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Two Recs Needed: Solid Sushi Choice in OC and an Anniversary Dinner in L.A.

Dear L.A and OC Chowhounds,

I need some assistance with two choices.

First, I need a competent, solid sushi experience in OC. It doesn't have to be fancy or high end, but a place where we can go in casual clothes for a nice dinner. We are not really looking for omakase, but a good, fresh selection. Yeah, I know that leaves a lot open, but we are looking for that nice place you could stop at on the way from the airport for a sushi meal before getting home and unpacking.

Second, on November 1, my hubby and I will be celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary and I will be in L.A. for the celebration with him. I am looking for a great anniversary meal and two choices I have in mind are Spago (I am hoping they will be open by then from their summer retrofit) and Melisse. However, I am open to other options. It doesn't have to necessarily be romantic, but a great way to celebrate the evening. We are not big drinkers, so we usually have one or two cocktails or beer with dinner so an extensive wine list isn't needed. Our budget is about $150-$200 per person.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated and, I will report back.

Thanks!

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  1. I think you would really be happy with Il Piccolino on Robertson just east of B H. Great Italin food, wonderful service and a really cool ambience. Can't go wrong.

    1. For sushi in OC, try either Shibucho or Kasen.

      For your special dinner, I think Spago and/or Melisse are fine choices. Might also consider Providence as well.

      1. For sushi in OC, I recommend Kasen which is a bit more expensive than Shibucho but the quality of the fish is higher and the ambiance is much more relaxing.

        Here is my Kasen vs Shibucho thread:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/837748

        1. For the anniversary dinner, if Spago is unavailable, try to get into Gjelina and ask for the patio. Be sure to order the butterscotch pot de creme for dessert -- awesome dish.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nosh

            Very loud & trendy at Gjelina. Doubt they will even take a reservation for you. Better bet is definitely Melisse.

          2. For your LA anniversary dinner, I'd recommend Melisse. I was just there a little over a week ago and had another fantastic meal.

            http://degustingdiary.blogspot.com/

             
            1. Well, it depends. If you're headed inland, I'd send you to Ohshima or Noguchi.

              1. Sushi Murasaki off the Fairview exit, about a mile North of the 405 fits the bill nicely. Order from the Chef's Recommended section of the sushi list and you'll get sushi with inventive toppings like shiso oil and yuzu kosho. About $3-$5 per piece. They also have a solid menu of cooked dishes and daily specials like deep fried soft-shell crab and baked oysters on the chalkboard. The sushi bar is very casual. I've seen well-behaved 5-year-olds sitting at the bar with their parents on multiple occasions.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Tkn

                  I go to Murasaki for lunch almost once a week. Their lunch specials are great. Love their udon and their uni/ikura bowl combo. I highly recommend it for lunch.

                  I did sushi omakase at the bar with some cooked items once and hit $130pp before tax and tip. The fish quality and selection isn't nearly as good as Kasen or even Shibucho.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    No arguments there, but the OP specifically asked for a non-omakase, non-high-end place to stop by from the airport to OC. Murasaki is where I would go. Their sushi freshness and preparation gets a solid B+ in my book.

                    I've eaten several omakase sushi-only dinners at the bar and it's always been ~$70pp. *shrug*

                    1. re: Tkn

                      One can always order by the piece at Kasen. If the OP wants more cooked dishes, I would agree with Murasaki as Kasen is all sushi save for some soup and fried or grilled shrimp heads.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        Is Sushi Wasabi in Tustin no longer a rec on this board? I haven't been back in many years - and not since I started going to Shibucho for traditional sushi.

                2. How about The Royce at the Langham in Pasadena for your special meal? I haven't been but read good to great reviews. I always get drawn back into Melisse or Providence as my special meal choices but will celebrating an anniversary soon and looking for a different spot.