i am a snob about many things food related, but i put sushi at the top of that list. i could easily eat sushi for every meal (even breakfast), but i pass when it is offered at catering, or see it pre-packaged at grocery stores. the problem being is that i was introduced to really good sushi early on, and i can’t go back. i started eating sushi regularly when i moved to california. for the first few years i lived above a sushi place called shin. i was uber-broke, but my friend harve would treat me whenever he had the hankering. this is the first place i had uni, and fell in love with it. harve really influenced me to move beyond rolls so slathered in sauces that you couldn’t taste the fish. if the fish is good, you don’t need anything to make it taste delicious.

when i started working a lot and had money, i became addicted, and was going sometimes 2-3 times a week. this was around the time i met my friend mara, who lived near me and shared my love of sushi. we started going to tama in studio city weekly, if not more. we even became friends with our sushi chef kenji. there was a night that we got him so drunk off sake and asahi that his rainbow roll looked sad and pathetic. that is not to say he isn’t an amazing chef. some of my best meals have come from kenji. he once made a king crab roll with a grapefruit ponzu sauce that is on my ‘best dish ever’ list. sadly, kenji moved on to a place in encino and i moved downtown, so it’s not often i get to experience his talent.

thankfully, i live right next to little tokyo in downtown los angeles, so i am within blocks of some amazing sushi. r23 is my favorite.

unlike many good sushi restaurants, r23 has good art on their brick walls, chairs designed by frank gehry, and for some reason there is always a seat at the sushi bar. the first time i came to r23 was before i lived downtown. i was working around the corner, and i had given up on our caterer, so i ordered some take out. i was hooked. i often order yellowtail belly from a new place in order to judge whether or not they have good fish, and their’s was like butter.

tonight was no different. i was so excited to eat their yellowtail i forgot to take a picture before digging in, so that is why there is only one piece, and you can’t quite see it glisten, like butter does when it is warm.

yellowtail belly

albacore

anago

new zealand oysters

scallop

red snapper

red snapper

spanish mackerel

spanish mackerel

i always finish with uni, and ask them to put a little shiso leaf underneath. it’s my dessert.

uni

it was absolutely delicious. nutty and creamy with a touch of citrus. perfect.

my chef tonight was the very same when i came my first time years ago. he declined when i offered to buy him a beer, so i’m not sure we will be chums like kenji and i, but he does make beautiful works of art just the same.

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