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Restaurants & Bars 7

Sushi Yotsuya last night; Koreatown Galleria today

Debbie | Dec 27, 200307:48 PM

Last night hubby and I headed off to Niko in Tarzana for some sushi to precede a Christmas light-viewing cruise through nearby Candy Cane Lane. Alas, Niko was packed beyond packedness. I had been on the lookout for Sushi Yotsuya on the way to Niko, remembering the recent post on Yotsuya, and it was just a few blocks east of Niko at 18760 Ventura Blvd (both restaurants are between Reseda and Tampa). We decided not to brave the wait at Niko, and hastily decamped to Yotsuya.

This was around 8:30. We entered and saw the sign stating that it was traditional sushi, no spicy rolls, no Califoria rolls, etc. The sole server asked us if we had read the sign and if we agreed to the terms. He seemed rather anxious. Enthusiastically nodding yes, we were escorted to the sushi bar. There were only two other parties there: 5 adults and a sleeping baby at the sushi bar, and a single table. We ordered a glass of sake for me and a diet Coke for hubby, and then Masa (the owner) began to feed us.

We started with small plates of albacore sashimi, and then were each given single pieces of the following nigiri sushi (not in exactly this order, I didn't write the order down): tuna, toro, halibut, Japanese red snapper, salmon, pompano, skipjack, yellowtail, albacore toro. We also had small plates of lightly seared ono sashimi somewhere in there. Then we had blue crab hand rolls. That concluded the set part of the menu. We were both pretty full. I asked for a piece of uni (which hubby won't touch, too bad for him) and hubby ordered a salmon skin hand roll. That was it. The rice was the loose-ish, warm style of sushi rice. I think we got so full because we ate more rice than we're used to. The cuts of fish were very average in size, although when it comes to sushi, bigger isn't necessarily better. Everything was quite fresh and delicious but nothing seemed all that special.

Suffice it to say that if you like Sushi Sasabune, you will like this place. In fact, the food service seemed almost exactly the same. I asked Masa if he used to work at Sasabune and yes he did. Masa was very nice, not at all intimidating or Sushi Nazi-like. He was happy to interact with us. He said Yotsuya has been open for 4 years and that business is so-so.

I thought it was pretty expensive compared to what we would normally spend for sushi at a comparably non-fancy sushi place: $130 including tax and tip. I think that's exactly in line with what the previous poster on this place spent for a solo dinner, $65 if I recall correctly. We would definitely go back but probably not all that regularly given the cost and the availability of so much excellent sushi for a lot less money. The "decor" was absolutely bare bones, no atmosphere at all.

One other peeve: they only have 3 kinds of cold sake, and these are not on a written list. The server had to just tell me what they were and the cost of each, and I picked one. I think this limited selection is inadequate for a place that purports to be a serious sushi restaurant. The people next to us had brought a bottle of Bordeaux and Masa was sharing it with them. They were regulars. I don't know if they charge corkage.

On to this afternoon's chowing: Hubby and I took our first trip to the Koreatown Galleria. I'll be the first to admit that I'm woefully uneducated and inexperienced when it comes to Korean food. Can't really say why, just one of those things. Probably spent too much time eating way too much sushi. I'm determined to learn more about Korean food by eating my way through lots and lots of it. So I printed out the Cook's Walk article on the Koreatown Galleria from the LA Times archives and we drove over for a casual Saturday lunch.

I had done some Chowhound archive searching as research as well, but still felt I was basically on my own since most of the archived posts seemed to be a comparison between Koreatown Galleria and Koreatown Plaza, especially concerning the quality of the produce at the respective markets. Hubby will pretty much eat whatever I choose but usually won't figure out what to get.

Anyway, being only the two of us, we couldn't really make much of a dent. We ended up with spicy seasoned bbq pork from the place in the corner next to Yang Ji (think it's Jin Su Sung Chan according to the Cook's Walk article but there's no stall name in English). We also chose some steamed dumplings from Kal Gook So right next door. With the large quantities of both orders, and the side dishes and kimchee that accompany the food, that was all we could handle. We really enjoyed all of it. The pork was really spicy and the sauce was great on the accompanying rice. The dumplings were crunchy and garlicky and really different from the various Chinese dumplings we've had as well as different from the many versions of gyoza we've chowed our way through over the years. The pork was $9.95 before tax and the dumplings and a soda for hubby came to $7.00. We were satiated for less than $20.

After lunch we cruised the market downstairs and picked up a red bean bun from the Viennese bakery in the market...yummy. But I always have a taste for ice cream so I suggested we head over to Mateo's on Pico where I got a scoop of cajeta ice cream to top things off. Hubby stuck with the mundane cookies and cream.

Can anyone help with specific suggestions for what to get at which stall at the Koreatown Galleria, for the next visit? Thanks.

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