couple, but here's the basic list of what you'll hear. And there won't be any way to tell which of these is the best, because everyone will agree to disagree.

    Note: I'm just going to include the ones that are generally in the discussion, I'm not making a comprehensive list of, say, all the Nozawa-types when I list that category. So if I don't list Sasabune, it's because most people still regard Nozawa more highly. Echigo would be listed because there are some that like the style combined with the variety there that you can't get at nozawa. if you disagree, flame away!

    The sushi nazi no-frills types:
    Nozawa, Echigo, Sushi Wasabi

    Traditional, but more variety than the Nozawa-types:
    Tsukiji, Shibucho, Mori Sushi, Sushi-Sushi, Ike

    The educational omakase experience with charming chefs:
    Tama, Kiriko, Azami

    The Matsuhisa disciples:
    Matsuhisa, Nobu, Wa, The Hump

    Contemporary, with lots of creativity:
    Z-Sushi, Irori, Katsu-Ya

    Again, this is not even close to comprehensive, but i'm just trying to limit each category to the few places that have gotten the most mentions that i know of.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Bert

      Good to see Z-sushi on there. The sushi is very good and the hot dishes are very creative and a great break from the run of the mill Japanese restaurant. (Although you can get your typical fare here also...)

      And all this brought to you by a Taiwanese owner...go figure.

      Also, Tama and Sasabune have my votes as among the best.

      1. re: koji

        What would you recommend at Z Sushi? I am having dinner there tonight. Is the omakase the way to go? Any chef better than another?

        1. re: Jimmy

          I'll be honest, I've eaten regular meals more often than I've had sushi there. And while I haven't had omakase, I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the fish I did have there.

          I'm sure they do a nice omakase, but they also have a board with all the daily specials...never a bad way to go.

          I'd like to hear what you think...

          1. re: koji

            I've been to many of the wonderful places listed in this string of posts, my favorite being Kiriko. However, one place I haven't seen anybody mention that I find amazing is Nishimura. Though it's even more expensive than Kiriko. Excellent fish, creative dishes, best iced green tea I've had, wonderful service and a nice atmosphere.

            1. re: ZenGentleman

              Whoa whoa whoa. Hold on there. Nishimura may have fresh fish and a decent selection at that (around 10 on a given night and nothing unusual) but the service is by no means "wonderful". It's downright rude and offensive sometimes. J-Gold commented as such in his sushi article. Anyways, I felt exactly the same way he did about the place: good, fresh sushi, but nothing really memorable (not a fan of their new-wave sashimi) for their price-tag. You can request to sit in front of Nishimura but that doesn't mean he's going to be making sushi for you that night. I'd much rather spend my money on Mori. I find their quality the same and they had least they had kohada and needlefish. I had near-white o-toro at Mori and noted that Nishimura only had a grade between chu-toro and o-toro as their top grade toro.

          2. re: Jimmy

            you will have met toshi by now - he is the head chef. i have not ordered the fixed price omakase but most of my meal ends up being his suggestions anyway. IIRC, if you give him advance notice, his omakase will include fugu when it's in season; i spent one friday afternoon watching him dress the fugu (and getting little tips on what parts of the body contained the toxin, etc.) for a special dinner that night.

            and kudos to the original response - my two favorites are Z and sushi sushi.

        2. re: Bert

          This is a really wonderful, informative post. You really know the subject! Thanks!!

          1. re: Bert

            Excellent list, and one that makes a virtue of the various camps.

            I'm not sure where Asanebo falls, especially as it's best for upscale sashimi, not sushi, but it's impressive if you're not only talking nigiri.

            1. re: Bob

              Asanebo is one of the best places in LA for sashimi. They reluctantly make sushi there and it shows, originally a sashimi only place but they added nigiri due to the demand.

              Omakase at $80 per person and up. Very creative and beautiful presentation.

            2. re: Bert

              clarifying: sushi wasabi in tustin?
              irori in marina del rey?// these are new to me.

              i agree with your post, have found it to be basically correct. although i don't care so much for nozawa. didn't have anything great there.

              thank you

              1. re: epop

                FYI, i'm not a huge nozawa or sasabune fan. I'd like echigo a lot more because he's not afraid to carry specials, but there are occasionally freshness issues due to low turnover for anything but the $11 lunch special.

                as to the poster who asked, yeah, that's sushi wasab (or wasabe) in tustin, and that's irori in marina del rey (i think it's okay, but i've read a lot of raves on this board).

                personally, i've gone to almost every place on this list at some point. i'm a big fan of tama for value (and i didn't even chime in on the discussion below), though the price actually went up $10 in the past year, and have had two mindblowing meals at kiriko (though that place can get ridiculously expensive). i also really enjoyed trying incredible stuff i haven't seen anywhere else at shibucho. matsuhisa was such a groundbreaker, but now various places have copied, and even sometimes improved upon, the original stuff (think the spider roll was invented there). i can also often be found eating at the reliable, no-frills quality places such as hide and noshi, though of course, they tend to be less consistent. nevertheless, i've had some fine fish there.

                honestly, though, while it's not a destination restaurant, the place i go to the most nowadays is Kiyosuzu in arcadia. near where i live, good relationship with the chef/owner, and i always get great cuts of fish and the freshest shellfish there. decent variety, depending on season (among other things, he sometimes has things like a great version of matsuhisa's squid "pasta," and on occasion, shirako, which is cod fish sperm sac and the topic of a completely separate discussion). As a great bonus, an two perfect pieces of yellowtail belly sushi costs $3.50 there. now THAT's value. again, it's not in the same class as a kiriko or anything, but it's consistently fresh, provides me with decent variety and doesn't break the bank. who can ask for more?

              2. re: Bert

                i trust your judgment on irori more than the other raves, as i can see that you've got a palate for this food.

                it is one of the frustrations of this site, or any criticism regarding anything. most people have opinions but few
                are discerning.

                thank you