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Nanban-kan is literally steps away from the Nuart Theater so you may be wondering how I’ve managed to walk by this neighborhood favorite for so many years. My answer is simply that I usually watch movies in the afternoon so by the time Nanban-kan opens I am no longer in the vicinity.
I finally went one day because I was stuck on Santa Monica Boulevard at 6pm and my favorite butchers, Lindy & Grundy love it. I figured it was a sign to stop and eat when I was literally stopped at one traffic light for THREE changes and had moved ONE car length. It is not an exaggeration when the news reports that traffic is the worst aspect of life here in Los Angeles.
I am grateful there was so much traffic because I loved the food, service and ambiance at Nanban-kan so much that it is now on my “regular” list of places to eat, i.e., places I go when I am not trying new spots that I write about here on this blog:)
Like my nearby favorite Italian restaurant, Il Grano, this place is quiet, refined, and comfortable, with an owner who cares about every guest and the food on every table. The ratio of servers to diners is nearly 1:2 so my water was constantly refilled, my empty plates were instantly whisked away, and my next course was promptly fired as soon as I finished what was in front of me.
They serve both yakitori and sushi here, and since it was my first time, I concentrated on the yakitori. Most skewers were between $10-$20 and they had specials hand written on a blackboard. I asked my waitress what she recommended for a vegetable and she said the asparagus with bacon was a favorite. I could taste why when it arrived. A thin layer of bacon draped over the grilled asparagus made it a nicely luxurious and meaty bite.
One of the regular menu items was “five fishes”, and if you like fried smelt, you will love these lightly battered, crisp filets.
One of the blackboard specials was the sea bass and it was probably my favorite skewer of the evening with freshly chopped scallions and an almost sushi presentation of grated radish with ponzu.
I don’t know if it was my desire for iron or my love of pâté, but I had to order the chicken livers. They were nicely done but I would have like a bit more salt on them instead of the slightly sweet teriyaki glaze.
I finished with the special grilled quail. It was so simply and marvelously grilled that it needed nothing except my fingers to pick it up so I could clean off the delicate meat from the small bones. If you love quail or have never had it, this is a wonderful place to experience it.
They say that we only use about 10% of our brains, so if I extrapolate that to trying restaurants, I’ve only eaten in 10% of the restaurants in my neighborhood. Living in Los Angeles, the percentage for me is probably more like 1% since I not only walk, but drive. I would never have thought I would be thankful for terrible traffic, but it was due to horrible traffic that I stopped at Nanban-kan and added to that 1% with a fantastic find that I don’t have to test my patience to drive to in my neighborhood.
Sake House is one of those lucky places that has a great location, just two blocks from the ocean and one block from the popular Third Street Promenade, so they are pretty much guaranteed business if they serve halfway decent food. That would be exactly how I would describe their sushi; halfway decent.
The ginger was fresh, but the crab meat was fake and those two facts were harbingers for the quality of sushi found here. I went for happy hour, a daily special menu with most menu items and drinks under $6.
We began with a seaweed salad which was about on par with most standard seaweed salads. The addition of micro sprouts and some radish were nice touches.
I ordered a spicy tuna handroll which came with fried onions and fresh scallions. As far as handrolls go, this was middle of the road for a sushi place. There was too much spicy mayonnaise and the fried onions overwhelmed the balance even though they added a nice crunch.
The sashimi plate had a decent selection of sushi and the fish was fairly fresh, but not outstanding in any way, and the presentation left much to be desired.
The crunchy onion tuna sashimi was a very basic combination of tuna, ponzu and fried onions. It was fine in the same way that a woman might say everything is “fine” when she has nothing better to say and tries to be polite.
We had a Monster roll of eel topped with spicy tuna which was the favorite of the evening, but again presentation was lacking and the spicy tuna was overworked with too much mayonnnaise.
I had the house sake, which was palatable, and they offer artisanal sakes for up to $147 for 750 ml, so I suppose if I had upgraded my drink, it may have made the food more palatable as well.
They say in Real Estate that the only thing that matters is location, and at Sake House it seems that rule does seem to hold true since the food is definitely not the draw.
What would be more apropos than to go eat sushi and have 100% of the profits from your meal help the victims of the tsunami and earthquakes in Japan? Because several of the people at Takami Sushi have family and friends in Japan, they are donating all their profits to the Japanese branch of the Red Cross with no end date for this generous act of charity as of this post.
If you want to help and either don’t like sushi or don’t live near downtown Los Angeles, you can buy a piece of art here and 100% of the profits will go towards charitable organizations in Japan. Pieces range from $15 to $1000 so get one or get several.
To update yesterday’s post, T Mobile, Comcast, and Time Warner have finally joined AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint in offering free calls (and texts) to Japan for prepaid US subscribers; better late than never, and that applies to sending aid as well.
I had lunch at Sashi in Manahattan Beach right after they opened, but it was time to try them again for dinner with sushi aficionado Cindy. It was a cold night at the beach (50F) with the fog rolling in, but we sat in the (heated) cozy patio and had a great dinner.
Cindy wanted only sushi, but when I saw they had a Miso Grilled Wild Alaskan Sea Bass ($6) on their robata selection, I had to order it. When I bit into the delicate fish I felt as if my mouth had taken a blissful bite of heaven. Cindy agreed that it was the best skewer of fish she had ever eaten.
Cindy ordered the spicy tuna roll ($12), made with avocado and she declared it the best she had ever eaten.
We ordered aji (skipjack), albacore, and tai (red snapper) ($6 per order) and every type of fish was delicate, fresh and delectable.
Cindy ordered the bikini roll with shrimp tempura, asparagus and crabmeat ($16). it was beautiful and tasty, but too rich for either of us to finish.
It’s always good to find a restaurant which does a nice lunch also does a nice dinner; it’s even nicer to share it with a friend.
My friend eating partner Mika is back in town, so when I asked her what she wanted, her answer was “real Japanese food, made by Japanese people”. Since most places are closed between lunch and dinner, we were prepared for our food craving to go unsatisfied, but since the Korean place we were going to was closed on Thursday (?!?!?!) we looked up and down Sawtelle to find something open.
When we saw the OPEN sign at Hide Sushi, we couldn’t believe a Japanese restaurant was open for business at 4pm! They are the ONLY good sushi place open all afternoon on the Westside that I know of, so anyone who knows of any others, please leave a comment and let me know about any other Japanese restaurants open all afternoon between lunch and dinner.
Since we had eaten hardly anything all day (I ate a peach), we were famished. Mika ordered the combination of sashimi and teriyaki steak, with two sushi rolls of pickled radish and roots (the yellow and brown cut rolls in the pictures. I ordered albacore, halibut, spanish mackeral, and yellowtail sushi, along with a yellowtail and scallion cut roll.
Mika’s combination dinner included the Sunomono (cucumber salad) with shrimp.
The combination dinner also included a wonderfully rich miso soup with tofu and seaweed.
I ordered 2 orders of spanish mackeral and this was also some of the freshest I have eaten in Los Angeles. I especially liked that the ponzu sauce was served separately in a bottle on the table, so you could add as much or little as you wished to your sushi. The only fault I found was the fish was not expertly molded to the sushi rice, but for the quality of the fish, this was a superb.
Mika liked her rolls, and I found nothing to dislike about the yellowtail sushi or yellowtail roll with scallions other than the loose rice wrapping. It was also good to see they served fresh ginger that was not commercially jarred.
All in all, this was a fabulous place for fresh sushi if you don’t mind the less than perfect sushi techniques and the overcooked meat. An impressive side note here was the waiter (a Caucasian) spoke Japanese to the sushi chefs and clients. Our entire feast including hot tea came out to less than $58 for BOTH of us, but they only accept cash to keep their prices down, so keep that in mind when you come here because, you will want to come here.
I have been on a quest to find my sushi restaurant in Los Angeles since the 1980′s (yes, I am old enough to say that). I’ve found several good ones that have changed (for the worse), closed, or where the chefs have moved back to Japan, so my search goes on as I continue on my quest to find my Holy Grail of Sushi one day, and it will stay open with the chef who created the place, for many years.
My latest find is Kaizuka in Culver City. Everything about the place is very pleasant, from the reception to the shaded outdoor patio. The friendly service and the sculptured water fountains added more nice touches to a good experience.
They promote themselves as a fusion place, but they offer all the standard sushi bar fare from sashimi to sushi, with a few interesting twists on classic Japanese cuisine, like their asparagus beef ($7.50), calamari with creamy basil ($8.50), and yellowtail sashimi garnished with jalepenos, yuzu and olive oil ($15). Since I was here for standard Japanese, I decided to go with some classics, like Spanish Mackarel sushi ($6) to start. The Spanish Mackarel was wonderfully fresh and presented beautifully even though it did not adhere to the rice soaked in ponzu.
And their lunch special of tempura and sashimi ($18), which came with a tasty miso soup, steamed rice, and a green salad with a light dressing on field greens. The box lunch set was superior to what is offered in most other Japanese restaurants, with mixed field greens instead of iceberg, home made ginger, daikon and cucumber for the sashimi, and the tempura was a generous mix of shrimp and vegetables in a crisp batter that could have been lighter but it was still a very good version.
Sushi Roku has several branches all over greater Los Angeles, but their branch in Pasadena is celebrating their 10 year anniversary with a 40% discount off all their food all day starting today through Friday August 27th.
Ten percent of the proceeds for this week will go towards the charity Five Acres which is an organization helping empower families to raise children to become caring and productive adults by building on their strengths and those of their families and communities.
So go eat great sushi at almost half off and help some families while you do it; sounds like a good deal to me.
After going to Happy Hour at Katsuya in Brentwood from 5-7pm, where you can get appetizers and drinks for $7, you might want to stay for dinner tonight. With a robata grill that serves up grilled meats, fish and vegetables, this is a perfect place to take people who want a bit of everything or want that one special thing whether it is lobster or Kobe beef. If you can’t decide, you can go with the tasting menu for $65 or the Omakase for market price that will showcase the specialties of the restaurant that Stark built.
Tonight is their 4th year Anniversary Celebration, so if you mention the “secret” words “4 Year Anniversary” in the Dragon Lounge, you will get complimentary sushi, drink specials and a rock sake shot on the house.
Remembering an anniversary is always a good thing, especially tonight.
Beverly Hills is world renowned for shopping, eating, and pure luxury, all of which can be yours for some hefty price tags, but starting today Chaya is going to make lunch more affordable at their Beverly Hills location. For only $12 they are offering Le Petit Lunch with a selection of choices including their famous Bento Box or their Shrimp and Maine Lobster Ravioli. Now that you can eat a luxurious lunch in this town for the price of a movie ticket, you may want act like a big spender and treat a coworker.
If you prefer to go out on Sundays and you love sushi, go to Chaya any Sunday starting this coming one (June 13) and get special rolls for $3.50 or get 2 rolls for 1 for only $5, and even a large beer is only $5 from 5pm-9pm.
If you want to treat your Father to a Father’s Day Brunch (June 20) it is only $38 per person or $18 per child under 12, and as an added bonus adults over 21 get bottomless draft beer included in this price from 11am-3pm.
And if you just want to unwind at a Happy Hour, Chaya’s Happy hour lasts all day from 11:30 until closing with a special menu from 2:30-5pm everyday.
Cheers for Chaya!
I love finding a new restaurant which is better than the old one that was in the same location. Hachi took over the old Takanawa space on Wilshire with upgraded decor, new chefs and a new menu. The Executive sushi chef Masa Yamamoto has over 20 years of experience both in Japan and in Beverly Hills, Master sushi chef Nobu Shishido has worked at the New Otani in Tokyo and New York, and Master chef Yoshiyuki Tago has over 22 years of experience in Japanese fusion and sushi styles.
Pedigrees aside, the restaurant is a calm oasis with excellent food. They offer both sushi and robata grill, so whether you want one or both styles , you can get it here. I opted to stay with sushi since the restaurant tables were filled with mainly Japanese people I took it as a good omen that the sushi would be fresh and well made.
I started with the Oysters, which are flown in from the Northwest and served with a ponzu sauce, and lime wedge ($3 each). Both were excellent and even though topped with ponzu, they still tasted of the sea.
I segued to the sushi, the Spanish mackerel ($9.50), albacore ($6.20), and halibut ($6.20) and a blue crab special hand roll ($6). Every piece of fish was perfectly cut, expertly mounted onto the rice, and fresher than the fish offered at most sushi restaurants in Los Angeles.
I will definitely be back (with a camera next time) to try some of the other creations and perhaps test the robata grill choices. I may come back for one of their lunch special which include a 15 piece sashimi combination for less than $19, and ribeye and salmon bento box choices for less than $13. They also have a happy hour from 5-6:30 with oysters only $1 each and 50% off draft beer.
Finding a replacement that is better that the original is a rare but very happy event, and I am very happy that Hachi has moved into my neighborhood.