So was in the mood for some sushi last week and called up Guy to get some. Hmmm...sushi, where to begin? Let's start with the following: Nozawa? Hasn't been good for years. Sasabune? Dog food. Katsu-ya? Please. Los Angeles County has some of the best sushi on the face of the planet and yet the peons are led to their doom by putting their trust into these institutions that haven't been up to snuff since Cobain was contemplating whether a 20 gauge would do the trick.
In general, Los Angeles has three types of sushi restaurants. Traditional joints where fish is the focus. No avocado or tempura here, mostly just nigiri avec poisson. Maybe you'll get a miso soup if you're lucky and a titanium forged sushi grade knife to your fingers when you ask for a bowl of rice if you're not so lucky. Then there's places that serve sushi along with other types of japanese food. These restaurants can vary tremendously; sometimes you find good food (Asanebo,Wa), sometimes you find good looking people paying obscene amounts of money for cardboard (Koi) and sometimes you find a menu with 3975 different types of rolls named after people like Sarah Michelle Gellar (Hamasaku). And finally there are Izakaya joints that are drinking establishments which serve japanese small plates as well as sushi.
Although good food can be found across the three different categories of places, when it comes to pure sushi I go for the traditional joints. Simply because the chefs that excel in this category do so because they get the freshest daily fish from the markets and because they are uncomprimising in their cut and presentation of the fish to the customer. And my two favorite traditional joints these days are Zo and Sushi Park.
Now normally I would say Zo has the best fish in town (maybe besides Urasawa but Urasawa is a totally different type of experience). I have been going to get grub from Keizo ever since he bolted from his 8 year stint at Hide on Sawtelle so that he could have his own place (and more importantly, buy his own fish). Three years ago, I would have said that Zo was the best by a longshot, but now with his Michelin star, highest in Zagat rating and (perhaps most importantly) reliance on two other chefs during peak hours...I'm just not sure it's the same. Plus times iz tough and although Sushi Park ain't no cheap eating, $100 pp always beats $130 pp.
So, Sushi Park. Upon walking up the stairs to the second floor of a Sunset strip mall, I noticed and admired an addition to the decor:
It might surprise my infinitely large readership to discover that the proprietors, (you got it) the Park family are Korean. What, you say? Gutrbal is recommending a Korean sushi joint? Read on. First off, you will only ever get served by either Peter or his two brothers and Peter's wife Joanne. And the bunch is an extremely jolly lot, which is refreshing for a traditional sushi joint.
Then there's the food. You will always find a large selection; of course they have the standards, but it never ceases to amaze me that every time I go, I often find something different. The following is a breakdown course by course of my visit for lunch:
- Albacore sashimi
- Blue fin tuna from Canada, the same but marinated and toro
- Red snapper, halibut, kimetai
- Abalone (served in a tiny bowl and perfectly prepared, just ever so slightly dressed)
- Yellowtail, kimpachi (amberjack), sweet shrimp
- Pink scallop, raspberry oyster from Royal Island
- Skipjack, baby tuna, jack trevally
- Fried shrimp head
- Spanish mackerel, palometa, king mackerel
- Octopus, orange clam, giant clam
- Salmon, scallop
- Blue crab handroll
Standouts def. included the scallop and oyster course (make that a regular Peter and Co!) as well as the consistently best blue crab handroll in town. Every time I'm chomping away on that delicacy, I understand what it would be like to be smoking the crack.
So yeah, Sushi Park...still awesome. The bill came to $88 plus tip and tax. Is that a lot of money to be putting down for lunch? Without a doubt. The best deal in town with still great quality of fish is the $14 lunch special at Echigo. But you want something special? Go hang with the Parks.
8539 Sunset Blvd., #20 (two story strip mall, it's upstairs tucked away in the corner)