|The new Wilshire location - best in LA?|
At the sushi bar, I sat quietly waiting for an opportunity to order. The sushi chef handed me a large plate of marinated albacore. “Wow” I thought. “That’s quite a complimentary starter.” It was delicious. After I finished it, I asked the busy chef for some salmon sushi. He grunted audibly. It dawned on me that I had done something wrong and asked the well-dressed woman sitting next to me, “Are you supposed to order here?” “You can, but you shouldn’t,” she replied, with the slightest bit of condescension in her tone. “They tell you what to eat and how much of it to have. This place is good…. and expensive. Where do you normally go?” she asked. My immediate answer drew a scowl. “Crazy Tokyo in the Valley,” I answered quietly. “This is a far cry from Crazy Tokyo,” she said. "I always enjoyed Crazy Tokyo in Encino, especially the Spicy Sashimi Salad with Tomatoes," I mumbled.
I proceeded to allow the chef to serve me four more wonderfully fresh, single pieces of sushi – each artfully decorated. I was dying for a spicy tuna roll, but that was not going to happen. I checked out, paid $40 and moved on. I had experienced what many in LA consider the Holy Grail of sushi – Sasabune.
|Sea and Sun|
A better west side option for me is Hamasaku at Sepulveda and Santa Monica Blvd. Creative presentation. Nice decor. Friendly staff. Very high-end sushi that is exceptionally fresh. While it is expensive, you will feel like you have eaten a meal. Interesting celebrity crowd is a bonus.
|Sauteed Shrimp - The perfect dish?|
Another favorite – Shibuya in Calabasas. Get there at 11:45 at lunch to get your name on the chalkboard or forget about having a table at this small but premium quality establishment. Very large and plump pieces of super fresh fish, artful creations. Right across from the Calabasas Commons – you can practically smell the affluence in the air. My choice is to carry out (although it seems cumbersome here at times) and take the sushi home to enjoy with a bottle of Jordon Chardonnay from Sonoma. The Jordon Chardonnay (a must vineyard stop on your trip to the Sonoma wine region).
|Assi Roll - Nice!|
At Midori, I dig the appetizers that are included in the all you can eat deal, like the Salmon Skin Salad, the Calamari Tempura or the Cucumber Sunomono. You will feel like a “Fat Cat” when you walk out of Midori, which has three locations along Ventura Blvd in Encino, Sherman Oaks and Studio City.
For style points in a hip locale, head to downtown LA – 21 Floors above the financial district, you will find Takami Sushi and Robata Restaurant, serving high quality, creative sushi dishes and some very tantalizing signature cocktails. The Takami Edamame is a great place to start - Sauteed Soy Beans in Garlic, Butter and Soy Sauce. Then try out the Takami Roll - Spicy Tuna, Snow Crab, Asparagus, topped with Albacore and an Apple Ponzu Sauce. Their Toro, Tuna Belly is expensive, but melt in your mouth good. I normally try to suggest a great wine (and they do have a fine wine list) the Signature Cocktails will really rock you. After one, enjoy a bottle of the very reliable 2009 Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay; a combination of fruit – like apple, lemon and pear, along with nutty and oaky characteristics that all work well together and with Takami’s Japanese influenced dishes. By the way – Takami is advertising a Sunday special - 50% off on bottled wine.
Because not everyone can afford high priced premium sushi, you have to take your hat off to Kabuki. Sorry to the sushi snobs, but every location is packed and like Midori, they deliver a fine product at a reasonable price. Happy hour deals are ridiculously good. The Sashimi Salad is excellent, as is the Sunkist Roll, featuring Spicy Tuna and Avocado. Kabuki has multiple locations. It is a fun place, with a full bar and if you are going to order a bottle of wine, try the Jacob’s Creek Australian Chardonnay – light on the oak, easy on the fruit with a little lemon and melon overtone – very drinkable with Kabuki’s diverse fare.
What I am listening to right now on the crowded LA freeways – Seal Team Six - A riveting look inside the world of Navy Seals.
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