Mori Sushi (Early Spring Omakase): A Pictorial Essay

As winter turns to spring, so does one’s thoughts of the ever-evolving offerings at Mori Sushi. When a business associate suggested that we go to try Maru-san’s omakase this past week, how could we say no?


Consistency in execution is one of the great hallmarks of great gastronomy. On that note, Maru-san simply “brings it” every single visit.

Fresh budding blossom sprigs herald the end of wintertime…

My usual apéritif at Mori Sushi is the yuzu cocktail - Always refreshing…

Tofu with yuba (tofu skin), house shoyu, topped with Hokkaido bafun uni…

Former proprietor of the restaurant Chef Morihiro Onodera is also an avid potter. His wonderful earthenware, bearing his signature, remains a special facet of any meal at Mori Sushi…

Sake: Tatsuriki “Kome no sasayaki” (Daiginjo, Hyogo Prefecture) - A perfect accompaniment to our appetizers towards the beginning of the omakase!

Five appetizers: Smoked o-toro with takuan, genge tempura, hotaru ika (from Toyama Prefecture) with vinegar sweet miso, awabi “broth” agar with East Coast uni emulsification, and wakamomo with candied kumquat…

Appetizer #1: Smoked o-toro (fatty tuna), with takuan (pickled gourd) and sugar snap peas…

Appetizer #2: Genge tempura… Genge is a VERY rare offering at any sushi-ya. Also known as eelpouts, the texture is best described as akin to squid, except just a tad softer. Tempura is a beautiful way to fully explore the texture of this fish…

Maru-san shows us the body of the pre-cooked genge…

Appetizer #3: Hotaru ika (firefly squid) is at the height of its season - Simply delicious…

Appetizer #4: Awabi (abalone) “broth” agar with East Coast uni emulsification - I have a soft spot for cooked abalone in any form, so of course this dish was over-the-top excellent in my book! East Coast uni is unusual in its provenance, too - Maru-san says he is always looking for good uni sources from all over the world…

Appetizer #5: Wakamomo (baby white peach) with candied kumquat - Seasonal, and superb small bites to round out the appetizers!

Ebi shinjo (shrimp cake) soup with takenoko (young bamboo) & sugar snap pea - Here, sweet shrimp is ground and made into a “cake” (much like fishcake). It’s all so seasonal…

Another table is getting a full plate of some gorgeous-looking nigiri. Does this means nigiri is in our near future, as well?

Beer: Coedo “Kyara” India-Style Pale Lager - Very drinkable along with our upcoming nigiri courses…

A note on the famed shari (sushi rice) at Mori Sushi: The bottom line is that Mori Sushi still makes best sushi rice in town. Maru-san continues to use a blend of rices from Sacramento and Uruguay (from the fields of Chef Mori). Interestingly, he is looking forward to future opportunities of higher-grade rices to be exported from Japan, as well. Having said that, onwards to the nigiri!

Nigiri #1: Madai (wild red snapper)…

Nigiri #2: Sayori (Japanese halfbeak)…

Nigiri #3: Hotategai (giant scallop), from Japan…

Nigiri #4: Mizu-tako (giant water octopus), half-steamed…

Nigiri #5: Kurodai (black porgy)… This fish has a VERY limited season.

Nigiri #6: Wild kanpachi (greater amberjack)… Most kanpachi now available is farmed, and its rarer wild cousin tastes very different (in a very good way)…

Nigiri #7: Sawara (Spanish mackerel)…

Nigiri #8: Sakura masu (cherry blossom ocean trout)… Another fish with a very limited season.

Nigiri #9: Renkodai (yellowback sea bream)… Marinated in yuzu, and garnished with fish flakes, this was a first for me (outside of trying it in Japan).

Nigiri #10: Honmaguro akami (Atlantic bluefin tuna, lean)… From off the coast of North Carolina, this tuna weighed in at a monstrous 450+ pounds, according to Maru-san. And judging by the taste of the akami, this fish lived well.

Nigiri #11: Honmaguro chu-toro (Atlantic Bluefin tuna, medium fatty)… Sublime. Note the supremely experienced knifework on most of these cuts.

Nigiri #12: Kohada (gizzard shad)…

Nigiri #13: Wild shima aji (jack mackerel)… Again, most shima aji served these days are farmed, so wild specimens are rarely served.

Nigiri #14: Kamasu (baby barracuda), slightly seared…

Nigiri #15: Honmaguro o-toro (Atlantic Bluefin tuna, fatty)…

Nigiri #16: Saba (mackerel)… Another hikarimono (silver-skinned fish).

Nigiri #17: Mirugai (geoduck clam)…

Nigiri #18: Kuruma ebi (Japanese imperial prawn)…

Nigiri #19: Akamutsu (blackthroat seaperch), seared…

Nigiri #20: Zuwaigani (snow crab)…

Nigiri #21: Santa Barbara uni (sea urchin roe)… Quality-wise, this batch of Santa Barbara murasaki uni was on-par with the best Japan had to offer that night.

Maru-san shows us the second type of Hokkaido bafun uni he is serving that night…

Hokkaido uni gunkan maki…

Nigiri #22: Banno negi (young green onion)… Interesting!

Nigiri #23: Anago (sea eel), steamed… Yum.

BONUS Nigiri #1: Honmaguro akami… Yes, again.

BONUS Nigiri #2: Tamago (egg omelette)…

Dessert time!!!

Tea: Hojicha (roasted tea)…

Trio of Sweets: Yuzu gelee with ripe plantain, tofu mousse with kuromitsu (black sugar molasses), local strawberry… What a delicate yet grand way to end the meal.

Spring has officially arrived!

Service was outstanding, and the overall pacing was thoughtful and interesting. We learn so much from chatting with Maru-san each visit, and this visit was certainly no exception.

Gochisosama deshita!!! Truly - What a feast!!! A thousand thanks to Maru-san and the whole team at Mori Sushi for another terrific omakase.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Mori Sushi
11500 W. Pico Bl.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
310.479.3939

14 Likes

That tofu mouse, my favorite dessert I’ve had a sushi restaurant. What was the price per person? And were there add ons?

Beautiful as always, especially enjoy the ones of the interior. Hopefully wasn’t too empty that night from the look of your pics. :sweat_smile:

Interesting… Did he mention where on the east coast? How does it compare to SB, Bafun variety?

Hi @J_L,

Once again you’ve outdone yourself. :slight_smile: Thanks for the great pics and thoughts. I live vicariously through your reports. :wink:

Each piece you documented looks like the best thing in the world. :slight_smile:

How much is omakase at Mori these days? I haven’t been an over a year.

I’m guessing the Honmaguro Akami was your fav of the evening?

Thanks.

Thanks for sharing your incredible meal with us, @J_L!

was the restaurant busy at all? Every time I go, it’s always so dead, i’m afraid their days are numbered.

Note: I pre-ordered the ultra-premium omakase at time of reservation (the usual dinner omakase at Mori is $160pp). With the yuzu cocktail, a bottle of the Tatsuriki sake, a Coedo “Kyara” lager, the omakase itself of course, and an extra akami nigiri & tamago, it came out to like $250 per person (all food & booze, before tip).

1 Like

There was another couple (visiting LA from Asia) enjoying a premium omakase along with us at the bar. Also I noted 5 or 6 other parties coming in and out for dinners at the tables throughout the time we were there. And this was on a weekday night.

1 Like

Didn’t get specific on geography for that uni, sorry.

The East Coast uni was more briny, and paired very well with the awabi broth & awabi itself. Actually I think it was quite brilliant on Maru-san’s part, 'cuz the East Coast uni wouldn’t shine as much in nigiri form - and conversely all the other uni presented that evening (the 2 Hokkaido varieties and SB) would have not worked as well in that awabi otsumami.

1 Like

Thanks always for the support & kind words!

IIRC from what the dinner menu at Mori says about omakase:
Nigiri only: $110
Premium omakase: $160+ (M.P. rules apply, of course)

1 Like

@J_L Thanks for the reply, very interesting indeed. Excellent reporting as always.

Fantastic report as usual @J_L !

Tatsuriki Kome No Sasayaki - this is an excellent Daiginjo for the price that is the perfect match for the beautiful small bites. Come to think of it I’m glad I tried this one last year vs the Kimura Junmai Daiginjo that I fear may be too aromatic/sweet if the Daiginjo from the same Brewer is any indicator (Fukukomachi, which Urasawa also carries), thus needing something far more savory to counter balance. Tatsuriki is so high quality yet rather obscure even for here. Don’t see it on sake menus often (maybe at Nakazawa NY?) The brewer’s dedication to using the best of the best Yamadanishiki rice for brewing (sourced to a very specific rice growing region in Hyogo Prefecture) is an interesting parallel to the rice that Mori Sushi uses. An insistence and stickler for quality. The top of the line Tatsuriki Akitsu Junmai Daiginjo is so good and smooth (though $$$) and is worthy of the label “the DRC of sake” (where the rice growing region is so vital in the sake world there, that it has been claimed to represent the terroir, like with wine). Definitely needs to be enjoyed in a proper wine glass.

What’s the condiment on top of banno negi nigiri? Ume?

The owners of Saison SF (Joshua and Mark) were at Mori not too long ago.

what does the ultra-premium get you over the mere premium?

You get to sit next to Mrs. Cash Warren all night.

urasawa must have been booked