326 1/2 Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Call me a sushi snob, but the name Sushi Sushi conjures up images of fat rolls with names like firecracker, WeHo, or something else equally ridiculous. However the place caught my eye when it was rated the third best sushi restaurant in LA on Yelp. There are some yelpers that I'd trust only as as far as I could throw, but their collective wisdom seems to get things right more often than not; Urasawa and Sushi Zo are the two restaurants rated higher than Sushi Sushi.
From the outside, Sushi Sushi looks like any other small sushi restaurant, wood and glass facade, awning, and sign. The interior is dominated by a long bar of polished wood though there are a handful of tables for diners who are so inclined. The sushi bar is a darker wood and covered with a layer of varnish giving it a glossy feel and reflective sheen, none of the fine grain texture of the cedar bar at Urasawa.
01: Suzuki Arai
The meal started with thin slices of sea bass sashimi served with a ponzu sauce. The suzuki was a good choice, clean and light it was a great way to ease into dinner and bed of ice served to chill the fish accentuating its supple texture.
02: Appetizer Trio
Bonito Tataki - The fish was lightly seared, which added a light smokiness and seemed give the fish a shade of the umami flavor the dried flakes are known for.
Uni and Ika - This same course is served at Sushi Zo which makes for easy comparisons. The uni wasn't quite as fresh, with a muted bitterness on the finish but the squid was exemplary, extremely soft, if I didn't know any better I would have sworn it actually was noodle.
Ankimo - The liver felt gritty and carried a slight metallic tang. My last few experiences with monkfish have all been subpar, maybe I am letting my experiences with foie gras terrine color my expectations for ankimo.
03: Zuke - Marinated Tuna
I couldn't tell much of a difference between the marinated tuna and standard maguro dipped in soy except that the shoyu flavor was more apparent. Texturally this was a textbook piece of tuna, soft even texture with no tendon or gristle. The rice was slightly warm and could have been compacted a bit more tightly, it was difficult to pick up the entire piece without having the rice fall apart.
04: Madai - Japanese Snapper
A lean fairly crisp piece of snapper, the fish came seasoned very lightly allowing for a delicate interplay between the scallion and the nuanced flavor of the snapper
05: Kampachi - Amberjack
Classically supple texture that gives way to lusher creamy feel and a hint of the fish's oiliness
06: Sake - Salmon
The salmon came particularly cold, making for a nice temperature contrast with the warm rice. The fish itself was extremely soft with a pronounced butteriness that lingered on the tongue. One of the most powerfully expressive pieces of salmon I have had in a long time.
07: Chutoro - Medium Fatty Tuna
This was something of a rarity for me, as I usually eat either maguro or o-toro, that and many restaurants don't serve Chutoro or don't bother to distinguish it from O-Toro. The fish was faultless, cleaned nicely the fish had a pronounced oiliness and a smooth fatty texture but not to the same extreme as O-toro.
08: Shima Aji - Yellowjack
This tends to be one of my favorite fishes with its complex textural character and an oily sweetness. In this single fish fish one can run the gamut of sensations it is possible to experience with raw fish.
09: Hirame - Halibut
A typical halibut, slightly dry toothsome texture, a bit of citrus or acidity does wonders for this fish.
10: Saba - Mackerel
Saba can be a dangerous fish, oily and almost a touch blunt, though the extra large helping of wasabi did help moderate the heaviness somewhat.
11: Kohada - Gizzard Shad
Another oily fish very reminiscent of the saba which is to be expected given that Kohada is a relative of the mackerel. The fish felt a bit drier though the thinner cut made for a more delicate texture.
12: O-Toro - Fatty Tuna
Such a difference between this and the chutoro, oily and gelatainous. The fish oozes richness with every bite. A very high quality toro, served free of any tendon or gristle. Despite the high quality the fish loses points for appearance, with a very large obvious cut where the itamae removed some of the less desirable parts. In the words of The Simpsons, "it looks as if it has been hacked by a blind woodsman."
13: Aji - Spanish Mackerel
Same great mackerel taste, less filling. The Aji has a much more nuanced flavor, possessing a rich oiliness but much lighter on the fishy elements, served with a ponzu to give it a sweet acidity.
14: Seared Sake and O-Toro - Seared Salmon and Fatty Tuna
The seared salmon was heavenly, a quick sear gives the fish a smoky complexion that combines with the natural richness of the fish. The heat nearly liquifies the fish allowing the flavor to coat the tongue. The toro was a bit disappointing as it picked up a strong flavor of gas, such a tragic waste for such a delicious piece of fish.
15: Tako, Awabi, Amaebi, Hotate, and Mirugai Sashimi
The course felt a bit muddled, the similarities between the various shellfish made it difficult to appreciate the subtle differences between them. Overall, the quality was solid but nothing particularly noteworthy.
16: Gindara - Soy marinated black cod grilled in the oven
One of the better preparations of black cod. The grilling gives the fish a flavorful char that serves as a backdrop for the pleasing sweetness of the sauce which is balanced by the bitterness of the radish.
17: Asari Clam Miso Soup
I really could have done without this course. The sweetness of the clam was largely masked by the soup.
18: Ikura - Salmon Egg
The ikura had a particularly bracing chill and taut texture that exploded releasing a light sweet brine. A dollop of wasabi added a short-lived heat to the mix.
19: Uni - Sea Urchin
Unsurprisingly the ikura was followed up with a serving of Uni. This was one of the few times I have had non-gunkan style uni. The uni was sweet though a bit monolithic, a crisp wrapping of nori would have been a welcome addition.
20: Toro-maki - with Takuwan
An interesting presentation of chopped toro served with shiso and takuwan (pickled daikon often served at the end of a meal, thought to aid in digestion). The toro ended up taking a back seat to the sweet fragrance of the shiso and the tangy crunch of the pickle. Not bad but this would have been just as good with maguro.
21: Unagi - Freshwater Eel
A classic preparation of unagi, the unagi had a tender fatty texture though it came drowning in sticky sweet tsume sauce.
22: Shishamo - Grilled Smelt Fish Hand Roll
A favorite of mine at Dim Sum restaurants, this is my first time having it served in a hand roll. The salty oily flavor of the fish, compliments the rice and seaweed nicely.
23: Tamago - Egg
A mediocre preparation of tamago. Though the egg had a dense mouthfeel and a well-balanced sweet/savory flavor, there was a slight funk that bothered me.
24: Green Tea Parfait - Tall glass filled with green tea ice cream, matcha pudding, and fruits
One of the more elaborate desserts I've had at a sushi restaurant though disappointing despite its complexity. The slightly flavor differences of the green tee ice cream and matcha pudding were somewhat unsettling. A simpler straightforward flavor would have been a better choice.
For the most part, the quality of the fish at Sushi Sushi is above reproach though a few of the rarer pieces weren't quite up to snuff. Aside from the oddly sized nigiri, my biggest complaints weren't with the food but rather with the overall experience.
The pace of the meal was painfully fast with the entire meal taking less than 90 minutes to complete. The problem was most noticeable with the nigiri; often one piece would arrive before I'd finished chewing the last one.
In addition some people have also complained about the itamae not talking to guests at the sushi bar or only repeating the words "sushi sushi." Our chef had a grandfatherly air about him and I got the impression he was quiet by nature. Still, he answered most of my questions and checked on us periodically to see if we were enjoying our meal.
On the whole, I enjoyed my experience at Sushi Sushi though I don't think it warrants its place on Yelp as the third best sushi restaurant in LA.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
326 1/2 Beverly Drive