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Urasawa booked, alternatives?

I'll be in LA next week on a last minute trip and wanted to go to urasawa again but they're booked. Are there any alternatives that compare, or are at least a close second? Thanks.

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    1. re: ipsedixit

      Thanks, yamakase looks great but what's up with the invitation only? What are my chances of getting a reservation for one this week?
      How does it compare to urasawa?

      1. re: PorkyBelly

        Fellow 'hound J.L. did a nice write up comparing Yamakase to Urasawa, which you can read here. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/872446

        Biggest difference to me is the price. All other differences are trivial in my opinion.

        Chances of a reservation? It's one of those, if you have to ask questions ...

        1. re: ipsedixit

          I guess I should add I need suggestions to places I can actually get into with only a weeks notice.

            1. re: PorkyBelly

              Request an invite. As far as I know, it's not that exclusive. The short notice will be the critical factor, not the invite-only-ness.

              1. re: TheOffalo

                Thanks I requested an invite to yamakase. I'll look into n/naka too.

              2. re: PorkyBelly

                Shunji on that case.

                And if it's still Harry crab season or better yet Chilean tiny lobster season then you are in luck.

                1. re: kevin

                  How is old Harry Crab these days, anyway?

                2. re: PorkyBelly

                  Go on the Yamakase web site and send them a nice note. In my experience they were vrery receptive.

              3. You can add Shuni to the list provided above.

                16 Replies
                1. re: Servorg

                  You can add Shuni to the list provided above


                  I wouldn't.

                  (Assuming you meant Shunji and not "Shuni").

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Not a Shunji fan ????

                    Or just not in the tier of Yamakase/n/naka ?????

                    1. re: kevin

                      Obviously, I think one could get a pretty spectacular meal at Shunji, but since the OP specified that s/he'd like to go to Urasawa *again* and if not, then at least a close second, that Shunji may not actually fit. From a cost perspective, Yamakase and n/naka are definitely closer to Urasawa than Shunji.* Also I think the length and pacing might be similar too. This is all based on second-hand accounts, since I've only been to Shunji and not the other places.

                      *Why should the higher cost matter? Because it could actually increase the amount of pleasure derived from the meal, if this study on wine correlates with food: http://www.wired.com/2011/04/should-w...

                      1. re: TheOffalo

                        What Pete, er, TheOffalo said.

                        And, yes, kevin I'm not a Shunji fan.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Fair enough. :)

                          I'll have to
                          Try Yamakase. It sure sounds like Urasawa at roughly Half the price.

                          1. re: kevin

                            Actually, and I'm probably in the minority here, but I think n/naka is the better "economy" alternative to Urasawa.


                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              I just noted to kevin that Mr. Gold rated Shunji ahead of n/naka...and I think Shunji with it's mixed palate of cooked dishes, vegetable creations and sushi makes a good option for Urasawa or n/naka or Yamakase...

                              1. re: Servorg

                                And at a reasonable price.

                                Ipse, why no love for Shunji ?????

                                You didn't have to answer obviously. :)

                                1. re: kevin

                                  Why no love for Shunji?

                                  Because the food just doesn't taste very good.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I think it tastes pretty darn good.

                                    Do you mean for some of The fans it might serve the purpose of more of an epistemological phenomoligical semiotic excercise rather than the delicious punch to the taste buds and unrefined (like me) palate that MC D's serves with its one utterly delicious item in my opinion, Thr namesake filet o fucking fish ?????

                                    The Triple fff delicious threat to the sometimes impentrible jugular.

                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                I agree wholeheartedly.

                                And agree with you on Shunji too. Like, not love.

                                1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                  yes, my expectations were so high of shunji that i was disappointed with my experience. i was however, blown away with yamakase & n/naka. i actually enjoyed both of those experiences more than urasawa now that i'm looking back on it.

                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                  Considering n/naka has a fixed $165 cost (without supplementals) and Yamakase starts at $200+, anyone who can do math should agree that the former is the more economic alternative.

                                  1. re: TheOffalo

                                    My recent meal at shunji was $175pp for just food. while the cooked dishes were good to very very good, the sushi was just ok. I think n/naka is a much better option at $165.

                                3. re: kevin

                                  It's more like Shunji. But the experience is more fun.

                        2. re: Servorg

                          My fave of the places listed so far would be n/naka, but +1 to Shunji, especially considering that the other 3 mentioned might be tricky to get last-minute reservations to.

                        3. just like ipse said.

                          1. I recommend the omakase at Mori Sushi. Gentle progression from small bites and delicate soup to nigiri. Outstanding rice and wide range of seasonal fish and shellfish. Desserts are simple and light yet impactful, especially the whipped tofu with an exquisite molasses syrup. Japanese hospitality.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: terre_et_mer

                              Good choice.

                              Honestly, I think the sushi at Mori's might be a touch better. And n/naka's "cooked" food is better too.

                              Put n/naka and Mori together and you'd beat Urasawa on both counts. Man, would that be an awesome restaurant!

                            2. n/naka.

                              Yamakase is very informal (and a lot fun).

                                  1. Omakase bar at matsuhisa is a lot of fun

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jessejames

                                      Good idea. Also blowing out the credit limit at Nobu in Malibu would be another option.

                                    2. Thanks for all the replies. i was able to get a reservation to Yamakase and n/nake on back to back nights.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: PorkyBelly

                                        That's 2 great dinners right there...

                                        If you are an oenophile, please share a sip of whatever bottle(s) you are bringing that night to Yamakase...

                                        1. re: J.L.


                                          I will gladly partake.

                                          Of course as long as its a 1961 Cheval Blanc followed by a magnum of 1995 Opus One and whatever Manfred Frankl deems close to apropos for The duration of the extensive elevated evening.

                                          And I ain't joking.

                                          I don't mess around when it comes to essentially crushed grapes allowed to sensually breathe for my gustatory pleasure.

                                          And mine only.

                                      2. How were your dinners? Please report.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: TailbackU

                                          Yes, plus 2, inquiring minds do want to know.

                                        2. I'll have to write a more detailed review when I get some time, for now here's a synopsis.

                                          There happened to be a last minute cancellation at Urasawa so I was quite fortunate to be able to dine at Yamakase, n/nake, and Urasawa on back-to-back-to-back nights.

                                          Urasawa was the best and still in a category of its own, however I felt a bit rushed and was out of there in under 2 hours. The fact that Jessica Alba had the next seating probably had something to do with that. Also, i was a little disappointed i did not get the chawanmushi with black truffles like last time. Highlights:
                                          Foie gras and Japanese beef shabu shabu
                                          Beef with caviar

                                          n/naka was my surprise second favorite. Everything was excellent. Some of the higlights were:
                                          alaskan king crab with shitake mushrooms
                                          spaghettini with abalone, pickled cod roe and burgundy truffles - unlike anything i've had before
                                          japanese A5 matsuzaka wagyu beef - best beef i've had in the states.

                                          Yamakase was very good but came in last. There was a lot of repetition in flavors and ingredients. The hairy crab looked impressive but wasn’t as sweet as I would have liked, is it even hairy crab season? However i was most disappointed in the sushi. The knife work was a little sloppy and the fish to rice ratio was almost laughable. It was almost like eating sashmi with a few grains or rice underneath. I'm not sure if he did that on purpose because everybody seemed full or if that was normal. Highlights:
                                          Frozen toro on top of blue crab and toast

                                          9 Replies
                                          1. re: PorkyBelly

                                            Thanks for reporting back. Next trip you should give Shunji a try. And it's withing 3 minutes of Mori if you are still up for back to back action? (g)

                                            1. re: PorkyBelly

                                              thanks for reporting back. That's one hell of a way to spend 3 nights eating out.

                                              1. re: PorkyBelly

                                                fogeddaatbout the meal at Urasawa.

                                                did you actually run into Ms. Alba and her wondrous décolletage and bountiful derriere ??????????

                                                that would be a true meal fit for kings. :)

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  Nice, Kevin. Good thing you mentioned Urasawa in your comment, or do you think it was still a chow-related observation even without that mention. On a similar note, my girls were totally geeked out (in a good way) to have an up-close encounter with Jennifer Garner in the Starbucks down our hill on Sunday. (She and Ben live up the hill behind the gates.)

                                                  1. re: Wayno

                                                    I think I ran into exactly one sort of sort of celeb at the Coffee Bean in the area.

                                                2. re: PorkyBelly

                                                  Lucky you! The Japanese trifecta!

                                                  It does suck that Hiro-san hurried you through your meal in order to accommodate for this Jessica Alba lady, though (I thought Urasawa had only one seating per night?!). That sounds very unlike Hiro-san. I believe you, but it just makes me mad that you didn't get to sit next to her.

                                                  Also, I agree about Yama-san trying to "bribe" the palates of his guests with "sure bets", like generous amounts of uni, big truffle shavings, and big dollops of caviar. He means well. It is just a raucous meal, especially when compared with the restrained finesse of Urasawa and n/naka.

                                                  1. re: J.L.

                                                    I should clarify, i think Hiro-san still does one seating per night, but the seatings were staggered when we were there. We actually overlapped with Jessica Alba for about 15 minutes and she was seated next to us. Our reservation was for 6, Jessica arrive around 7:45 and we were out the door by 8.

                                                    1. re: PorkyBelly

                                                      (As Jessica Alba sits down next to you): "I think I suddenly feel like having 15 more courses of nigiri please, Hiro-san..."

                                                      I've never, ever left Urasawa before 11PM (and I usually ask a 7PM seating at the latest).

                                                      1. re: J.L.

                                                        Ha, unfortunately we were already drinking our matcha and 6pm was our only option.

                                                3. Yamakase

                                                  1. n/naka

                                                      1. well done good sir.