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Nishimura: great sushi, horrible hostess

Porthos | Dec 28, 200502:57 AM

Having spent the past 5 years searching for sushi in LA that is comparable or at least somewhere near the ballpark of Sushi Yasuda in NYC, and having been horrified at the precut fish and poor quality at Sushi Sasabune, I hoped that last Friday’s visit to Nishimura would restore my faith in LA sushi.

The quality of the fish was good, probably the best I’ve had in LA. The selection however was a little limited. We tried to sit in front of Nismimura but was denied despite all 4 seats in front of Nishimura being empty (rant to follow). We ordered omakase and was given:

minced toro with wasabi as an appetizer

hamachi sashimi with jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, and lemon juice

snapper sashimi with fried garlic and pink Hawaiian sea salt

blue fin tuna with some sort of vinaigrette and mache

kummamoto oysters topped with citrus juice and sea salt.

At this point, I was afraid Nishimura’s apprentice would continue with the new-wave sashimi and I asked him to move on to sushi. We were given the following:

Wonderfully succulent spanish mackerel. Absolutely delicious

A beautiful dark red-orange sockeye salmon

Uni served 2 ways. One with wasabi and soy and the other simply with sea salt. Fresh, but a little broken up on the presentation.

2 pieces of pretty decent albacore finished my sushi selection. I noticed that the only sushi I had not tried was the ebi (which I really don’t like) and toro as sushi. There was also some mirugai but that was about it for selection: no kampachi, no needle fish, no exotic Japanese fish flown in from Japan.

To end the meal, we had a bowl of pretty decent clam miso soup

We ordered a glass of the nishimura sake which was supposed to be junmai daiginyo, but it was pretty flat tasting and definitely not a $25/glass sake.

Total bill: 265 before tip.

Rating: 8 out of 10 for the quality of the fish with Yasuda being a 10, Sasabune being a 4, R-23 being a 6.5/7 and with the understanding that Urasawa or Masa in NYC can be 11’s. The sushi rice was also a 8 out of 10 with Yasuda being a 10.

Warning: Here comes the rant.

The odd part of going to Nishimura is that my first visit to Nishimura about a year ago, ended in disaster. The hostess lost our reservation and refused to seat us that evening. Determined to seek out good sushi in LA, I decided to brush off the encounter and give it another shot. This time, though I had specifically requested to sit in front of Mr. Nishimura when making my reservation, on arrival the SAME hostess refused to seat me in front of Mr. Nishimura even though the bar in front of him was completely empty. When I told the hostess that I had requested to sit in front of Mr. Nishimura when making my reservations, she gave me a dirty look and told me that Mr. Nishimura was “not ready”. After I took my seat, she promptly seated 2 people in front of Nishimura-san 5 minutes later. I was fuming. I assure you I was not dressed like a thug. In fact, I was probably more business casual than the other 10 patrons that night.

After being rebuked twice, I’m wondering if the bar in front of Nishimura is reserved for VIP only or if I’m supposed to grease this demon-waitress or offer her goat's blood.

Either way, it’s my last visit to Nishimura. The restaurant was only 40% full that Friday evening, and I suspect that the hostess and the high mark-up will be the end of that place yet. It's a shame. The sushi was pretty good. Next stop, Mori Sushi.

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