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2014 - Best Sushi Omakase

I did some searches, and saw that most of the omakase rankings were from a long while ago. My understanding is that Mori has moved on, so wonder if things have changed.

I have been to Sasabune, Mori, Sushi Zo and enjoyed them all. I found Zo to be the best of the three in quality and selection. Sasabune was fun but slightly below in quality. Mori was a bit disappointing to me but very zen.

I'm assuming Urasawa would be too expensive (i.e., willing to pay about $300 per person, but not more).

Anyway, Asanebo is on my radar screen as is Kiriko (a Japanese chef friend from Dallas, Yutaka recommended). Are these worthy competitors if I'm in town for only a couple nights?

BTW--I like more traditional omakase, i.e., nigiri served one piece at a time. I occasionally enjoy a cooked dish too if it's like hamachi jaw or something very delectable.


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  1. Just hit up Mori and call it a day.

    Nuff said.

      1. re: Servorg

        Have you gone to Shunjis yet ???????

      2. Here we go again...

        Tie 1. Yamakase
        Tie 1. Shunji
        2. Mori
        Tie 3. Kiriko
        Tie 3. Go's Mart

        The rest (no particular order):
        Sushi Zo (Downtown)
        Q Sushi
        Nozawa Bar
        Sushi Kimagure Ike
        Aburiya Toranoko
        Sushi Gen

        7 Replies
        1. re: J.L.

          Just ate at Sushi Kimagure Ike a couple nights ago. For $85, it is pretty hard to beat. Delish!

          1. re: xoxohh

            going again tonight for my umphteenth time.

          2. re: J.L.

            No love for Sushi Ici?

            And yet, Sushi Gen gets honorable mention.

            [scratches head]

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Admittedly, this was posted on the run...

              Omissions in the honorable mention list (now that I think about it) should also include:
              Sushi Ichi

              In my experience, Sushi Gen does a decent (albeit not spectacular) omakase at the bar...

            2. re: J.L.

              Aburiya Toranoko was one of the worst dining experiences i had last year. awful food, awful place.

              1. re: chowseeker1999

                I'm only talking about the sushi bar omakase at Aburiya Toranoko, which was quite good.

              2. Mori may have moved on, but it's hard to say there's much difference at his restaurant. Still great. Still fucking expensive.

                1. i personally believe that there's something to be said for building a relationship over time with your itamae; there is mutual trust and respect being built and that can make a difference, i've been to well regarded places and watched the itamae serve lower quality cuts to customers with less discerning palates. conversely, i have found that the chefs who take the most pride in their craft will up their game to match your palate if you've earned their respect by demonstrating not only a refined palate, but a respect for their customs/etc.

                  if your view on this is similar to mine, then try sushi sushi in beverly hills. shigei can be mercurial but if he figures out that you know your sushi, he will not disappoint you.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: barryc

                    barryc, I completely agree with the point you are making about developing a relationship with your sushi chef. As you, I have observed a wide variation of what is served to different customers by the same chef.

                    It sometimes seems to me that what is in the cold case on the counter is just the tip of the iceberg. Often, these same chefs can open other fridges and cold drawers and create amazing items -- other than what you see in the case on the counter. Specifically, this happens to me at Noshi on Beverly. Noshi can be the Denny's of sushi bars for some, but some of the chefs can also offer their regular customers much finer fair.

                    1. re: barryc

                      True, but sadly our OP is in town visiting only for a few days. Keepin' it practical.

                      1. re: barryc

                        Concur...I've had great omakase meals at places I would normally never patronize, and mediocre ones at the elite sushi bars. The sushi bars with the best reputations are more likely to give you a great meal, but no guarantee.

                        I think it's fun just to try places without any preconceptions or biases...just drive by a place and try it. Sadly, in this day of yelp etc..., very few people will spend their money on ANYTHING without doing extensive, soul killing research.

                        1. re: manku

                          I agree with everyone that getting to know the itame usually results in better subsequent visits (exception being the ones that only give the Japanese customers the prime cuts regardless of how many visits). However it's more like a place going from A to A+ (eg. Mori, Yasuda, Shunji) where it's good from the first time and gets better. Not some place serving B/B- stuff and then jumping into the A tier. Those B/B- places can elevate their game to B+, but the reason they were B tier in the first place was the rice and the knife work as much as the quality and variety of the fish. While the quality and variety of the fish can go up in subsequent visits, the rice and knife work usually stay the same because that is the extent of the chef's skill. At least that has been my experience.

                          1. re: Porthos

                            Yeah, you're not going get great omakase at a place like Katsuya even if you lived with the sushi chef.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Act I (scene: sushi bar at Katsuya on a typical Friday night, with nary an empty seat at the sushi bar)

                                Itamae: "Here is your order of spicy tuna with crispy rice."

                                Douchebag (sitting at bar, still busily separating the fish from the rice on his last order of maguro nigiri): "Thanks bro. Hey, what did you just give that guy at the other table? It looks good."

                                Itamae (looking a bit flustered): "Ah, that is grade A5 Japanese beef from Kagoshima, slightly seared on a hot stone, then served with Hokkaido uni, sprinkled with shaved winter truffles and garnished gold flakes."

                                Douchebag (as he completely baptizes his o-toro into a large vat of soy): "Wow, that sounds amazing bro. Gimme one of those."

                                Itamae: "So sorry, Douchebag-san. I cannot."

                                Douchebag (indignant, pointing to other diner munching on said beef): "Well why the f*ck not dude? How come he gets to have it?!"

                                Itamae: "That man is my roommate."

                                1. re: J.L.

                                  I wish I could recommend this several times

                                  1. re: J.L.

                                    We've been seated next to a guy who picked the neta off his shari, dropped a few grains onto the bar, then flagged down a server and asked her to wipe up his 'spill.'

                                    1. re: J.L.

                                      I just wanted what you were having JL!! ;-)

                                      1. re: J.L.

                                        It's always a bit jarring to see the word "Itamae" used in conjunction with Katsuya.

                                        Sort of like calling someone at Denny's a "chef".

                                      2. re: Porthos

                                        the first thing i noticed at sushi sushi was the rice. i understand he gets it from a specific supplier who grows it to order.
                                        there are some things you can get with better relations that you might not otherwise simply because they're time consuming. for example, toro that comes from striated sections of the fish, more typically from bigeye where the chef will take the time to cut out the toro between the muscle striations (without charging for the effort), and then maybe broil the striations separately and serve them with ponzu (think fish bacon). as a conplimentary serving, etc. or as a preferred customer, your complimentary appetizer is negitoro with shaved nagaimo, shredded nori and a dab of wasabi to which you add a little soy sauce. another time, i got a sample of their staff meal - the leftover over gindara (black cod) cuts (skeleton, etc.) cooked in soy sauce, mirin and sake. oh that was good. or if you order something like engawa he may go the extra mile and each of the your two piece order will be prepared differently; maybe one piece seared, the other with yuzu & sea salt vs. the typical halibut/flounder/tai prep with green onion/ponzu, etc. or he may go to the trouble of giving you a tail cut when it's possible. there are a lot of things a chef can do to let you and everyone else in the bar know that he considers you a A+ patron, even if he's not an A+ chef. i find value in that.
                                        FWIW, you *can* get better service before the end of your first meal - but a lot harder if it's omakase since it requires a certain amount of interaction and certain educated questions that work as a two-way litmus.test. but even just demeanor and bearing can make a difference; i've accompanied friends to their favorite places, and before the end of the night, their chefs are giving me better cuts of fish when we order the same thing, usually when the friend involved is playing the role of loud ugly american.

                                  2. Amazing stuff, thanks all!

                                    Shunji was not on my radar screen, embarrassingly because I had used Zagat to guide me in the past. Do they do single pieces of nigiri, as I could not tell from Yelp where it looked like people would receive all the fish in a platter.

                                    23 Replies
                                    1. re: dndicicco

                                      Sequential nigiri pieces are served at Shunji, except on their lunch specials or if you specifically ask for them all at once, I believe.

                                      Shunji's brother Tetsuo runs Asanebo (Shunji himself worked there a bit). I like Shunji better than Asanebo.

                                      Wherever you ends up, I don't have to remind you to sit at the sushi bar/counter rather than at a table, do I?

                                      Many of us Hounds are here to escape the atrocities of Zagat

                                      1. re: J.L.

                                        So, J.L., this came up during the meet-up. If, for whatever reason you didn't have a reservation at one of theses place at the sushi bar and attempted a walk-in, and there were no spaces at the bar and the wait for the seat was not manageable, would you just (politely) walk out?

                                        1. re: TheOffalo

                                          I look at it this way (with a Japanese mindset): I'm coming over to someone's house/restaurant for dinner. It would be polite to give my host time to prepare for my arrival, so therefore I try my best to alert my host beforehand (by making a reservation).

                                          In my prior travels to Japan, nothing is ruder than showing up to a higher end sushi-ya unannounced. People who do this usually get turned away outright; the option of waiting is not even offered.

                                          Of course, we're talking L.A. on this board, not Japan. But even here in L.A., if I decide to go have sushi last-second, I ALWAYS call the restaurant to let them know my intentions (even if I'm only 5 minutes away from arrival). This way, the staff can also communicate to the itamae of an unexpected guest, and also they can tell me just how busy they are at that time.

                                          Bottom line: The scenario you've painted usually doesn't happen to me. Because if indeed there would be a wait for a seat, instead of waiting, I'd rather abort the attempt to go that night so that everyone saves face.

                                        2. re: J.L.

                                          Ha. Zagat was a good first step for me, since it directed me to places such as Sushi Yasuda, Soto, and Kurumazushi in NYC. I quickly became obsessed and learned the finer points in this blog: http://www.eugeneciurana.com/musings/...

                                          I still follow its mantras today. The only debate I tend to have these days is to do pure nigiri omakase or go to places where the itamae likes to include cooked dishes too.

                                          I would never sit at a table! I'd just switch to an Ethiopian restaurant in that case.

                                          1. re: dndicicco

                                            Given what you've written here I would say that Shunji is a "no brainer" for your first choice next time out of the gate here in Los Angeles.

                                              1. re: kevin

                                                Awesome guys. Curious...how does Urasawa compare to Shunji, Mori and Zo purely on fish and rice?

                                                1. re: dndicicco

                                                  Urasawa's neta is the best in town (heck, Hiro-san sources for the best from all over the globe). BUT Shunji has the best variety of fish/crustaceans/mollusks, with excellent freshness.

                                                  The shari at Urasawa is quite good. I'd put it as just slightly below Mori's (and that's a big compliment to Urasawa).

                                                    1. re: J.L.

                                                      What's Shari ?????

                                                      And what's neta ???? A dope version of natto ???????

                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                        C'mon kevin, of all the people on this board asking about sushi, I thought you would already know these terms... :-)

                                                        Shari = sushi rice

                                                        Neta = the yummy stuff that goes on top of the rice in a typical piece of nigiri (i.e. fish, crustacean, mollusk, etc.)

                                                        Please tell me you know what nigiri is.

                                                        1. re: J.L.

                                                          after all these years, i do know what nigiri is.

                                                          And I know some of the names of the fishes in japanese, that's probably the only japanese i speak.

                                                          i just know when it's good, it's pretty fucking good.

                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                            Well hey hey! Now you can consider yourself more "edumakated" on your sushi vocabulary!

                                                            1. re: J.L.

                                                              i like me some educa-ma-cation.

                                                              off to Shunji tonight ??????

                                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                                  Even better.

                                                                  Uh-oh, sevrog is gonna be pissed. :)

                                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                                "Please tell me that you have something more, Lieutenant. ...... Please tell me their lawyer hasn't pinned their hopes to a phone bill. "

                                                              2. re: kevin

                                                                Shari is an old chef whose specialty was hand-stuffed Lambchop. She was so good she could make it talk and sing.

                                                                1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                  I think you're using the term pretty Lewisly, aren't you?

                                                                1. re: J.L.

                                                                  I visited Hiro-san a couple of weeks ago, and I think I've changed my mind about his shari: while it's still not as grainy as Mori's rice, it's the right size and temperature. Throw in his scored ika, awabi and that Spanish kuro-maguro, and it's the best sushi in LA right now.

                                                      2. re: dndicicco

                                                        I was just going to mention that single pieces won't be served if sitting at a table, but J.L. already warned you to avoid the table if you can.

                                                      3. I enjoy the omakase at Sushi Iki in Tarzana. Very fresh and unique selections.

                                                        1. I do like Shunji, but my experience says Mori is still the best.

                                                          1. This is too good information to not push for one more query, any recommendations for lunch omakase? I'll be in town for three nights, so my evenings so far are Urawawa (can't resist), Shunji, and Sushi Zo. I have one lunch open...thinking another Shunji, maybe Nowasa, or Sasabune (new or old location).

                                                            27 Replies
                                                            1. re: dndicicco

                                                              Kiriko if you are on the west side and don't want to drive downtown.

                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                Thanks so much for the Kiriko reminder. A itamae in Dallas (only legit one, Yutaka) recommended it to me. Phenomenal. Really loved the sashimi courses, the seared smoked salmon, tako (with uni soy sauce), and grilled bamboo shoot with spicy miso paste was new for me.

                                                              2. re: dndicicco

                                                                If you want full omakase, I agree with Servorg on Kiriko. If you're just interested in a prix fixe sushi lunch "omakase" (still one piece at a time at the bar), Kiriko has a great 10 piece (9 nigiri, 1 temaki) for $40 which included premium pieces like toro, kinmedai, uni (depending on what the itamae wants to serve).

                                                                However, it's been supplanted by Shunji's premium lunch special, which is 12 nigiri, 1 temaki for the same price. You can request being served one piece at a time at the bar as well.

                                                                I would say for the sake of variety, even if Shunji is the better lunch deal, I'd go with Kiriko for your lunch purposes.

                                                                1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                  Is Sugarfish looked down upon? I'll be in Beverly Hills so it is convenient. The reviews are very strong and the fish looks good, although I wonder if it's as elite for someone who enjoys scallop guts, etc.

                                                                  1. re: dndicicco

                                                                    Is Sugarfish looked down upon?

                                                                    1. re: ns1

                                                                      Glad I didn't go. When I spoke to the person on the phone I was immediately turned off. Way too white.

                                                                      On a similar note, is Sushi Zo looked down upon too? I'm getting a shaky feeling about these conveyor-belt omakase-only joints.

                                                                      1. re: dndicicco

                                                                        zo is not a conveor-belt operation

                                                                        1. re: dndicicco

                                                                          Sugarfish and Zo are completely different types of sushi-yas. The former is a mid-tier (price-wise) mini-chain that caters to them white folks. The latter is a ~$150/person full-out sushi omakase experience. Although, both are connected to Nozawa (former is essentially the casual spawn of the man, latter is his style of sushi but elevated).

                                                                          That being said, Zo can be described as conveyor-hands omakase...

                                                                          1. re: chrishei

                                                                            But if they are in the area, they can definitely hit up Bar Nozawa within Sugarfish and maybe there problem is solved being in BH already.

                                                                            Granted caveat emptor, et al: I haven't actually visited Bar Nozawa just yet.

                                                                          2. re: dndicicco

                                                                            you can hit up Bar Nozawa inside of the beverly hills Sugarfish and then you can have a much better omakase, it's not the same as Sugarfish itself nor is it the same price.

                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                              Have you done Bar Nozawa? Set up seems like a rushed Yamakase kind of experience. Hard to beat Yamakase.

                                                                              1. re: Thor123

                                                                                Bar Nozawa is a bit too "stern", with its strict seating policy, and lack of variety in their seafood, when compared with other high-ends sushi-yas in SoCal.

                                                                                1. re: J.L.

                                                                                  Sounds a little like the old eponymous Sushi Nozawa.

                                                                              2. re: kevin

                                                                                It's Nozawa Bar. They even created an account to correct you when they first opened. :-)

                                                                            2. re: ns1

                                                                              I hate to admit it, sugarfish does a pretty reliable job if you need a quick sushi hit with no fuss. And they are all over the place too. Impressed by how well they are sourcing the fish.

                                                                            3. re: dndicicco

                                                                              I order Sugarfish for takeout regularly. The Brentwood and Downtown locations are decent.

                                                                              Nothing mindblowing, but it scratches an itch every now and then.

                                                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                                                Thanks JL.

                                                                                Now I can profess and come clean that I actually kind of like SugarFish, but i know both you and me are going to get shit for it.

                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                  Count me too as a SugarFish fan. It's very tasty and a fun night out.
                                                                                  It's not perfection - Jiro's never gonna Dream of SugarFish - but I look forward to the yummy "highly" seasoned/sauced fish and creamy wasabi.

                                                                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                    There is no shame in coming out of the sugarFISH closet, everyone. It's OK, you can come out now... :-)

                                                                                    1. re: J.L.

                                                                                      Okay i did the Nowaza to go for lunch plus toro and albacore and it was surprisingly good! The lack of warm sushi rice made it a little less standout but all the condiments were cute.

                                                                                      1. re: J.L.

                                                                                        J.L hahaha!

                                                                                        Dndicicco, we should franchise a sugar fish in Philly. Will easily make a killing!
                                                                                        My tour of duty there were my dark ages of sushi eating.... So bad!!!! Still sucks and morimoto is hit or miss IMO

                                                                                        1. re: Sgee

                                                                                          I'm not joking in saying I would be down. It's a great price point for Philly, we like the beefier portions of fish and rice, and the crab roll alone would be enough to float the franchise. Little components such as the "organic" edamame and sustainability mantra also would play well in the philly hipster scene.

                                                                                          Sushi is still a joke in the city. There is nothing except Morimoto. The closest second is a place called Zama, which is Korean really and the sushi chef basically wows with wasabi edamame and other assorted nonsense.

                                                                                          1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                            Got to hunt someone down to chat to

                                                                                            1. re: Sgee

                                                                                              Go to Nozawa Bar. Ask for the general manager, Emanuele - Everyone calls him Lele. That should be sufficient introductions.

                                                                                              You're welcome.

                                                                                              By the way, I get 10% of all profits in my role as matchmaker.

                                                                                              Can the Philly fish wholesalers deal with the sudden increase in demand for sushi-grade goods?

                                                                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                Thanks and done your are in for 10% :)

                                                                                                I think morimoto sources from IMP in NJ.

                                                                                        2. re: J.L.

                                                                                          Hope no one gets diabetes from all that sugar(fish).

                                                                            4. It's a bad sign when I've spent more time thinking about sushi than eating it.

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                Sounds like almost every meal I have.

                                                                                  1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                    I plan my month disposable income/budget around my sushi dinners.

                                                                                    1. re: chrishei

                                                                                      for me it would be my slim disposable income as well as my indisposable income.

                                                                                  2. I had a delicious Omakase at Jinpachi in Weho a few months back...first time visit - was recommended to me by a Japanese couple when I was dining a Kokkokkoo, or however one spells that Yakitori place in LT.

                                                                                    Was $110/pp, and more food than I could eat. Every piece was delicious, and ambiance was very relaxing. Surprised it doesn't get more love on this board...

                                                                                    1. I did Kiriko for lunch, here's my feedback:

                                                                                      - Wonderful relaxing scene with very traditional staff and great owner
                                                                                      - I did the omakase for lunch, and it did not disappoint. The tender tako with uni soy sauce was standout
                                                                                      - I found the nigiri slightly large for my tastes with a lot of rice, that said, the rice was seasoned perfectly and the single piece at a time was very pleasant
                                                                                      - I felt zen the whole time

                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                        Nice! I need to go back myself sometime soon.

                                                                                        1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                          Glad you enjoyed Kiriko. While it may not be in the 100th percentile it hits the 99th for me.

                                                                                          1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                            You felt zen? Nothingness? That doesn't sound good.

                                                                                            1. re: J.L.

                                                                                              Relaxed sans alcohol and that says a lot for an East-Coaster.

                                                                                              1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                Yeah, I used to live in Philly. I get it.

                                                                                                1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                  Oh that's cool. So you must have enjoyed...Morimoto...and well Morimoto...there's a traditional sushi place called Fuji in Haddonfield outside the city, but besides that no real omakase or even close to it. Sigh. Luckily, we're an hour from NYC and have our fair share of French BYOBs.

                                                                                          2. "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" on Netflix..enjoyable documentary.

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Baron

                                                                                              I'm fairly certain that everyone on this thread can recite each line of that film by now... :-)

                                                                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                I've only seen it once and my memory sucks, unlike the rest of the crew that can cite movie quotes in their entirety ad nauseum.

                                                                                                Btw, does the words "ad naseum" make people nauseous ??????

                                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                                  No, but misspelling of Latin terms in common usage make me a tad nauseous.

                                                                                                  1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                    so it's safe to assume that you are a tidbit nauseous right a bouts now ??????????????????

                                                                                              2. So, I just did dinner at Sushi Zo on National. Fantastic fish, as always. I enjoy the creative and sweet sauces. Some of the highlights were the halibut fin and milt both served battleship style. I much preferred their crab handroll to Kiriko's, and the Trout from Japan was great as well. Finally the white salmon from Alaska was fantastically fresh.

                                                                                                The only thing I was not too crazy about today was the seaweed paper that Kiriko and Zo use; it's not quite as crisp or even close to that of Yasuda or Karuma in NYC. Maybe a blip on the radar screen.

                                                                                                There were only a few crustaceans at Zo, giant and orange clam and a very good ink ika. I'm looking forward to a few more with bite tomorrow at Shunji.

                                                                                                11 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                  Mori is the closest to Yasuda in LA.

                                                                                                  Enjoy Shunji. It's also my favorite for unusual fish, crustaceans, and mollusks.

                                                                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                    I feel like the only one, but I was bored to death twice at Mori. The fish was not melt-in-your-mouth fresh, the counter seemed like plywood to me, and nothing really stood out. I guess I should give it a third run, but besides the Barracuda (which was really only okay) I wasn't wowed. So many other good options that I have not tried yet, Shunji, Urasawa, Asanebo....

                                                                                                    1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                      Since you've done Yasuda and Karuma then you shouldn't be surprised the sushi isn't all "melt in your mouth". That's the Sasabune school of oily fatty fish where everything "melts in your mouth" (eg tuna, salmon, hamachi, albacore, Spanish mackeral). Good sushi places in my experience show the range of flavors and textures so some of the leaner white fish will be a bit chewier and have a different texture (the various dai and tai) all critical to the full gamut of a good sushi meal and progression in my opinion.

                                                                                                      Regarding the plywood like bar, it's the same blonde wood counter you see at Yasuda.

                                                                                                      I only mentioned Mori because you said you liked traditional and mentioned Yasuda. But if you liked the creative and sweet sauces at Zo (not so traditional) then you should try Urasawa (which you said was too expensive in your OP but definitely should try if back in play) or Asanebo or maybe even Go's Mart if you like toppings and sauces.

                                                                                                      Shunji is stellar but unless you specify sushi only, will be more kaiseki and contain half cooked stuff (Urasawa is also kaiseki and will be half cooked stuff). Delicious delicious cooked stuff.

                                                                                                    1. re: ns1


                                                                                                      Battleship sushi.

                                                                                                      Gunkan maki is a variation of nigirizushi. A slightly smaller amount of rice is used, and then surrounded by a strip of nori about twice as tall as the rice to form a container that can hold fish or roe which is too small to be served in slices. This is the typical way to serve ikura (salmon roe), tobiko (flying fish roe), uni (sea urchin roe), or other small items.

                                                                                                      Gunkan means battleship; it gets that name from the shape of the sushi, maybe also for the protective wall of nori around the contents.

                                                                                                    2. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                      Any day that includes a lunch omakase at Kiriko and a dinner omakase at Zo would be a great day. Bravo.

                                                                                                      Reflecting on your impressions of the two, I think you will really really enjoy Shunji's place.

                                                                                                      1. re: prawn


                                                                                                        I have two more nights, one shorter than the other. Does anyone know approximately how long is the omakase at Urasawa? Shunji and Urasawa are next.

                                                                                                        1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                          Urasawa you can prolly do in about 2 hours. But you can also spend four hours there.

                                                                                                          1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                            Allow yourself 3-4 hours for Urasawa. My record there was 6 hours. (6PM-12midnight).

                                                                                                            But then again, my gullet is my mutant power.

                                                                                                          2. re: prawn

                                                                                                            Today's lunch was take-out, so I defaulted to the Nowaza To-Go platter from a new Sugarfish on La Brea. I appreciated the funny little containers with ponzu sauce for x and soy sauce for y, but was disappointed in the lack of wasabi (sorry, I had to say but there was only a dollop!) and ginger (fingernail size amount for about 10 pieces of fish and two cut rolls). The fish was okay to eh. It made me think a) maybe it is all about the sauce and b) it's unfair to rate based on take-out, although I have had very good sushi take out in NYC

                                                                                                        2. Only have time for a take-out lunch from a sushi place in Beverly Hills today. I'm thinking the Nozawa To-Go lunch or lunch special at Sushi Sushi. Any recs?

                                                                                                          1. Responses so far seem very Westside-centric, which is OK for sushi, unlike for say, dim sum. ...but what's to be had downtown?

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                Westside-centric is because that happens to be where those places are located. If Shunji was in, for example, Downey, then to Downey we will go.

                                                                                                                Zo: Pretty good, but small pieces. Zo actually smiles!

                                                                                                                Mako: I went once. No particular urge to go back. Go to Sushi Go 55 if you want a better Mako-level sushi experience.

                                                                                                                Q: Expensive. More of an "intermediate level or above" sushi place. I wouldn't recommend a sushi newbie to start at Q.

                                                                                                            1. To add to this now epic thread (IMO), I dined at Urasawa tonight. Wow, wow, wow. I was in front of Hiro-san himself, since I'm an early bird and was there at 6 pm on the dot. First off, servers are super cool and Hiro-san was shockingly amiable. We were trading sushi recommendations across the country, and he even took my phone for a bit to check out the quality of some places (e.g., I recommended Kabuto in Las Vegas, he traded back with Shirahama in San Diego).

                                                                                                              I don't eat meat or foie gras, but he was super accommodating and did extra uni and caviar instead of the beef tartar (good move), and barbecue toro (his term!) over wagyu beef (fantastic move). In fact, Hiro-san claims he doesn't even really like meat but only eats it because his customers enjoy it!

                                                                                                              A quick rundown off the top of my head:

                                                                                                              1) Hairy crab with shredded yuzu and some gold -- nice palette cleanser

                                                                                                              2) Vegetable course -- I'm blanking on the name for this (begins with an "h" and he referenced it being traditional Kyoto style), this may have been one of my favorites of the evening. He's a secret vegetable nut. I loved the variety of textures, tastes, etc. Some of the saltier items paired very nicely with the sake

                                                                                                              3) Uni and caviar -- wow. Extremely generous portion of caviar. Uni was from Japan

                                                                                                              4) Sashimi plate -- toro was the standout here, but I also liked some of the additional garnishments, such as the extra nori which he said was good for the hair and that I have a lot of it (I have long-ish hair, he's funny)

                                                                                                              5) Fukahire-ni-Ichigoni -- okay, I looked this one up. There was fresh lobster (I saw him kill it in front of me, didn't care for that one bit), uni, gold leaf, and some vegetables. Essentially, a thick soup?

                                                                                                              6) Hairy crab brains -- there was a lot going on here. You ate the brains and uni IIRC out of the shell, which was served over hot coals. Loved it

                                                                                                              7) Stone-seared toro -- maybe the tastiest toro I've ever had. Toro was from Spain. So much better than beef!

                                                                                                              8) Shabu shabu -- always fun. Lobster, milt, seaweed. Then finished as a soup. I hate to say it, but I've had better at Shinbay in Scottsdale. Check it out

                                                                                                              9) Sushi -- nigiri style of course. Hiro-san forms probably the most perfect sushi I have seen. I prefer slightly sweeter/vinegar-y rice, for lack of a better word. Every piece of fish was extremely fresh, although I guess I am getting used to some of the adornments that places such as Kiriko use without sacrificing the taste of the fish. I thought the nigiri was good, but not as good as Yasuda in NYC. My favorite may have been the mushroom and giant clam! There were about 8 - 10 pieces of sushi, with two pieces of negi-toro in the middle. Oh, the ika was outstanding as well

                                                                                                              10) Anago and tamago -- I consider these separate, and were the end of the sushi course. Both were very good, smallish-portions for gluttons such as me

                                                                                                              11) Fruit jello -- that's probably the worst description I can give to this very delicate, almost bitter dessert. Served with matcha

                                                                                                              12) Pudding with chestnuts -- loved, loved this. I suppose it was a red-bean paste pudding and the crushed chestnuts added wonderful texture. This was served with additional tea

                                                                                                              I noticed that people talked up about how full they became after eating at Urasawa, and maybe I'm just a huge beast, but I did not feel overfull one bit. In fact, I felt very clean after the meal, and Hiro-san claimed that that was the Japanese way. I ate a lot, but feel I eat more at places such as Sushi Zo, probably because I usually insist on trying every single piece of fish they have and of course can't stop with only one handroll but need two ;)

                                                                                                              As one more aside, Hiro-san talked a lot about prices. He wanted to know how much everything was costing in NYC (Karuma, Masa, Sushi of Gari...apparently coming to LA, etc.), and even asked about Philadelphia destinations such as Vetri, which is a chef's choice only Italian restaurant, which is $350 PP. Anyway, I think he's trying to justify a price increase!

                                                                                                              Well worth it, but I'm still looking forward to other places such as Shunji and Zo again. :)

                                                                                                              16 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                  That hairy crab brain cooked over coals (in the shell) was one of the best things I have ever eaten.

                                                                                                                  1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                    Nice writeup. I think just we Philly guys just have bigger stomachs. I also think the sated, happy "fullness" one feels after a truly great meal is vastly different than a "bloated" type of feeling one gets after a soul-less carb-load at Olive Garden, for example.

                                                                                                                    Hiro-san's shabu shabu is his signature dish. Now that the foie gras ban is in effect in California, I actually enjoy Hiro-san's foie gras-less version even better. Don't get me wrong - Unlike you, I do love me some foie gras when it's well-prepared. But, I think Urasawa's former version of shabu shabu (avec foie gras) was way too rich.

                                                                                                                    Hiro-san loves to banter about pricing at other fine dining destinations - Not so much to gauge the competition, but rather more to get a feel of where you've been. He's been musing about a price increase for quite some time now - yet the per person cost at Urasawa has remained steady.

                                                                                                                    You'd be surprised how many shokunin are veggie-lovers. Hopefully, you shall see this in action at Shunji when you go. Tell Shunji that J.L. & Porthos sent you.

                                                                                                                    The other thing about Shunji is that the quality of the hikarimono is superb. Sure, it's easy to fall in love with the melt-in-your-mouth flavors of say, a piece of o-toro. Who doesn't love food that melts-in-your-mouth? And most itamae say that it's an easy trick to perform in order to dazzle the customer. But hikarimono - Now if you get that right, this elevates the art of sushi.

                                                                                                                    And again, despite your former experience at Mori, I still think it deserves a second try from you. It is a place where I can learn a few new things about sushi on every single visit. Mori allows me to "grow and mature" as a sushi aficionado, which is something I can't say about every sushi-ya out there. Maru-san's shari, his nori, his "dueling" uni - All of these topics feature finer points to be appreciated.

                                                                                                                    You definitely sound like this is not your first rodeo when it comes to sushi. Unless Zo really, really floats your sushi boat (pardon the pun), you may want to use your remaining meal slot to hit Q Sushi instead, simply because I think it's unique enough to warrant a visit. You're not gonna find anything remotely resembling Naruke-san's stuff in SE Pennsylvania.

                                                                                                                    Happy chowing! And keep reporting back!

                                                                                                                    1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                      kevin, Offalo, and Chris also sent you to Shunjis.

                                                                                                                      Btw, where can one get a great sushi boat ????????


                                                                                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                        Thanks guys! Will definitely name drop. This board has been invaluable. I already used one of my evening slots on Zo, so now the only left is going to Shunji. Next time definitely Mori a second chance and Q Sushi, which looks beyond intriguing. :)

                                                                                                                        Kevin ~$600 (included a little sake and sparkling water)

                                                                                                                        1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                          Don't forget to put Yamakase http://www.yelp.com/biz/yamakase-los-... on your next time list as well (as J.L. recommended up thread).

                                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                            Better go to Yamakase before it's too late.

                                                                                                                            1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                              Go ahead - whale on them all you want...

                                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                Just sayin...

                                                                                                                                I'm a fan of Yamakase FYI.

                                                                                                                                1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                                  We all need to blow (hole) off a little steam now and then...

                                                                                                                                  1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                                    Our little family of 2 concurs with Yamakase being at the top of the heap. Concerned about your comment "go before it's too late"...can you explain? Thank you.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                        Thank you Sevorg. I remember this issue from prior years, but was not aware of the aftermath possibilities.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                    In Japan. Tastes much like beef.

                                                                                                                        2. Shunji...rough around the edges, although flirts with perfection.

                                                                                                                          The problem was Shunji-san and I didn't hit it off. Conversation was stilted, I sat in front of him, and we chatted a bit but it was like after he asked what I liked he purposely avoided it. I had made a reservation beforehand for omakase and said I like everything except don't eat meat, and I mentioned liking Japanese style things such as abalone since I got the impression he thought I wasn't serious. The weird thing was, he served abalone to two Japanese people next to me but not me! I also said I liked the look of his signature salad...yep, no salad!

                                                                                                                          My server was a joke. I had to endure Shunji-san teaching him the names of different fish right in front of me, then the server would place the dish and butcher the names and look to Shunji-san for guidance. I think they got the drift I wasn't liking that one bit and they switched servers to someone with more experience. The original server made a big deal about sake. At one point I was about 85% finished my glass, and he asked if I wanted another. I said yes. The guy raced back with the bottle of sake and requested that I finish my glass so he could refill. I told him no with a pissy expression.

                                                                                                                          But you're not interested in service, let's talk about food!

                                                                                                                          Food was excellent! I had dined at Urasawa last night, and if Hiro-san's cuisine is a 5.0, Shunji is a solid 4.5. That's high praise considering the cost difference (roughly 50% less) and the poor service (including outdoor bathroom!) I had to endure.

                                                                                                                          Here's a little rundown:

                                                                                                                          1) Baby eel with ginger -- clean palette cleanser, hefty portion for what I consider an amuse bouche

                                                                                                                          2) Milt and tofu -- loved this, great mixture. Shunji made it a little weird explaining that the milt was from cod fish but that blowfish was more prized. Thanks for reminding me that this was a step below top tier

                                                                                                                          3) Conch, tako, nut, monkfish liver with caviar -- sophisticated range of flavors and especially textures. Artfully presented

                                                                                                                          4) Firefly squid with spicy miso paste and vegetables -- This was right up my ally. Crustaceans. Check. From Japan. Check. Vegetables. Check. Spicy something. Check

                                                                                                                          5) Assortment of snapper sashimi (5 pieces) -- I really liked this, although this is where there was a lot of back and forth between Shunji-san and his server about the types of snapper. In the end, the seared red snapper was best

                                                                                                                          6) Ink squid and quail egg -- apparently one of his signature dishes, and I loved the creaminess to it as well as the rich flavor of the ink. Lovely dish and very creative

                                                                                                                          7) Tomato "tofu" -- not really tofu, but similar consistency and texture. I am a vegetable lover, so this appealed to me. Another one of Shunji's signature dishes, and I could tell why. The okra was a perfect garnishment and the dish was beautiful

                                                                                                                          8) Udon noodle and whitefish soup with seaweed -- YUM. This is where I warmed up both literally and figuratively. I still didn't click with Shunji-san, but the food was so good and the udon noodles maybe the best I've had such that I went with the flow

                                                                                                                          8) Nigiri course -- Shunji-san asked how many pieces of nigiri I'd like. I said 40. (I ran a 10k in the morning, since I've been waking up extremely early.) He knocked it down to five and said we'll go from there. I think we ended up at 10 pieces. ;)

                                                                                                                          Sushi is perfectly formed, a la Hiro-san style. Interestingly, these are the only two sushi restaurants I've experienced where they use grated wasabi under the fish. Usually one can request the grated wasabi on the side, but the wasabi under the fish can be real, but it's not freshly grated. I don't know the term for the middle tier (not fake but seems pre-made and almost always kept in a little bowl). The grated wasabi is softer, slightly sweet, and does not affect the texture of the fish.

                                                                                                                          Fish was supremely fresh, awesome cuts, and rice was perfect. Just a touch above room temperature, a good feeling of vinegar and sweetness to it. I complimented Shunji-san on his rice and especially how he added the perfect amount of sauce to each fish, such that I could enjoy the texture and the taste of the fish, while the nato enhanced it organically. This is when he emphasized the seasonal nature of his fish and courses. I liked that. My favorites were the seared barracuda, baby yellowtail belly, and kohada.

                                                                                                                          I was not too crazy about the pacing of the sushi courses. In fact, while the soup was cooking he asked if I wanted to start the nigiri and then go to the soup. I declined. We ended with extremely fresh amaebi (saw him kill it). Not exactly traditional for me, since I always want to end with anago, unagi, or tamago, but the shrimp was sweet.

                                                                                                                          Shunji-san asked if I wanted the shrimp head fried or in a miso soup, and since I'm feeling the impending cold of the east coast, I figured I'd go with the miso option. Excellent choice and a warm way to end the evening.

                                                                                                                          In summary, I will definitely be back, as Shunji, IMO, is better than Zo, Mori, or any other except Urasawa in LA.

                                                                                                                          Thanks so much for the heads up, and I'm sure I'll hit it up with Shunji-san more next time. I dropped the chow references, and that seemed to get his attention but I was probably too annoying for it to make a difference. ;)

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                            Very surprised at the service (but you actually wouldn't be the first to point it out on CH), but glad you liked it in general. Probably agree w/ it being just a hair short of Urasawa, but at like 1/3 of the price. Given the choice, Shunji x 3 is definitely the way to go. But I think if someone told Shunji-san "hey I'll give you $395/person, go buckwild" then that could be a different story...

                                                                                                                            1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                              Again - Thanks for reporting back in such depth.

                                                                                                                              I think you & Shunji-san just got off on the wrong foot. Knowing Shunji-san to be pretty chill about these things, this should be easily rectified on your second visit.

                                                                                                                              Having the server training done in front of you, though, indeed sounds not so good. One possible scenario may have been that the usual server called in sick (like in any restaurant), and the last-second replacement guy was more used to Applebee's than sushi omakase.

                                                                                                                              There's a lot of "made" guys/gals at his bar on any given night - longtime customers whose preferences Shunji knows like the back of his hand. He prepares ahead of times when he knows such customers are coming. Not to diminish your comments in any way, but this was your very first visit to Shunji, and he may not have had enough ingredients in his mise-en-place for a sudden salad request.

                                                                                                                              I should have forewarned you that Shunji is very non-traditional with his nigiri pacing. Sometimes when I dine there (and I go with alarming regularity), he interrupts the nigiri flow with a cooked item that was late coming out of the kitchen. Other times, a soup magically shows up between my various pieces of snapper. What can I say? That wacky Shunji... :-)

                                                                                                                              It's hotaru ika season - thanks for reminding me... I need to get back there.

                                                                                                                              Oh yeah, you skipped dessert at Shunji? The man makes some of the best ice cream in L.A., and fellow 'Hound kevin would commit heinous deeds just to eat Shunji's chocolate mousse. Definitely give those desserts at Shunji a try next time.

                                                                                                                              1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                Since the details seem very important to you, I hope you don't mind me nitpicking two very minor things.

                                                                                                                                First, firefly squid (hotaru ika), all squid really, are not crustaceans, which have exoskeletons, but rather cephalopods, which do not have exoskeletons (but some do have shells).

                                                                                                                                Second, unless Shunji changed the presentation, the agedashi tomato tofu is usually topped with a shishito pepper, not an okra, though they do look similar.

                                                                                                                                Now back to your regularly scheduled program. :-)

                                                                                                                                1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                                  I'm all about the details, thanks!

                                                                                                                                  I hear you about the regulars, I can see Shunji-san and I just got off on the wrong foot. I am used to a slightly different itamae. For instance, I love how they always deadpan in Japanese fashion if the food is "okay." Even Hiro-san did this! haha. Yes, okay may be an understatement. ;) Shunji-san would rather point at a picture on the wall of a write-up of one of his dishes after I had eaten it. ;)

                                                                                                                                  So bummed I cancelled dessert. I felt somewhat pressured to stop, since there were a lot of questions during the nigiri course if I was full or done. I'm pretty skinny, and Shunji-san made a few comments that I ate too much for my weight!

                                                                                                                                  Let's not forget, the food is AMAZING, so that's most important to me.

                                                                                                                                  For some reason I can't edit my long-winded post, but I forgot two courses!

                                                                                                                                  - Hama Hama Oyster from Seattle -- really loved this. I'm a big oyster guy, and this was a big oyster! It was cooked ever so slightly and so meaty as to be cut into two pieces. DELICIOUS

                                                                                                                                  - Grilled bamboo -- this is in season, and I enjoyed it more at Shunji than Kiriko. The Shunji portion was smaller, maybe 3 or 4 "leaves," while Kiriko's was more than twice the portion. There's a certain point in eating bamboo where you start asking yourself, why am I eating bamboo? A little is more than a lot in this case

                                                                                                                                  1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                    "...and Shunji-san made a few comments that I ate too much for my weight!"

                                                                                                                                    That's when you need to come back with just one name, "Takeru Kobayashi" and see if he laughs.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                        Hahaha! I'm basically a white version of that dude

                                                                                                                              2. I have a word association for each of the LA sushi spots I've visited in the past year or so. I've indicated number of visits to show what I've overkilled vs. what needs second chances.

                                                                                                                                Urasawa (1) - Sublime
                                                                                                                                Sushi Zo (8) - Tasty
                                                                                                                                Shunji (1) - Pretentious
                                                                                                                                Kiriko (1) - Fun
                                                                                                                                Matsushisa (2) - Old
                                                                                                                                Sasabune (1) - Full
                                                                                                                                Mori (2) - Boring
                                                                                                                                Sugarfish (2) - Cute
                                                                                                                                Hamasaku (2) - Glam

                                                                                                                                To add to this, on my radar screen, next time I'm in LA do you recommend doing Shunji or Mori again, or...checking out one of the following....here are my expectations:

                                                                                                                                Asanebo -- insanely high zagat rating (29), but qualified with very strong Yelp and other reviews. On a strange note, I read that Robert Downey Jr is a fan, and the sushi he likes I like (e.g., there's a spot in Atlanta Hayakawa, which is awesome). I stay in Westwood so it's a hike, not sure worth it compared to the rest

                                                                                                                                Sushi Sushi -- looks pretty traditional. I'm craving a simple kampyo roll and wonder if it can be had in LA, maybe here? I don't like the look of some of the cuts on Yelp, in fact, the nigiri looks a bit sloppy

                                                                                                                                Go's Mart -- not as familiar with this spot. Have to admit the name makes me think not fancy, and I'm a fussy guy

                                                                                                                                N/naka and Q -- I group these together because they look weird

                                                                                                                                Yamakase -- this looks great. Not sure why the discordance of the high Yelp rating (5 stars!) and zero discussion on chow

                                                                                                                                30 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                  Go's Mart is definitely not fancy but worth a try. See my review here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/966271

                                                                                                                                  I personally really want to try Asanebo for the Shunji connection. He opened it with his brother Tetsuya, who owns and runs it now (though Shunji may still have an ownership stake in it).

                                                                                                                                  Yamakase might be a bit on the casual side and not as much sushi, but n/naka should scratch your fancy itch. It is kaiseki though, so not much sushi either.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                                    Amazing review. The tuna flight looked so good I almost became depressed. Thanks for the other insights.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                                      Yeah. I Realky haven't been to Asabeno in years. Upon years.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                        I'm in Louisville next week. You guys can't help me there can you? ;)

                                                                                                                                        In all seriousness, thanks a ton. This thread enhanced my culinary experience in LA by about a million.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                      You can do one return trip + one new restaurant. I don't consider n/naka & Yamakase sushi joints, because you don't really get much of it, but they should indeed be high on your to-dine list. Q is anything but weird from the looks of it, and $ doesn't look like an object for you. Some other choices (though they're not exactly in the same tier as ones you've been to): Kiyokawa, Nozomi, Kimagume Ike, Shibucho.

                                                                                                                                      On a side note, do people know that Zagat is basically Yelp for old people (they're actually user ratings)? I feel like a lot of people still assume they have their own critics.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                                        haha. that's hilarious, but I can totally see Zagat as being an older person's Yelp. I don't mind that since the thing I don't like Yelp is that the rating contains too many variables. I want to look at food first, then maybe service, etc.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                          That's understandable, but a 0-3 scale is kind of hard to work with IMO (Zagat just averages the scores and multiplies them by 10).

                                                                                                                                        2. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                                          "You can do one return trip + one new restaurant."

                                                                                                                                          That's getting harder to do. I'm having to cheat on the regulars already.


                                                                                                                                          I wish someone *coughcough* would go and do a proper report. I keep hearing about their uni connection.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: stravaigint

                                                                                                                                            Are you implying a specific person?

                                                                                                                                            But yeah, it's hard for me even, and I LIVE in LA...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: stravaigint

                                                                                                                                              I almost went there a few months ago. Opted for Torihei instead.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: stravaigint

                                                                                                                                                I've been a couple of times - Nozomi is not friendly to non-Japanese. Table service sushi is terrible.

                                                                                                                                                Definitely a place you need to invest time building a relationship & establishing your cred. The regulars seemed to be getting some really interesting items.... Just too far away for me to go regularly

                                                                                                                                                1. re: stravaigint

                                                                                                                                                  Want a cough lozenge, stravaigint? ;-)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: stravaigint

                                                                                                                                                    Their "uni connection" appears to be Maruhide. I've seen the itamae fish out uni from a tupperware container filled with water many times. Maruhide sells a product called ensui uni that is packed in saltwater (which you can purchase for home use!!), and it tastes just like the wonderful uni they serve at Nozomi.

                                                                                                                                                    I do have to agree with Sgee, though, that the service and quality leave much to be desired if you are not Japanese (even if you are Asian).

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: PomsMoms

                                                                                                                                                      They actually have a live uni connection in Santa Barbara as well I believe (I still haven't been though, so can't say for sure - just from what I've heard).

                                                                                                                                                2. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                  Look folks, I sat next to dndicicco at Shunji last night. None of this occurred as stated. He came in very, very drunk and it just went down hill from there. OK - just kidding - sorry couldn't resist. I know we all really appreciate your excellent review(s) and perspective(s). They are truly wonderful. The server issue aside it sounds like a great meal. I think J.L. is right - you will likely feel the love next time if you go.

                                                                                                                                                  For me "pretentious" is the last word I would associate with Shunji's Japanese Cuisine. Laid Back Perfection works for me.

                                                                                                                                                  I have, surprisingly, enjoyed Matsuhisa's sushi bar recently when sitting with a a pair of regulars.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                                                                    Bob, you had me going for a second. Heh.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                                                                                                                      hahaha! The Japanese guy next to me was very cool, although he strangely declined any sushi besides being an obvious eater.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                        A lot of people go to Shunji's just for their cooked food.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                          Interesting. That would explain why he seemed so dismissive when I mentioned enjoying a hamachi jaw at Hanamizuki in Orlando of all places last week.


                                                                                                                                                    2. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                      A few more comments (sorry):

                                                                                                                                                      Asanebo - Once you've had the food at Shunji, the trip to Shunji's brother's place may not interest you as much. (Of course, this is coming from the guy who ate at Jiro Roppongi just to compare/contrast with Jiro Ginza). Stars go there because Studio City is a great location near the studios.

                                                                                                                                                      As Yoda once said to young Skywalker: "Un-Yelp you must." Also, escaping Zagat was one of the main reasons I came to Chowhound in the first place. IMHO, neither Yelp nor Zagat are trustworthy, other than to give contact info & hours of operation.

                                                                                                                                                      Hamasaku - A glam roll factory. It has its place, that's indisputable, but as for me, I'm just not a big fan of chimeric rolls.

                                                                                                                                                      Sushi Sushi - I get flak for saying this every now and then, but Sushi Sushi is a nice neighborhood sushi joint, just not top tier. If you want a nice kampyo roll, then go to Masu Sushi on Westwood Blvd.

                                                                                                                                                      Go's Mart - Welcome to L.A., man. The weirder the name, the fancier the joint. This place is great. Omakase is served piece by piece. It's a shlep from your abode, but you'll most likely dig it. You will definitely satisfy your USRDA of gold there. Go.

                                                                                                                                                      n/naka - Modern kaiseki at its best. Definitely not traditional sushi, though. As a point of reference, it will probably a better meal than any you'll get at Morimoto these days (I had a meal in the NY Morimoto back when he was cooking which was out of this world, but I digress). I think n/naka is the living embodiment of what we do really, really well in L.A.: Start with Pacific Rim influences, mix in some unconventionality, and seamlessly blend it in with the best of European dining sensibilities. Using the word weird to describe n/naka is pretty insulting, in my book.

                                                                                                                                                      Q - Edo-mae style. If you say you are truly a sushi traditionalist, then here is your mecca. Again, traditional, not weird.

                                                                                                                                                      Yamakase - I suppose the best way to describe it would be Urasawa on a casual day. Still fantastic, just more laid-back.

                                                                                                                                                      Again, un-Yelp you must.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                        IMHO, neither Yelp nor Zagat are trustworthy, other than to give contact info & hours of operation.
                                                                                                                                                        Yelp for pictures, always.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, I suppose I should have said they're only good for "hard" data.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                          We've been to Go's Mart one time and would like to return. I have NEVER had anything so delicious as Kawagishi (sp?) Toro.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JeffW

                                                                                                                                                            I fucking hit the climax on the kawagishi.

                                                                                                                                                        3. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                          I would recommend a 2nd visit to Shunji, the stumble in service that you experienced is probably an outlier. The odd bathroom location can't be helped unfortunately.

                                                                                                                                                          A visit to Asanebo would be more of a trek but I would gamble that you would enjoy the food because the two establishments have a familial and historical connection.

                                                                                                                                                          Kampyo roll should be easily obtainable at any of the respectable sushi bars. Sometimes off-menu like at Kiriko but we order it all the time, never an issue.

                                                                                                                                                          Go's Mart would be a big drive coming from Westwood. If you're okay with a lot of embellishments, then you might enjoy it. We have not been for a while but if history holds true, be prepared for lots of gold flakes, truffle oil, etc.

                                                                                                                                                          N/naka is terrific if you want a more formal atmosphere and kaiseki dining. Reminds us of Urasawa somewhat without the price dagger at the end.

                                                                                                                                                          Q is relatively new to the LA scene. We haven't gone personally but reviews have piqued our interest.

                                                                                                                                                          Yamakase - also have not gone. Supposedly invitation only but we know of no one that has been declined. Not that it figured into our choice (LA is just completely spoiled in terms of great sushi options and we have cultivated some terrific relationships with various itamae) but Yamakase is linked to the controversial and disastrous closing of Hump. It's not a particularly enjoyable topic to rehash.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: prawn

                                                                                                                                                            great stuff thanks. i'll resist inquiring about the hump, although you have me intrigued!!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                              Yes. You might as well visit The Hump. And report back.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                                First he will need to purchase a Time Machine off of EBay...(I wonder what the "buy it now" price will be?).

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                  With a time machine, you also have the option of the "Buy It Yesterday" price.

                                                                                                                                                                  In all seriousness, I actually do go to the Santa Monica Airport (for flights) every now and then. I recently peeked into the space that was The Hump, and all the tables, fixtures, etc. are still there. It's as if time stopped in that spot. Freaky.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                    JL that means the world is your oyster.

                                                                                                                                                                    Open that restaurant once again. And I ain't joking.

                                                                                                                                                                    No joke.

                                                                                                                                                        4. Back in Pennsylvania. One night ago I was at Shunji.

                                                                                                                                                          Tonight, Korean lady's sushi at a Farmer's Market surrounded by Amish people.

                                                                                                                                                          As an aside, the one restaurant I'm missing most in LA...Shunji!

                                                                                                                                                          Urasawa may be too intense to do too many repeated visits (plus the whole money thing). Sushi Zo is great but seems to be a one-trick pony in some ways. Kiriko is great, but almost too fun and laid back for me. (Says the guy at a Farmer's Market.)

                                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                            Did you have a very lukewarm review of Shunjis ?

                                                                                                                                                            And yes Zo is a one trick pony but the fish is good and so is the saucing. But it does not come close to reaching the heights of a Mori or Shunjis.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                              Just down some cheesesteaks, hoagies or roast pork sandwiches and be consoled that Philly smokes LA in that department.

                                                                                                                                                              Glad you had a good sushi festival in LA!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                                Isn't it a bit ironic how the one which gave you the worst first impression is the one you miss the most?

                                                                                                                                                                That was a solid tabe aruki in L.A., man. May I ask you for your current Philly recs if ever I find myself back in your neck of the woods?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                  It is. I'd say Urasawa was more memorable in a good way, but I view Shunji as having unlimited potential and for some reason get a feeling that he'd greet me very warmly next time up. I wish I went there a couple nights in a row, e.g., eschewing my one night at Zo.

                                                                                                                                                                  On the Philly front, there are a few standouts now.

                                                                                                                                                                  1) Zahav -- this is Middle Eastern cuisine by one of Philly's best chefs, Michael Solomonov. His tasting menu is outstanding, and the scene in Society Hill is very fun. He's a great guy and his halloumi and roasted lamb is the only meat I'll eat. I'm not even joking. It's that tender and good. I just can't resist.

                                                                                                                                                                  2) Vernick's -- The IT chef right now, very cool spot off of Rittenhouse and it's one of the places where every dish just hits the spot.

                                                                                                                                                                  3) Bibou -- this is the king of our BYOB scene in South Philadelphia. The head chef is from Le Bec Fin, Pierre Calmels. He opened a larger restaurant in Rittenhouse, so must make sure he's cooking at Bibou when making res

                                                                                                                                                                  4) Laurel -- French bistro. The owner won top chef so now impossible to get reservations

                                                                                                                                                                  5) Noord -- Another BYOB, which is key in Philadelphia. This chef does a Scandinavian influenced menu, and the specials always feature some of the freshest fish in the city

                                                                                                                                                                  On the sushi front I'd only recommend Morimoto, sit at the sushi bar, ask for Ben as your server. If you're feeling Morimoto inventive omakase (for lack of a better term?), you'll always be wowed, IME. If you're feeling more of a sushi night ask for the older itamae to make your sushi and mention you want the "premium" sashimi and nigiri omakase. They'll get the drift and you'll be treated to the awesome stuff. As an aside, they are very into eel there and the sushi rice, so have to get the anago but order is separate since they plate the sushi together and you don't want to mess w/ the temps.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                                    but the awesome stuff there is like apples and oranges with the good shit in LA, right ??????????

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, completely different experience, but there are some similarities. Obviously, in Philly you won't have the same glitz as the LA places, although we have our share of celebrity chefs to which people flock like hounds. Tasting menus are very big, especially new American, pseudo-French. I feel as though Philly restaurants are more concentrated as well, as there are certain neighborhoods which are known for specific types of restaurants (Rittenhouse, people watching, upscale vs. Passyunk, younger hipster foodie crowd), etc.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: beaubourne

                                                                                                                                                                  n/naka offers kaiseki, not omakase. While I agree it's a great place, just don't ask Chef Niki for an omakase.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                        And. That's probably why I've skipped out on n naka all these years.

                                                                                                                                                                        That and the lack of a sushi counter.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                            i better not get started on that.

                                                                                                                                                                            Or else it will open a whole can of worms.

                                                                                                                                                                            although i'll get shit for this i was never really a fan when she had azami or azumi sushi on melrose.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                                              I never went to Asama or Azumi or whatever her other place was called.

                                                                                                                                                                              But n/naka is pretty great. Enjoy the kaiseki! I love this place. You're missing something special.

                                                                                                                                                                              I went to Atelier Crenn and loved it too. Her previous restaurant - Abode in Santa Monica - great room, but the food was lackluster. Sometimes chefs can improve (sometimes not, sometimes the other way around!)

                                                                                                                                                                              I enjoy Tar & Roses more from the same chef who was at Wilshire, where I had a fairly disastrous experience.

                                                                                                                                                                              I'd be shocked if you didn't thoroughly enjoy n/naka.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                am i going to miss the counter seating ?


                                                                                                                                                                                you guys are twisting my arms.

                                                                                                                                                                                i hope it's possible to get out of their for under two C-notes, but that's probably not a possibility right,

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                                                  The cheapest option they have is 150 veg, which amounts to ~194 after tax + 18% tip, drinking only water (tap).

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                    damn, and i ain't dropping 200 buckaroos on a bunch of veggies.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                      Well, true, but $15 more gets you the full experience. Under $200 is unlikely, but you could pay the corkage on a nice bottle and get out for about $250, I'm thinking.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                        meh, price point of 5 bills for 2 was clearly meant to keep the riff raff like me out.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                          And me tooo.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I wish I was a baller.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't think I need to be taller just wish I was more of a baller.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JAB

                                                                                                                                                                                                I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                                                                                                  but if you had a rabbit in a hat? and maybe a bat?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chrishei

                                                                                                                                                                                                      What's cars got to do with this delicious discussion of sushi ???????

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is a food site not a magical tricksters site btw.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                                I won't lie, it hurt a little paying the credit card bill that month. Okay, a lot!

                                                                                                                                                                                                That was our first date night after our daughter was born though. Thought I'd go big!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do not approve of this thread digression.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                                                        Just wanted to add that I was meh about Azami. I thought it was worth supporting the women sushi chefs thing, but the sushi to me was slightly above average. N/naka is just a completely different thing and worth experiencing if you get the chance.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: andytseng

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, that's what people have been telling me, but then again it's going to be 275 per - and no counter ?, right ?????

                                                                                                                                                                                          At the price point, I keep thinking I should just collect some more pennies, or rather a lot of pennies, and go to Urasawa.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                                                            $165 per, without wine.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I was there the other night with a sober someone. So it wasn't too bad. Getting up there in price however.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                              Hmm, 165 without drinks ain't terrible considering that Shunji is about 15 bucks less if not more at times.

                                                                                                                                                                                              the 165 was for the fish centric meal, right ???? or was it the vegetarian tasting ????

                                                                                                                                                                                              thanks foodie.

                                                                                                                                                                                              One of these days you will have to write a novel or memoir based on stories on all the classic restaurants you have hit up.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Sounds like we have similar taste in sushi....we are purists. we love ushi wakamaru in NYC...also loyal regulars at yasuda--nothing compared to tokyo of course but reliable and good fish. So...we are headed to LA. We booked sushi zo and we are torn between sushi park, bar nozawa and a couple of others... Not sure what to do?

                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                              If you read what the original poster wrote http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9654... after he left LA the sushi experience he misses most is the one he had at Shunji http://shunji-ns.com/ in West Los Angeles.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                Sushi Park, and Bar Nozawa are very similar to Zo in style (smallish pieces of fish, heavily sauced-salted-or otherwise flavored). If you want to try that style but "different" check out sugarfish, and get the jump on all your friends back home since, I have read it is coming your way soon-ish.
                                                                                                                                                                                As servorg says for a different experience you can consider Shunji, or Sushi Sushi.
                                                                                                                                                                                yamakase or n/naka or urasawa -- tho' these are not primarily sushi meals but a meal that has sushi

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Two favorites of mine are Yotsuya in Tarzana and Sushi Kimagure (Ike of Hollywood in the olden days) in Pasadena. Both very traditional, extraordinary fish and superb talent.

                                                                                                                                                                                28 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: markfreund

                                                                                                                                                                                  markfreund, have you been to Yotsuya lately?

                                                                                                                                                                                  I can confirm that it used to be quite good, but then they raised their prices. At that point, I did not think it was as good.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: liu

                                                                                                                                                                                    how much are we talking about in the increase of prices ?????

                                                                                                                                                                                    I always felt Zo was much better for this Nozawa style sushi.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                                                      thanks all! this is super helpful... so no one seems thrilled about sushi park. to clarify, i didn't hear urasawa was not good...i just heard it was very expensive and dramatic like masa. not what we are looking for. i am not a masa fan...
                                                                                                                                                                                      but i am surprised to hear that zo and nozawa are heavily sauced and flavored...also not what we typically go for.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                        Then go to either Mori or

                                                                                                                                                                                        Shunji, but specify sushi only omakase at Shunjis.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                                                          Although (at Shunji) his tomato tofu thing is unlike anything I've eaten anywhere else

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: markfreund

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, my bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Please state only omakase but have him add in the tomato "tofu" as well as the bleu cheese balls and the ankimo mousse topped with caviar, and then you're good to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                          If you don't enjoy Masa, you might not like Urasawa. It's definitely expensive and depending on your definition of dramatic, can be overbearing.

                                                                                                                                                                                          We would definitely recommend Mori, Shunji, or Kiriko. Reserve seats at the bar.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: liu

                                                                                                                                                                                        I've only been going there for a couple of years. We tend to spend around $100/person and I always seem to have eaten too much. The fish is superb and his selection of less common items, like jellyfish for example, is extensive.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Are you saying you felt the quality dropped? Or just the value?

                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't know Sushi Zo... have to check it out. A

                                                                                                                                                                                        Do also really like N/Naka although that's less of a straightforward sushi experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: markfreund

                                                                                                                                                                                          I questioned the value back then. That was several years ago. Against today's sushi prices -- since I know the quality of Yotsuya -- I think your $100/pp is in line, if you think the quality has not declined since you have been going.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: liu

                                                                                                                                                                                            Ok if feel like I'm not taking the talk...we want an Edo style meal. Everything we look up in LA looks like kaiseki, vegi or sauced up (a la tomatoes) what do you think?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                              Mori or Q will be the deal for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                                You mentioned Tokyo earlier. What sushi-yas do you like in Tokyo? This will help us guide you more effectively....

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Here is a list of some of our favs:
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sushi Taku

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ah, a fellow member of the Sawada Fan Club, I see... :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    In that case, get thee to Mori whilst in L.A.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another place you might enjoy would be Shibucho (warning: First-timers at Shige-san's bar may not get his top cuts - It sucks but that's how it is)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you don't like the Masa treatment in NYC, then Masa's kohai at Urasawa may not be the perfect place for you either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    A bit more liberal (read: less traditional), but noteworthy place is Shunji. Heck, why have the same sushi in every city on the planet? Allow our wonderful itamae in L.A. to work some subtle local variations into your omakase here. In Shunji's case that means more cooked dishes, and a "tasting flight" of various species of snapper (if available).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    As a Tokyo side note, I thought Jiro (Roppongi location - helmed by son #2) was just a tad better than Mizutani.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I respect every bit of advice you've given....we are down with "when in rome" :) however...as for Jiro's son--if you are referring to the roppongi hills location-- we walked out. In fact we paid for half of our uneaten dinner!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                                        however...as for Jiro's son--if you are referring to the roppongi hills location-- we walked out. In fact we paid for half of our uneaten dinner!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Additionally, at the risk of writing heresy :) we are NOT Jiro fans---very overrated. On that note, sushi nakazawa (NYC protege with much press) is VERY overrated! We had a very underwhelming meal--atmosphere was cheesy and unauthentic...even worse we left hungry and went to Joe's pizza on 7th ave!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cheesy ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Was there actual cheese on the nigiri-zushi at Nakazawa ??????


                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                                                                            reading comprehension fail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Are you being cute? I meant cheesy in the colloquial way--meaning tacky. Lots of granite, pleather, and generic sushi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                i'm convinced he only reads one out of every three words before posting a reply.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                but more details on walking out plz :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ns1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry! I wrote a reply that didn't send?! So...the meal (as I recall) started with ginko nuts... 2 pieces of nigiri followed (white fish can't remember which species right now) it was bland and tough... I was so disappointed. There was some serious attitude and false bravado--especially surprising bc we were literally the only patrons in the entire restaurant!? I am not as polite as my husband--he told the chef I was sick and that we had to leave.... Amazingly they still charged us for the meal! $300! It was our last night in Tokyo so we went to Kanasaka for a palate cleanse :) Jiro was such a HUGE let down!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Was that the original Jiro or his son's joint in Roopongi Hills ???????


                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Not heresy at all! I too did not enjoy my omakase at Ginza Jiro (the Elder). I felt there was oversaucing of the nigiri, but admittedly this is a rather subjective thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              N.B.: This was before the Jiro film/hype in 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Unlike you, however, I did enjoy my omakase at Jiro Roppongi. I felt that the overall execution and shari by Jiro's son were spot on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wow, you and Pete Wells definitely don't share the same views on Nakazawa (and that's just fine by me). Thanks for the heads-up on Nakazawa. Do you like 15 East?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              p.s. Local 'Hound kevin sometimes takes things literally. Please forgive. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                15 east is very very good--solid fish. The octopus there was one of my all time favorite bites in NYC. The service at the bar is a little slow--usually filled with regulars bc it's very small. However the restaurant is rather large. Sitting at a table is an entirely different experience. It is elegant but you could be in any nice new york restaurant, nothing particularly japanese about it. If you go def sit at the bar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  >> If you go def sit at the bar.<<

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That holds true at 99% of sushi places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Our best bite of tako is at Sushi Zo in Downtown LA. You may want to try that too, since you mentioned tako...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Where is the best shari to be had in the 5 boroughs?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Shari....award goes to ushi Wakamaru....also best bite in NYC---better than tako at 15 east...on the menu at Ushi it's called: "caviar" It's black caviar, over a poached quail egg (just the right balance of negi and wasabi) perfect piece of sushi...defines Unami--great texture and temperature. Hideo-San knows what he's doing!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kaijuqueen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the intel. I sometimes venture out to NYC... Always good to know where I can grab some great sushi.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Purely because I love watching you all freak out over Eater LA lists:

                                                                                                                                                                                              The Best Sushi Restaurants in Los Angeles, Winter 2014:

                                                                                                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Discokill

                                                                                                                                                                                                Is this ranked? If so, Echigo is too high I think. Heh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Doesn't seem ranked. Original Zo at #3 and new Zo at #21, makes little sense. And Go's Mart at #27 while Echigo at #4 would be bizarre.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: TheOffalo

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Doesn't seem ranked, but there has been some shuffling among restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Discokill

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm just so, SO done with lists at this point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Whatever, man.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    By the way, Matthew - What are the new flavors at Scoops Westside this weekend?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Feel like I was kicked right in the listicles by Ray Guy...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                                                                                                                                        At least he's a Hall of Famer...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: J.L.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You're telling me...they netted 55 yards with no return.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. A tangental update, if any of you guys get down to San Diego I highly, highly recommend Shirahama.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hiro-san recommended Shirahama to me when I was asking if there were any legit sushi in San Diego. Wow, did he nail it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Shirahama is a family-run joint, literally mom, pop, and son. The itamae takes his sushi extremely serious. This is only omakase although you can order a few cooked items if they're in such as hamachi kama.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The omakase is strictly nigiri and it is super impressive. I did 25 pieces, since I am a huge beast. The rice is delicious, perfect temperature, just a touch of sweetness and vinegar. The fish is not pre-sauced, and he claims nothing is frozen! He kept on complaining about uni in other restaurants (even Urasawa!) having chemicals in it, apparently, Shirahama's is not delivered in the same package.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Some of the standouts were the ikura, which was served nirigi style and I watched Shirahama-san (if that's his name, forgive my ignorance) cut the roe from the skin. The abalone was out of this world fresh, as were a number of clams one of which he did not know the English names but was the best I've ever had. The saba was extremely fresh and had the red in the center which was explained to me as indicating fresh caught from pacific as opposed to vinegary saba from Norway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Most of the fish was fairly traditional (for a Japanese person's palette) but excellently done. The silver fish were the strong suit. Shirahama-san said you can tell a lot about the itamae from the saba, anago, tamago, and one other fish I forgot...oh yes, kahada. He also claimed sushi is 50% fish 50% rice. I like that. Tako was another standout, and I don't think I've ever seen such a thick tentacle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a Japanese person's hangout, and wealthy one at that. The regulars have their own chop sticks and giant bottles of sake. One of the patrons gifted Shirahama-san a pair of scissors worth $1400 (Shirahama-san's daughter is a hairdresser)!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    A few other fun pieces was an interesting akimo and plum sauce handroll to round out the meal and the anago was the best I've had. Even better than...Yasuda's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    So, I recommend this place. Everyone is super friendly to boot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Only 25 pieces of nigiri-Zushi. ??????

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Welcome to LA where the starting point is 50 plus pieces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      But thanks for trying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dndicicco

                                                                                                                                                                                                        >> The fish is not pre-sauced, and he claims nothing is frozen! <<

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Nothing wrong with pre-sauced, in my book: Like marinating of meat, saucing of seafood can bring out certain notes in the taste of the fish as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I kinda want my tuna frozen (a la Tsukiji tuna auction style) at some point before I ingest it - It kinda kills those pesky parasites in the meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyways, Shirahama is my sushi "home base" when I am visiting SD as well. The local San Diego area uni is unique in its gentle sweetness (different than the 'in-your-face-flavor' Santa Barbara varieties). Strangely, only Shirahama and Sushi Ota serve it in San Diego, as far as I know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kohada (note spelling) is one of my favorite hikarimono species as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        How many total pieces did you polish off at Urasawa?

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. It's been awhile, but I still like the original Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills Omikase meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: anotherfatcow

                                                                                                                                                                                                          How much is that omakase meal run these days ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Like I said it's been a while, but it ranges from $100-$200. He has different pricing for the number of courses. They also have a private room for special menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: anotherfatcow

                                                                                                                                                                                                              yeah, i've heard the private room is the way to go.