A few Chowhounds have complained about the lack of sushi in Chef Shunji's omakase, so PeterCC quizzed him on a recent visit. Shunji explained that his omakase is intended to be a selection of cooked dishes—there was some sushi in the restaurant's opening weeks, but that was a grand-opening promo.
Part of what made Shunji give up sushi in the omakase was the way some patrons seemed to expect (and demand) expensive items for sushi courses: They were just getting too costly for the restaurant. Plus, it's hard for a non-sushi specialist to incorporate small amounts of expensive sushi-grade fish, since sushi is such an economy of scale, explains J.L. The fish markets only sell things like fatty tuna belly in quite large chunks, so it's hard for someone like Shunji to recoup this investment.
Shunji's omakase is now 10 to 12 courses of cooked dishes, some with sashimi elements. And anyway, "Shunji's forte are his non-sushi dishes, in my opinion," says J.L. "That's his niche."
As for the omakase itself, it's all about clean flavors, especially in the vegetables, notes jysh. Except for the potato-cheese balls, it's pretty much pure Japanese cooking.
7015 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles
Photograph of maguro sashimi with avocado by J.L.