Well, the sake was $22 per glass, and that bill total includes tax/tip. You could get out of there for less than half that if you are fortunate enough to have impulse control.
I generally don’t w/ food. and
Nice report back. Glad you had a good lunch at Shunji’s. Hope you get to try it for dinner one of these days.
What’s your favorite type of fish? The lighter whitefish or more robust, oilier fish like Mackerel, etc.? Feel free to mention some preferences when you try the omakase dinner.
I can’t wait to try dinner!
I like a variety, from light to salty to oily.
Nice! For dinner (and tied into the other question you asked about showing that you want other fish), for Shunji and Mori Sushi dinner, a server will ask you what you want to order (really, it’s ultimately some form of “Omakase”), however, that is the time that you can specify things you want or don’t want.
For example, at Shunji, you can mention that you want to try a variety of cooked dishes and sushi, or mainly sushi, or sushi only. I still remember a report from @J_L on our old board where it was all Cooked Dishes Only IIRC, and it looked fabulous. (And Shunji’s cooked dishes are great anyways.)
Same for Mori Sushi.
So take that opportunity to mention to the server (or the sushi chef when you’re about to start) that you want primarily sushi, and you want a variety of fish (from the light to oilier fish, clams, etc.).
Great report @Chowseeker1999, so how did it compare to shiki?
Thanks! Hm… Chef Mori is so nice and affable… even more than Chef Shunji if you can believe that (who’s already so nice). Mori-san had some unique highlights that Shunji didn’t (like the amazing Kohada), but it still feels like he’s operating with restrictions (and he even mentioned that to us): The rice is not his total choice (partially improved from when he got there). The Sake list is not his. Some of the prep work is still improving by the Shiki staff (whom Mori-san and his “brother” Nao-san talked about).
So given all of that, Shunji was the more enjoyable experience and cheaper, too (if you remove the excessive number of bottles of Sake we ordered that night (an aberration!)).
If Mori-san returns to full power like he was at Mori Sushi, then it’d be Mori all the way, but until then we’re glad to have Mori-san back in the rotation (Shunji, Mori Sushi and now Shiki (w/ Mori)).
Was that north/south of $185 w/o sake?
It was definitely under $200 without the Sake. I didn’t save the receipt (we all split the bill), but I’d say it’s right around the $175 - 195 range IIRC. Thanks.
Oh and we were so stuffed. I think seeing our friends get so excited by the amazing Sushi (they said it was the best they’d ever had, but again, they’re from the Midwest), and then us trying the Ohtoro vs. Kamatoro extra rounds… we could’ve omitted that and been under even more.
@Chowseeker1999. When I go for dinner, I will simply hand over my iPad with your report and look imploringly at the chef. That should work.
Out of curiosity, did they serve your beautiful sakes in juice glasses? Or do they have nicer glasswear available?
You should be fine! Definitely tell them you want a variety of fish (you like light and oilier ones, clams, shellfish, etc.).
Sake cups: I don’t think they were full on “juice glasses” but it wasn’t the classic cute Ochoko cups like this.
They were clear glass cups (almost like shot glasses, but taller).
That’s one thing I adore about Raku (you get to choose from a wonderful variety of Sake ochoko cups there).
I forgot to mention: It looks like Shunji has Limited Edition Sake on the menu, Yukiyuzawa Junmai Daiginjo Genshu (the one I saw a few months ago at n/naka) and the menu states it’s limited to 500 bottles / year, as well as Gensai Daiginjo (Limited). Have you tried the Gensai (Limited) before?
Never heard of the Yukiyuzawa before but in doing some research it is part of the Kimura Brewery that also produces Fukukomachi sake you noted on the menu of Shiki Beverly Hills, along with the super high end Fukukomachi bottles carried by them and by Urasawa in the past. I’ve sampled some of their bottles at Takashimaya Shinjuku last October, and while they are good, were not quite my style. Though their profile is remarkable that most casual sake drinkers will enjoy.
Shunji uses mostly MTC for their sake and the Sakemen represent them. Suehiro brewery sakes (Fukushima prefecture) are part of their portfolio, which include “Ken” The Sword Daiginjo, and its more upscale sibling Gensai which is also a Daiginjo. The Gensai absolutely did not work for me and I probably got a bad bottle, and the Ken performed consistently better for me. Suehiro made their house “Ichigo” Junmai Ginjo for them, though I’m curious what the difference is between Suehiro’s Japan only Junmai Ginjo vs the Ichigo…could be that they all worked out a deal that the JG is only to be sold to the restaurant exclusively as an export.
Of sake exported from Fukushima prefecture to the USA, Suehiro and Daishichi are by far the most famous, and the latter has a very strong presence in France where the brewery wants to enter the market and target their sake to pair with French cuisine. Daishichi is known to age their sake before selling so you will see a bottling year from 3 years ago for a current retail bottle of sake. However some will say that each release will be different. I’m glad you got to try the Minowamon, my first bottle couple years ago was fantastic but subsequent bottles I had after that were nowhere near as good. There are a few Fukushima sake not exported that I feel are far better value and enjoyable, and not even Junmai Daiginjo level (though probably more perishable), though less traditional in terms of profile and structure, but very solid.
Shunji realizes the clientele for high end sake, hence the increase in his Junmai Daiginjo offerings. Though I would recommend that they expand the lower end to mid range lineup (there are a lot of great sake that would pair far better with the food), and I personally think he should also try to work with his distributors/people to promote more warm/hot sake Surprised he hasn’t thought about offering a sake pairing yet (much easier to sell by the bottle or a smaller selection of by the glass/carafe).
Thank you again; great info!
Oh! So the limited bottling for Gensai is actually from the same brewery as Ken (The Sword)? I’ve had that one before, and agree with you it was pretty solid and consistent. Interesting.
Re: Hot Sake, Shunji only offers one - Hakutsuru Toji Kan for $9 / glass. Not sure how that one is?
Which Non-Daiginjo Sake would you recommend I try next time for Shunji? Thanks!
You can give the Gensai a try in case you get a better bottle and chances are that it will fit your style more than mine.
Hakutsuru is a very famous very large brewery in Japan although the overall feeling is that they do mass production (vs the mom and pop artisan traditional breweries), as you can easily find their sake here and at times in Chinese supermarkets. Doesn’t quite have the same prestige level as Hakkaisan, Kubota etc. In fact Hakutsuru is also the only sake offered on Japan Airlines economy direct flight to Tokyo.
Toji Kan, I believe can be categorized as one of those affordable everyday sake types (commonly referred to as Futsushu or common sake) that has a polish ratio below that of an ordinary Junmai (meaning rice is polished to over 80% quite possibly), so could be a bit more coarse normally. However Toji Kan is actually very well structured and in addition to being very affordable, is a great sake for warming/hot. The recipe comes from the master brewer (actually brewed by him too) using Yamadanishiki rice, which is not low cost (and especially for a normal everyday sake). Izakaya Ginji in San Mateo now uses that as their hot sake and is a great starter and value choice. I’d definitely would recommend giving it a try and pairing it with the hot dishes (agedashi tomato, chawanmushi, any soups or stews) and then move on to other sake.
I have no idea what Shunji’s sake menu looks like these days. If you can attach a photo of the menu I’ll take a look and comment what might work.
I had been waiting to give my thoughts on Shunji in a full report on the Sushi School thread. But I’m still busy getting my life back together, and am getting FTC acclimated by just reading and catching up. Love all the Sushi talk. It’s the perfect meal after the holiday gorging.
Anyway, I can see why some might feel that Shunji’s offerings are bland and less spectacular. I was even advised a while back that I might not get it - eh hem @CiaoBob and others - and to try other places before going. I was defiant and went for the Lunch Special right away. Well, he was right. The offerings did seem subdued. But fortunately I was armed with that advice and conscious that it is Shunji’s sourcing of “not so common” fish that is spectacular. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I do think I would get it better now though. Especially after the oodles of starter kits I’ve received thus far.
P.S. You’re right. Shunji himself is a love.
You can see a picture of the Yukiyuzawa in an older KevinEats post of Urasawa from 2010
Take your time. And yes, based on all the visits to other places and your reports, you’d be able to better appreciate Shunji’s offerings the next time you go.
Walking in, we are warmly greeted by Yuko-san and Shunji-san and the Michelin Man.
Currently Shunji is offering a regular Sushi Bento Box (10 Pieces of Nigiri Sushi and a 6 Piece Cut Roll) for $48, and a Deluxe Bento Box (10 Pieces of Nigiri Sushi, 6 Piece Cut Roll, and Assorted Appetizers) for $70.
Deluxe Bento Box might seem smallish at first, but then you open up both boxes and start feasting, with your eyes, then with your mouth. And it’s totally worth it!
Shunji-san personally signs every single Bento Box note, thanking you for your patronage and support.
Deluxe Bento Box - Assorted Appetizers (Box #1):
This was a Zensai Course and multiple follow-up Appetizers all rolled into 1 beautifully packaged box To-Go!
Crab Cake, Grilled Shrimp, Gindara Yaki (Grilled Black Cod), Shiitake Shinjo Tempura (Shiitake Stuffed with Shrimp and Mountain Potato), Shishito Pepper, Special Tamago Yaki with White Fish:
Just this corner of the Deluxe Appetizers Box would’ve been a highlight to a great Michelin 1 Star Omakase meal here in L.A., let alone something you get for Takeout, in a To-Go Bento Box!
The Grilled Shrimp was probably the weakest item, still plump and meaty, but a touch briny. However it wasn’t bad at all. From there it just got better: The Shiitake Shinjo Tempura was perfectly fried, beautiful Shiitake Mushroom, Shrimp and Mountain Potato puree. Lovely!
The Crab Cake and Shishito Pepper - great!
But then you get to the Gindara Yaki (Grilled Black Cod). First, stop and think about that for a second. Gindara Yaki, To-Go! Perfectly grilled, light, buttery, delicate. Stunning!
Then you get the Tamago Yaki with White Fish:
Cloud-like, airy, delicate, it is one of the best Tamago-Yaki I’ve had in a while, and this was sitting in our To-Go box as well. Wow! Highlight for Best Bite of the Meal! (@J_L @JeetKuneBao @PorkyBelly @TheCookie @paranoidgarliclover @Ns1 @A5KOBE @beefnoguy and others!)
Simmered Quail Egg with Steamed Bafun Uni, Simmered Celery, Gobo (Burdock Root), Shimeji Vegetable, Green Beans (Saya Ingen), Yellow Broccoli Flower (edible):
Initially some might look at this corner of the Deluxe Bento and scoff, since it’s “just Vegetables,” but those that know Shunji-san know what he can do. The Simmered Celery was full of flavor! Beautifully poached in a unique Dashi (not just a typical style), this drew out some incredible flavor notes, making it aromatic, savory, balanced in flavor and changing what your notion of “Celery” is!
I loved the Shimeji Mushroom, also poached and full of flavor. The Saya Ingen and Gobo (Burdock Root)? Excellent!
And then you bite into the Simmered Quail Egg with Bafun Uni (Hokkaido, Japan). Stop and think about that: A perfectly simmered, silky, delicate Quail Egg stuffed with pristine (as in 100% flawless) Bafun Uni from Hokkaido, Japan, in your Takeout meal! It was outstanding and another Highlight of the Meal!
Vinegar Dashi Marinated Tomato, Braised Octopus (Mizudako from Hokkaido, Japan), Ohitashi with Wild Arugula, Shimeji and Abura Age Tofu:
The Vinegar Dashi Tomato was a wonderful wake-up call for your taste buds: Piquant, but not overly so, then a burst of umami Tomato juice within.
The Mizudako (Octopus) from Hokkaido, Japan was meaty, tender, and not chewy at all! Incredible!
The Ohitashi with Wild Arugula, Shimeji Mushrooms and Abura Age Tofu was so satisfying, vegetal, deep forest flavors, but still tamed and savory.
Surinagashi made with Cauliflower and Potato topped with 3 Kinds of Mushroom, Broccolini, Shrimp, Sugar Peas:
One of the most beautiful, silky purees that I could remember in a long while! Lovely Cauliflower and Potato essence, smooth, total mastery of cooking. The 3 kinds of Mushrooms and Broccolini and Sugar Peas and Shrimp rounded things out.
Yaki Tofu (Grilled Tofu) Dengaku Miso, Topped with Housemade Walnut Paste, Pumpkin Tofu, Black Bean:
The Yaki Tofu (Grilled Tofu) Dengaku Miso was another standout: Nicely grilled, the Tofu had a good infusion of flavor from the Dengaku Miso, glazed over the top. Earthy, lightly sweet, savory. The Housemade Walnut Paste added a fantastic nuttiness.
The Pumpkin Tofu, another thoughtful, interesting item. Creamy, soft, very Tofu-like, you wouldn’t have thought it was mainly Pumpkin initially. And the Kuromame (Black Bean) were perfectly earthy.
There were over 30(!) main ingredients in this first box alone!
Thinking about this opener, I’m reminded of the time we gazed in stunned appreciation when @J_L reported years ago about an Omakase meal at Shunji with just Cooked Dishes. That’s how impressive Shunji-san is.
This was already a winner of a meal, and then we had our 2nd Deluxe Bento Box to open…
Deluxe Bento Box - Sushi (Box #2)!
While there was no order, since this was all packed To-Go, we tried to remember the progression the way many of our favorite Omakase might have occurred.
Tai (Japanese Sea Bream):
This was fresh, light, delicate.
One thing that struck us immediately for this Sushi Bento Box is how important Nikiri (a special Housemade Sauce that Sushi Chefs might brush on various pieces of Sushi) is. There is no Nikiri applied here, but that’s understandable, because these are made To-Go, and Shunji-san doesn’t want to cause the Sushi to go soggy, but you definitely feel it’s loss when you’re eating these To-Go and long for the day this pandemic is over, people are safe, and can go back to enjoying things like dining in for a better experience.
Even lighter than the Tai. Very bright and fresh.
Maguro (Bluefin Tuna):
Tender, meaty, but soft. A great example of Maguro.
Kanpachi (Great Amberjack):
Outstanding! Light creaminess, so fresh.
Shima Aji (Striped Jack):
Even better! Loved the light fattiness inherent within the Shima Aji, and yet still lean and meaty and tender.
Ohtoro Zuke (Fattiest Tuna Belly, Marinated in Special Soy Sauce):
The unusual color of this Ohtoro is due to Shunji-san marinating it in a Special Soy Sauce today. It imparted a salinity and deep savory quality, yet was still incredibly fatty (in a mouth watering way), and was excellent!
Silky, bright, delicate. Highlight!
Beautifully fatty and creamy.
Ikura (Salmon Roe):
The Ikura normally would’ve been presented Gunkan (with Nori (Seaweed) wrapped around it and Rice on the bottom, but it seems Shunji-san is now forgoing the Nori, so you get Ikura (Salmon Roe) with Rice on the bottom of this container. The Ikura is pristine and pops. Very good. I wish I had more of it.
Blue Crab Cut Roll:
This was solid. Not the best Blue Crab Roll I’ve had, but sufficiently oceanic (in a good way) with light sweetness (not as much as great Dungeness Crab), and helped to fill out the rest of the meal.
Seeing the care put into this Deluxe Bento Box To-Go, it really felt like a portable way to enjoy some of Shunji-san’s mastery of an Omakase course, and his hospitality along with his staff.
While this doesn’t approach the glory of sitting in front of Shunji-san doing a personal Omakase Course with the master, this is also a fraction of the price (at $70), and a way to support a great little Japanese Sushi-ya with a warm, kind staff. It’s a splurge during this pandemic, but also a blessing, to get a little bit of enjoyment, masterful cooking and a bit of brightness in these dark times.
12244 West Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tel: (310) 826-4737
You didn’t buy sake to go? They have a good selection (by the bottle only) available so long as food is purchased together with it.