I believe there is a day of the week when he is not there. Does anyone on the board know what that day is? Thanks.
I believe (and to the rest of the board, correct me if I’m wrong on this) that Shunji is off every other Tuesdays. I don’t think anyone there would take offense if you call and ask.
That, and of course vacations.
They told me last year that he works lunch Tuesdays and Fridays. I didn’t ask about dinner.
I agree with @J_L that in my experience he’s generally off on Tuesdays (I thought it was usually every Tuesday) the whole day. He’s at the restaurant at lunch the rest of the weekdays, but may not be up front at the sushi bar. Generally I think Thursday/Friday is a good bet for him to be at the bar for lunch, and he’s probably there for dinner every night, except for Tuesdays.
Best bet is to call and ask if you can have a reservation in front of Shunji, assuming that’s why you’re asking, for your specific date/time and they’ll let you know if he’s available.
For the uninitiated, would anyone mind giving a quick overview of why one would want to go while Sunji is there? I’m assuming that the main reason being that he is a very talented sushi chef, but I’d love to learn anything else that makes it worth checking to confirm that he is at the restaurant when you go.
I just read through JGold’s old review here. It all sounds amazing, but any other info would would muy appreciated!
The argument is that Shunji is the top talent at his own eponymous restaurant. He hires good chefs and staff but he’s got the most experience and the menu his his vision. If he’s there, he can make executive decisions to sub items or to come up with on-the-spot specials.
It’s not really that different than wanting the Executive Chef or CdC or, at a “celebrity” chef’s restaurant, the named chef to be there or be the one cooking your meal.
Does that mean that if one goes when Shunji is not there they would get a subpar experience? One shouldn’t, but it’s a safer bet for a better experience if he’s there. Last time I was at Shunji, he was teaching one of his sushi chefs some of his knife techniques. The difference probably wouldn’t be picked up on by most diners, but maybe it would.
Generally, I recommend if you’re going to Shunji for the first time, and you’re going to do omakase, it’s not cheap, so why not try to get a reservation with him, or at least on a night that he’s there. If that doesn’t work with your plans, go anyway even if he’s not there, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
Cuz some of his other dudes are not very good IMO
Thank you for this. Appreciate you taking the time to write this out.
Kind of a side topic, but are there other restaurants in LA that are worth checking to see of the head chef is in?
It seems like some genres may be more forgiving. For instance, will the Maude dinner be different/better if Curtis Stone is in the kitchen? Maybe, but it feels like the menu is still his vision, just executed with different hands.
I think sushi restaurants, while not unique in this regard, do seem to be the focus of this kind of attention (e.g., getting as seat in front of Maru-san at Mori). Obviously it also depends on the skill of the sushi chef who works under the “master” chef (and frequently owner) and how much latitude is given to them. For example, it’s pretty special to sit in front of Ken-san at Kiriko, but Ken seems to have given Tomo-san and Shinji-san more autonomy so each has their own style and each are free to serve their own creations, so regulars may actually request one of them even if Ken is working the bar.
The most obvious example from the non-sushi world, at least in the microcosm that is FTCers/former Chowhounds, is Sergio formerly of Coni’seafood. I’m sure other examples are out there.
hi, i’ve been to shunji a coupla or three times and have never gotten to sit
in front of shunji.
and i still fucking dug it.
less smart guy than most here
I take exception to that last remark.
Huh. I’ve had good experiences at Coni’Seafood since he left (actually don’t think I’ve ever went when he was there). What am I missing out on?
Thanks for this.