Today was my first trip to Sushi Gen, and I have to say overall I am pleased. I'd recommend it, so long as the diner had realistic expectations. I showed up late, or shall I say, about a half dozen people too late to make the 11:15 seating. Fortunately, since everyone is seated at once the entire place starts to clear out about 30-40 minutes later, I was seated right away in that second wave of seating. I wandered the neighborhood for a bit (and after a disgusting cup of Starbucks was reminded WHY I don't normally set foot in a Starbucks), and returned shortly before a table came open.
I wasn't sure about the portion size of the sashimi special and I was famished, so I also ordered a hand roll just to play it safe. Which, as it turns out, was idiotic. No hand roll necessary. The amount of food in the sashimi special was massive. The sashimi platter came out literally within two or three minutes of my ordering it, and it was overall very good. The toro, while unevenly cut, was decent. The only things I didn't find too great were the cooked salmon, and a dark brown cooked fish that may or may not have been eel. I also found the spicy tuna to be very average. Fortunately, there's enough variety on the plate that you don't have to commit to any one or two things. I will echo what others have said - the plate was tuna heavy. But that's allright, there was also crab meat, octopus, squid, and several other items. The quality of the fish was not the absolute best you can find in L.A., but it was more than adequate for lunch. And the peripherals (miso soup, rice, seaweed salad) were all very good. For $12.50, you certainly can't beat the value.
I found it odd that there were several tables near me where people were ordering cooked anglicised food like teriyaki chicken. I don't understand why you'd get in line that early to get into a place that specializes in sashimi only to order something that you can probably get at any number of places, more quickly and without as much hassle. To each his own I guess.
Suggestions for anyone who wants to try it: go early, be prepared to wait, if you want the sashimi special sit at a table (not the sushi bar, which has a 4 order per person minimum and you can't get the special), and don't go in large parties. It might also be a good place to take someone who is open minded and wants to try sushi for the first time. For $12, they can get a good sampling of different flavors and start to figure out what, if anything, they like. Then again, I imagine that on an "off" day experiencing bad sushi might turn someone off to it permanently, so tread with caution.
I'll be going back in the next month or so, hopefully this is a place that is consistent, and not hit and miss as I've heard some say.
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