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Shunji Japanese Cuisine Now Open for Lunch, Fantastic Lunch Sushi Specials: A Chowhound Exclusive (for a few hours at least...)

Since I'm at work and don't have time to compose a full post on my blog beforehand, and since being a Chowhound is (sometimes) about breaking news that the community might be interested in, I thought I'd post a quick write-up of my lunch today for now, and then do the whole formatted-post-with-in-line-images thing later this evening...

Shunji Japanese Cuisine is now open for lunch Monday through Friday from noon to 2 PM. They are serving only sushi for now (plus miso soup and dessert), but they may add tempura and other kitchen dishes depending on how the lunch business goes. They have two very reasonably priced lunch specials, as follows:

* Lunch Special Sushi (7 pieces of chef's choice sushi & 1 roll) for $23
* Lunch Special Sushi, Premium (12 pieces of chef's choice sushi & 1 roll) for $40

One can also get Sushi Omakase at market price, and Sushi Okonomi, a la carte ordering, is of course always available.


My wife and I joined chrishei for Shunji's inaugural lunch today. Chris and I each ordered the Premium special, while my better half had the standard special (she had a work meeting to get back to).

The courses for the specials were as follows:

0. Tai (Red Snapper/Sea Bream) [Not pictured in OP, see my comment below.]
1. Kamasu (Barracuda)
2. Kinmedai* (Golden Eye Snapper)
3. Shimaaji (Striped Jack)
4. Maguro Akami (Lean Tuna)
5. Kanpachi (Amber Jack)
6. Toro* (Fatty Tuna)
7. Marinated Sake (Salmon)
8. Katsuo (Bonito)
9. Sanma* (Mackerel Pike)
10. Ikura* (Salmon Roe)
11. Uni* (Sea Urchin)
12. Blue Crab Hand Roll

The asterisks (*) above indicate that the piece was part of the Premium lunch special only.

We had the following add-ons:

13. Beni Sake (Sockeye Salmon)
14. Hotate (Scallop)
15. Himedai (Flower Jobfish)
16. Iwashi (Sardines)
17. Zuwaigani (Snow Crab)
18. Tamago (Egg)

And for dessert:

19. Pineapple Sorbet

[The numbers above correspond with the uploaded pictures in this post, with the exception of #0. See my comment below.]

The nigiri was served one piece at a time, omakase style, and the quality was as high as ever. The highlights were the kamasu, marinated salmon, sanma, and iwashi, but every piece was truly excellent.

(BTW, the place was packed for lunch, with the sushi bar full and even several tables occupied. Shunji's brother Tetsuya came by with one of their old friends visiting from Japan, and they stayed for a quick lunch.)


If you look at the price points of the specials, it's really a no-brainer. (Chris called it a "game changer!") The $40 Premium special beats Kiriko's same-price lunch sushi omakase, which was already a good deal (with "only" 9 pieces of nigiri and a blue crab hand roll). The $23 special is also a good deal, but for Chowhounds with hungry appetites, I doubt it'd suffice.

I don't know if Shunji will always serve the specials one piece at a time. I'd assume they would for the $40 one, as Kiriko does, but if they also do for the standard special at $23, that would be one of the most affordable ways to get that coveted one-on-one itamae/customer experience.

I think my wallet is in (more) trouble (than it is already).

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  1. wow that $40 special is stellar.

    15 Replies
    1. re: ns1

      It really is; the pieces I got over my wife's $23 special was definitely worth the additional $17.

      1. re: ns1

        Agreed. That's crazy pricing. Definitely going as much as I can as I suspect this won't last long.

        1. re: prawn

          I too, suspect a feeding frenzy will ensue...

          1. re: J.L.

            We'll have to work extra hard to keep our chowhound anonymity. lol

            @PeterCC, rezzies @ lunch or walkin?

            1. re: ns1

              I'm suspecting J.L. will stay away at lunch for that reason alone. :-)

              This first week will be hard to judge. Like I said yesterday, the sushi bar was full and 2-3 tables were occupied as well, but it was the first day. I did make a reservation the week before for the bar in front of Shunji, so our seats were waiting. I'm not sure how it'll go today or the rest of the week. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to call them a little before opening if you want to sit at the bar and if you specifically want to sit in front of Shunji.

              Also, it will depend on when you arrive. By the time Chris and I left just after 1:30 PM, the restaurant was empty, so if you were to have a late lunch, you shouldn't have any problems walking in.

              1. re: PeterCC

                Usually I am nowhere near Shunji at lunchtime. THAT's why you prolly won't see me.

                1. re: J.L.

                  ...or you're trying to cover your tracks


                  1. re: ns1

                    just be glad JL isn't there to snare all the prime cuts!

                    1. re: ns1

                      Me (& my telltale camera) be easy to spot.

                    2. re: J.L.

                      yeah, didn't you work in glendale or pass, or something ?

                      1. re: J.L.

                        Well, I know you avoid sushi lunches in general, based on our conversations re: Kiriko omakase last year.

                        1. re: PeterCC

                          Pete, did you notice a drop in quality (hopefully not at all) from the pieces at your lunch to the pieces of sushi at dinner ?

                          1. re: kevin

                            I mentioned above that quality remained high. I haven't been to dinner in over a month but the killer sanma I had end of August was just as fantastic yesterday and the iwashi yesterday was better than last time.

                          2. re: PeterCC

                            Wow, so much speculation! No wonder my ears were tingling today!

                            1. re: J.L.

                              I didn't speculate that you always pushed me to do dinner over lunch. :-)

              2. Hmm, for some reason the image of the first actual piece of nigiri served, tai (red snapper/sea bream), did not upload. Here it is...

                3 Replies
                1. re: PeterCC

                  Yeah. Those were the 12 pieces for $40 including the toro and the golden eye ????

                  What was on the dessert list ? My chocolate mousse ????

                  1. re: kevin

                    Yep. For an extra $17 over the top of the $23 standard special price, I got a piece each of kinmedai, toro, sanma, ikura, and uni!

                    I only heard ice creams, sorbets, and fresh fruit mentioned. I didn't hear the chocolate mousse, but you could always ask.

                    Try them at lunch. Don't be afraid. :-)

                    1. re: PeterCC

                      It seems like the same meal at a Zo would run one at least 75 bones for 12 pieces.

                      Yeah. I'll try it before he increases the price.

                2. Peter you are on fire this is great

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: jessejames

                    Thanks jessejames! Between this post and Porthos' and J.L.'s, should we expect to see a report from you in the near future? ;-)

                    1. re: PeterCC

                      Yessir! I love Kiriko and that looks even better....first off to NYC this weekend to settle the whole pastrami debate...just had a refresher at langers and am planning to hit up katz and carnegie!

                      1. re: jessejames

                        please report back on your bi-coastal pastrami battle. many hounds have done the same :)

                        1. re: ns1

                          definitely! i think it's going to be hard to beat langers, but i have a feeling it will be win-win for me.

                        2. re: jessejames

                          Do Katz and 2nd Ave! Carnegie never was a contender for me. At Katz order from the counter, tip the guys slicing the pastrami and you'll get a taste and a much more loaded sandwich. Don't sit and order at the table.

                          If you like sushi, do Yasuda (caveat: haven't been since Yasuda retired) and 15 East.

                          Lucky you!

                            1. re: Porthos

                              Longer report on return.... Grea hotdogs one at katzs natural casing griddled kraut and a one dollar sabrett dog midtown w onion crunch(like that onion stuff on thanksgiving dishes but better. Katz had a fine dog but this one for a buck everywhere I see...heaven.

                              Sable and potato latkes at barney greengrass

                              Preliminary results are la better pastrami sandwiches at langers...NYC easily winning in smoked fish bagels and dogs....Joey chestnut watch out

                              1. re: jessejames

                                Try 2nd Ave and Yasuda and/or 15 East!

                                Marea is supposedly just crushing it pasta-wise.

                                Don't forget Motorino and Keste for pizza.

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  This is the fucking LA board.


                                    1. re: kevin

                                      Michael whites place just outside the time warner center. I concur - Excellent pasta. Had one with uni that I crave more with each letter I type!!!

                        3. Formatted post, with pictures in-line with text, at: http://theoffalo.com/2013/10/shunji-n...

                          1. Beautiful shot on that iwashi. Really shows off the gorgeous rich inside and the knifework!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Porthos

                              Thanks Porthos. Chris and I were equally appreciative of the preparation of the iwashi. It and the sanma were excellent, more great hikarimono from Shunji.

                              Of course, the shiromi weren't bad either. I got to try himedai, which I hadn't had before, and I also saw some new-to-me fish on the specials blackboard, like hedai (silver seabream) and okiaji (white mouth jack). Unfortunately those items had sold out the night before; the blackboard just hadn't been updated yet.

                            2. Here's my take on the lunch at Shunji (pretty much the same as Peter's - just wanted to hop on the bandwagon): http://oheithere.wordpress.com/2013/1...

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: chrishei

                                Where's the fucking text, Chris ?????

                                1. re: kevin

                                  Just go to the link Kevin - I can use the extra view :)

                                  1. re: chrishei

                                    You gotta post here buddy.

                                    Why you wanna give me extra work ???? :)

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      cuz you always give everyone else extra work.

                                2. re: chrishei

                                  Chris-what a treat to meet you at Shunjis. Thanks again to you and the other hounds for the tip here. I can say we were both at the right place at the right time this weekend.

                                  1. re: jessejames

                                    It was a pleasure meeting you too!

                                3. A quick update, had lunch there again today. Took my older daughter, who had been pestering me to take her (she had been once before, last year, but hadn't felt well and only had 3 pieces of sushi on that occasion, so it "didn't count"). She had early dismissal from school today, luckily (for her), so we could have a late lunch together before Shunji closed for the afternoon.

                                  She got the standard special, I got the premium. Interesting variation, the first pieces we were served were both halibut, but I got the more premium cut of engawa (fin) and she got the standard hirame (meat). So the two lunch specials don't always match for all 7 pieces of the standard (though the other 6 pieces of nigiri she got I also got).

                                  I forgot to mention in my original review, but it appears miso soup is part of the lunch special. I had the arajiru (miso soup with fish head/bones) made with triggerfish today.

                                  Had some new (for me) fish: Koshodai (Sweet Lips), Yokosujifuedai (Brown Striped Snapper). Also had Engawa (Halibut Fin), not new to me, but first time at Shunji.

                                  Speaking of first times at Shunji, my itamae today was Tani-san, who I've seen work next to Shunji many times but who I had not had the pleasure of sitting in front of. Shunji was there, but not working the sushi bar when we arrived.

                                  Some photos from today:

                                  1. Top: Koshodai (Sweet Lips). Bottom: Yokosujifuedai (Brown Striped Snapper)
                                  2. Arajiru (Miso Soup with Fish Head/Bones)
                                  3. Top: Engawa (Halibut Fin), but kind of looks like a caterpillar. Bottom: Half pieces of Toro (Fatty Tuna) and Sanma (Mackerel Pike). (I tried to be a good dad and shared some of the premium pieces with my daughter.)

                                  1. Had a very nice lunch there the other day. Took my sushi snob friend and he loved it. Prices were a little less than Mori. but then again, we had the whole enchilada and then some extras, Including a few offerings I'd never had before. And that's always fun. I've been to the restaurant before, but had never met Shunji which was a treat. He's cool.

                                    Recommended. We'll be back. And looking forward to it.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                      He's very cool and a really nice guy and also he happens to be one of the best chefs in town.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        Kevin have you gone to lunch yet, or per that other thread about commuting is it too far away to do get there for lunch?

                                        1. re: PeterCC

                                          I just went for lunch and I agree with you that it is quite possibly the greatest sushi lunch deal in town right now.

                                          My order was the $40 premium sushi lunch and a chocolate mousse for dessert.

                                          They won't be doing cooked dishes for the most part nor extensive dinner time style omakases but that's still fine by me.

                                    2. I finally dined at Shunji today - stopped by for the lunch omakase. I was the sole diner at the sushi bar for the hour I was there. Great place!

                                      Fish served at the right temperature, shari was very well seasoned - it does not stand out (ie. too sour or bland) merely lingering quietly in the background. Loved the sliced batons of pickled ginger and excellent fish variety. Nigiri was well formed, nice light touch but the rice remains intact. Definitely ranks in the upper echelons of sushi bars in LA. I will definitely have to go back for dinner soon when Shunji is in the house.

                                      I also enjoyed the open transition of the bar to the prep area which is not obscured by the typical glass refrigerated display. While not as refined as some places I've been to, its a refreshing change in LA and more akin to the higher end sushi bars in Japan. I believe Bar Nozawa, Urasawa and Q (I think) are also configured in this manner.

                                      Next on the list of places to try
                                      Bar Nozawa
                                      Q (whenever it opens)
                                      Urasawa (still have yet to make it to this gold standard!!)

                                      14 Replies
                                      1. re: Sgee

                                        Urasawa (still have yet to make it to this gold standard!!)
                                        I don't consider Urasawa the gold standard. Most amount of gold in a meal maybe. Most expensive yes. For straight sushi, I would consider Mori the gold standard in LA.

                                        Having said that, I find myself at Shunji over and over again because I can get both great sushi and amazing cooked seasonal treasures. I'll take truffle rice over gold flakes any day.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          Thanks good to know.

                                          I think it boils down to a need to check the box for me. Certainly lots more mileage at others places vs. the cost of 1 meal at Urasawa.

                                          1. re: Sgee

                                            A checked box thing is a very good descriptor.

                                          2. re: Porthos

                                            Wasn't there gold on one of stravaigint's pics from Shunji?

                                              1. re: JAB

                                                On the ise-ebi tartare, but that's about the only thing Shunji puts gold on (I think he might have put it on his squid ink noodles with the quail egg once that I had it).

                                                I guess Hiro-san uses more gold at Urasawa? I know Go-san does at Go's Mart...

                                                1. re: JAB

                                                  It may have been his visit to go's mart since go-san also showers some of his pieces with gold leaf.

                                                  I quite like the decorative flourish. Though I will take white truffles any day over mere gold.

                                                  In fact, aren't white truffles valued higher gram for gram than gold, or at least gold leaf ??????

                                                  1. re: JAB

                                                    Yes, the spiny lobster tartare has gold flakes on it, as does the sweet shrimp version I had from a previous visit, but this dish seems to be the only one that has them at Shunji. So everybody just relax. Go's Mart does use it on a couple of things too, but neither is in Urasawa's neighborhood re: usage.

                                                    1. re: chrishei

                                                      And that reminds me I'm overdue on a visit to go's mart too.

                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                        Same here. I need to go back soon.

                                                        Don't forget to go to Jerry's Soda Shoppe after. And maybe Brent's too for next day's breakfast/lunch to-go lol.

                                                    2. re: JAB

                                                      I think 1 dish, even 2 dishes a meal containing gold flakes is understandable for artistic purposes. Three or more dishes containing gold flakes feels a bit unnecessary to me. I would rather have another piece of sushi. Of course, tolerance for gold gilded dishes may vary from person to person.

                                                    3. re: Porthos

                                                      Gold's Mart... er I mean Go's Mart uses the most gold flakes, in my experience...

                                                      1. re: Porthos

                                                        What Porthos said: the gold standard (in my book) for plain ol' simple nigiri is Mori. Nobody can touch that rice.

                                                        But I don't find Hiro-san's use of gold flake at all obnoxious, and it should still be on your bucket list.

                                                        1. re: stravaigint

                                                          It's on my bucket list. But I'll need someone to treat me to Urasawa. :)

                                                    4. OK, Offalo, Kevin and all the others that recommended this spot. You are so wise. Vaults to top of my list in LA. We had an incredible lunch - some of the stuff above, 2 kinds of toro, toro collar sushi, many japanese fish I never heard of, one kind of japanese hamachi that tasted so sea-like it could have been swimming minutes before, or so it tasted...santa barbara and japanese uni comparison, fresh scallop, and he served middle part sushi and outer ring part crunchy with cucumber in a roll, all hits, no misses. OK, it was expensive. But we had Shunji-san at the helm, spinning the hits, and we played on. I also agree that that lime ice cream is something very special. Very relaxing time chatting with Shunji and learning a lot about his history in LA, and how the sushi scene has become what it is, and also his favorites...watched him dismember and pick the meat out of these shanghai crabs...I can't wait to go back -- this ranks as the top recommendation I've ever gotten from this website and my new favorite restaurant. The company of the chef and his team was also very pleasant and interesting. Bravo hounds. Arigato!

                                                      32 Replies
                                                      1. re: jessejames

                                                        "OK, it was expensive."

                                                        Let's not be coy. What did the food run per person without tip?

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          I didn't see koi on the menu.

                                                          smidge north of 100. worth every penny.

                                                          1. re: jessejames

                                                            Thanks...and I have 4 big ones I care for so I could never even consider consuming one...

                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                              maybe you need to slip some fat tunas into your pond!

                                                              1. re: jessejames

                                                                I don't exactly know why...but that sounds really dirty (g)

                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                  I've always wanted an aquarium just like they have at sea harbor.

                                                            2. re: jessejames

                                                              This was lunch right ?

                                                              You could still get out for maybe $60 per of you order the $40 omakase.

                                                              But it sounds like you went for the real omakase.

                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                correctamundo...will try the cheaper one another time but wanted to see what all the fuss was all about -- now I know...shunji was on a roll, and i couldn't stop!

                                                          2. re: jessejames

                                                            Sounds like a fantastic meal! Did you do the lunch special and then supplement or did you go all out for a sushi omakase?

                                                            That hotate himokyu (scallop mantle and cucumber) maki is, to channel kevin for a moment, really fucking good! He needs to have the really fresh (live) scallop, whole, and he can make it. Last few times I've asked for it, he hasn't had it, so you were lucky!

                                                            Now go back for dinner to try the agedashi tomato tofu (made w/momotaro tomato), or the squid ink noodles w/uni, truffle, and quail egg, or the zensai platter, or the...

                                                            1. re: TheOffalo

                                                              we did the sushi omakase with the always ominous "m/p" after consulting with Shunji. Later in the meal when we were reaching the "more?" stage, Shunji said he had a patron do 47 rounds with him...and it wasn't kobayashi. I'd like to make a run at that sometime, along with that keg of sapporo he has on prominent display. Probly still half the price of Urasawa! We also had this cod roe thing that i never tried before that was fresh, salty and nice. Man, that toro was incredible -- Shunji's favorite too. I will say that Shunji himself really made the lunch. Very interesting to hang out with, he was accessible and kind and nice, treated us first timers to some stuff on the house, and quite interesting to hear what he likes foodwise on his own menu (sushi) and elsewhere, and his experiences in LA with how the sushi scene has changed in the last three decades. I'll certainly be back for more of the other items on the menu (saw your picture of that tomato thing, looks great), but i don't think i could pass up at least twelve rounds in the nigiri sushi ring with this champion. really bravo to you hounds - don't think i would have made it there but for you...now i've got a few friends queued up to take me there next week based on my recommendation! and turkey is really fucking overrated.

                                                              1. re: jessejames


                                                                I probably have mentioned this before on the board but Shunji is a great sushi chef, and also makes great cooked dishes (at dinner time mostly), and always just as importantly he is really cool and friendly and super nice.

                                                                There are some other bars around town were the sushi is quite good though the gruffness of the sushi chef is ubiquitous.

                                                                Glad you enjoyed it, buddy.

                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                  fabulous recommendation and I appreciate the repeated insistence to go there. looking forward to visiting Shunji-san again! he was taking apart these shanghi crabs brainstorming on how to make them for his customers and i think he was leaning towards putting the meat back in the shell with some kind of miso thing, then steamed up...i'm sure it will be fantastic for those lucky diners tonight.

                                                                  1. re: jessejames

                                                                    Your enthusiasm is making me want to go back, right now. :-)

                                                                    You sound like a complete convert, so when you do go back, I'm sure you'll definitely request Shunji as your itamae, as you should. I have nothing against the other sushi chefs who work for Shunji, but unlike the debates about whether Sergio is cooking at Coni'seafood--and more importantly, if it matters whether he's cooking--I do think it matters if Shunji is your itamae.

                                                                    The chef/customer relationship is obviously much closer at a sushi bar, so there's that, but also as owner, Shunji has the leeway to make adjustments and judgement calls his employees probably aren't allowed to make. If you can't sit in front of Shunji, the next best thing is to go when he is working, so he's still present. As I understand it, he's there every evening but only on Wednesdays and Fridays at lunch.

                                                                    1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                      i have not been this enthusiastic about a new (for me) restaurant in a long time. i want to go back too. I look forward to a good hangout session with Shunji and I'll have to clear out my afternoon calendar for the Sapporo keg.

                                                                      1. re: jessejames

                                                                        Shit, you might as well invite us along for the ride. We can help you make a serious dent in the keg.

                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                          "We can help you make a serious dent in the keg."

                                                                          Hey, watch out...you don't want to "kick the keg" before your time do you? (g)

                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                            That's true. I do have to cut back.

                                                                            I'm glad someone has my health at heart.

                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                              If you can believe it, I've been trying to eat just a tadbit healthier the past month.

                                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                                me too, but shunji sushi and beer is far from unhealthy.

                                                                            2. re: kevin

                                                                              i will let you know when i can go back ... not sure how to connect ... more the merrier.

                                                                          2. re: TheOffalo

                                                                            i've never managed to sit in front of shunji. when we try to reserve that way, those seats are inevitably occupied.

                                                                            whoever served us, however, was a swell, personable guy, who seemed ready and willing to listen to us.

                                                                            i should say shunji was present.

                                                                            1. re: linus

                                                                              I guess I should temper myself. I wouldn't go as far as saying "don't go" if one can't sit in front of Shunji (unlike, again, some about Sergio), and I think it may (ironically?) matter less at dinner, *if* you're doing a tasting menu or omakase that has more kitchen dishes where the itamae isn't as involved during those course as when he's making your nigiri for you.

                                                                          3. re: jessejames

                                                                            i think he was leaning towards putting the meat back in the shell with some kind of miso thing
                                                                            He was probably talking about the kani miso aka crab mustard. My personal favorite.

                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                              is there mustard?

                                                                              i was glad to hear shunji reassure me before we started when asked if anything i don't like that he is mayo-free.

                                                                              1. re: jessejames

                                                                                The "mustard" :


                                                                                Contrary to popular belief, the "mustard" (or the "green gland" or "tomalley") is not fat, it's actually the crab's hepatopancreas, a main component of the crab's digestive system.

                                                                                The hepatopancreas is a gland made up of very small branched tubes (ramified tubules) located on both sides of the mid-gut in the main body cavity directly under the top shell and functions as both liver and pancreas. It is involved in producing digestive enzymes and is responsible for filtering impurities from the crab's blood.

                                                                                The "mustard" has a strong taste and is eaten by many people who consider it a delicacy.

                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                  you know, if it is orange colored and somewhat foie gras of the sea tasting, he sampled some and then gave us a little dab to try ... i assumed it was brain or something else...but i think i had crab brains before and they were greyish. he literally used a rolling pin to get the meat out of the smallest legs and wasted nothing on those crabs he was working on...he had a nice big box, maybe 20 or so, so let me know if you get it!

                                                                                  1. re: jessejames

                                                                                    you know, if it is orange colored and somewhat foie gras of the sea tasting, he sampled some and then gave us a little dab
                                                                                    That's it. It can be gray, or yellow, or orange. Good stuff. He must like you :-)

                                                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                                                      i hope so. The feeling is mutual. How does he prepare the hairy (spiny?) crabs? same way? I like those guys.

                                                                                  2. re: Porthos

                                                                                    I prefer lobster tomalley over crab mustard, but just barely. I'll gladly take both. :-)

                                                                                  3. re: jessejames

                                                                                    Yes, even his blue crab hand roll is mayo-free. In that case, I think it could use a little mayo, as it's a bit dry otherwise.

                                                                                    1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                      im with shunji -- mayo is the fucking enemy.

                                                                      2. Speaking of the man himself, he just posted a picture of Shanghai crab on this Facebook page. 4 of them. Go get em boys/girls!

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                                          We watched him dismember and assemble those, with a few morsels for tasting...i believe he said he was getting in some hairy crabs too. This man knows how to treat his customers, even a first time one. Always feel this kind of hospitality makes the food taste even better.

                                                                          1. re: jessejames

                                                                            This man knows how to treat his customers, even a first time one.
                                                                            This is also key for me and if you can imagine, each subsequent visit will only get better as he learns your tastes and preferences and adjusts your meals accordingly. The best chefs I've known have operated like this: Yasuda, Mori, and now Shunji.

                                                                            Thank goodness the days of suffering through gruff itames with deep respect to eventually get a proper meal reserved only for "regulars and VIPs" are behind us.

                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                              I need to come back for dinner not lunch so i can compliment his fine sushi with that keg! that will add to the fun!

                                                                              1. re: jessejames

                                                                                (insert additional Shunji praise here)

                                                                              2. re: Porthos

                                                                                So when's the chow meetup at Shunji's?? We can reserve all the bar seats! :P

                                                                          2. Another great lunch with shunji. Hairy crab season. Simple preparation shells cut meat exposed and the mustard stuff on side for dipping. He had a live king crab in the house too !

                                                                            35 Replies
                                                                            1. re: jessejames

                                                                              Nice. That has my name on it.


                                                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                                                If you're not serious I'm claiming it for myself tonight then!

                                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                                  When u wake up from sushi coma let us know how shunji does the king crab. I liked the simple presentation of its hairy cousin

                                                                                  1. re: jessejames

                                                                                    "All twelve lbs?"

                                                                                    this is the same JL that ate 32 Baos and then went across the street to eat more stuff! :> i say he is Joey Chestnut's brother and will be eating in the Hot Dog eating contest next year in NY. :>

                                                                                2. re: jessejames

                                                                                  We tried the Shanghai hairy crab last week, which was also excellent.

                                                                                  1. re: jessejames

                                                                                    Wow, went back already? Welcome to the Shunji Anonymous.

                                                                                    1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                      Yeah now I get to introduce my friends and their credit cards. Had that great scallop number too and toro collar. Pretty great

                                                                                      1. re: jessejames

                                                                                        Oh, geez. Save some for the regulars. Oh, wait you are a regular.

                                                                                        Do you have a house account already ?

                                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                                          I think there's a big sea worth of treasures. Frankly it is shunji who is the real treasure there treating me so good as a new customer. Interesting to hear all his sushi war stories like the customer who buys him out of toro collar or the special yellow tail that swim down from Hokkaido to Kyushu and have that reddish color meat and lots of passion for eating his own food. Lunch is great cuz slow and relaxed there.

                                                                                          1. re: jessejames

                                                                                            Interesting to hear all his sushi war stories like the customer who buys him out of toro collar
                                                                                            That JL...

                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                              And black, burgundy and white truffle.

                                                                                          2. re: kevin

                                                                                            Shunji-san is always perplexed when I call him a month in advance. I'm just securing my spot (and food) for when the masses finally realize how good it is and mob the place.

                                                                                            1. re: stravaigint

                                                                                              But he gets "mad" at me when I show up unannounced or with a last-minute call...

                                                                                              1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                I always show up put of the blue when dining solo.

                                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                                  I am almost always making my reservations last minute (really a few hours in advance). Prob would be better for them if I planned in advance.

                                                                                                  FWIW, I found the hairy crab quite good but not as mind-blowing as I expected. It was fairly dry, so was the roe. Might be because it was "early in the season" according to Shunji.

                                                                                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                    id be curious to see his take on the live king crab -- ive enjoyed it at sea harbor, and jl's photos are mouth watering...the toro collar sushi did blow me away ... melted in my mouth...that was incredible...

                                                                                                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                      do you 'regulars' think your last minute reservations or spontaneous visits make it difficult for us plebes to get a seat in front of shunji?
                                                                                                      do you think there's preferential treatment when it comes to getting a res in front of shunji?

                                                                                                      no animus intended, just curious.

                                                                                                      1. re: linus

                                                                                                        Linus - I went for the first time a few weeks ago, called ahead same day and have done the same each other time and have been treated great by Shunji. I did ask if he was available the second and third times and didn't even know it was him the first time until I asked him his name and introduced myself when we sat down.

                                                                                                        1. re: jessejames

                                                                                                          when i've gone, requested seats in front of shunji and was told they were none available.

                                                                                                          it's no big whup. the other fellow is swell.

                                                                                                          1. re: linus

                                                                                                            Go ahead and blame these regulars.

                                                                                                            1. re: linus

                                                                                                              I think it just depends on when you're requesting, both day of week and time. Shunji is usually (always, when he's there, in my experience) in "first" position, and he only has the 6 seats in front if him, so spots are limited.

                                                                                                              I always try to call ahead, but when I do drop in, it's almost always solo, and I generally try to go right at open for dinner, so it's usually not a problem to get a seat in front of Shunji, but Yuko will let me know if they have reservations for people at the bar with Shunji later on, a very reasonable request. I don't mind having an abbreviated meal in that case, since, for a drop-in like that, I wouldn't expect to be able to have an all-out 2-3+ hour omakase; that's what reservations are for.

                                                                                                              I've never seen anyone moved from the bar to accommodate a regular. Never happened for me, nor would I accept. I have seen customers (regular, infrequent, new, I can't tell) start at a table and then move to the bar when seats open. They do try to accommodate as much as possible and be egalitarian about it.

                                                                                                              Shunji is also very customer focused. As I mentioned in the OP, the day he opened for lunch, his brother Tetsuya and an old friend from Japan were eating, and they did not get the prime seats. I've also seen his friend Kenta-san (of Tsujita and ANNEX) come in and not get an empty seat in front of Shunji because it was for a reservation.

                                                                                                              I heard once that a prominent food blogger tried to book the entire bar on a Fri/Sat night, and Shunji didn't know who they were and declined them. After he found out, he still declined them because he wanted the bar to be able to serve more parties (a couple on a date, friends celebrating a birthday, regular diners, etc.), even if the number of seats filled are the same. In the end, I believe the food blogger got most of the bar, but on a Tuesday night or something.

                                                                                                              1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                Wonder if that blogger was kevineats?

                                                                                                                1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                  thanks for the info. good to know everyone's treated equally.

                                                                                                                  1. re: linus

                                                                                                                    I agree with everything that Offalo Fellow says.
                                                                                                                    I think they go out of their way to make everyone feel quite welcome and have first-come-first-served access to prime seats and other goodies.

                                                                                                        2. re: kevin

                                                                                                          Show the man some courtesy and let him know ahead of time if you're gonna visit his house.

                                                                                                          A "heads up" from the customer, even if you're already en route and only 15 minutes away, is MOST appreciated, especially in Japanese cuisine.

                                                                                                          (You may even find a better dining experience, since some advance prep work can be done in anticipation of your visit!)

                                                                                                          1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                            I agree.

                                                                                                            Being nice always nice and you get what you give.

                                                                                                            One of the things for me that stands out regarding shunji restaurant is that it isn't some exclusive club like some of the others and shunji was proud to introduce me to new fish, describe stuff and was a "regular guy." I didn't detect and plebe v regular stuff happening at all. He has a super courteous and attentive staff as well and has been generous with free tasters, desserts and the like.

                                                                                                            a lot of passion for his work and a terrific host all around.

                                                                                                            I'm ready to rent the back apartment in that welding shop

                                                                                                            1. re: jessejames

                                                                                                              He treats everyone nicely and fairly. And remember, where did all these regulars start out? From the "bottom" as new diners, no?

                                                                                                              1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                Speak for yourself.

                                                                                                                Okay, and me too.

                                                                                                                1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                  I'm not involved in this. I'm probably more in-between the real regulars and newer diners.

                                                                                                                  1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                    Tweet from Kris at Night+Market:

                                                                                                                    "Consider this a public service announcement. Shunji is now open for lunch. GO!"

                                                                                                                    Only two months late. Think it'll get busy now?

                                                                                                                2. re: jessejames

                                                                                                                  Yeah. What the hell is going on at the welding garage ?

                                                                                                2. After viewing a number of your posts on Shunji, and posts from J.L. and Porthos, I told my wife we just have to try when lunch becomes available.

                                                                                                  We are not young people and tend to avoid eating heavy and raw stuff at night, as much as possible. I was so excited when President's day came, as my wife did not have to work and I am flexible to request a 2-3 hours break for lunch. We live in the West Valley.

                                                                                                  I called around 11 in the morning and requested to be in front of Shunji, but the laday (Yuko ?) apologized saying it was his day off and if it was ok. I hesitated for a moment but said 'it is fine' (as it is rare day that both of us can make it)).

                                                                                                  We were seated in from of Miki-San, we were the only customers the entire time we were there (12 - 1:15). 2 ladies came in to sit on the table when we left.

                                                                                                  Our experience was just 'OK', we were not blown away. Besides the $40 lunch omakase, we also ordered a couple of items from the board. We also have nice chat with the chef at the end of the meal.

                                                                                                  Did we make the cardinal mistake of going on a Monday, I thought of that but since I mentioned it was a rare moment, we went anyway.

                                                                                                  Secondly, was it because we were not served by Shunji, himself that caused us the stellar experience ?

                                                                                                  I told my wife, we have to find time to give it another try when Shunji is available.

                                                                                                  We have eaten spectacular sushi in the past 30 years from L.A. to Japan, so an outstanding chef calls out by respected chowhounders is always on our list to try.

                                                                                                  Thanks for listening.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: jotfoodie

                                                                                                    And thanks so much for posting your experience.

                                                                                                    1. re: jotfoodie

                                                                                                      I think it's still great either way.

                                                                                                      1. re: jotfoodie

                                                                                                        Hi jotfoodie, thanks for your report. I'm assuming you meant Veteran's Day? I'm sorry your meal was not fantastic. I think I've said elsewhere in this thread that I wouldn't want to discourage anyone from going just because Shunji isn't one's itamae or even just onsite to supervise. I really do think that Shunji offers a fantastic selection of fish, and at least for lunch it is at a great deal for what one gets, regardless of which of the chefs prepares the meal.

                                                                                                        But dining in front of Shunji, when it's an option, does have two big advantages. First, he likely has the most experience and definitely has the most skill in the house, that's why his name is on the building. Second, speaking of his name on the building, as the owner, he can make on-the-spot decisions on what and how to serve a particular dish that may deviate from the norm, even though I'm sure he's trained the other chefs to be as consistent as possible.

                                                                                                        I would definitely give it another shot with Shunji as chef, maybe as a light dinner with a few signature kitchen dishes (e.g., agedashi tomato tofu) and then some sushi. See if it really is or isn't for you.

                                                                                                      2. found my lunch to be rather miserable. All cut and served at once, called the deluxe option. Not the omakase. Grumpy as can be service. And I usually get along fine with the grumpy. Not one piece was special in any way. I had a bottle of sake and tried to ignore. Wished the whole time I was at Kiriko. A total waste of time, money.

                                                                                                        I've had dinner there before. Enjoyed the food, though not the service. Nor the bill. I don't see myself going back.

                                                                                                        17 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: epop

                                                                                                          Epop! Good seeing you again. Long time.

                                                                                                          You know you can't judge them by lunch deluxe special.

                                                                                                          Go for dinner, full Shunji omakase. It's outstanding. Trust me.

                                                                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                            I thought Epop was an NYC hound for a while or just lurking for the past couple years ?????

                                                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                                                              Howdy, too. Got some nasty responses from people on Chowhound because I disagreed with them about the food being served. So I jumped ship.
                                                                                                              Also, Epop doesn't eat out in L.A. anymore. Or the USA. Got a couple spots that work, though. Too disappointing overall. So he stopped posting. Shunji was great at dinner, but we were rushed even though no one else was there. The enormous bill (350 plus dollars for two) accumulated in thirty minutes was annoying.

                                                                                                              1. re: epop

                                                                                                                sorry for the harsh treatment man.

                                                                                                                if i'm not mistaken you were on the forefront of the sushi gurus, right ?

                                                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                  I'm still on the hunt, thank you, Kevin.

                                                                                                          2. re: epop

                                                                                                            "And I usually get along fine with the grumpy."

                                                                                                            Now that has to be one of the funniest things I've read on Chowhound in a loooooooong time.

                                                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                              He's not the Only one that gets along with the grumpy.

                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                  We somewhat get along with you S, right ????

                                                                                                                  And you are pretty darn curmudgeonly. :)

                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                thank you. Appreciated, servorg

                                                                                                                1. re: epop

                                                                                                                  I'm curious (and this is for everyone): who gets the piece-by-piece, and who gets the all-at-once plate?

                                                                                                                  I do love Kiriko though, and I obviously love Shunji. Have had great lunches from both. If people insist on Shunji at lunch though (and why wouldn't you), maybe go Wed-Fri?

                                                                                                                  Also, I'm very surprised re: the service issue...

                                                                                                                  1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                    I almost got the whole plate but then Shunji stepped out of the kitchen and motion and gestured to his sous chef to serve me piece by piece.

                                                                                                                    1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                      Not sure. But first time customers who have not been for dinner before will get the whole plate treatment possibly.

                                                                                                                      Though if you order the official omakase at lunch you would still obviously be served piece by piece.

                                                                                                                      1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                        I get piece by piece. I think for the $40 premium lunch, you should get it piece by piece (you do for the $40 lunch sushi omakase at Kiriko), but maybe not the $23. Perhaps it's best to ask for it.

                                                                                                                        I am also very surprised to hear about the grumpy service.

                                                                                                                        1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                          IMHO this is a no-win situation. Chefs that serve piece-by-piece will earn criticism for being too slow - usually by those who have a limited lunch break and need to run other chores and/or be back at work on time. Chefs that serve the entire plate at one time get called out for not serving piece-by-piece. Establishments do recognize that lunch during the work week is usually a time-limited situation. Become a repeat regular and the staff will generally remember your preference.

                                                                                                                          1. re: prawn

                                                                                                                            Or how 'bout this? Save sushi for dinnertime, and eat something else for lunch!

                                                                                                                      2. I thought I would resurrect this "old" post with thanks to PeterCC for alerting us all to the lunch special. As a fan of Mori and Kiriko on the Westside, I had to admit this was the best sushi fish-wise I've had.

                                                                                                                        I've been rather blase about bluefin these days, but I loved his serving. Other highlights included his toroo, wild yellowtail and king mackeral.

                                                                                                                        People sitting near me had the omakase and were given the comparison taste test between Japanese and Santa Barbara uni. Can anyone here taste the difference, besides color?

                                                                                                                        All in all, the best $40 sushi lunch in town, even better than Kiriko's.

                                                                                                                        10 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Ogawak

                                                                                                                          Can anyone here taste the difference, besides color?
                                                                                                                          A big yes and highly recommended.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                            Next time I do the lunch, I will request both uni ala care if necessary. Does anyone know if Shunji flies in fish, etc., from Japan everyday, or at least often? I just love the taste of his fish and seafood.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Ogawak

                                                                                                                              Very often - has his own guy/connection at IMP.

                                                                                                                              1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                                Thanks for the reply; his guy/connection really knows fish.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Ogawak

                                                                                                                            i'm no porthos, but even i can taste the difference between the santa barbara and japanese uni.

                                                                                                                            the japanese uni is spectacular, if uni can, indeed, be spectacular, which is another topic.

                                                                                                                            1. re: linus


                                                                                                                              You don't think Uni even the best Uni is worthy of being spectacular ??????

                                                                                                                              Just curios.

                                                                                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                i'm just being sensitive to those readers of chowhound who seem to have an aversion to adjectives.

                                                                                                                                1. re: linus

                                                                                                                                  i see.

                                                                                                                                  btw, how many times have you been there ?

                                                                                                                                  And if i remember correctly you are a proponent of the sous chefs there serving you the wares, who also have great skills according to you, right ????

                                                                                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                    two or three times. i don't remember.

                                                                                                                                    i have yet to sit in front of shunji, but found the other fellow lots of fun and the food was delicious.

                                                                                                                          3. I know this is a broken record - but just had to say it.

                                                                                                                            BEST 'EFFIN LUNCH SUSHI DEAL IN TOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                            Lunch Special Sushi, Premium (12 pieces of chef's choice sushi & 1 roll) for $40

                                                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Sgee

                                                                                                                              And popular too. Was gonna go tomorrow for lunch but bar is full up.

                                                                                                                              1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                                Thanks for the heads up.

                                                                                                                                I was pondering hit it up tomorrow too.

                                                                                                                                Well, that takes care of that.

                                                                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                  He mentioned no more kuruma ebi for a while due to ama-ebi being in season. Competing interest.. Crowd was ok today

                                                                                                                                2. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                                  I call your bluff. Shunji himself says you got a spot reserved at the bar on Friday but canceled. :-)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                    I talked to the real boss on Thursday. ;-) She said there wasn't room at the bar yesterday for lunch, so my wife and I went last night at open instead. Quiet the first hour or so, but pretty crowded by the time we left at 8 PM. I think the LA Weekly and Eater LA mentions are making it busier than usual.

                                                                                                                                    Wait, when were you there?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                                      I was there when you weren't. Didn't see you silver Japanese model vehicle in the Shunji parking lot or nearby streets either.

                                                                                                                                      You're right. Yuko-san is truly FOH. there.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                        That's a little creepy. Though I don't have a silver Japanese model vehicle...

                                                                                                                                        1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                                          Hehehe... I actually saw you at Shunji once. I misidentified the vehicle, though. My bad.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                            Some day we will have to even the playing field. I feel at a distinct disadvantage.

                                                                                                                              2. It took me a while but I finally popped my Shunji cherry. Went for lunch today and you guys were all correct. This place is phenomenal.

                                                                                                                                My only complaint would be that the nigiri pieces are on the smaller side, but other than that, everythind I had on the Premium lunch omakase was outstanding. Can't wait to go back.

                                                                                                                                16 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: TailbackU

                                                                                                                                  I had a less favorable experience during lunch yesterday.

                                                                                                                                  Shunji and the #2 guy were both out, one of the usual prep cooks ended up preparing our sushi. It was painful to watch his knife skills, very sloppy and I had some guest with me too. It was quite bad... will need to make sure right people are working next time.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sgee

                                                                                                                                    FWIW, Shunji takes every other Wednesday off, I believe.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Sgee

                                                                                                                                      That's too bad. :-( I don't want to discourage people from going just because Shunji isn't there, but there's a reason his name is on the building, so...

                                                                                                                                      1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                                        Each time I've gone I've called and asked if I could sit w shunji at the sushi bar. Been quite successful. My wife enjoys her dates with me and shunji haha. Anyways always worth calling ahead.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: jessejames

                                                                                                                                          You mean, she enjoys being in on your date w/ Shunji :)

                                                                                                                                        2. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                                          Look, the man is not a robot. It's crazy to expect a man to work 30 days a month... Only I'm allowed to do that.

                                                                                                                                          And his staff have been (in my experience at least) more than up to the task to carry on while he is enjoying a day off.

                                                                                                                                          So go to Shunji's. Whenever it's open.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                            I've gone plenty of times when Shunji's not been working. I think for those who go even semi-regularly, it's not a big deal. If you're only going to go once or twice a year, I don't think it's wrong to want to sit in front of the man himself, which means calling ahead and making a reservation, even for lunch.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                              Solid points. And both of his sous chefs are good too in my humble opinion.

                                                                                                                                        3. re: TailbackU

                                                                                                                                          I've never weighed the neta and shari with a scale or anything but I do agree that the pieces seem a little on the small side at lunch as opposed to dinner, but more than appropriately so at the price point. For comparison, my impression of Kiriko's pieces for their $40 lunch special are that they are a little bigger, but I'd actually rather get 3 more pieces of different fish at a slightly smaller size.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                                            Agree. I'd rather get the $40 lunch at Shunji's any day over Kiriko.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: TailbackU

                                                                                                                                              Kiriko is still tight. Toro. That smoked salmon thing with the caviar. Scallop. Crab roll no mayo.

                                                                                                                                              When at shunji I just do the regular omakase. But pricier!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: jessejames

                                                                                                                                                How much does the regular omakase at lunch run you ??????

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jessejames

                                                                                                                                                    Just sushi at lunch right ?

                                                                                                                                                    No prepped or cooked dishes or a tiny zensai app plate right ?????

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                      Sushi sashimi. Crabs. Maybe small app??

                                                                                                                                        4. Here's not quite a dozen shots from my lunch today:

                                                                                                                                          1. Kinmedai (Golden Eye Snapper).
                                                                                                                                          2. Sayori (Half Beak/Needlefish).
                                                                                                                                          3. Chutoro (Medium Fatty Tuna).
                                                                                                                                          4. Warasa (Young Wild Yellowtail).
                                                                                                                                          5. Anago (Sea Eel).
                                                                                                                                          6. Aji (Spanish/Horse Mackerel).
                                                                                                                                          7. Iwashi (Sardine).
                                                                                                                                          8. Ikura (Salmon Roe).
                                                                                                                                          9. Uni (Sea Urchin).
                                                                                                                                          10. Aoyagi Himokyu (Orange Clam Mantle & Cucumber).
                                                                                                                                          11. Lime Ice Cream. House-Made. Petite Serving.

                                                                                                                                          The usual stuff (ikura, hikarimono, etc.) were great, but the anago was amazing! Shunji didn't have hotate himo so he made the himokyu I ordered with aoyagi. Not as snappy as scallop, but still very tasty.

                                                                                                                                          1. Shit. I guess I'll have to go again soon tooo.

                                                                                                                                            But these days it's all about the kegani innards.

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                              >> But these days it's all about the kegani innards.<<

                                                                                                                                              If it's kani miso you seek, then Yama-san at Yamakase is your current best bet.