It seemed like just yesterday that we were celebrating L.A. regaining one of its top Sushi Masters in Chef Morihiro Onodera (formerly of Mori Sushi), who came out of retirement and landed at Shiki in Beverly Hills. With Mori-san’s return, we now had 3 top tier places to enjoy a great Omakase experience. So when our veteran FTC’ers @J_L and @PorkyBelly excitedly reported back on Shin Sushi, a new restaurant opening serving what sounded like a fantastic Omakase experience, this sounded like an overflowing of blessings, with L.A. possibly gaining yet another talented Sushi maestro.
But since Shin Sushi had just opened up with no liquor license, we decided to wait until they got it. But with a dear friend’s birthday and a request for Sushi… we couldn’t wait.
As mentioned in @J_L’s excellent first report, Shin Sushi is helmed by Chef-Owner Taketoshi Azumi (formerly of Sushi of Gari, Asanebo and Mori Sushi). Take-san happily shared his story with us, growing up in Japan watching his father prepare Sushi every day at his father’s original Shin Sushi in Tokyo. But when Take-san wanted to become a Sushi Chef, his father refused to teach him, wanting a better life for him and thinking he wouldn’t be able to endure it. So Take-san set off for America and trained and trained, hoping one day to make Sushi alongside his father (which sadly didn’t happen before he passed away).
But with Shin Sushi, Take-san has named the restaurant after his father’s original place, as a tribute to him.
Chef Taketoshi is a warm, affable and young itamae. Gregarious and happy to chat it up, he’s the polar opposite of some of the more notorious and prickly Sushi Chefs that we have here in L.A.
It should be noted, unlike @J_L and @PorkyBelly’s early experiences, Shin Sushi is now run by just Take-san alone. There are no helpers except a waitress. This also means there were almost no cooked dishes nor a Zensai Course you might expect from the top tier places. We begin with…
Sauteed Scallop with Parsley Pesto (East Coast, U.S.A.):
A fantastic opening bite: A nice sear on the outside, tender on the inside, and the Parsley Pesto paired perfectly with the Scallop itself.
This was a pleasant surprise: Chef Take presents us with Menegi Sushi, essentially young Green Onions. It may sound basic, but it was quite refreshing, Spring-like and a little bit spicy (naturally).
Kasugodai - Baby Sea Bream (Nagasaki, Japan):
Delicate mouthfeel, lighter flavors. Nice start!
Shinko - Baby Gizzard Shad (Chiba, Japan):
Take-san explains that Shinko is available only for this month, so he was happy to get this in before they were gone for the year. He also notes that unlike a traditional preparation for the more mature Kohada (Gizzard Shad) with Salt and Vinegar, he eschews that method for Shinko, preferring to let the natural flavors shine through.
Kurodai Zuke - Black Snapper (Kyushu, Japan):
Take-san prepares the Kurodai, marinating it in a Housemade Bonito Fish Broth. It is incredible! Lightly smoky, with an almost lilting lusciousness.
One of the highlights of the night!
Hon Maguro - Bluefin Tuna (Boston, U.S.A.):
Tender, melt-in-your-mouth, fresh.
Hirame no Kobujime - Halibut (East Coast, U.S.A.):
Take-san’s preparation of Hirame wrapped in Konbu results in a subtle, delicate seasoning.
It should be noted that hearing Chef Take talk about his father’s work ethic and preparation and then his own lessons learned from Mori Sushi is what informs his Shari (Sushi Rice). It’s based on his father’s recipe, using Akasu (Red Vinegar) and Komezu (Rice Vinegar). It is outstanding, with a distinct mouthfeel and with individual grains that you can enjoy in your mouth. There’s real body to the Rice, not overcooked, nor mushy, nor too densely packed.
It was better than our Shari at Shiki with Mori-san(!), but to be fair, during that visit Mori-san regretfully informed us that he was unable to control how Shiki’s Rice would turn out (since he wasn’t the owner, just working there).
Asari Miso Shiru - Clam Miso Soup:
Beautiful bright brininess! I loved this Clam Miso Soup!
Sawara - King Mackerel (East Coast, U.S.A.):
Take-san introduces Sawara to us as “King Mackerel” (although it can refer to Spanish Mackerel). This was the only major miss of the night: For being part of the Mackerel family, this was just too subtle. It tasted bland, and the use of the propane blowtorch didn’t really help either.
Chutoro - Medium Fatty Tuna Belly (Boston, U.S.A.):
Take-san says he prefers serving Chutoro (Medium-Fatty Tuna Belly) over Ohtoro (Fattiest Tuna Belly) because he likes the balance of fat and lean. It is creamy, luscious and SO GOOD!
Hotategai - Scallop (Hokkaido, Japan):
Taking a bite… it’s that perfect intersection of creamy, tender, yet firm enough to have sufficient body, with this incredible brightness in every bite.
It is FLAWLESS!
In our conversations with Chef Take throughout the night, he mentions his favorite Sushi is probably Kohada (Gizzard Shad) because every restaurant has their unique preparation for this Fish.
Aji - Spanish Mackerel (Kyushu, Japan):
This was fine; firm, but a bit lighter in flavor than what we’re used to in Aji.
Salmon Zuke - Atlantic Salmon (East Coast, U.S.A.):
The Zuke marinade really elevates this piece to something lightly smoky and more enjoyable than the usual Salmon offering.
Yukimasu - Snow Trout (Nagano, Japan):
When Take-san introduced this piece, I got super excited. This was the Fish many of our FTC’ers were raving about. Our Seared Snow Trout was tasty, lightly creamy, but it didn’t really reach the heights of a few other key pieces on this evening.
Ikura - Salmon Roe (Canada):
Bright, delicious pops of salinity! Not as good as Shunji’s Ikura, but excellent nonetheless.
Kamasu - Barracuda (Nagasaki, Japan):
Interestingly, Take-san went to the back of the kitchen to torch these over open flame (instead of using the propane burner). A beautiful smokiness permeated every bite. Wonderful.
Binnaga Maguro Toro - Albacore Tuna Belly (Oregon, U.S.A.):
Tender, silky, lightly creamy.
Tai - Sea Bream (Shikoku, Japan):
First, it should be noted that Tai is usually something you might see early on in the proceedings around town, a light, straightforward Fish. So it was with curiosity when we were served Tai so late in the Omakase.
It turns out this Tai is nothing like the usual version. Take-san’s version is stunning! There’s a real meatiness, but it remains perfectly pliant, toeing the line between both densities. In addition, there’s a bit of Yuzu on top, and this stunning, clean, bright flavor coming through.
It is the best Tai I’ve had this past year! Outstanding!
Amaebi - Sweet Shrimp (Canada):
Take-san introduces this to us as “Amaebi,” but then quickly interjects that it’s not live. It’s still very fresh, but he said that he prefers this Shrimp he’s sourced because it allows him to prepare it to his specifications (he feels Live Shrimp has too firm of a texture).
The result is a downright shockingly sweet Shrimp! It tastes really sweet (but not a sugary sweetness), but far sweeter than any of the usual Amaebi you might get. It is fantastic and slightly silkier and more tender than usual Live Shrimp.
Chef Take and his Sushi Knife:
At this point, Take-san shows us his Sushi Knife (seen above), and then points over to the empty 2nd Sushi cutting board to his left. There is a small tiny Knife laying there:
He reveals that is his father’s Sushi Knife, and that it used to be the same size as his Knife!
He said that unlike most Sushi Chefs these days, his father used the same Knife and sharpened it and stuck with it for decades, and by the end, that’s all that was left of the blade (he refused to buy a new Knife). Wow.
And then Take-san said, he’s leaving his father’s Sushi Knife there on that 2nd station, so that it’s like he and his father are finally making Sushi together.
I’m not crying. Chef Take’s just cutting some Onions for us. That was really touching.
Kanpachi - Yellowtail (Kyushu, Japan):
This was fine. Rather straightforward.
Saba - Japanese Mackerel (Nagasaki, Japan):
A beautiful oiliness and brininess that’s unmistakable from great quality Saba. Another highlight of the night! (@BradFord)
Katsuo - Bonito (Tsukiji, Tokyo, Japan):
This was the meatiest out of all of the offerings tonight. Lightly briny, tasty.
Uni - Sea Urchin (Santa Barbara, U.S.A.):
OK, I take the earlier comment back. There were two missteps, and this was the 2nd: Funky, bad ocean water-tasting Uni!
Anago - Sea Eel (Kyushu, Japan):
Tamago - Egg:
This was interesting. Instead of the Dashimaki-style of Tamago (Egg) that @J_L and @PorkyBelly got, Take-san smiles as he presents to us a Kasutera (Castella)-style Tamago! Perhaps he heard the complaints from the FTC’ers who pointed out the early Tamago?
Regardless, the new Tamago that Take-san gave us was outstanding! It might look “dry” but biting into it, it’s like the most amazing moist, creamy, light “Egg Cake” we’ve had in recent memory.
With the paired down staff (just Take-san and 1 waitress), service was good, no issues. Pricing seems to have changed from the early FTC reports: Our Omakase ran $160 per person (including tax & generous tip), and we had no alcohol. This starts getting into Shunji level pricing so QPR-seekers should take note.
Shin Sushi is a fantastic solo debut effort for Chef Taketoshi Azumi, delivering an excellent Omakase (Chef’s Choice) Sushi experience not to be missed. While still early, Take-san’s “style” seems to focus on the lighter, natural flavors in white-fleshed Fish.
We were served only 1 Shellfish, and there was only 1 heavily oily fish (Saba). To be fair, it could just be sourcing and what’s available right now. There’s also no Zensai, and not much in terms of cooked dishes (unlike what you might find at a full Omakase meal at Shunji, Mori or Shiki (with Mori-san)).
Outside of those points, we’ll happily go back to Shin Sushi and see how Take-san develops. As it stands, Shin Sushi is already in our Top 5 rotation for Sushi easily (just behind Mori Sushi and Shunji), and considering how young Take-san is, and what he’s accomplished already, he’s a rising star in L.A.'s Sushi landscape.
16573 Ventura Blvd.
Encino, CA 91436
Tel: (818) 616-4148
Update 1: Another amazing meal.