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Restaurants & Bars 5


Tom Armitage | Jan 28, 200211:27 AM

Of all the good sushi restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area, the two I frequent most are Tsukasa in the downtown Little Tokyo area and Tsukiji in Gardena. My meal last Friday night at Tsukiji was typically wonderful. Upon arrival, my wife and I were given small bowls of baby octopus and onion with sweetened rice vinegar. Simple, but delicious. The sushi chef serving us, Mitch, remembered from roughly a year ago that we like a seasonal vegetable called fuki no tou, the flower stalk of the fuki (butterbur) plant that grows only in the early spring in the mountains of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. These slightly bitter flowers are served as tempura, eaten only with a little coarse salt served on the side. A real treat--get them while you can. In response to a request for sashimi, Mich served some of the best albacore sashimi I’ve ever had. He followed with some beautiful silvery Japanese anchovies. The rest of the meal included uni (sea urchin roe); otoro (the fattiest part of fatty tuna belly); aji (Spanish mackerel), which Mitch finely chopped and mixed with scallions and miso and served as little round balls; ika (squid); nigiri sushi with some huge scallops from Peru that were amazingly sweet and flavorful, seared lightly with a blowtorch (I’m not usually fond of the results of efforts to provide seafood for sushi restaurants from South America; the uni from Chile is almost always to be avoided); ikura (salmon roe); kanamiso (crab brains) piled on top of crab meat and prettily surrounded by thinly sliced cucumbers, and norimake with cod roe and daikon radish. Although they are in season now, the restaurant did not have either shirako (cod sperm sacs) or ankimo (monkfish liver). But, given all the other wonderful stuff that Mitch provided, I didn’t miss them at all.

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