After months of eating lunch at Sushi Tenn on Sawtelle ($18 chirashi bowl with soup and salad - in my opinion, the best lunch bargain in L.A.), I finally tried dinner.
The place makes me delirously happy in the same way that the old Ginza Sushi Ko used to make me delirously happy. I'm not saying it's as good as Ginza Sushi Ko was (the standard by which I measure all sushi - I've still never had better sushi anywhere, including Tokyo), but Sushi Tenn does make me delirously happy in the same way Ginza Sushi Ko once did. You know what I mean - the way you can walk in cranky and tired because you had an awful day at work and walk out feeling all is well with the world.
I ordered the omakase. Started with a plate of giant clam (among the best I've had in years), delicious okra, cucumber salad with plum (very refreshing and good) and my favorite- uni tofu (beautiful cubes of homemade tofu, colored pale orange, with a hint of uni taste). Then came a plate with a very good piece of beef in a gravy with a dab of horseradish and mountain potatoes. Very good and tasty. Next was a plate of sashimi, including the best toro I have had in a long time. Then came a plate of miso-marinated cod - very succulent. Next dish was shrimp shumai with tofu wrapper. Piping hot and delicious. Plate after plate of sushi followed - standouts were salmon belly (best salmon I have had in ages), saba (best saba I have had in ages) and ika. The uni was also good, including the nori in which it was wrapped -- I don't know where the chef gets his nori, but I do think it's the best nori of any sushi restaurant in town and I am a nori fanatic (the chef worked at a top sushi restaurant in Hokkaido and I know the best konbu is from Hokkaido - perhaps the best nori is also from Hokkaido and the chef has a secret source).
Sushi was followed by good clam miso. Ice cream for dessert.
Omakase was $80 per person. Was this the best sushi I've ever had? No, that honor belongs to Ginza Sushi Ko. Was this the best omakase dinner I have ever had for $80? Yes.
By the way, I had heard that the chef wasn't very nice. It's true that he is a bit taciturn - definitely not a hale and hearty, slap on the back type of guy. But he was perfectly nice and even smiled at my feeble Japanese. And the service was superb - my tea cup was filled every two seconds (I like Kiriko, but the service there is much less polished than at Sushi Tenn).
What is sad is that Sushi Tenn always seems to be empty. Tonight there were only two other people at the sushi bar and only two parties at the tables. I hate to see a magnificent musician play to an empty room and I wish more people appreciated Sushi Tenn.
P.S. I forgot to mention the lotus root! A beautiful bowl was brought with lotus root that was marinated in something quite tasty.