emmaramma's Profile

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Sushi Zo: Caveat Emptor

I agree. I think it's just a reaction to the stress.

IMO if a la carte is going to throw off the rhythm of omakase, a restaurant should just have omakase on the weekends (or whenever). But any sensible businessman would never do that b/c omakase customers aren't guaranteed. So it could be that currently at Zo a la carte customers (who aren't regulars, i.e. potential future omakase peeps) are just filler and are bumped down in priority when the omakase peeps come strolling in.

OK, I'm gonna stop now. I just wanted to represent and explain my (and my friend's) perspective and I hope I was able to communicate that effectively, fairly, and respectfully. Peace.

Nov 12, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Sushi Zo: Caveat Emptor

I know... I was sad when my friend called to tell me about his experience.

I know you love Sushi Zo b/c you're always defending Keizo-san, which I think is nice and much needed. He does have 2 sides. If some are going to call him out on what they perceive to be his gruffness, others should give him credit when he is in their opinion lovely and gracious.

Having seen both sides of him first hand, I don't think it's out of malice. I think that's just the way that he is. Still, some won't stand for it.

Plus, IMHO it's entirely possible that people are having different experiences w/ him not just b/c they react to his behavior (assumed to be the same towards everyone) differently, but b/c he actually is treating some people differently than others.

Nov 12, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Sushi Zo: Caveat Emptor

Also, there's a lot of energetic yelling at sushi joints but they're usually saying, "Irasshaimase!!" (Welcome!!) or "Arigato-gozaimashita!!" (Thank you!!).

Nov 12, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Sushi Zo: Caveat Emptor

The problem wasn't the fact that he yelled in Japanese but the Japanese that he used. Japanese has roughly 3 politeness levels: Very formal (used when addressing VIPs and customers), formal (used when addressing strangers), informal (used when addressing someone very familiar, animals, children, etc.). He used informal. May seem overly trivial to Americans (I know b/c I'm Japanese American) but it's understandable for someone socialized in Japan to be surprised and annoyed.

Nov 12, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Sushi Zo: Caveat Emptor

Yeah, very true. Was wondering about that after I posted.

Nov 12, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Sushi Zo: Caveat Emptor

OK, so I've eaten at Sushi Zo 4 times now. 3 times omakase and 1 time a la carte. 1st time (omakase) - absolutely fabulous. 2nd time (omakase) - great as well. 3rd time (a la carte b/c friends didn't want omakase) - TERRIBLE attitude by Keizo. 4th time (omakase) - fabulous again.

What was so terrible about the 3rd time? I'd gone w/ 2 friends who didn't want to do omakase so we ate at a table. Halfway through the meal I realized that I was charging up much more than my friends who were eating at half my clip. So I politely asked the waitress if I could separate my portion of the check. A few moments later I heard Keizo yelling in Japanese, "Damedayo sonnano imagoro yuttemo!!!" (No way!! Too late to speak up now!!!). I didn't think he would be yelling something so rude when I was at a table right in front of him, but a few moments later the waitress returned and said, "I'm sorry, we can't..." OK. No problem. I wasn't offended at the fact that they couldn't split the check (it might have been dumb of me to ask in the first place) but no need to be so rude about it. Sheesh.

I didn't go back for a while b/c of that, but returned this week b/c I missed the sushi. Had omakase and he was a sweetheart. The food was divine. I left a happy camper.

So tonight. A friend of mine took his whole family there b/c I had sung Sushi Zo's praises to high heaven having just been there. I advised him to do the omakase. But he opted for the a la carte. He arrived around 7 p.m. and spoke to the waitresses in Japanese. He was seated at a table. Apparently his order was taking a long time. When he ordered something he heard Keizo yell, "Jikan kakarutte yuttoite!!!" (Tell 'em it's gonna take a long time!!!) When my friend called me to complain about that and just the general rudeness he experienced, I was SO disappointed. I thought Keizo might have yelled in Japanese when I was there not knowing that I'm fluent in it, but my friend was speaking in Japanese to the waitress the whole time. So there's no excuse there. That's just rude.

My conclusion: Keizo is nice to regulars and omakase customers but rude to a la carte customers. Much as I enjoy his sushi, I don't think I'm ever going back. If I'm gonna drop $120+ on a meal, I don't wanna feel like he's doing me any favors. Plus, when I recommend a restaurant to a friend, I don't want to follow it w/ a disclaimer that although the food is divine, the sushi chef may be an a-hole...

Very disappointed. I generally don't rant b/c "good service" is so subjective, but Keizo clearly crossed the line this time. Caveat emptor guys.

On a brighter note, Sushidokoro Kirala's sushi chef really made my friend and I feel welcome when we had omakase there last month. No attitude. Even a yummy oyster tempura w/ truffle on the house. Though I would rate the sushi slightly lower than Zo's, it was overall a much more pleasant experience b/c of the lack of attitude.

Nov 09, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

Thanks! : )

Everyone keeps telling me about Porto's. Will swing by the next time I'm out that far east. Perhaps to enjoy a sandwich in preparation for a nice tall yard of beer at Yardhouse in Pasadena. (j/k) : P

Speaking of K-town... I love Beverly Tofu House. *DROOL* : D

(I can't believe I'm thinking about food at 2 in the morning.)

Aug 14, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

Whaaat? Natto pasta sounds soooo messy... I am imagining my mouth area covered in stringy strands of goo. Hehe. But I love natto so will try that along w/ the cod roe one (yum). Thank you! : )

Aug 14, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

Believe it or not, I don't think I've ever tried Asahi Ramen. So thanks for the rec!

I really really love ramen. Must be a Japanese thing (haha). I really like Ramen-ya's garlic ramen. And my friend got me hooked on Santouka (inside Mitsuwa Market). I've also tried Daikokuya in Little Tokyo, Shinsengumi in Gardena, and Umemura also in Gardena. My favorite at the moment is Santouka, but maybe Asahi will take its place... : )

Does anyone remember Shu-chan Ramen in Torrance? That used to be my fave. Was SO disappointed when it closed.

Aug 12, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

Thanks for the info! I've been there once. I tried the California Roll pasta (perhaps I should have started w/ something less inventive?) but didn't really like it. I've heard a lot of people sing Spoon House's praises to high heaven so am curious and open to giving it another shot. Is there anything you recommend?

Aug 12, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

"Good eating, and hang in there - good food will sustain your appetite for greater dreams..."

Thank you for the kind words (and the many suggestions)! : )

Aug 12, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

Update: I was in and out of town for a while but snuck in a trip to Sushi Don back in June and was blown away! So fresh and so cheap!! Can't thank you enough for the recommendation. Sooo happy to be back in LA. There are so many more places to try that y'all have so kindly suggested! : )

Aug 12, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Great Salads

Hello again! Hope you've been eating well. : )

Thought of you a couple days ago b/c there's a new Whole Foods in El Segundo (on Sepulveda) and they have an awesome salad bar! There's the traditional stuff (heart of palm, artichoke hearts, spinach salad, etc.), Middle Eastern stuff (falafel, hummus, etc.), Mexican stuff (burritos, enchiladas, Mexican rice, etc.) and a whole lot more for $7.49/lb.

Was out of town for a couple months so was pleasantly surprised to find this beautiful new Whole Foods in the area. FYI (in case you didn't already know). : )

Aug 12, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

Hahah! Loved your post. I could hear Iz playing in the background... : D Thanks for the suggestion. You're the second person who's mentioned Shakas to me in the last couple months. Must go soon.

YAWN! Dude, it's 1am already. Better get going. Until next time, bon apetit! : )

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

The snackers aren't bad but if I'm gonna go the fast food fried chicken route, I'm more a fan of Chicken McNuggets. When they're fresh, they're so crispy and delicious! : )

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Doughboys' Red Velvet

I had a lighter yummy red velvet roll cake from this supermarket called Harris Teeter in South Carolina ($6 for a huge hunk - my kind of cake : P). Thought you might like that one and tried to find a HT in LA. Unfortunately, they're all in the South or the East. Boo. : (

Anywho. Good luck with the search, and hope you can share the 411 (OMG I'm dating myself) w/ us once you find said soulful cake. : )

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

Thanks for your thoughts!

Agreed about Chipotle! During finals week I had their chicken burrito 4 days in a row and didn't get sick of it. Was marveling at how $11 could buy dinner (a Chipotle Chicken Burrito for $7) plus coffee and dessert ($2 Americano + $2 brownie).

I think I've been to Versailles 10 times over the years. 1 time I got some pork dish. The other 9 times I got the garlic chicken. I am a creature of habit... But perhaps now I will break out of that to try the halibut.

Looking forward to trying your other suggestions as well, especially the fried chicken and Angus burger! : )

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

Ooooo, bacon fried rice. Sounds good! I'm on a diet (well, not really... just trying to eat more salads and move around more - haha) but am tempted to try it. I love spam fried rice and spam musubi w/ a passion... : )

And no, I haven't tried Fisherman's Outlet yet. Thanks for the info! I just googled them and visited their website. The pictures of the chargrilled shrimp almost made me drool. Speaking of shrimp, have you had the shrimp cocktail platter from Costco? I got one the other day for $10. Thought I could eat the whole thing in one sitting (b/c it was SO good) but had to stop after half. I too had a lot of shrimp in my belly and I too felt like a whale, though not too happy since I was about to burst. Haha.

Happy eating!!! : D

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Doughboys' Red Velvet

I had the exact same experience. A friend told me Doughboy's red velvet cake was "the best". But like you said, the cake part was pretty tasteless. I think they put too much food coloring in it. Same with Toast sometimes. On the other hand, the one at Ralphs is too dry... The perfect balance I've found is in the red velvet cupcake at Sprinkles. I think you'll like their cream cheese frosting too. YUMM. : )

I wish I knew where to get a nice big hunk of good red velvet though b/c those small cupcakes aren't enough and I don't wanna drop $20 on 6 cupcakes...

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Doughboys' Red Velvet

"interesting, please explain this hummingbird you speak of"! I imagined Mr. Spock talking. I love it... : D

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

IMO (pre-Tacos la Bufadora) my favorite fish tacos are from California Fish Grill in Gardena. The fried fish tacos are $1.90, the cajun shrimp one is $2.35, and the grilled zucchini is oh-so-good... (forgot how much they cost though). I'm curious to see whether CFG will be dethroned after I try some TLB... What a happy and inexpensive experiment. : )

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

You are awesome! God bless your soul (and stomach)! : D

Out of the non-grocery store places you mentioned, I only recognized Zankou, which is fabulous. The prospect of visiting some of the hole-in-the-wall sounding places on your list really excites me. SIGH. So happy... Thank you! : )

Btw, your description of Philippe reminded me of this little diner in Culver City called Tokyo 77 (or something like that). It's located behind the parking structure on Cardiff between Venice and Culver. Have you ever been there? Their burgers are in the $2 range and though I've never had it, the breakfast is $2.35 or something ridiculously cheap. All these older regulars are always in there. Real homey feel. I love it. : )

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

YAY! Fellow grad student!! You feel my pain. Furthermore, every single one of your suggestions sounds appealing and they're cheap! HOORAY! : D

I cannot WAIT to try the sister restaurant of Sasabune place in Valley Village. Thanks!!! : )

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

I go to Monterey Park pretty often so will definitely swing by to try this place next time I do. Thanks! : )

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

Thanks for the tip! I will definitely look those places up (most likely the pho place - I am a pho fiend) the next time I'm in the SFV. Unfortunately, with gas prices the way they are, I may end up driving two bowls of pho and a spring roll's worth of gas getting there and coming back! : P

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

You've said two of my favorite words: "falafel" and "all-you-can-eat"... OK, the latter is not a word but a phrase but you know what I mean. Thanks for the info! I'd never even heard of Hungry Pocket! It sounds yummy, it's not too far from my house, and it's cheap. Lovely. : D

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

Hey, how do you edit your responses on this thing? I tried to edit a comment and it keeps posting it twice... : ( BOOO...

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Best Cocktails in LA - who's got 'em?

My favorite cocktail at the moment is the lychee saketini from Saketini in Brentwood. Not too sweet, not too dry, bits of fresh lychee in the drink itself, served with three fresh lychees on a thin wooden skewer resting elegantly atop the martini glass. OMG, I want one now... : )

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Great Salads

Yes, I too love Whole Foods salad bars. Some locations have less choices than others though (no artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, etc.). I usually go to the one in Westwood b/c they have everything - even falafel balls - YUM. I usually spend about $10.

Corner Bakery's Roasted Chicken Tuscan Salad ($7) is pretty good for the price. Greens, roasted chicken, apple slices, feta cheese, walnuts, and pita chips with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. CPK's Waldorf Chicken Salad ($9) is almost exactly the same but tastes a little bit better to me.

I love California Chicken Cafe's California Chicken Salad ($9). Romaine, chicken, feta cheese, avocado, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, croutons, and pasta (with choice of dressing - I got balsamic vinaigrette). Brought a couple salads to a get-together and they were both gone in about 30 minutes.

Tender Greens salads ($10-11) are OK. Like someone else said, they kind of lack personality but they're fresh. I usually get their Steak Salad. It's just 5-6 slices of beef atop soft, fresh, butter lettuce (I think) with a couple slices of watercress (I think). But with a drink, etc. I usually spend $15-16, which is not worth it for me especially b/c I'm usually still a bit hungry afterwards. Needless to say, I don't go there often.

If you haven't tried Leaf Cuisine (http://www.leafcuisine.com/opening.html) I highly recommend it. I'm not vegan or particularly into health food so walked into their Culver City location on a whim. But I tried their 3-salads-in-one combo ($12) and was blown AWAY. : D Soooo good! I tried their ginger smoothie too ($5) which warmed me up and made me feel super healthy and energetic. The only downside with Leaf: I spent close to $20, was stuffed for about an hour, but was starving again soon after.

I was actually craving salad this week but am away from LA (in Ohio) so had to try the local fast food restaurants. I tried both Wendy's Mandarin Chicken Salad and McDonald's Asian Chicken Salad (both $4.29). Wendy's was surprisingly REALLY good. So worth it. Mixed greens, cubes of fresh roasted chicken, sliced almonds, crunchy noodle thingies, and a sesame ginger dressing. McDonald's was GROSS. Chunks of iceberg lettuce, orange-colored chicken in huge misshapen pieces, and edamame also with sesame ginger dressing. Nasty. I only ate the whole thing b/c I paid for it. : D

Anywho. Can't wait to get back to LA and try out some of those ones you all mentioned! Especially HealthyCA and the Ivy. : P

May 18, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area

Cheap Eats in LA?

So my first post ever was about sushi. I quickly realized that all this time I was living in blissful ignorance. Urasawa? What is that? Quickly turned into, "Ohhh, looks lovely but perhaps after I save a bit..."

DILEMMA:
Once a professional but now a full-time student (i.e. zero cashflow). Sadly, my tastebuds cannot unlearn what little they know (b/c what little they know has at times felt like love to them and how can they say goodbye to that? : P). Need to ration out sushi nights. But what to do in the meantime?

SOLUTION:
Living-off-savings-and-student-loans type people unite! Let's share with each other what awesome cheap eats sustain us.

I'll start! (^_^)

1) Tito's Tacos (Culver City) - taco ($1.20), meat and bean burrito ($2.40), and the salsa (yum!)
2) Daily Wok (Gardena) - pho ($4.25), spring rolls ($2.25)
3) Ralphs (Marina Del Rey) - salmon and avocado sushi rolls ($6.25)
4) Whole Foods (Westwood) - milano panini ($6.99)

May 17, 2007
emmaramma in Los Angeles Area