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Oct 26, 2012 06:49 PM

Chiba Restaurant in NoHo

So I was randomly browsing yelp today and was surprised to find Chiba Restaurant - 4.5* with 300+ reviews. I glanced over everything and it doesn't look promising, with rolls and just basic stuff. However, 300+ reviews averaging 4.5* is not ignored by me.

Any of you hounds want to chime in? Is this a decent neighborhood place or should I stick to my current neighborhood joints (Sushi Don Sasabune/Murakami Sushi/Daichan)

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    1. Went with the parents last week because it's their neighborhood sushi place. Actually not bad, but I've been too spoiled by the places I go to - so it's just decent for me. Expect the quality and selection to be more along the lines of Hide Sushi on Sawtelle. Very generous cuts though.

      1. Chiba feels a little like a coffee shop to me, especially if you sit at a table. That said about the decor, it has multiple personalities and is capable of being all things to all people or anything you want it to be.

        I have seen customers sitting with their family (small children included) at the sushi bar and enjoying rolls 'n things; Chiba can be very informal. In contrast, I have seen customers being served fine cuts of fish; in this sense, Chiba can be a very good sushi bar.

        I think the key here is to sit at the sushi bar -- if sushi is what you want -- and talk with your chef. Explain to him what you like and let him serve you. I have had extraordinary sushi here; yes, that 4.5* that they have on Yelp is well deserved!

        However, parking in this area can be very difficult.

        1. it's the best, i've been everywhere in LA, their quality of fish is TOP NOTCH, combined with the family/welcoming atmosphere of a sincere mom 'n pop appeals to me...

          just go there, and then you will be like my friends and I and just laugh at other sushi joints... seriously kidding aside it actually is super disappointing going anywhere else now that I know Chiba

          1. okay, finally visited the place and it's pretty much as Liu describes.

            It's a fairly large japanese restaurant - I'd dare say almost Gen sized. 2 bars, with 4 sushi chefs on 1 and 2+1 on the other. (the +1 does rolls only it appears).

            i say it's "gen like" because they have a large variety of seemingly awesome sushi specials. As of 9/2013...

            Sashimi dinner - $29
            Jiyo special sushi dinner - $28
            Special chirashi - $28
            normal sushi dinner or chirashi = $17

            We had the black cod app ($10), jiyo special, and normal chirashi

            Starters/amuse - gratis miso soup, tsukemono. Not sure if this was gratis because we bought dinners, or gratis just because. Miso soup was quite good - lots and lots of "goodies", incl. konbu, which I love. The tsukemono was sesame/daikon/carrots/konbu/cucumber. Also very good, and not the typical tsukemono prep. Both of these items were several leagues above the sushi gen counterpart.

            Black cod - typical miso black cod prep, but it was a pretty damn large piece for $10. Tasty, classic version of this dish

            pickled ginger - crappy pink pickled ginger, typical of what you would find at mitsuwa. wasabi, obviously the same. Not a big deal to me but fiance wouldn't touch the ginger.

            Jiyo special sushi dinner - Fiance had this. For $28, it's an incredible bargain - it had uni, toro, what I suspect is yellowtail belly, amaebi, + 6 other sushi pieces. Those 4 pieces alone, if ordered off menu, run approximately $24. Cuts of fish are generous and the rice was good, if not mindblowing. Amaebi even comes with fried heads - although ours also came with a fried tail. Where the hell did the tail come from, since it was also on the nigiri... Anyway, remarkable bargain for $28.

            chirashi - stellar bargain. 2 pieces each of tamago, crab (not sure if kani), octopus, + 1 each of normal chirashi selection. Only thing missing (for me) was the masago. I could have ponied up the extra $11 for the amaebi/toro/whatever, but $17 for this chirashi is fine by me. Blue collar chirashi, if you will. It's easily 50% larger than the chirashi from my local sushi joint (kuru kuru sushi).

            Anyway, this was my "feeler" visit and the place seems legit. Sitting at the sushi bar would probably run me $80pp, eating decently. I'm a bit afraid of their omakase cuz they seem to use a lot of caviar/uni/toro/quail egg, which I only enjoy in moderation. This will definitely be my neighborhood $30pp sushi joint.

            This particular meal, 2 dinner specials 1 app 1 coke = $73 with tip.

            9 Replies
            1. re: ns1

              Nice report, ns1.

              As your write-up indicates, Chiba is not amazing in every area...but it can be! I would love to see a remodel as the place feels "old." But I sit at the bar and order omakase nigiri: the chef's choice of good fish on rice. Once the chef decides that I appreciate what he serves me, he is able to step up to some of the better cuts. At this point, I am never disappointed.

              If you can experience Chiba a few times, you will find out what you like and then repeat that on multiple visits!

              1. re: liu

                what's your typical omakase avg? just curious.

                1. re: TonyC

                  Hello, TonyC!

                  We haven't been to Chiba in about a year now. Our absence is not due to the quality of our last dinner there, but rather the location and the parking. However, our last dinner there was extremely good, especially when I requested the chef's choice.

                  Tony, I do not remember the exact price -- perhaps $80/pp or more -- and it is probably more now as I watch the sushi prices rising over just this last year.

                  Chiba is the type of place where you can easily discuss your desires with the chef. Perhaps you would like a mixture of your requests with the chef's choice; I think they will do that. Sometimes I will place an order and then ask the chef what he would like to serve...back-and-forth. Or, you can discuss your price point with the chef and ask if that is reasonable; I think they will do that, too. Of course, let your chef know in advance if there is anything that you do not like.

                  My only suggestion is that you push for the "good stuff." Let your chef know that you appreciate the belly, the fatty fish, the clams, etc. They have it if they know that you can appreciate it!

                  Have you been recently? If so, did you do omakase and how was it?

                  1. re: liu

                    thanks for the thorough reply. i was just curious about the chiba sitch, in case i ever want omakase somewhere not on Ventura Blvd... it'll probably never happen, but it's good to know.

                    1. re: TonyC

                      Tony, Go's Mart (Canoga Park and not on Ventura Boulevard!) is about as good as I know...much better than Chiba.

                      1. re: liu

                        Can't really compare Chiba and Go Mart as they are completely different types of place - Go Mart is more expensive, but very good of course. Chiba is more a mom 'n pop type joint that happens to have amazing qualty fish, and won't make you bankrupt - and won't take 1.5 hours for your (of course amazing well prepared and specialty dishes) food, like Go Mart. Chiba's strip mall location and parking actually enhance the experience for me and do not hurt the place in my eyes - but I'm just an old fashioned guy from Philly that digs that sort of thing. I've noticed a lot of LA folks knock Chiba because of where it is and the neighborhood/parking...

                        1. re: oudshmood

                          I agree with you, oudshmood.

                          My comment to Tony is less about a comparison of Go's and Chiba and more about directing him to extraordinary sushi...not on the boulevard, as he requested!

                          I am a long-time Chiba customer and always had very good sushi there. Still, the place is way overdue some remodeling attention.

              2. re: ns1

                I should mention that the last pic (black cod) is what was left after eating >2/3rd of it.

                1. re: ns1

                  Wow...HUGE portion!
                  I like the charred edges and the sticky glaze...nice photo!