665 Townsend St
San Francisco, CA 94103
Dining date: 12/27/15
San Francisco has seen a lot of growth in its sushi scene in recent years, particularly in the high end segment. Michelin-starred sushi restaurants Maruya, Kusakabe, and Wako opened in 2013-2014; Omakase opened in 2015 joining that group with a Michelin star of its own. I’ve yet to go to one of those other restaurants, but was able to squeeze in Omakase as my last dinner in San Francisco over the Christmas holiday.
Two fixed menus are available each evening, one at the $150 level and one at $200. From what I could tell, the higher level offered a couple more pieces of sushi and a beef course towards the end of the meal (at least on this evening). We went for the $200 level.
2006 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Dining date: 9/20/15
Sushi Tsujita opened about a year ago and was the third LA restaurant from the Tsujita group. The first two restaurants are popular noodle bars; I’ve been a huge fan of the tsukemen they serve (even trying it in Tokyo a few years back). However, this restaurant is something a little different – a refined sushi bar. Reviews of the restaurant have been strong thus far, so a visit was in order.
The dinner menu is omakase-only at three levels: $120, $150, and $180. We went right in the middle. While sushi made up the bulk of the menu, there were a scattering of small, plated dishes throughout.
521 N La Cienega Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
Dining date: 10/3/15
Raku is one of the year’s most exciting restaurant openings for me; I never expected to see this place in Los Angeles. I’ve enjoyed the restaurant a handful of times since it opened in Las Vegas’ Chinatown 2008. In its early stages, it was a fairly unassuming ‘locals spot’ in a Chinatown strip mall. The restaurant steadily gathered a very devoted following and national acclaim, following up with a Raku Sweets concept in 2013 and this second location of Raku that opened just last month.
The menu at this West Hollywood location is virtually identical to the original, with a long list of menu items and a chalkboard of daily specials. We ordered up a couple of daily specials (bluefin tuna sashimi, iberico pork skewers), a few old favorites and some new dishes.
5030 Spring Mountain Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Dining date: 5/6/15
Raku used to be sort of an off-strip “hidden gem” that locals knew of in Chinatown. It’s grown considerably in exposure to become very well known with locals and tourists alike seeking a great dining experience outside of a hotel resort.
I’ve been to Raku twice and had excellent meals. However it’s been a little while and after three years, I finally returned with my dad. The menu is very much the same as I remembered with a large variety of small plates (hot and cold) and yakitori. A chalkboard displays a list of the day’s specials. Initially intending to order a chef’s choice omakase, we decided to go a la carte and choose exactly what we wanted to eat. We ended up ordering three of the daily specials (the first three dishes in this post) as well as a handful of small plates and skewers.
3455 Overland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Dining date: 2/18/15
I recently revisited West LA’s n/naka. To me, it’s still one of the more unique meals in LA. It’s Niki Nakayama’s modernized interpretation of a kaiseki meal – hyper seasonal, local, intricate food following a traditional progression. LA’s full of great Japanese cuisine but even in the high-end space, it’s primarily sushi-based. n/naka’s multi-course small-plate meal and focus on service really find a great blend between Japanese cuisine/sensibilities and Western ‘fine dining.’
The modern kaiseki runs $165 with a vegetarian option for $150 – both are thirteen courses.
521 W 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining date: 10/2/14
I first dined at Q two months ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. This return visit came quicker than expected as Q was the last-minute choice for a special occasion meal in the downtown area.
Sushi Zo still gets the majority of buzz of high-end downtown sushi options, though Q is right up there and deserves strong consideration. The quality of the fish is superb and the precision is exacting, plus I think Q has one of the most beautiful sushi bars in town (I love the lightbulbs). It’s very quiet and rather tranquil, transporting one away from the busy downtown streets just outside the doors.