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Sushi Sasabune? or something else close to Sushi Zo?

Last time we were in LA we went to Mori based on recs from this board. While we enjoyed our meal, for whatever reason it fell a bit short for me in comparison to my best sushi experiences (Yasuda, Kanoyma, NAOE, Tsukiji). Could've just been an off night.

In any case, we'll be back in LA next week and I'm on the hunt for sushi again. Preferably want to try a different place this time.

We'll likely be coming from the airport and heading to Arcadia after dinner, so location wise would prefer someplace that wouldn't be too far off that path.

Have been doing some research here and it seems that Sushi Zo pretty much fits the bill in terms of what I'm looking for food-wise: Traditional, varied, sushi/sashimi-focused

However, the general consensus around service, attitude, pacing, and the fact that it's omakase ONLY, are putting me off.

What's the next best option?

I thought Sushi Sasabune might be a good option, but it seems to have a bad rep on this board (haven't been able to find specific reviews as to why...just general negative references...seems to be related to their oversaucing?). I was thinking maybe if we stuck to ordering a la carte rather than going w/ omakase, maybe we'd avoid the sauce issue and also keep costs down a bit?

Kiriko might be my runner up.

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  1. irrc, sasubune is the place that pre-slices their fish.

    3 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      Probably a dumb question, but what does "irrc" stand for?

      1. re: Just One Bite

        I believe she was trying for IIRC which can be found here: http://www.noslang.com/

        1. re: Servorg

          thank you Servorg.
          that's exactly what i meant.

    2. Kiriko would be a good choice (and they do some outstanding cooked and other dishes to go along with their excellent sushi and sashimi).

      1. Yasuda was my favorite sushi spot prior to Yasuda retiring.

        If Mori fell short for you, so will everything else in LA. Mori is the closest to Yasuda that I have been able to find here in LA.

        Zo is your second best chance. Kiriko third. Sasabune never.

        1. Sushi Sushi in Beverly Hills on Beverly just north of Olympic is outstanding. Very traditional and not limited to omakase. The seared salmon sushi is incredible. No spicy tuna, California roll or quail egg.

          1. I honestly wouldnt let some of the negative things on the board about Zo steer you away from it. If you are willing to spend about $200/head (after tax and tip) then I still think its an amazing meal and you wont be disappointed. the quality of the fish is amazing there and other than Urasawa its my favorite place in town to eat.

            1 Reply
            1. Thanks for being so specific. It helps us narrow down some recommendations for you:

              You seem to be an experienced sushi eater. Here are my picks.

              Your 3 best bets:
              Urasawa (Beverly Hills) - Sushi kaiseki. Pricey, takes 3+ hours, but sooo worth it, IMHO.
              Kiriko (on Sawtelle) - Owner/Itamae Ken-san sources his fish from excellent purveyors - Not strictly Edomae (they serve salmon, truffles, etc.), but DAMN! Their food is good! Each of Ken-san's sushi shokunin are skilled enough to open their own restaurants.
              Go's Mart (in Canoga Park) - Super fresh, hole-in-the-wall (in a mini-mall!), friendly itamae.

              Zo - Dour chef. Some like austerity in their sushi chefs. Not me. I prefer a bit more banter. But that's just me.
              Shibucho (on Beverly Blvd.) - Old school Edomae sushi (except for an occasional cooked dish/salad). Outerworldly wine collection.
              Kiyokawa (Beverly Hills) - Satoshi-san serves up a great omakase.

              Sasabune - The rice is a bit too warm and loosely packed for my liking
              Sushi Sushi - Look, I too like salmon every now and then, but it's just not part of the Edomae sushi repertoire.
              Hide Sushi

              Flee in the opposite direction:

              Don't eat sushi on Sundays & Mondays in L.A. - Best days for sushi are Wednesday through Friday.

              6 Replies
              1. re: J.L.

                actually, Tuesday is the best day from what I hear.

                1. re: TailbackU

                  It depends when the restaurant gets their shipments/go to market. Many places usually get a fresh supply Tuesdays and Fridays. It's always good to ask.

                  1. re: TailbackU

                    Wednesdays are when many new shipments come in. They come in Tues-Fri, but I've had the best luck on Wednesdays.

                  2. re: J.L.

                    You could not be more wrong about Sushi Sushi and they wont force you to order salmon,

                    1. re: BSW6490

                      Been there. 3 times. I want to like this place, I really do, but each time I've gone I just wasn't impressed. We agree to disagree.

                      The salmon issue is a separate topic. You used the word "traditional" to describe Sushi Sushi. Salmon, while tasty, is not traditionally part of the Edomae style of sushi, that's all I was trying to say. Sure, it's popular now (and I agree that it can be tasty), but I was simply making a historical point.

                    2. re: J.L.

                      Out of curiosity how does Shibucho compare to Zo in terms or pricing, service, variety?

                    3. If you need to head to Arcadia, I would very highly recommend Sushi Kimagure in Pasadena. Ike san has bee serving up great sushi in hollywood for over 20 years and has recently relocated to Pasadea in the past year. He seems to only be getting better. Reservations are a must.

                      1. Thanks for the responses and recommendations!

                        Based on the feedback, Sasabune is off the list. I think we'll end up trying out Kiriko after all. And perhaps we'll hit Zo on a future trip when I'm feeling up for the omakase.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: jcc813

                          if things don't work out with Kiriko then I would do Kimagure in Pasadena. really close to arcadia. depending upon what day and time you end up at LAX going to Kiriko then to arcadia can be a very long trip. unless you're into that type of thing ;)

                          1. re: trolley

                            As much as I love Kimagrue and Ike-san, if you are going to make the trek out to the Pasadena area, I would go first to Sushi Ichi.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              ipse, i was going to suggest that as well but i've never been there so i didn't go there. the OP is landing at the airport (assuming it's LAX) then after dinner going to Arcadia. that's why i suggested Pasadena at all. otherwise Kiriko is a decent choice. i just know the trek from the LAX area to sawtelle then to SGV all too well. my mom lives in MDR and i live in pasadena. sometimes i like to stop at Nijiya for groceries, i've done it around dinner time before and the traffic can get super ugly not unless its a weekend.

                              thanks for chiming in about sushi ichi. i need to get there soon.

                              1. re: trolley

                                Thanks again for the suggestions.

                                We are flying into LAX, though we land around 6:30 tonight, so the other reason I was thinking of grabbing dinner before heading out to Arcadia is to wait out rush hour. :)

                                1. re: jcc813

                                  i think by the time you get out of the airport it'll be at least 7 and you'll probably be ok. it's around 4-6pm is when it's pretty heavy. i once went from MDR to sawtelle which took me about 45 minutes then it took me over 2 hrs to get back to pasadena. it was ugly.

                                  1. re: jcc813

                                    Go to Kiriko! Take Sepulveda north from LAX, make a left on Olympic, and Kiriko is in the Olympic Collection, a mini-mall on the corner of Sawtelle & Olympic.

                                    Caveat: Make a reservation!

                                    1. re: J.L.

                                      Thanks for the "extra nudge" to go to Kiriko! As soon as we landed, I called and made reservations at the sushi bar.

                                      Parking was a bit of a pain, but that was the only negative thing I can say about the experience. Kiriko was exactly what I was looking for and it did not disappoint!

                                      After looking at the menu options, we decided to do omakase after all (ha). We ended up having:

                                      Red snapper
                                      Blue fin & toro
                                      Spanish mackerel & Japanese mackerel
                                      House smoked wild salmon
                                      Amaebi shrimp w/ fried heads (the heads were still twitching when he was preparing the shrimp)
                                      Seared kinmedai
                                      Sea eel
                                      Seared scallop
                                      San Diego uni
                                      Blue crab hand roll

                                      Everything was extremely fresh and perfectly "dressed." Chef kept it pretty traditional w/ the exception of an olive oil dressing on the scallops, but it actually worked and didn't overpower the scallops at all.

                                      There was one time at Yasuda where our chef was too heavy handed w/ the salt and lemon and that's all I ended up tasting. Chef Ken-san had the perfect touch and we only tasted the faintest hint of citrus and salt when used.

                                      The rice was also done well--not too loose nor compact, and just the right proportion to the fish. I would say it was about "hand temperature."

                                      My favorites were the seared kinmedai (got a second order of that), the toro, and the scallops. Husband loved the salmon (a fish he doesn't usually like), which we also got a second order of. But really all of it was pretty amazing, and literally put a smile on our faces as we were eating.

                                      The pacing was good--not too fast, nor slow. Chef as well as staff were all pleasant and the waitress was efficient and unobtrusive.

                                      In total we had about 15 pieces each plus the hand roll. Also had one red miso soup, a dessert, a couple beers, and 6 oz sake. Total after tax came to $218. Not bad at all, especially considering that people told us Sushi Zo would probably be just under that per person.

                                      Thanks for helping point us in the right direction! Would say this was on par with our experiences in NYC. Really enjoyed our meal and would not hesitate to go back!

                                      1. re: jcc813

                                        Thanks for reporting back! So glad you had a good time! When in season, that seared kinmedai is awesome.

                                        1. re: jcc813

                                          so glad you went to kiriko. i love that place!!!!

                                          1. re: jcc813

                                            Glad you enjoyed. The salmon is unusual and special.

                                            1. re: jcc813

                                              I'm also trying to find something on par with Yasuda so thanks for this thread!

                                              I am wondering why no one mentions Asanebo or Takao as options...

                                2. My favorite is Sugar Fish by Sushi Nozawa. Best albcacore in town, hands down. there is one in Brentwood and another in Downtown LA. get the Trust Me. its casual.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: marie717

                                    I like it too, but there are some naysayers on SugarFish, and I can understand where they are coming from on that note.

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      must respectfully disagree with your recommendation.
                                      since the OP felt that Mori wasn't quite good enough, it would be safe to assume that sugarfish, the fast-food, pre-sliced, poorly served, version of sushi, will not make the cut.