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2014 - Best Sushi Omakase

Uchi is very "Caucasian" for lack of better word, LOL. Don't get me wrong, I believe it is the best restaurant in Texas all things considered. Texas didn't even have "destination restaurants" before Uchi, and they've set the bar for service ever since.

But it's certainly more kitchen oriented, and they are most proud of selling beautifully composed sashimi dishes and crudos. And it's as delicious as anything you'll have in the country too.

But their sushi is just OK. It's about on par with Nobu-status stuff. You aren't even served sushi rice in their signature omakase tasting, so you can see where their strengths are and are not.

They're one of the exceptionally rare restaurants that market themselves well and serve sushi, so it can create hype for the wrong reasons. Uchi can make the cover of Bon Apetite, a guy like Urasawa can't. Could you imagine guys like Masa, Ichimura, or Mori making a Bon Apetite cover or winning Food and Wine Best Chef? Hardcore omakase sushi is just a completely different ball game.

2014 - Best Sushi Omakase

Good point. Just trying to find an excuse as to why Mori isn't packed as it should be, but I think it's just cause of the LA scene. Correct me if I'm wrong, but LA just seemed like a very "chill" type of place. People like to go at their own pace. They will not line up for the newest, hottest thing like, say, 2+ hours for a "cronut" or 4+ hours for Texas BBQ. The lack of social media buzz doesn't help either.

@dndicicco, I noticed your previous comments about wasabi. Yes, there are different grades: fake, real fresh grated, and pre-grated frozen. For pre-grated frozen, they run the gammut from 100% real wasabi to a mix of horseradish to almost all horseradish. Honestly, quality of wasabi is not much of an issue for me; it's the least important component of a traditional piece of nigiri afterall.

My preference is actually frozen, pre-grated real wasabi. They grate wasabi after freezing it in liquid nitrogen to keep it from losing their volatile aromas, so it's a very consistent product. Fresh grated is best, but it will lose all its flavors and spice very quickly. It will lose half its potency in 10 min and is literally not worth eating after just 20 minutes. I think fresh grated is overrated for the price, but customers love the show and itamae like to brag about it.

Likely when you start off a meal in a good (not great) sushi place, the sushi chef will have some leftover grated wasabi he didn't want to throw away, and it won't taste much of anything. Hopefully he will grate a fresh knob for important pieces like tuna or uni. Just a slice of helpful info for you.

About white fish and Shunji: There's no doubt Shunji is getting a "mystery fish box". The good news (for the chef at least) is that it's very cheap and consists of a random selection of fresh catches of the day. The bad news is that the fish comes in random amounts and is usually at least 60% white fish. You can understand why some places serve a seemingly endless amount of various white fish. You usually cross your fingers and hope for at least one yellowtail-membered fish in the mystery box and a couple of hikarimono. Super-fine dinning like Urasawa, Masa, and likely Mori won't bother with fish boxes and will strictly order "a la carte", as they only want to carry the creme de la creme when it comes to sushi fish.

Feb 07, 2015
AustinLineCook in Los Angeles Area
1

2014 - Best Sushi Omakase

I recently made a trip to LA and ate at Q, Shunji, and Mori. I've worked in the sushi profession before, so I have a pretty good knowledge of sushi in the USA, even in very high end places. I've had a lot of sushi in NY (15 East, Nakazawa, Masa, ect.), and I was wondering how LA, the birthplace of sushi in the USA, stacked up.

Q-I was disappointed unfortunately. I was hoping for a traditional sushi experience on par with Ichimura in NY. Despite all the PR of delivering traditional OG sushi, I didn't feel the experience was more traditional or authentic than any other top tier place. The rice was very traditional in philosophy(strong, no sweetness at all), but wasn't particularly good. And you can't be giving me Norwegian Mackerel at that price point. It's the standard variety that any chain uses, and any good place will be using Japanese Mackerel. There were so many disappointing things from his weak choice in fish to his weak choice in chef knife (a Global Stainless Steel Yanagi? Really?). Honestly his investor (beautiful space in downtown) is more impressive than the chef.

Shunji-"Nice" is the only way I can describe it. Nice variety of fish, a good standard place. But I don't think it beats out any of the top tiered places in NY that have Michelin stars.

Mori-To me, there is a HUGE rift between Mori and the next guy in LA (maybe Urasawa is close; never eaten there). I thought the rice at Masa NY was the best I've ever had, but Mori edges it out. Sublime in both philosophy and approach, which is how I judge a sushi restaurant (I just hate blowtorches at sushi bars for example). Everything was exquisite from top to bottom. The unity between fish and rice, the work done with the fish, everything was as good as it gets.

The only negative thing I can say about Mori is that it's dumpy-looking, especially in image-conscious LA. I can see past all that because of my personal experiences with sushi (as a patron and as an itamae), but I don't think that the average person would. Mori deserves a much more beautiful space and much more customers; it may as well be the best sushi restaurant in the country.

I'm so glad I found a place like Mori, cause the LA sushi experience (at least top-tier wise) would have been disappointing. But what I love about LA is the large sense of Japanese community here, something that I didn't find in NY.

Picasso (anyone been recently?) and tasting menu question...

I think tasting menus can be overrated. For two, I I usually prefer ordering a la carte and just sharing each of our courses. We just make sure we never order the same thing. 1) You end up getting what you really want, 2) It's cheaper, and 3) Given that tasting menus usually force the two of you to eat the same thing, it's only a couple courses less of things you wouldn't be able to try.

But some restaurants are really built off their tasting menu such as Guy Savoy and Alex. But for places like B&B or Bar Charlie, I'd be happier going ALC

Dec 31, 2009
AustinLineCook in Las Vegas

Dining in Vegas: Restaurant etiquette question!

I'm going to dine in Vegas and I'm trying to coordinate going to Vegas shows but still have grand tasting menus at some restaurants.

The question is, is it proper to order an approximately 5-course menu that will likely last about 2 hours at a time of 9:30pm when the restaurant closes at 10:30? How do things like that work? That's what I'd like to do when I eat at Twist (YES!).

Is there usually a cutoff time in which restaurants won't be serving grande tasting menus? I'm a chef myself, so I know what it's like when people order lots of food 5 minutes before closing time. But at the same time, I'm not working at a place like Joel Robuchon. I'm sure I could walk in and order the 4-hour tasting menu at 9:00, but I don't want my food being cooked by a pissed off kitchen eiither. Or is it all good since this IS a 3-star michelin place and you ARE paying $500 pp for a meal?

Dec 30, 2009
AustinLineCook in Las Vegas

Seafood downtown - Eddie V's or Gumbo's the Best Choice?

Not a fan of Eddie V's. Eddie V's and Truluck's are very similar and almost sport the same menu and prices. Both are very popular though, and I would pick Truluck's over Eddie V's. I've never never eaten at Gumbo's.

But my pick would definitely be Perla's, which is a bit south of downtown. It's a great place.

Sep 24, 2009
AustinLineCook in Austin