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Nov 3, 2012 12:45 AM

Shunji - not worth it for me

So I've been excited to try this place for quite a while given the wide endorsements from the sushi aficionados of this site and the Jgold, but overall I must say that the pleasure to price quotient was just not there. We had 3 omakases asking for an even mix of both cooked and raw dishes. The plating was just beautiful and evoked excitement, but many of the dishes fell short on the palate. I love his preparations of vegetables and appreciate the accentuation of the flavor. The pickled jellyfish and veggies were great as well as anything that touched the amazing dashi broth. The signature agadashi tomato "tofu" was my favorite dish, texturally exciting and was easily one of the best things I've eaten all year. The sashimi plate and sushi were the highlights, including bonito and a delicious snapper type fish whose name I don't recall as well as live lobster and a truly delicious lobster truffle tartar-ish dish. But the blue fin which they kept saying was amazing was just not and had gristle. The ika was high quality but only had 3 cuts making it so tough I couldn't swallow it. The large and beautiful checkerboard platter was unremarkable including prosciutto wrapped mush, flavorless quail eggs and shrimp, and odd blue cheese balls. The rice was definitely not as good as morisans rice be a mile. We had 2 bottles of sake which was $150. ending up paying $242 a person (includes 15% tip). Idk. This was over $100 more than I've payed at Mori, zo, kiyokawa, Kiriko, matsuhisa, asanebo. Just not worth the price

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  1. I don't disagree with you on the food. I wish I could get as excited as others have. I would say that I've paid those prices and more at Mori. But I prefer Mori - there's an elegant simplicity to the food that grabs your attention with a finesse.

    And the rice as Mori is great. But not as good as Mori of a year ago when Mori was growing his own. This is a different rice now. (I just remembered I actually have some of the old rice - I'll do a special meal and BYOR).

    1. Wow. I've had live kegani and matsutske mushrooms in 3 all out omakases and the most I've paid is $170-$200pp after tax and tip. How much pp would it have been without the sake?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Porthos

        It would have been around what you paid. Minus 50 and change per person. I don't know how u eat sushi without sake. I can't even attempt that

      2. Agreed, peppermonkey, and well written.
        I do not have a reason to return.

        1. I've not really read the bluefin being a highlight of Shunji's sushi. I prefer the bluefin I've had at Kiriko better myself. It's more the variety of uncommon fish that Shunji sources that's the bigger attraction.

          3 Replies
          1. re: PeterCC

            I still stand by my opinion that Shunjis is close to the best in town.

            You did mention the tofu dish was one of the best dishes that you have had in town, that is if I read your post correctly.

            It's definitely not cheap but then ago I also have never had the sake there either (though it is very possible that his sake prices are higher than his local competitors in West LA).

            Truth to tell, the toro I have had there was good but not great. But his other species of fish are a half dozen that I can't seem to get anywhere else.

            The bleu cheese balls are very odd, yet supremely delicious.

            The ankimo mousse melts in your mouth like butter and it does not hurt to gild the lily with a tiny dollop of caviar.

            What other sushi chef in town prepares a textbook perfect chocolate mousse to rival a three-star Michelin rated chef ?

            But yea, I do really like this place and might just be one of his avid supporters.

            1. re: kevin

              I think you meant to reply to the OP, not to my comment. I have no arguments with what you've said. ;-)

              1. re: PeterCC

                Yes. My apologies. For some reason, due to my carelessness, my posts get posted in the wrong position in the threads.

          2. Agree also. My husband took me here for my birthday this year, and we were both sorely disappointed in the meal.
            We had omakase with both raw and cooked dishes and shared a bottle of sake.
            I remember the noodle dish with a bit of black truffle and the agedashi tomato were pretty good, but thought overall everything was really unremarkable (and didn't get the raves about the blue cheese ball). I would have appreciated more of the cooked dishes being hot, and though the sushi was fresh, it was still missing something for me, and I was not full at the end of the meal.
            Our overall bill for 2 was around $450, so having an underwhelming meal in the former Mr. Cecil's space where you have to exit the restaurant to use the restroom was really disappointing. There was a mother with a baby and running toddler in tow, so I'm not sure what identity the place is going for with the food, ambiance, and price being so out of whack.
            About 15 minutes into the meal, I was wishing hard that we had gone to n/naka instead.
            We won't return.

            5 Replies
            1. re: TracyS

              I agree with all you have said, TracyS.

              15 minutes in, I just kept waiting for something amazing...and that did not happen for me, either. I generally take each dining experience for what it is, but this time I felt very uncomfortable about the price for this dinner.

              Nevertheless, our service was very attentive and gracious.

              1. re: liu

                How much was your dinner per person ? without alcohol, tax, and tip ?

                And if you had alcohol or sake how much did you drop per bottle ?

                1. re: kevin

                  Our total at Shunji was more than $100/pp total (including tax and gratuity - no drinks except two hot teas).

                  Although we began our dinner early, when they opened, there were a lot of spirits being consumed. Perhaps because we were not indulging in that part of their profits, we were served a B-quality omakase?

                  1. re: liu

                    I sure hope not that you received a B-quality omakase.

                    Ok, I'll shut up now. I really like it. But obviously there a myriad of eaters that don't like it all.

                    Btw, liu, what sushi bars do you happen to enjoy in LA ?

              2. re: TracyS

                Yes, 225 a piece per person is quite a bit, if that doesn't even include a bottle or two of sake added to the mix.

                Usually my bill, though sans alcohol, would be upwards of no more than 100 to 125 before tax and tip.

                Maybe it can't deal with n/naka at this price point but then again I have never been to n/naka before so I can't speak on that.

                Anyhow, I still think it's great for the price, quality, and atmosphere (except for that pesky facilities problem which really irks, you'd think they'd do some sort of plumbing indoors but then again what do I know ?).