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Sep 8, 2012 10:30 PM

Shunji - Late Summer/Early Fall Report [Photos]

It's been a while since I've seen an update on Shunji, and since this was my first visit, I figured I'd post pictures from my meal. The timing was perfect as they had just gotten a shipment of snow crab and spiny king crab (Hanasaki) from Hokkaido.

[I'm far from a sushi/Japanese language expert, so I'm relying on the menu board for the names. I apologize if I got any wrong.]

1. Menu board
2. Chilled roasted corn, lily bulb, wintermelon soup
3. Summer vegetables w/ dashi gelee
4. "White Fish Plate": higesori dai (sweet lip), renko dai (red sea bream), sea bass (I didn't catch the Japanese name, and it wasn't written on the board)
5. Hanasaki crab
6. Assorted (top-bot, l-r): top shell, shrimp stuffed w/ sweet potato, tofu-shiitake wrapped w/ proscuitto, marinated tomato, purple yam and blue cheese ball w/ dried fruit, ankimo ball w/ caviar
7. "Mackerel Plate": sanma (pike), kasumi aji (jack), hagatsuo (bonito)
8. Agedashi tomato w/ shishito pepper and eggplant
9. Grilled kinki w/ yuzu, soy, ans sake (we were told this was red snapper, but I always thought kinki was rock cod)
10. Spaghetti squash dengaku w/ fried shrimp, blue crab, sweet miso, plum
11. Kamasu (barracuda)
12. Hou bou (sea robin)
13. Tobiuo (flying fish)
14. Shiokko (baby kanpachi)
15. Matusu dai (black porgy) - Shunji gave me a scrap piece along with the nigiri
16. Shunji cutting off the legs of a still live snow crab!

Favorite dishes of the night: hanasaki, agedashi tofu, grilled kinki, barracuda

Cost: $145/pp
[Note: the price is a little skewed because we got the hanasaki, and we didn't bother to ask what the price was. Also, my sister stopped after the spaghetti dengaku, so the actual cost per person is about $132.50 assuming my five pieces of nigiri was half of the normal $50 sushi option.]

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  1. Great pics. Did you find out how much the hanasaki crab was when you got the bill, or was it in one lump sum?

    2 Replies
      1. Shunji...not my cup of tea.

        I know that Shunji has received loud applause on this Board in many various posts, but our omakase dinner there on Saturday night was barely fair for me.

        We opted for the House Omakase which is the smaller of their two omakase offerings. This one was, I believe, $80/pp while their other one is $120 and up. Since we had not been here before and did not know the portions or the quality, I thought we should try the more conservative omakase. Because I like raw fish as opposed to mostly the cooked items, I requested an omakase that was heavy on the raw fish - with some cooked vegetable variety because I know that is what Chef Shunji is known for.

        For me, there was not enough going on to justify our more than $100/pp total (including tax and gratuity - no drinks except two hot teas). I did not care for the first dish of roasted corn, lily bulb and wintermelon (picture shown so beautifully by original poster yangster above). I know it sounds very creative, but it was mush to me. I did not like starting my meal this way. Also, when we walked in when they opened at 6:00pm, there was a funky, heavy smell to the room. Perhaps I was still smelling the BBQ from the previous restaurant in this space.

        I need not go into detail about the items served because yangster above has done an amazing job with his photos. The fish, overall, was rather tasteless to me. Nothing was bad, but nothing was outstanding. We were served no fatty fish and nothing that I remember. Yes, the names on the blackboard sound distinct and interesting, but for me there were no standouts. Most of the fish we were served were of similar appearance, texture and taste. My meal blended together. Our pacing was enigmatic; we would be served and then wait for a long time until the next several items appeared.

        There were no beautiful, breathtaking presentations on gorgeous dishes. Yes, everything was nice, but not nice enough for this experience. The tea was watery and tasteless. I like attention to detail...I appreciate the nice dishes and the lovely green tea...but they were not to be found here.

        At the end of the meal there was no complimentary fruit or ice cream. Even just a small plate of beautiful grapes or berries says "thank you for coming." Our meal just ended rather abruptly as we waited and waited for the check.

        The service was very friendly and Shunji himself, in front of us and serving us, was conversant and friendly. However, this was not the total experience that I was hoping for. There was a lot of drinking going on, so it felt a little like the food was somewhere among the supporting cast and not the main event.

        6 Replies
        1. re: liu

          Congrats liu! First negative Shunji report! ;)

          I could not disagree more though. I was there 9/22 and had hokkaido hairy crab with the brains as dipping sauce and matsutake mushroom (flown from Japan) soup and rice.

          The kohada, aji, chu toro were exquisite and as fine as anything I've had at Yasuda (pre-retirement) or Mori (pre-retirement). The kohada was sliced into strips and braided. Outstanding.

          Sorry to hear about the experience.

          1. re: Porthos

            Had those matsutakes yesterday and loved 'em!

            1. re: Porthos

              Hi, Porthos!

              Thanks so much for recognizing my courage on this one! It's a cold and lonely place to be! I know you have been there...I follow and respect your posts!

              I read all the glowing reports, and even waited a few days to take my temperature. Still, after letting all my thoughts brew, I continue to feel "taken" on our most recent experience there. No, I don't feel like anyone took advantage of me; I just feel disappointed and sad that the experience was not for me what it was for so many others.

              I love sushi and the entire sushi bar experience which includes the music, the fragrances, the chatter, the dishes, the tea, the space, the service...all of it! Shunji was not that for me.

              1. re: liu

                Glad you mentioned tea. I always get fragrant roasted matcha tea at the end.

                Also, a nice bowl of fruit with perfectly ripe seasonal berries. Last time it was blackberries, gold, orange, and red raspberries, logan, dragonfruit, and 2 types of grapes.

                This may be because we always get the Shunji Omakase.

                1. re: liu

                  Shunji seems to carry a great deal of shiromi dane (white-fleshed fish), and the difference between renkodai and kurodai and ishigakidai and mechidai, are subtle and I couldn't tell them all apart if given to me blind.

                  Perhaps it's telling that I've only had the omakase once, on the first visit, and then all subsequent times have stuck to ordering mostly sushi, a la carte at first but more recently the 10 piece + 1 hand roll sushi special for $50 he started a few months ago, with a one or two interesting-sounding or past-favorite non-sushi dishes to supplement as needed.

                  The $50 sushi specials I've had did include some hikarimono (silver-skinned fish) as well as tuna and salmon, so it should include the fatty fish that was missing from your meal.

                  1. re: PeterCC

                    Hi, PeterCC. Your comments are clarifying and very supportive. Unless the various white fish cousins are served side-by-side, the subtle differences are lost. If there is a 5 or 10 minute lapse between servings of one white fish and another, they blend into one white-fish experience.

                    I am glad that you mentioned that you have been served some of the more fatty fish. I think the point of an omakase is to offer the customer the entire spectrum of tastes, if only in a sample form...because you can't have it all in one sitting! But I trust the chef to offer his rainbow so that I can see his entire selection.

                    When we sat down at Shunji and were trying to decide which omakase to choose, we asked Chef Shunji if we would get the entire experience with his House Omakase as opposed to his more extensive omakase offering. He implied that we would. Obviously, we did not.

                    Thanks for your very helpful response.

            2. wowowow that crab looks amazing.

              4 Replies
              1. re: ns1

                Here's my picture of the hokkaido hairy crab and matsutake dishes:


                1. re: Porthos


                  Might have to go here for my birthday. How long is hokkaido crab season/hanasaki crab season?

                  1. re: ns1

                    Fall/Winter is peak for Hokkaido but he was able to get it even a couple of months ago. Call him on Monday to reserve in advance. He literally has to call Japan and source it from there. Obviously it comes at a premium but surprisingly my tab was not much more than my previous visits.