As promised, I decided to go to Mori sushi while visiting LA this time to try and wash out the bad taste of Nishimura. We sat down at the end of the bar in front of Hiro (there was already a couple sitting in front of Mori-san...damn) and ordered omakase.
We started with a plate of ankimo with pickles and poached pears. The ankimo was creamy and luxurious. A solid starter.
The next course was a tasting of 5: kummamoto oysters with lemon juice, yuba, grilled giant clam and braised baby octopus, fried yellowtail, and spinach with sesame seed sauce. The presentation was certainly gorgeous but the only standout on the plate was the very tender baby octopus.
Next we had a carpaccio of tako, scallop, snapper, and grilled Santa Barbara spot prawn. The tako, scallop, and snapper were dressed with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. Not really innovative these days. The spot prawn was delicious. Wonderfully sweet and served with plenty of sweet, salty roe. The brains were even better. My friend and I were tempted to lick the shell clean.
This was all followed by a shrimp matzoh ball soup. An oxymoron but I'll roll with it. Basically minced shrimp in a clear broth. Good, but no revelations.
At this point, my friend and I started to squirm: Hiro you tease, where is the sushi? I noticed that there was beautiful needlefish and the most exquisite block of white-with-a-few-streaks-of-pink o-toro. I asked Hiro if I could make these two requests for sushi. He smiled and nodded. What about mirugai? he asked. I grinned, of course.
For sushi, we had:
The beautiful needlefish. Not only did it look pristine, but it was wonderfully sweet when it hit my tongue.
The sensual o-toro. The bluefin o-toro was rich, clean, and utterly addictive. The quality of this o-toro was hands down the best Ive had in LA.
An excellent Japanese wild yellowtail which was also of the highest quality.
Ika. Im usually not a fan of ika, this ika was creamy, soft, and sweet. Japanese ika, remarked Hiro noticing the smiles on our faces.
Kohada. The mark of a serious sushi restaurant. The kohada was prepared with the skin on and did indeed speak to the quality of the restaurant.
Mirugai. Wrapped with a piece of nori, and sprinkled with sea salt. The sweetness of the mirugai and the saltiness of the nori and sea salt were perfectly balanced.
Baby abalone. The abalone was fresh and pristine but Im personally not a fan of abalone sushi. I prefer the sweetness of mirugai.
We were charged the standard $75/person for the omakase although I suspect we were given a discount considering we got the o-toro and abalone. The service was stellar. My friend had ordered green tea and every time she got close to finishing the cup, it was whisked away and replaced with a fresh cup of tea. The large carafe of junmai ginjo sake was also excellent.
Id easily give the edge to Mori Sushi over Nishimura. The freshness of the fish were equal between the two. However, Mori had a more exotic selection given the needlefish, o-toro, Japanese wild yellowtail, and kohada. As for service, Moris service was excellent and Nishimuras service was non-existent, rude, and dismissive.
Still I wish I could find a place in LA that had 20-30 different types of fish on a given night so omakase means omakase sushi and not new wave sashimi/kaiseki.
This is a wonderful restaurant. One that I would consider a quintessential dining destination in LA for anyone that asks. My sister and I arrived Sunday evening at 9:15...the only reservation they had available when I called 5 days ago. I consider myself lucky.
The wine list is as enticing as everyone says it is. Well priced with $400 as well as $30 bottles. The most impressive part was how many great wines by the glass/carafe they had. My sister decided to go with a flight of temparanillo ($17). I chose a glass of sangiovese from Toscano, one from Puglia, and one from Margaux. All 3 of my wines were excellent and would have been ideal to drink alone.
Hawaiian ceviche (kanpachi), with avacado and grapefruit. Clean and very refreshing as a starter.
Pancetta wrapped trout with grapes and sorrel. I thought this was just going to be another one of those ubiquitous pancetta wrapped fish dishes but I was totally wrong. The pancetta in this case, actually imparted its unctuous richness into the perfectly moist trout which was stuffed with sorrel and other herbs. A marvelous dish.
Arroz negro with squid and saffron aioli. Wow. The squid was tender and the rice was crispy around the edges and rich and creamy in the middle. Goes perfectly with the temparanillos.
Brioche with prosciutto, gruyère and egg. Not to be missed. Im a sucker for anything that uses runny egg yolk to bind and meld flavors (eg. Babbos lambs tongue and portabello salad with poached egg in NYC). The buttery brioche, dressed frisse, prosciutto, and egg would be a perfect brunch item.
Veal saltimbocca with madeira brown butter. Yet another meat dish that fails to distinguish itself. It was well executed but wasnt the epiphany that previous 3 dishes had been.
House-made Boudin blanc. Yum. Man this was good. Fatty but good. You know a restaurant is good when it makes its own boudin blanc. It was served with mashed potatoes and stewed prunes.
Grilled quail, foie gras and porcini. Good but nothing you cant get at any other mid-high end restaurant in the country.
Dessert: malted chocolate ice cream sandwich with marshmallow. Also a decent enough dessert but Im sure there are better.
Dishes I would have again, and again, and again: the pancetta-trout, arroz Negro with squid, the brioche, the brioche, the brioche, and the boudin blanc. Can't wait to go back.