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Jul 28, 2012 05:36 PM

Shunji: Quite Possibly the Best Sushi in Town

Made it back to Shunji last night. His memory is stellar. He remembered me saying I'd like more sushi after my 1 previous visit so this time he went all sushi and sashimi on me. The number of rare items is the most impressive I've seen in LA so far. The quality of each fish is outstanding. The aji I had last night might have been the best I've ever had.

Dinner started with 2 sets of sashimi. Each set was served with a side of pink sea salt and freshly grated wasabi. I really liked the sashimi with just a touch of the sea salt.

Sashimi set 1:
Ishidai, mechidai, suzuki, kodai (baby snapper)

Sashimi set 2:
Inada, kinmedai, shjokka belly (baby kanpachi)

The shjokka belly was scored and was crisp in texture yet rich in taste. Outstanding.

Sushi from what I can recall. Not in order and certainly forgetting a few:

Aji minced- rich yet weightless and dissolves in the mouth. Ridiculously good.
Hagatsuo (bonito)
Flying fish
Blue fin tuna
Blue fin chu toro
Yari ika
Aori ika
Shirasu- baby sardine. Tiny little suckers. A wonderful treat.

Of course we also had some of the wonderful baby summer vegetables in dashi gelee to start. We finished with his famous age-dashi momotaro tomato dish and a delicious asari miso soup. At one point in the meal we were given freshly grilled unagi rice bowls because it was unagi day in Japan. The crispiness of the skin and the delicious underlying fat indicated that this was no prepackaged unagi.

The rice here is perfect. Each grain is perfect in texture and flavor. Definitely on the same level as Yasuda and Mori before they both retired.

Shunji is serving some amazing seasonal sushi these days and it may quite possibly be the best in town.

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  1. Wow.

    I like Shunji alot, but to say it's the best sushi in town is high praise indeed, esp. with places like Urasawa, Shibucho, Kiriko, etc.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Agreed. It is not a claim that I am making lightly. Just take a look at the selection I had last night and see if Urasawa or Kiriko had a similarly impressive selection recently on 1 night.

      Have you been recently? If not, I would highly recommend going.

      Urasawa, on sushi alone, I would place below Mori and Shunji. The rice at Urasawa was not perfect, a bit overcooked with some split open grains. Maybe it was a bad night. Fish is always the same. The selection rarely changes from every report I've seen over the past 4 years or so. Unagi is the compressed prepackaged kind and not the flaky white flesh kind with fat still intact kind. Best thing at Urasawa was the cooked Kegani when I visited.

      Kiriko, while good, has never been on the level of Mori or Zo for me. Maybe different if you get what JL gets.

      Never been to Shibucho BH. Shibucho OC is not even close.

      1. re: Porthos

        well, there is one great thing for my selfish reasons if i make it to Urasawa. it's that i won't have to worry about going there again to try new dishes, since the menu never changes.

        1. re: kevin

          Urasawa's menu changes seasonally.

          1. re: J.L.

            JL, not that it's that important now...

            but what time would be the best to go there, i may hold off on a seaon, even if i'm ready just to get to a better season.

            i know for sure if i do get the chance to go, it will definitely be a one-shot deal, unless i can get an expense account gig by then that covers these lavish meals.


            1. re: kevin

              Winter. Hokkaido hairy crab.

              1. re: J.L.

                Out of curiosity, what has happened since he got dinged for importing fresh fugu several years ago? Is it back on the menu?

                Mr Taster

    2. one, if you don't mind, what was the bill, and two, is this level of sushi available to everyone? that is, if he doesn't recognize me, how does one go about getting an all sushi meal at shunji? do you ask for it when you sit down? when you make the reservation? is it rude to ask for an all sushi and sashimi meal if you haven't been there before?

      2 Replies
      1. re: linus

        1. Hard to say since there was a lot of alcohol involved and I didn't parse the bill. Probably around $125pp. Same ballpark as Mori, Zo, or Kiriko.

        2. First time there it's probably best to try his regular omakase/kaiseki with some of his excellent signature cooked items all beautifully and artistically presented. That meal will also include sushi and will run $80-$120-ish. All the sushi I had was off their chalkboard of special sushi items of the day (except for the shirasu) so yes, this level is available to all. It was only my second visit so I don't have any special status there. On your first visit you can also supplement your omakase with any of the special fish listed on the chalkboard. That will obviously drive up the cost of your final tab accordingly.

        You don't have to ask for it when you reserve. You can request the type of meal you'd like when you arrive and ask to go heavier on the cooked or raw stuff or both.

        The man can cook, and he can also seriously sushi.

        1. re: Porthos

          i have to say with porthos, that i went a second time and the sushi was just beautiful, i just had a few pieces along with the ankimo balls and bleu cheeses balls, those are two of the best tastes in restaurant cooking that i have had all year. i think esp the ankmo. great stuff.

          but the sushi that his has listed on that marker eraser board are just beautiful and he will serve you one piece at a time.

          though if you go the omakase route, he will serve you cooked dishes, intricate veggie dishes, maybe a soup dish, and another grilled dish possibly.

          and yes for the first time go and be blow away by the omakase which considering the quality might even be more affordable than ordering a la carte, especially given the quantity and quality of dishes you get with his omakase which is more of a kaiseki in my opinion (ok, guys, don't get mad at me for not knowing exactly what kaiseki is but i hope you get my drift).

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. and porthos...

          now i so hate you right about now... :)

          i ain't got any dough to spend on sushi at the time. and i'm seriously hankering for another shunji's visit right about now.

          and also you ordered a la carte right, not an all sushi/sashimi omakase ??? unless he serves such an omakase, but i doubt he does, right ???

          2 Replies
          1. re: kevin

            It was an all sushi/sashimi omakase. But the items were all on the
            chalkboard except for the shirasu.

          2. i missed out on his foie gras shiyokayki (sp ? in the vein of black cod marinated in sake lees he served a couple months back).

            did yyou get the bleu cheese balls or ankimo too ? i absolutely cannot go there without trying those.


            also, i love the fact that he is the main and only sushi chef, and he does everything himself so that there is the severest and strictest quality control (in opposition to say a kiriko where you might not be served by the main sushi chef if you are not a regular nor a high-roller there).

            overall, on the current scene,. i would say that shunji's is tops for japanese food right now.

            and if he were to make a bowl of ramen, i wold believe it would be amazing too.

            4 Replies
            1. re: kevin

              Must have been a while since your last visit, but he does have another chef serving at the bar now. Let's just say you'd want to sit and be served by Shunji himself..... especially for sushi. Other stuff not so much difference as they're mostly prepared in advance or in the kitchen.

              1. re: AyrtonS

                dang, that's good for him, so he does have help, he was really looking for some help to of course help him out.

                but bad for us.

                dang, and triple dang.

                1. re: AyrtonS

                  Have you seen the others making sushi? I've seen two different assistants behind the bar, Tony(?) and Keiko, and they help assemble the cooked dishes and perform other sous-chef duties, but I've never seen them make any of the nigiri (maybe maki). As far as I can tell, Shunji still makes all of the sushi himself.

                  Kevin, you shouldn't "dang" prematurely. ;-)

                  1. re: PeterCC

                    Depends on how busy it is, but the assistant chef manning the bar definitely makes and serves sushi by himself. Have been served by him once and seen him serve others seated in front of him several times. Have also seen Shunji make sushi for all when it's a slow night, even when the assistant is around. Please report back if you ever try the sushi by the new chef.