Shunji Japanese Cuisine
12244 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Dining date: 11/4/13
Chef Shunji Nakao has been around the LA sushi scene for some time now (greater than two decades) being a key plater in some well-known past ventures (Matsuhisa, Asanebo, The Hump). His eponymous and short-lived Shunji’s on Melrose opened a couple of years ago, to be succeeded by this spot in West Los Angeles. Opened early last year, it’s been on my radar for some time but I didn’t make my first visit until this week for lunch.
The restaurant debuted Mon-Fri lunch service last month, offering a more affordable way to try the restaurant’s oft-praised sushi. Regular dinner service offers a la carte, as well as a handful of tasting options: a $50 sushi special (10 pieces + 1 hand roll), a market-priced sushi omakase, a $100 omakase centered around plated kaiseki-like preparations, and a full omakase starting at $140. On this afternoon, we opted for the premium lunch special which offered 12 nigiri and 1 hand roll for forty bucks…a relative deal. Currently, lunch is sushi-only with potential for the full kitchen to be available in the future.
I appreciated that the day’s offering was rather comprehensive, complete with prices. As with many sushi meals, I’ll save comments for the end.
Breaking up the march of sushi pieces, we were served a bowl of hot miso soup filled with seaweed and soft tofu.
Blue Crab Hand Roll
The hand roll marked the conclusion of the lunch special, but we added on a couple of choice cuts for good measure.
Fatty Tuna Collar/Kama Toro
Overall, the sushi was strong (although pieces seemed to be slightly on the smaller side). Highlights for me were the tuna preparations, from the lean to the fatty. I expected the kama toro to be good and it really was exceptional – silky and delicious. Outside of tuna, I found all the fish to be very good although not particularly outstanding. The blue crab hand roll stood out as a little disappointing, being heavy on the rice and not having the sweetness I was looking for. Also, one diner found something chewy/crunchy in the uni which potentially could’ve been a tiny piece of sand or urchin shell. Not cool. Still, the meal was strong enough (and the price right) to pique my interest in a dinner visit for more sushi and to try some of Shunji’s signature plated dishes.