New to Omakase

I was reading the Sushi School thread and also being relatively new to the sushi game myself but having had the cursory introduction to sushi at lower end places I’m looking for my first omakase place around $80-$120, preferably in the LA area but OC is okay too.


Sushi Questions:
-At that price point, is there a discernible difference between $100 omakase and $200+ omakase (for relatively the same set/number of courses)?
-Where is the best bang for your buck?
-Where can I go where I will also be full afterwards?
-After having many iterations of yellowtail at places comparable to Sushi Stop, what does quality yellowtail taste like? I mean, it tastes quite bland and mild at those places…? I guess what I’m asking is can you describe popular fish flavors and the differences between them?

1 Like

Short answer: Yes. There will be more courses (both cooked and sushi) in the higher-priced set menus. (By the way, in most L.A. sushi joints, $150 is still considered "high-end’, not $200… yet.).

I think you might like Sushi Kimagure Ike in Pasadena.

You’ll be full after Ike-san is through with you. I was. Sounds like you had some less-than-satisfactory sushi experiences in the past.

… And this brings up an important point (definitely not directed at you, but more as a general principle of mine): I think cheap/low-ball sushi is just wrong. Not so much from an elitist standpoint, but more from a sustainability standpoint. Good sushi SHOULD have ingredients that are thoughtfully procured and prepared, and that will inevitably drive the cost more up front for the restaurant management. Cheap sushi places (not just in the U.S., but all over the world) cut corners (examples include inferior seafood quality, questionable sourcing, including illegal or off-season harvesting of younger-than-breeding age specimens of certain species, and straight up serving less courses) in order to make their margins. They have to - To do it “right” would cost too much. And it is these practices which give many new-to-sushi diners a really unsatisfactory experience. The world’s appetite for low-cost sushi has exponentially risen over the last decade, and it bodes poorly for the fish stock in the world’s oceans. Talk to any reputable sushi chef and ask if their seafood costs have risen in the past few years (you’ll hear quotes anywhere from 15%-40% more). Of course, there will occasionally exist the exception where there is an affordably priced gem of a sushi-ya where you get the quality as well, but this is why I call them gems - they are indeed rare finds.

Yellowtail (I’m assuming you mean ‘hamachi’) is a jack - Should be buttery, with a slightly bolder flavor.

Are you thinking of a different fish called yellowfin tuna (known as ‘ahi’), which is a true tuna, possessing a mild flavor and firm texture? (Don’t worry: This is a common confusion in naming between yellowtail and yellowfin tuna.)

By the way, speaking of texture, it is often appreciated as much, and quite often even more than actual flavor for many species of seafood in sushi. The crunchiness of geoduck clam (mirugai), the firmness of lean tuna (akami) contrasted with the melt-in-the-mouth feel of fatty tuna belly (o-toro), the softness of monkfish liver (ankimo) - Often it is the texture (and not flavor) which dictates how prized certain bites of sushi can be.

Hope this helps you start enjoying omakase… Sorry for the rant (again, not directed at you at all, but your great questions brought up really good potential points of discourse - Thank you!)


@J_L, great responses - spoken like the true master that you are. Will you adopt me and be my sushi dad? :wink: @TheCookie started a thread which is in a very similar vein that’s quite substantial now - probably a good addendum/supplement for the OP:



Great post @J_L. :slight_smile:

@dreas, follow @J_L’s advice and you will reap great benefits in your sushi quest. :slight_smile:

And definitely agree with @J_L’s note about “cheap/low-ball sushi”: It’s definitely a problem, and when eating raw fish / seafood, does one really want to skimp out on sustainable, good, quality sourcing, to eat the $19.95 All You Can Eat Mystery Fish from XYZ low-ball establishment?

That’s why we’ve been worried about the Poke explosion this past year or two: In Hawaii, you can understand how local places can get some quality fish, but seeing Poke restaurants popping up in every other strip mall across the Southland… are they really sourcing safe, quality, sustainable fish?


how do we deal with rising (at peak) Poke shops? Is this also eating into the whole raw fish industry?

1 Like

Wow thank you so much for such a thorough response! @J_L

Another thing to keep in mind.

If the menu has a set pieces, ie “10 piece omakase”. I find that after the 10 for example is when you can get the good stuff, or less pedestrian. Don’t be afraid to voice your likes. As the chef will take a mental note and include pieces that are or similar to your liking.

Make sure it is Japanese owned and operated. I find most good sushi joints are rather small and intimate. I love Koreans, but they have a reputation here in Southern California in regards to sushi.

Just because they didn’t serve it to you or if it’s not on the menu, doesn’t mean they don’t have it.

1 Like

In addition, even I (he of the not-sophisticated-sushi-palate) get way more enjoyment from the $35 chirashi bowl at Tsujita than I do from anything I order at Hara Sushi at any price… I think the good stuff is more satiating (even physically). You savor, you think, and you reflect when you get the good stuff, and I find that I don’t need to eat as much to be full…


[quote=“J_L, post:2, topic:5390”]
Sorry for the rant
[/quote]What do you mean rant? I love that rant. Keep it coming!

1 Like

Welcome to FTC Sushi @dreas!

1 Like

Good points @Chowseeker1999 & @J_L. I’ve been worrying about my new obsession and am I contributing to the sustainability problem for the sake of premium Sushi. But you two say the opposite… So great!

1 Like

My wallet says yes. Sorry y’all, $9 for a poke bowl is awesome. I’m okay eating shit quality fish because the flavor explosion known as SoCal Poke Bowls cover up the questionable protein quality and it’ll allow me to actually afford the good stuff later on.

I mean FFS I can get 2 poke bowls for the price of 1 Langer’s sandwich + tax/tip.

Well, my dear @Ns1. You won’t get any judgement from me. Live and let live.

You are the funny voice of reason when it comes to the extravagance that is L.A. dining. Your Happy Hour post is still one of my all time favorites!

1 Like

I don’t really care if the fish bad quality - that’s just a bad day for whoever is consuming it.

The real problem is if that fish is a prematurely harvested juvenile which isn’t yet old enough to procreate (i.e. replace itself in the sea). THAT is the problem with low-cost fish sourcing - the economics force the harvest of every last edible bite of biomass from the water in order to keep today’s prices low and today’s buyers happy. Nothing is sorted and tossed back viably into the sea - that would mean higher costs (gads!). It is an outrageously shortsighted practice which, at this rate, will result in my grandchildren’s (and perhaps even my childrens’) generation to experience the last taste of wild fish from our seas.

It is a selfish desire on my part to keep enjoying great quality sushi that made me realize this. Anyone who really knows me knows that I am FAR from being an environmental activist (trust me on this). In order for sushi culture to survive, seafood MUST be thoughtfully extracted from the sea. This was easy back in the 1970s, when sushi, for the most part, was a food only occasionally consumed by a percentage of people in Japan who could afford it, while the rest of the world gasped in horror as the notion of eating uncooked fish was first introduced. However, the world has changed much since then. Given the dearth of recent yields from our oceans, properly sorting the catch now becomes an expensive proposition - If done right, there is a real possibility of fishing vessels returning to port completely empty-handed. Tuna is the poster child for this cause. Young pristine tuna must be spared so that they may reproduce the next generation of tuna. Anything less than this means utter depletion of wild fish stock in our oceans, thus bringing certain doom to sushi as we know (and enjoy) it.

By keeping sushi expensive, one keeps sushi alive.


I don’t disagree with any of your points, but unless there is a ban on tuna fishing someone is going to eat it and that someone may as well be me.

… thus proving that sushi is doomed. Tragedy of the commons. Pandora’s box can’t be closed. [sigh].

Other comments here and this one in particular raises a question I’ve want to ask. (And likely it should be its own thread.) Is cheap sushi and its popularity going to decimate the fish populations?

Everyone who eats seafood and meat are contributing to the problem. We pick and choose our causes, me included. Some eat foods that are raised locally, to cut down on air-pollution; some don’t eat conventionally raised pork, because of the torture that is a pig farm; there are some who refuse to eat fish from Alaska, in protest of the clubbing of baby seals; or from Japan because of The Cove; or China, because of shark fin hunting. It goes on and on…

I say “live and let live”. And some don’t agree with that.

Edit: Canada, not Alaska. Don’t mess with the home of my Wild-Caught Salmon. :slight_smile: