Some Ora King reps were also on Cooking Issues late last year. Dave Arnold didn’t give them a ton of opportunity to talk (which isn’t uncommon) but I liked that they at least briefly discussed Ora King’s practices including the efficiency of the feeding process, use (or lack thereof) of isoeugenol, etc.
There were kind of more questions raised than hard answers but I liked that the conversation about the product and practices seemed to largely be no BS.
I’ll start with the best parts. The hairy crab is incredible, and the kani miso brings welcome richness. The uni is also great, and less sweet than the Santa Barbara variety. I believe both are from Hokkaido, and having been there last year I can say the flavor and quality are up to spec.
The kinmedai, hotate and mackerel are muted in comparison. The sujiko is enjoyable, although a little brinier than I prefer. The ginger was a nice surprise - thicker and more pickled than usual. The toro was impressively fatty and marinated well. It would make for really excellent nigiri.
Unfortunately I have to dedicate a section to the shari. It’s overpowered with vinegar, and this is the first time I’ve said that about rice. Great rice can be flavorful without being noticeable, and Matsumoto’s is distracting if I’m being generous. This really brought the entire experience down. It’s possible their nigiri is more enjoyable given the smaller portions of rice. Also, there was no wasabi to be found in the bowl or bag.
Got Matsumoto premium chirashi for lunch today. The fish was very good, esp. the uni and nodoguro. The rice was definitely a bit vinegary, but I found it to be pleasant. What I didn’t care for was the tamago…seemed almost like a throwaway item (but I still ate it). Nothing wrong with it, just didn’t seem at the same level as the fish.
Apparently a lot of sushi bars buy it pre-made. I’ve had some awful tamago in from various Los Angeles sushi bars, including from places that weren’t inexpensive. I’m convinced most places don’t make their own. I’ve liked the tamago at Kiriko and Shunji. The tamago at Ginza Sushi Onodero was way too sweet for my taste, although I assume at a sushi bar of that level it was actually made in situ.
Sushi Tsujita has added the Appetizer Box at $35. We tried it today. Everything was so tasty. With the eel, tempura uni, abalone, sesame tofu, being standouts. The mini wagyu gyu-don, and the Kyoto-style grilled cod, were also excellent. Basically, the whole thing was amazing value. I can eat this alone for lunch everyday.
If you order it together with the Nigiri Set, or the Bara Chirashi Premium (which we did), it’s about the same price as the Kaiseki Jubako at n/naka. Although you’ll be missing dessert, and I hate to say it… it is item-by-item tastier than the Jubako (sorry Nikki). Maybe except for the sashimi which is really outstanding at n/naka, the cooked items there don’t travel as well, despite their extra care in packaging, especially the tempura (lobster). For Tsujita, everything tasted perfect, including the sushi rice.
And the biggest factor yet is that Tsujita delivers to the west side by UberEats. That, together with the overall superior food quality, is the deal breaker for me. I hope others will up their game for the competition soon.
Here is my latest delivery from Sushi King in Santa Monica. This chirashi rang up for $29 and was a great value. Really enjoyed the tuna, mackerel and scallop. Sushi King has one of my favorite octopus anywhere - just the right amount of firmess and flavor. Those qualities extend to the surf clam, which I haven’t had in a long time.
While nothing here is overly premium, the cuts were awesome across the board. The pink sakura denbu on the rice was a nice touch, and a first for me. It’s light, sweet and livens up the presentation. The tamago leans to the savory side, which is not to my taste but that’s ok. I will also give them bonus points for the compostable container.
Great report! The nigiri set at Tsujita is awesome too. $50 is on the high end, but the rice holds up amazingly well somehow. Improbable it may sound, I know, but even at takeout it is actually better than even some “high end” places’ head chef counter omakase quality pre-COVD. Comes with a mini ikura-uni don too.
Anyway, hope to hear what you think about the appetizer box soon.
Never been to Noma (and my usual disclaimer of not being a sushi connoisseur), but my impression is Sushi King has better QPR than does Kanpai. Only been to each twice, though. My fondness for Sushi King could also be b/c it totally reminds me of the places my parents used to drag me to as a kid.
Great question! Sushi King is much more traditional, in the same vein as Little Tokyo mainstays like Sushi Go 55. It’s definitely an outlier in Santa Monica. I feel the QPR is very high, especially considering it’s dinner only.
I really like Noma’s nigiri lunch special, pretty underrated in my opinion. They do a great job with classic pieces while also offering some creativity. Sushi King is very no-frills in comparison, and their cuts are much thicker than other shops. Below is a pre COVID lunch at Noma.
I’ve also had the nigiri lunch special at Kanpai Santa Monica around the time of their grand opening. I believe it was priced higher than Noma and offered very obvious cuts (tuna, salmon, shrimp, unagi) and a California Roll. It was certainly good but I expected higher QPR.
Yes, love Sushi Tsujita’s nigiri set! I did post about it earlier and enjoyed it very much. The way their sushi travels is definitely a miracle, it’s perfect when you get it. Very excited for the appetizer box!
Very nice takeout chirashi from Osawa in Pasadena the other day. Nothing super revelatory but really hit the spot. Also got the salmon battera, which I quite enjoyed. I’m not as experienced as many (any?) of the folks here, but the salmon was certainly more accessible and less pungent than the Saba battera I’ve had before. I like them both, but I think my partner appreciated the easier flavor.
It’s hard to cover every item pictured, but I’ll touch on a few highlights. I wasn’t sure what most of the items were when I ate them, which wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, it added to the sense of discovery. Big thanks to @fish_n_rice for the IDs, as well as the recommendation.
I am a sucker for presentation, and Sushi Tsujita does great here. There are so many great colors, and the abalone shell is a showstopper for sure. Really like the textural contrast between the abalone and the fish.
Should have taken a more flattering photo. I didn’t have high expectations for the grilled fish, but it made me say “wow.” I believe mine was a different fish than cod. I’m also not sure what the pink herb is, maybe a pickled scallion? Really nice palate cleanser.
I like the unagi skewer a lot. Most eel is prepared with a healthy dose of unagi sauce, so this was a refreshing change of pace. I also loved the shisito pepper. It tasted very special, like eating a pepper from a farm vs a supermarket. I didn’t pick up on the last item being uni tempura. It was nice, but it seemed to have cooled during delivery.
The wagyu gyu don is a guilty pleasure, as I’m eating less beef to lower my carbon footprint. Mine did arrive a little lukewarm, and could have benefited from a quick steam reheat. The wood container it comes in should make that easy. Gotta say, the rice is unbelievably rich in a good way.
I should point out that we also ordered a tempura don, and I believe preparing two cooked items affected the freshness of the appetizer box. Still, it was plenty enjoyable. As in, temporarily-forget-what-country-I’m-in enjoyable. I would love to revisit this when items are changed out on a seasonal basis.
Didn’t take pictures, but Sushi Sasabune is now on DoorDash. The full Omakase set is great. Comes with three kinds of sashimi. Today we got abalone, seared toro, and squid stuffed with crab meat. 15 pieces of nigiri. The usual good stuff, aji, (lean) tuna, and giant clam “muscle” were standouts. The rice stands up very well too, surprisingly. Not as good as the magic of Tsujita takeout, but still perfectly respectable. Crab cut roll was nice too, though I wish they did inside-out roll because of the seaweed sogginess factor.
I met a friend for some socially distanced takeout sushi from Sushi ii this weekend, which I had been eyeing for their battera. The whole set comes with battera, futomaki, and an assortment of other pressed sushi, and was enough to feed a couple hungry people.
The battera was the star–easily the best I’d had in months–and hit the spot. It was perfectly oily and had a satisfying density to the rice. The other two standouts were the futomaki and the tamago, which for me can be hit on miss depending on the style.
This was easily the best/most successful takeout sushi I’ve done since LA shut down in March and if it wasn’t so far (I definitely underestimated the distance) I’d work Sushi ii into my regular rotation. I preordered through Tock for next day pick up and the set was ready and waiting right when I arrived. If you can make the trip or you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a stop.