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favorite sushi right now ????? price no object, natch.

  • k

thanks.

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  1. kevin, great to have you back you add a lot to our board.

    for me, it's shunji shunji shunji...what can I say I really like toro collar and all the exotic fish he pulls out of his james bond brief case, as well as the company and conversation and atmosphere. Whatever I want I call ahead and he delivers! king crab -- no problem....stud.

    1. Zo's newer downtown post. dayyyyyum it was good. We spent $300 and haven't been back because of that, but if I were suddenly wealthy I'd go all the time.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sarahbeths

        when i was wealthy, i went to the national blvd. location all the time.
        it was an extremely good expenditure of money.
        i'm glad i did it when i could.

      2. Depends on the piece, honestly. To me, no one place has it all, even disregarding price, but LA has an incredible amount of excellent sushi to offer - just depends what you value. However, there are a few that undoubtedly should be considered in the upper echelon, and probably a few others (popular ones) that likely aren't as great sushiya.

        Also, if you're talking straight nigiri sushi vs. sushi restaurant on the whole, that's also a different question. If we're factoring in service, ambiance, comfort levels, etc. that complicates the equation a bit, unless we're talking about just the food. For example, Shunji has an outdoor bathroom but convivial service and neighborhood charm, whereas Mori feels a bit more formal but their homemade hagi yaki has to count for something. Nozawa Bar feels the most Japanese in presentation and it's very "special." Zo Downtown has some of the most gracious and nuanced service I've experienced.

        With that said, all things considered, some of my favorite pieces come from Mori, Shunji, and Kiriko...Mori for pristine nigiri (excellent balance, proportions, formation, rice, knifework, etc.), Shunji is very similar just more casual in ambiance and more willing to do "creative" things, and Kiriko for some surprisingly solid nigiri (they've noticeably improved, especially when they're not super busy) and walking a fine line with creative stuff without abandoning the Japanese aesthetic principles which should be at the heart of a proper sushiya.

        Personally, I find that Mori has my favorite aji, kohada, anago, ikura, and murasaki uni (tied with Sushi Sushi's "a1"); Shunji has my favorite shellfish (hotategai, kani, ise-ebi, etc.), exotic varieties of shiromi, and sanma; Kiriko has my favorite akami, tai, mirugai, and "creative types" (e.g. kinmedai-no aburi w/ yuzukosho, aori-ika with uni layered on top and shiso underneath).

        Nozawa Bar would definitely be up there but I don't prefer that style of loose and very warm rice. Also Zo Downtown has great ingredients and top-notch service, but I am not partial to the proportions or use of truffle salt as a garnish. Q is very good, if a touch cold.

        1. this probably represents a minority view, but a lot of it depends on the rapport i have with the chef. a A- chef who knows my palate can come up with a more satisfying omakase than an A+ guy to whom i'm just another gaijin. think of it as getting a custom tailored suit from a competent tailor in HK vs. getting paul smith/canali/brioni/zegna off the rack.

          as building that rapport takes time. i would suggest that choosing the best place that you can afford to patronize regularly will pay off in the long run. start off by finding a place that's anal about the rice. 90% of sushi is about the rice. (that quote from comes from naomichi yasuda, BTW).

          13 Replies
          1. re: barryc

            90% of sushi is about the rice. (that quote from comes from naomichi yasuda, BTW)
            ------------
            yet 90% of the raw materials cost of sushi is the fish

            error, does not compute.

            1. re: ns1

              No rice and no nigiri. Then you got yerself sashimi. More expensive yet.

              But I do understand.

            2. re: barryc

              "90% of sushi is about the rice."

              that may or may not be true, but i'll take sushi w/ excellent fish and mediocre rice over mediocre fish and impeccable rice every time.

              1. re: TailbackU

                I'm with you on that. And then it essentially becomes sashimi if you trash that crappy rice.

                But then again I've never been to a joint that serves exceptional fish with really really really bad rice.

                Usually both are bad. But this mostly applies to the uber-crappy places around town.

                1. re: kevin

                  I had a meal at Kiriko like that. Rice was shamefully underdone.

                  1. re: foodiemahoodie

                    sorry to hear that. Kiriko's been good to me, but I've been fairly regular on my visits to LA and I have my go-to's. in my recent experiences, the rice has been good - toothsome enough with individual definition but not hard, gentle seasoning letting the neta shine through, excellent formation and proportion. they've been trying out a new sushi chef from time to time, so maybe that's a variable here. regardless, my experience has been pretty great, especially in recent times, but I don't disagree that others have had inconsistent experiences.

                    agreed that Mori is very good. had a meal there last week which displayed excellent knife skills to help drape the neta. i haven't seen that much care in knifework and drape anywhere else recently. instead of merely scoring the aori-ika, Yoshi-san nearly chiffonnaded it like unbroken ika somen, so it wouldn't be too chewy. i can see how others may find it "boring," however, but there's a lot to appreciate in the details at Mori.

                    i wouldn't necessarily say outright that Mori is the "best," given people's personal preferences, but Mori gets a lot of things right if you value traditional and authentic sushi.

                    1. re: markambrose73

                      This bad rice experience was a couple years ago. I have been back since and never had that issue. But I did go with a chef friend twice (two time, different chefs) who wanted to wow me with the place and both meals were disappointing (not bad, but they both had better). Both times. But then, that was over 5 years ago.

                      Last time I went it was pricey - almost Mori pricey. And I figure at that price - might as well spend a few bucks more and have the Mori experience.

                2. re: TailbackU

                  A place that pays that kind of attention to the rice isn't going to have mediocre fish.

                  I challenge anyone to provide an example of a sushi restaurant with rice on the level of Mori and Yasuda with mediocre fish. :)

                  Plenty of places with high quality fish and okay rice. Very few places with exceptional rice period. The exceptional rice short list all have pristine fish.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    I'm with you on this.

                    And my vote goes to Mori.

                    Tried Q downtown - very good, beautiful room (Mori should have that room!). But not Mori. And it was mostly about the rice not being correct. And the fish was very good, but my memories of Mori shook their finger and said "Uh uh uh, nope, remember....?"

                    1. re: Porthos

                      That is very true. Not to mention excellent knifework. Quite a few hipstery popular NorCal sushi restaurants where chefs worked with nicer fish and serve it with fusion touches, but pay very little attention to the rice, where knifework is also replaced by larger/longer/thicker cuts = good value to the target demographic.

                      But the other irony is that sushi is also written as 鮨. Left side, fish, right side delicious. :-)

                      1. re: K K

                        i don't get it, left side, right side, ???????

                  2. re: barryc

                    Good point about having a rapport with the sushi chef. However, I'd say a "competent tailor in HK" is not equivalent to an "A- chef" and OTR Paul Smith is not equivalent to an "A+ chef," but I digress.

                    re: "90% of sushi is about the rice" - that's a bit of an exaggeration, of course, but I get Yasuda's point that sushi rice is underrated. but so is the formation of the nigiri, the drape of the neta, the proportions, balance of flavors, temperature, progression of flavors and textures, etc. very, very few reviews of sushiya will spend any time discussing these details, just look. when evaluating sushiya, many customers tend to just consider the freshness of the fish and the variety/exoticness of the fish offered. for sushi, pristine seafood is a given, but it's rice and the other details that separate the good sushiya from the mediocre. as Porthos said, many places have "fresh fish" or a variety of exotic fish (often shiromi, almost never hikarimono), but are sloppy with the rice. I assume that Yasuda-san was having a knee-jerk reaction to these kinds of places. there are legit sushiya and then there are others who simply attempt to wow with exotic fish all the while ignoring all the other details and the Japanese aesthetics that are so integrally tied to the cuisine (Akiko's in SF immediately comes to mind). a sports car is much more than just horsepower, and sushi is much more than just fresh fish, but fresh fish is a given at a certain level. with that said, "90% of sushi is about the rice" is hyperbole - quality fish, formation of the nigiri, proportions, temperature, knifework, progression of flavors, etc. all count for more than 10% combined.

                    1. re: barryc

                      I used to preach the rapport thing too.
                      but no one seemed to listen.
                      Their loss.

                    2. If we tell you, are you actually gonna go? :-)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: stravaigint

                        If its Yamakase, yes.

                        If it's UrSwa, prolly not.

                        If its Shunji, I went last night. Best cooked dishes meal there in ages.

                        1. re: kevin

                          You know, if you skipped 4 or 5 visits to Tana's you could probably afford Urasawa...

                          And where's the Shunji report ?????????????

                          1. re: stravaigint

                            good point. but….

                            I'll be posting shortly but I don't exactly remember the dishes, it will be more of an impressionistic posting if you catch my drift.

                            and no pics, of course, as is traditional with me.

                            and that ain't no joke.

                            Best Shunji cooked dishes meal in literally ages, upon ages.

                            He's at the top of his game.