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Jul 31, 2013 06:14 PM

N/Naka or Shunji?

Coming to town this weekend and have one free night. Read a lot of favorable reviews for both. Thanks

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  1. Have you looked at the menu on n/naka's site ( or what was served from the more recent write-ups, and compared it to the recent write-ups on Shunji?

    I haven't been to n/naka, and everyone knows I'm a fan of Shunji, but I would say if you want more flexibility in what's being served and more ability to customize your meal, go with Shunji.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PeterCC

      I too have yet to try n/naka but enjoy Shunji. Agree on the flexibility but like many omakase meals, Shunji's omakase is pretty flexible. Figure starting at around $110-130, fill him in on your approx $ target, likes/dislikes and let it fly. Shunji will most likely include customer favorites but one should review the menu board to see what's offered - it's extensive but filled with interesting dishes and superb seafood.

      Nice sake list with some unique bottles but "Ichigo" is Shunji's creation. I thought it was perfectly suitable for Shunji's masterwork and a fair deal at $80 a bottle.

    2. That is a tough one. Honestly can't go wrong with either.

      If you like more traditional and more sushi, I'd say Shunji

      If you like more cooked items with a more western style ambiance and wine service, n/naka.

        1. n/naka

          Esp. if you have Urasawa envy, and it's one the few (only?) places in LA that kinda, sorta makes Urasawa seem irrelevant.

          33 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            I agree with n/naka. It's more than just sushi. The service is spectacular as is the food and the whole experience. I can't wait to go back.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              but no sushi bar, right ?

              or is there a sushi bar there now ?

              if so, i may have to make a trip there. now.

              1. re: kevin

                No sushi bar. It's not a "sushi restaurant" per se. But the sushi they serve is very good.

                1. re: foodiemahoodie

                  i thought they might have added one in the past year or so.

                  i really wish they did have that sushi bar component, somehow it detracts from the experience for me.

                  thanks for the update.

                  1. re: kevin

                    There's a kind of counter, but it's not for dining. I think it's for waiting customers (or that's what I was told - but it's in the large back room adjacent to the kitchen. Seems like an odd place to put waiting customers.).

              2. re: ipsedixit

                For me, Mori made Urasawa's sushi irrelevant.

                Shunji made Urasawa's kaiseki irrelevant.

                1. re: Porthos

                  But the beauty of n/naka is that it can sorta, kinda make both aspects of Urasawa irrelevant, if not passé.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    It's so different I put it in its own category with the kaiseki in a western sit down setting format. So I do agree with you. There really isn't anything like it.

                    Mori and Shunji are more direct comparisons and therefore more impressive in their irrelevance rendering.

                    1. re: Porthos

                      I don't disagree.

                      But this is really why n/naka would be the choice (at least for me). It is this sort of unique niche in the culinary landscape that is perhaps only rivaled by a place like Urasawa (and maybe Yamakase, which I have yet to try).

                      Shunji, while awesome in its own right, has peers in terms of style and food.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        As good as that truffle abalone pasta is at n/naka, I find myself picking Shunji over n/naka 6-7:1

                        I'm a sucker for his seasonal, always changing, tailored to the individual customer cuisine.

                        1. re: Porthos

                          That was a point I was going to bring up. I'm wondering how often the OP comes to LA and how often they might return to either restaurant. A first visit to Shunji may be more by the book but you gotta start somewhere, so if return visits are likely, I may lean toward Shunji too.

                          1. re: Porthos

                            If you go to n/naka enough they will recognize your name and vary the menu. It is a seasonal menu - whether you get the testing menu, or the grand one.

                            And if you don't want that pasta - you don't have to. But I'd be awfully disappointed.

                            Funny, I was talking to a chef yesterday (one of L.A.'s most revered) who had taken off an item because someone on Chowhound complained that they saw it on the menu a year or two ago. I'd read that post and I told him that this particular idiot Chowhounder HAD NEVER BEEN TO HIS RESTAURANT. (when responding to Jonathon Gold's list of which restaurants you've been to - his restaurant was not on the list). Complaining and judging a restaurant (that is highly regarded) which you've never been to - IMO is the height of dickiness.

                            1. re: foodiemahoodie

                              And if you don't want that pasta - you don't have to. But I'd be awfully disappointed.
                              You may have misunderstood me. That pasta dish IS the reason to go for me. Amazing. Everything else is good but without that pasta dish, I would probably never go back.

                              I don't know why the chef would remove that dish based on 1 hound's complaint. Especially if everyone else liked it. I doubt any hound carries that much weight.

                              I for one think you should name the hound and chef. Perhaps the hound just forgot to list it.

                              I'm all about accountability in posting. Though I agree complaining and judging a restaurant that someone has never been to is bad, you could argue it is almost equally bad a bunch of amateurs are judging professional chefs at all.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                " could argue it is almost equally bad a bunch of amateurs are judging professional chefs at all."

                                Unless of course the "amateur" eaters (who keep the professional chefs employed) like to read what a "jury of their peers" thought of the food, rather than what some egomaniacal, auto-inflated, self-styled expert had to say about it in mind numbing "authentic" detail...In that case the "amateurs" would probably enjoy what their brethren had to say.

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  Unless of course the "amateur" eaters (who keep the professional chefs employed) like to read what a "jury of their peers" thought of the food,
                                  I don't disagree with you and that's why this very site exists.

                                  But if only the individual taste and experience matters and things like authenticity does not, then why would the opinions of peers matter, if all that matters is personal taste?

                                  And I don't know if 1 visit by 1 hound is what keeps the professional chef employed. Hounds make up such a small part of a restaurant's business (except maybe Shunji).

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    Authenticity matters to some and not at all to others. Personal taste, even if grading on some sort of "authenticity" scale, still counts for the lions share of what folks think of the food (or the service or the decor or the noise (g) or what-have-you).

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      Except maybe Shunji. :)

                                      Porthos, Pete, Cia Bob, and JL (in particular order) have single handedly kept the joint afloat.

                                      And I'm quite happy that they did.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        Your list is in reverse order since I think Ciao Bob may be there 1-2x/week.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          oh, shit.

                                          i mean in no particular order.

                                          that's why i wanted to state it that way so no one is left out.

                                          anyhow, the rest of us are just mere mortals.

                                          once or twice a week sounds splendid, that is if i wasn't living off of food stampts.

                                        2. re: kevin

                                          Don't forget chrishei. :-)

                                          Actually, I'm pretty sure Bob and JL on their own keeps the place afloat. No offense to Porthos, chrishei, or myself, but after sussing out the approximate frequence of Bob's and JL's visits on another Shunji thread, I don't think any of us approaches their level...

                                          1. re: PeterCC

                                            "No offense to...myself" - now, that is funny: it, almost, reaches the level of kevonian!

                                            FWIW, there seem to quite few Shunji fans that go far more than I do. Have no idea if they are hounds or not...but I see a lot of familiar faces each time I go. 2x a week is a rare occurrence probably 1/2x/week is accurate.

                                            1. re: Ciao Bob

                                              Just trying to clarify that I make no claim to going as often as J.L. or you*. My reputation seems to go to Shunji more than I do. :-)

                                              *Speaking of kevonian (keviness?), I'm having trouble parsing "1/2x/week". I'm assuming it's 1-2 times a week as Porthos speculated, or maybe it's half times a week, a.k.a. once every two weeks? Either way, I think that still puts you in rarefied company.

                                              1. re: PeterCC

                                                I don't belong in this elite class...

                                                1. re: PeterCC

                                                  I meant the latter - about every other week.

                                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                    1/2x/week is Ciaogebra.

                                                    = 1/2visits/week

                                                    = 2x 1/2 visits/week x2

                                                    = 1 visit/2weeks.

                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                      Sadly, I never learned about Ciagebra in secondary school, but then again I was more preoccupied with rolling and the McD's 29c special by the dozen followed by a couple of Big Gulps.

                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                        Ciaogebra is pretty user-friendly. I'm still working on my kevin-o-grominator certificate with little success... :)

                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                          Now what's the kevin-o-grominator ?????

                                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                                            btw, you better trademark both before Mr. Taster gets a hold of it.


                                                  2. re: Ciao Bob

                                                    "Kevonian" Oh, I'm stealing that Bob!

                                          2. re: Porthos

                                            Perhaps a hound named Jay Gold may have that extensive sway and unending power ?

                                            1. re: Porthos

                                              If we ever meet I'll tell you. Accountability is one thing, outing someone is something else. But I just might.

                                              I didn't misunderstand. I was just pointing out that n/naka's menu does change. I was there twice in a month, they knew I was back - and the menu changed intentionally because they wanted to keep it fresh. Which was very nice.

                                              Chefs don't want you to get bored with their food. But to be honest, when I find something I like, I tend to order it over and over. I get that hankerin' thing yah see...

                              2. Both.

                                Early reservation at n/naka, and top it off with another meal at Shunji afterwards. They're not that far from each other.

                                Leave L.A. with no regrets.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: J.L.

                                  Now that's what I'm talking about.

                                  Except add a mini-omakase at Mori to the mix.

                                  1. re: J.L.

                                    That ruins both.

                                    It's sort of like those NYC tourists who insist on doing Le Bernardin for lunch and then EMP for dinner.

                                    Appreciation, as they say, takes time. To say nothing of digestion.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      True, but we are not given any idea as to how much the OP's gullet can hold... :-)

                                      Interesting you mention Eleven Madison Park: When in HK a few months back, I happened upon EMP Chef Daniel Humm's stint at the Mandarin Oriental. Had that for lunch (awesome), then headed right over to Wing Wah for some legendary bamboo noodles right afterwards. Good times.

                                      1. re: J.L.

                                        As many have paraphrased humorist Dixon Lanier Merritt limerick:

                                        "Pity the poor Pelican
                                        His beak can hold more
                                        than his belly can"

                                        The actual limerick below

                                        "Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican!
                                        His bill holds more than his belican.
                                        He can take in his beak
                                        Enough food for a week.
                                        But I’m darned if I know how the helican."