Opinions are strong in the San Fernando Valley amongst locals when it comes to recommending their favorite sushi restaurant. The “quiet” grand opening of Shin Sushi (no Eater coverage?) does not in any way diminish the fact that this is, in my opinion, an instant contender for one of the top sushi spots in the Valley.
Shin Sushi is the realization of a dream by Chef Taketoshi Azumi. Born in Japan, Chef Taketoshi grew up watching his father toil at the family sushi bar (the original Shin Sushi) in Mitaka-shi (Tokyo). As a young man, he wanted to follow in dad’s footsteps. However, his father actually refused to train him, citing fears that his son would not be able to tolerate the day-to-day rigors of the trade. So, Chef Taketoshi and his brother Fumio packed their bags and came to the U.S., where they held long-term stints at Mori Sushi, and more recently at Sushi of Gari.
Though their father passed away a few years back, the brothers Azumi see this Encino iteration of Shin Sushi as a continuation of the family business: A casual place to enjoy quality traditional Japanese sushi, both omakase and okonomi-style. The space occupies a corner in a shopping center on Ventura Boulevard (of course). The layout is comfortable and spacious, with wide counters. The sushi bar seats eight comfortably, and in addition there are setups for two-top and four-top seating. Liquor license is pending.
And now, onto the food. Itadakimasu!
Otsumami: Pressure-smoked tuna, with cherry tomato, summer okra & nasu (Japanese eggplant)… Refreshing.
Gari (pickled young ginger)… Time for nigiri.
Chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), from Spain… Gorgeous.
Summer aji (horse mackerel)… Aji is entering its prime season.
Hotategai (scallop), from Hokkaido… Luscious.
Binnaga-maguro (albacore), from Oregon…
Marinated gin-zake (coho salmon)… So complex!
Seared kamasu (baby barracuda)… With a hint of yuzu, this was superb.
Isaki (three-line grunt), from Japan… A relative rarity to see on offer in the States.
Hon-maguro akami (lean bluefin tuna), from Spain… Delicious!
Ikura (salmon roe)… Not sure if this is nama ikura (fresh “in-sac” salmon roe), but it was tasty nonetheless.
Kanpachi (greater amberjack)… Yum.
Kohada (gizzard shad)… Excellent. A note about the shari (rice) at Shin Sushi - The chefs prepare the rice according to their father’s original Tokyo method. The bite is a bit dense, with a trace of akasu (sake lees vinegar), and offers a very satisfying balance with the neta (seafood) at Shin Sushi. It all seems so fitting, as their work experience from Mori also shines through in this aspect of the cuisine.
Tai zuke (marinated sea snapper)… A bit of aging brings out new notes in flavor!
Botan ebi (sweet prawn)… So fresh!
Murasaki uni (sea urchin roe), from Santa Barbara… The uni season has been somewhat inconsistent due to warmer waters this year, but this batch today is unquestionably ‘Grade A’ stuff!
Ebi (shrimp)… Nice.
Toro tekka-maki (fatty tuna cut roll)… Tekka-maki is often considered a litmus test of the itamae’s overall skill. And Chef Taketoshi-san passes with flying colors.
Unorthodox knife stance for the tamago…
Tamago (egg omelette), with ume (sour plum) sauce and shiso… Wonderful!
Dessert: Tofu mousse with kuromitsu (black sugar syrup)… A fantastic to finish a terrific omakase!
This was a truly solid omakase from start to finish. Keep in mind that this is the first night of operations for the team at Shin Sushi. Service was flawless - Tea cups were kept discreetly filled, and meal pacing was expert-level. The total tab (omakase and tea) for my dinner, pre-tip, was only $80 (!!!) The represents a huge QPR alert for those seeking a meal of worthy value. On top of all that, the two brothers are endearingly friendly to new and familiar customers alike - truly some of the happiest sushi chefs in town.
In a sea of competition from other sushi-yas in the Valley, I expect that Shin Sushi (with the Azumi brothers at its helm and keeping up this caliber of their craft), will do just fine.
16573 Ventura Bl., Suite 14
Encino, CA 91436