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Shibucho - still doing that mostly traditional thing and doing it well. (brief review)

k
kevin Jan 22, 2013 03:46 PM

Here's the list of goods (today and for the next few weeks I will be too lazy to post full-on reviews, yeah, my apologies in advance):

albacore salad with chopped topped tomatoes and mixed greens sluiced with olive oil and ponzu.

tuna sushi.

toro sushi.

red snapper sushi.

spanish mackerl sushi.

eggplant parmigiano (tiny portion and not as good at all as the first time that i had it, and on that very first time it reminded me of the most delicious cheese puff/gougeyre/popover i have ever tried apart of a close family friend's cheese puff, wich was the piece de resistance of all cheese puffs).

halibut sushi.

sea urchin sushi (quite increbile, why don't i have uni more often ???).

toro handroll with the pickled root vegetable, gobo ???, it's orange-colored, ???

and tiramisu for dessert.

i love that they serve the wines in those dope decanters. and the desserts at the end of the bar looked great or rather excellent from profiteroles to a mille-feiulle to a bowl of panna cotta i believe, definitely looked quite good.

for some customers, he does serve charcuterie atop grilled toast as an amouche bouche and a couple customers had a plated dish of seared scallops in what neighbors attested was a sweet potato puree inflecked with tiny specks of shaved black truffles. anyways, next time.

and i'm always suprised that he's still in business because it's a little bit of ten the beaten path if i'm not mistaken. and there doesn 't look to be any PR machine involved, though recently he added a website and who knows maybe he advertises in japanese-language newspapers, or trade magazines.

some of the fish suspects, esp the albacore are aged and fishy, but i believe it's supposed to be that way.

anyhow, great stuff, and this joint is not usually mentioned on these boards.

and copious amounts of green tea to wash it all down.

  1. Searching4Dunny Jan 22, 2013 05:20 PM

    Thanks for the review. I think I will head there soon. My last visit was enjoyable even though my Japanese dining neighbors appeared to enjoy more attentive service. The service I received was not bad but not as friendly as say, Kiriko.

    1. Porthos Jan 22, 2013 05:33 PM

      Just to be clear, we are talking LA Shibucho and not OC Shibucho.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Porthos
        Searching4Dunny Jan 22, 2013 05:41 PM

        Thanks for the clarification. I was thinking of the OC Shibucho. This changes matters greatly.

        1. re: Searching4Dunny
          Porthos Jan 22, 2013 05:52 PM

          Figured as much when you said Japanese patrons getting more attention. That's the MO for OC Shibucho. Japanese patrons also get the better and fresher cuts. An observation I made over 10 visits in 1.5 years.

          1. re: Porthos
            Searching4Dunny Jan 22, 2013 06:12 PM

            This seems to be the consensus among those I have spoken to as well. I've moved on to Nana San and Sushi Ikko. Both of which are near my house. I still need to try Kasen though.

            I have heard good things about Sushi Wazen in Lake Forrest as of late, especially about their sake menu.

            1. re: Searching4Dunny
              k
              kevin Jan 22, 2013 06:20 PM

              my bad, la.

              1. re: Searching4Dunny
                Porthos Jan 22, 2013 10:09 PM

                Go to Kasen. The quality is better. The price isn't too much of a step up if you get sushi only omakase and not sashimi also. The toro at Kasen is top notch.

                1. re: Porthos
                  b
                  BrewNChow Jan 27, 2013 12:20 AM

                  Agree on all points. There's nothing bad to say about Kasen. Pristine quality, and I really love battera and theirs is the best.

                  You do pay for what you get though, but still much less than the top-notch LA sushi places.

                  Having lived in both counties and enjoyed the sushi in each, LA has the most extravagant places, but in OC you tend to get more for your money IMO. But take it with a grain of salt; I'm a sushi guy. If you go for the prepared dishes you might strongly disagree.

                  1. re: BrewNChow
                    Porthos Jan 27, 2013 09:49 AM

                    If you go for the prepared dishes you might strongly disagree.
                    =========================
                    Thats because there are close to zero prepared dishes. The only cooked dishes I've had there are soup and the cold appetizer in the beginning (marinated fish egg, veggies, etc). Also your choice of fried or grilled shrimp head when in season.

                    1. re: Porthos
                      b
                      BrewNChow Jan 27, 2013 07:56 PM

                      I meant in regards to getting more for your money in OC.

                      Just to throw out an example, I think a lot of people would read that and think, "sure I spent $250 at Shunji's, but I got my money's worth because of their steamed egg and uni with mango and caviar" (or whatever).

                      Whereas I'm talking about spending 50 bucks for a great meal of sushi only down here. So if you go for the prepared dishes, you might think you get more bang for your buck up in LA, where I've noticed there are more sushi places with top notch prepared dishes. Even though you pay more. Not sure I'm explaining myself well...

                      1. re: BrewNChow
                        Porthos Jan 27, 2013 08:07 PM

                        I agree with you.

                        Kasen is all about the fish and one must really appreciate traditional sushi and high fish quality to feel that $70-90 is "worth it". Those that do will be very happy with Kasen. Those that want sauce and other Nobu style sushi will not.

        2. J.L. Jan 22, 2013 05:36 PM

          I'm surprised you didn't ask for Shige-san's fluffy tamagoyaki. It's better than Kiriko's!

          2 Replies
          1. re: J.L.
            k
            kevin Jan 22, 2013 06:19 PM

            You know I saw the counter and only saw the one variety, even I was too stressed out to ask him. Yes, now it was a wasted visit since I won't have the chump change to visit for another year or so.

            Damn, so he has the fluffy variety behind the counter or something, shoot.

            Triple fucking damn.

            JL, what are the words I should specifically tell him, to get my kind the kiriko kind ? shoot, if it's better than the fluffy kiriko kind i would truly be in hog heavn.

            1. re: J.L.
              k
              kevin Jan 22, 2013 06:21 PM

              I did have tamago there, but despondently not the fluffy tamagokayki.

              that means he makes two tamagos.

              but what i saw in the counter looked like the usual omlette version.

              maybe i will have to visit sooner rather than later again.

            2. r
              Robert Thornton Jan 25, 2013 05:57 PM

              Kevin,
              Thanks for the review, I've always wanted to go but have never been, especially because of the wine focus (I'm a big Burg guy). What's the list like and how does he feel about corkage?

              7 Replies
              1. re: Robert Thornton
                J.L. Jan 26, 2013 06:08 PM

                I'm a "wine-less" regular there (I like beer with my sushi), and Shige-san still treats me like a king.

                1. re: J.L.
                  r
                  revets2 Jan 28, 2013 11:14 AM

                  The last time I ate with Shige, I asked if the two of us might split orders (one piece each) as we'd prefer more variety when doing omakase. He didn't seem to mind, but would be curious if anyone else does this there.

                  1. re: revets2
                    k
                    kevin Jan 28, 2013 12:53 PM

                    I've always wanted to, but this joint is so standard in serving two pieces.

                    Hence whenever I go I only get a limited variety of fish since I'm getting two pieces per order.

                    Next time, I go with at least one other person, I'll try that out hopefully.

                2. re: Robert Thornton
                  k
                  kevin Jan 28, 2013 12:57 PM

                  I don't think he would be too peachy about bringing in your own wines, seriously.

                  Since he also takes great pains to put together his extensive wine list.

                  However, the older burgs/bordeaux are going to be pricey, but if you can handle a bottle from spain or france, or maybe something that's not a burg/bordeau, aks for the reserve wine list and then order what would fit your price range.

                  i love to look at wine lists, but i usally don't ask to take a look at it, for fear, that I will then be obligated to order something from it.

                  but years ago when i looked at it, i remembered bottles in the $200 to $400 range, but I did see a couple of people get a house wines by the glass, like a Toro de Hayas, but not quite sure of the vintage. a house glass would be be about $8 to $12 bux or slightly more per glass.

                  1. re: kevin
                    l
                    linus Jan 28, 2013 04:11 PM

                    when i went a few years back, i remember the list being tilted way towards the expensive side.
                    if i recall correctly, and i probably don't, there were only a couple of bottles maybe below 100 bucks. and this was a few years back.
                    of course, he didn't begrudge ordering the only "cheap" wine on the list.

                    i bet if you gave him a glass, he'd let you bring in your own wine if it was interesting/expensive enough.

                    1. re: linus
                      k
                      kevin Jan 28, 2013 04:35 PM

                      Yes, if you brought a glass for him too, and the wine you brought even if expensive and unique was not on his list.

                      You are most likely correct that there was a few below 100 bux, but the feeling I got after looking over the list was that it was heavy on the bottles in the hundreds.

                      also, he has i believe a new cook, so you can also order prepared dishes worthy of a french or italian restaurant.

                      1. re: kevin
                        l
                        linus Jan 28, 2013 09:56 PM

                        yep, thats the wine list i remember. i remember thinking it was insane.

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