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Feb 14, 2014 03:56 PM

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.