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MORI SUSHI - DONT GET IT

Finally went for lunch based on all the positive chatter on this site. Completely under-whelmed. Had the $20 sushi lunch. Quality was mediocre, cuts we small and choices unimaginative. I expected much better. Service was good, but the place was empty at 12:30. Would not go back.

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  1. I don't either.

    But having said that, many hounds on the board that loved it do not go for the throwaway 20 lunch special. They either order a la carte or go for tr chef's omakase menus which means you will probably drop a solid 100 dollars or more per person to see what it's really like.

    And also if you choose to marinate oneself in copious amounts of sake that will also cost a king's ransom.

    Basically this is not the kind of joint where you go to order a lunch special.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kevin

      I agree that the omakase is the draw, but that said, the sushi quality was marginal. In my experience if a sushi bar has a great omakase, the quality and presentation of its sushi in general is also very good.

      1. re: BSW6490

        I've had both dinner omakase and a few of the lunch specials here. The dinner omakase was tiny but quality of the fish and cutting tecnique was excellent at the time. The lunch specials, for the most part, were very poor experiences.

        I do recall a chirashi bowl that was pretty decent, but that was a long time ago.

    2. Try the dinner omakase at the bar at Mori Sushi next time. Yes, it's like 600% the cost of your lunch, but the enjoyment of the meal is at least 350% better than at lunch.

      Getting the bargain meal at any establishment is a setup for disappointment. That's why I don't do DineLA.

      No need to drop benjamins on sake - I usually just stick to beer with my sushi.

      7 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        I am sure (based on the other posts) that the omakase is much better than the lunch special. That said, one would expect much higher quality at a place that has received such accolades for its omakase - at least I did.

        1. re: J.L.

          :) I like the fact that it's 6 times the cost, but only 3.5 times better.

          1. re: kevin

            A 350% improvement on quality is not inconsequential... :-)

            1. re: J.L.

              Neither is a 600% increase in cost. 350% gain for a 600% loss is just bad economics and actually makes the lunch special the far better deal despite negativity so far expressed.

              1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                Wow I guess no one noticed the :-)

                I was being facetious with those numbers about how much better dinner was compared to lunch; I could have just as easily said 500% better, or even 700% better. Taste is so subjective from person to person.

                My point being that dinner at Mori Sushi is far better than lunch, and if you don't want to spend for that jump in quality of experience, then don't. Each person has the individual liberty to make that decision.

                1. re: J.L.

                  actually, since the two options are not mutually exclusive, i've chosen BOTH.
                  sometimes i'll go for the lunch specials, and at other times, when i'm feeling more flush, i'll go for the dinner omakase.

          2. I went there for dinner a couple weeks ago because we happened to be in the area. We sat at the counter, didn't eat copious amounts, and spent about $250 (incl tax & tip). While it was good/solid, it's not anything to rave about. For sushi/seafood, I'd rather spend that $$ @ Providence.

            7 Replies
            1. re: OCAnn

              What sushi do you think is better, OCAnn? (at the price point of Mori, of course).

              Just curious.

              1. re: kevin

                Not directed to me but:

                Sasabone
                Sushi Sushi
                Ahi
                even Sugar Fish to name a few

                1. re: BSW6490

                  Well. I'd say this I'd definitely go for the 16 lunch special at sasabune over the 20 lunch special at Mori.

                  1. re: kevin

                    i will definitely try the sasabune lunch special because i respect your taste buds.

                    1. re: kevin

                      i've since tried the sasabune lunch special.
                      the tasteless mush sasabune put on my plate was far, far, inferior to the fish quality served at the mori lunch special.

                      sasabune, though, does give you more quantity for the buck.

                      that said, the fish served at the mori lunch special in no way compares to anything they serve at their regular dinner prices.

                    2. re: BSW6490

                      Sasabune and Mori are two different styles of sushi. Your comment about the "unimaginative" Mori offerings made me suspect you preferred the Sasabune/Nozawa/Katsuya style. Mori is more traditional and more about simplicity and quality, less about sauces and toppings. I find the quality at Mori far superior to the precut, oversauced fish sitting on hot rice at Sasabune. To echo everyone else, the $20 lunch special is very different from the dinner omakase at the bar.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        Yeah, the omakase meals at Mori are as spectacular as one can find in the USA.

                        For a 20 dollar lunch you get excellent nigiri, however, and miso soup and salad.

                2. > based on all the positive chatter on this site

                  The ownership changed about a year ago:

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/774398

                  Possibly the positive chatter was based on experiences before the change.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Peripatetic

                    Actually, I was aware of the change, but the reviews were positive even after. Not from me though.

                  2. the $20 lunch is a completely different animal from their "normal" food.

                    23 Replies
                    1. re: westsidegal

                      I believe you. Not to belabor the point, shouldn't the $20 lunch not suck? I'm not looking for a bargain I promis. Just saying...

                      Also part the fault of the server. Came in and said we have heard wonderful things what do you suggest and she said the $20 lunch was very good. Didn't say "if you like like mediocre sushi."

                      1. re: BSW6490

                        suck? compared to what other $20 sushi meal of that size, that, iirc, includes soup/salad in a pretty restaurant, with good, attentive service, in the high-rent westside?

                        i normally try to compare apples to apples.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Hardly the high rent district at pico and gateway. Sugar Fish and Takao (w Hicham are high rent) are far sperior values, to name just two. Chaya downtown n and several in little Tokyo. Not looking for cheap. Just feel that anything they serve at a plac e with that reputation should be higher quality.

                          1. re: BSW6490

                            based on the absolutely awful food that was served to me at the Marina del Rey Sugarfish, i would NEVER step foot in one of their establisments ever again.
                            not only was the quality of the fish FAR inferior to that served the lunch special served at Mori, the quatity was also far less, the ambiance was worse, the service was completely cluleless.
                            can't comment on the sushi at Chaya downtown, but the sushi served at Chaya Venice is certainly not higher quality than the lunch special at Mori. ( Will not order sushi at any Chaya ever again. the cooked dishes, imho, are far better)
                            havent tried your other two recommendations.

                          2. re: westsidegal

                            There isn't a 20 dollar sushi this side of the Pacific or Atlantic with a meal like that.

                          3. re: BSW6490

                            You are right. If they offer a 20 dollar lunch even if 99% of their lunches are upwards of $150 per, they should still treat the $20 with the appropriate level of respect.

                            1. re: kevin

                              imho, they are showing more "respect" than anyone else for a $20 lunch sushi special.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                Ok, since I haven't tried the 20 dollar Mori lunch special, I guess I will.

                                But if I am going to Mori, it's going to be very difficult to step away from the sushi bar.

                                And go after the lunch special.

                            2. re: BSW6490

                              It doesn't suck. It's a good $20 lunch and that's it. If you were expecting a $150 omakasa, or even half of one as some kind of daytime loss-leader that ain't gonna happen.

                              I've only had the bento box special. Never the sushi lunch special. Oh, I suppose I could try it, but what's the point? I see your preferences and I realize we're just not communicating on the same level. Don't go to Mori, you, as you said in your post - don't get it. I just think you're wrong.

                              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                Clearly you are too sophisticated for me.

                                1. re: BSW6490

                                  In all fairness - if you want to find something to criticize More about I'd say it's the price. Too damn expensive. There are many times I swear it will be the last time. Love the food, but really the extra cost for that quanta of quality is kinda crazy. Two people with tip, and not much to drink (one person had a glass of saki) was a hair under $400. Would like to find "a poor man's" Mori.

                                  1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                    fwiw, last month when i went to sushi zo, it was a little less than $300 for two.
                                    (i know that zo is a somewhat different animal and that there is controversy on the board about it, but it pleases me, and it has consistently cost less than mori)

                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                      300 for two inclusive of tax and tip, nowadays?

                                      it's definitely still pricey but sometimes i think mori could be a tadbit cheaper.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        I keep finding both Mori and Zo within a few dollars of one another for omakase (without booze - just having tea with the meal).

                                    2. re: foodiemahoodie

                                      Would like to find "a poor man's" Mori
                                      =============================
                                      Kasen is my "poor man's Mori" down here in OC at $75pp for omakase. Really high quality stuff, fresh wasabi, well seasoned and prepared rice.

                                      In LA, I'm going to ask for 50% sushi and 50% cooked stuff at Shunji next time and see what I end up with. The 6 pieces of sushi I had were all top notch though so if he has the variety to cover, that would be your other option with the current omakase running around $80pp. Not sure if the increase in the number of sushi courses and decrease in the number of cooked courses would up that number significantly or not.

                                      1. re: Porthos

                                        6 pieces of sushi you say. Here is my issue and I have zero problem spending for a top omakase. Why is the lunch cut of salmon or toro at Mori so inferior to the omakase? Not having had Mori's omakasi I am speculating, but based on my lunch experience am assuming. I have not experienced that level of fall out between omakasi and sushi off the menu at a lunch anywhere else. Please no condosending response foodiemahoodie.

                                        1. re: BSW6490

                                          Well, toro would be a cut that I think would be at least about 10 bucks for two pieces, if not more from there, possibly 15 bucks or even more for two pieces, hence, I highly doubt that they would include toro or a comparable omakase style cut of toro in their 20 buck lunch special. Just breaking the financials out, I'm not trying to be condescending or putting you down.

                                          But once again I will say also that there is always going to be a huge difference between a 150 omakase dinner and a 20 lunch special. It's the economics of it and the marginal utility as you go up the expense bracket. Also, JL was correct in stating I believe that even if an omakase there is 7 times the price of the special it might only be 3x in actual delicious better than the price would entail and i think it's known as diminishing marginal returns (sadly, it's been quite a while since i've studied basic economics).

                                          1. re: kevin

                                            your recall of econ 101 is very accurate, kevin.
                                            don't apologize.

                                          2. re: BSW6490

                                            I was talking about Shunji when referring to the 6 pieces of sushi.

                                            Regarding Mori, I don't know if the quality was truly that bad or if you just prefer the Sasabune style of sushi. I've been to Mori over a dozen times in 5 years, all for dinner. The sushi I regard as the best in LA. I doubt highly there is a crap lunch piece of toro and some of the best toro around for dinner. Certainly not if your standard is Sasabune. Also, salmon is not a highly regarded fish for sushi in a traditional place like Mori so I wouldn't use that as a criteria either.

                                            I suspect you judge quality by "meltingly soft" which is what most of the fish selection at Sasabune is (tuna, farmed hamachi, salmon, albacore, etc.). What you get at a place like Mori is pristine single bite pieces of fish each of which has a different flavor and texture. The snapper marinated in kelp is slightly more firm than unmarinated. Some fish have a almost crisp texture. The belly of a wild buri and leaner portion are served side by side so you can discern the difference in texture and taste. You get Santa Barbara uni alongside Hokkaido uni. Depending on the season, you may prefer one over the other. You do NOT end the meal with a blue crab hand roll. Instead, ask for a toro scallion hand roll. Eat it right away, enjoy how crunchy and flavorful the nori is. Those are the nuances of Mori.

                                            If you decide to go back and spring for the full blown omakase at Mori, do sit at the bar, don't judge based on portion size or how juicy and meltingly tender the sushi is. Enjoy each piece of fish on it's own pre-sauced without dunking it in a wasabi slurry or worse yet, a wasabi/ginger slurry and enjoy how you can actually taste the difference between each piece of sushi.

                                            If your main concern is portion size and "creativity" and if you need the blue crab handroll so you can walk away stuffed, then you'll be happier sticking with Sasabune. The fish quality at Mori is far superior than what you'll find at Sasabune though and they prove it by NOT drowning your sushi in ponzu sauce. Because honestly, how can you appreciate such nuances and quality with that sauce all over the fish and rice?

                                            1. re: Porthos

                                              Porthos, I have to say you summed up the differences beautifully.

                                              Especially in regards to Mori not being about "You do NOT end the meal with a blue crab handroll" Very very very true.

                                              I do still like melt in you mouth sushi a la the late Nozawa, Sasabune, and Mori.

                                          3. re: foodiemahoodie

                                            Porthos, laying down the law... Well said, Porthos, well said.

                                            Philosophically speaking, I believe Mori Sushi is as close to the high-end Edomae sushi-yas of Japan as you can get in L.A. (aside from Urasawa, which is more kaiseki anyways).

                                            On a different note for foodiemahoodie: "... 'a poor man's' Mori." you say?

                                            Try Morinoya.