Monday, October 20, 2014

Sushi Tsujita: from Ramen to Riches of the Sea

To ramen fans, Tsujita (and its subsequent Annex) represents a pilgrimage-worthy temple of tsukemen, worth any amount of time spent in line any day of the week.  It's been so successful with its signature super rich pork broth and dip-in noodles, that the announcement of the latest in their restaurant ventures would be that ubiquitous (in LA anyway) sushi - it was met with much skepticism.  What would ramen masters know about sushi?

The space is a very conscious, extreme departure from the lunchtime hotspot from the outset.  An exquisite chandelier presides over Sushi Tsujita's chic and orchid-adorned outdoor patio, boldly stating in no uncertain terms: "upscale". 

And then I enter the serene, jewelry-puzzle-box interior, intimate yet expansive feeling at the same time, and realize that it is instantly one of my favorite restaurant designs in LA.

I had read about the special lunch deal at $15, another reason to love the place - but I knew that at the limited supply of 15 lunches at that price, first come first served, that I would not be able to make it out of work in time.  But, looking at the lunch menu got me excited again - there were various rice bowls topped with fish for the still affordable $18-$35 range.  And one of them involved my favs uni & salmon (I read things in order of personal importance...)!
To get a better sampling of their sea creature offerings though, on this first visit I opted for the Special Assorted Bowl ($35).  It's a set lunch that started with chawanmushi (steamed egg) presented in a lovely tea cup.  As a pleasant surprise, the silky smooth, melt in your mouth egg was served chilled - and punctuated with generous bites of seafood and mushrooms.  On the side: deep fried fish with pickled veggies, and fresh ginger to cleanse your palate.
The attention to detail was evident in the miso soup, which tasted like they made it from scratch to order, and was carefully served at a pleasingly hot temperature - you'd be amazed how big of a difference this makes to your experience of the soup, that I wonder why others don't take the care with this (you can still see the steam rising in the photo!).
The main attraction: Special Assorted Bowl, was also artfully presented - and contained lovely, fresh and unexpectedly generous pieces of sea urchin (4 pieces to be exact!), salmon roe, eel (thankfully not drowned in sauce), shrimp (total of 1 but cut up into pieces and spread throughout), and various pieces of tuna, yellowtail, mackerel and the always lovely savory-sweet, chilled tamago (grilled omelette).  A pretty good deal for $35 given the quality and quantity of food you get.  (Though I have to note that the iced green tea is made of matcha - and while refreshing, delicious and markedly higher quality than other iced teas you can get in the area, cost $7 - so don't make assumptions on price when you place your drink order!)

While not the most exciting fish I've had in LA for lunch (I am possibly a Shunji fan for life, for being introduced to new cuts of fish at lunch for their $40 13 piece special!!)  - Sushi Tsujita definitely exceeded my expectations, the quality of fish is excellent (I've read that it's cut and cured the traditional way, though all but the shrimp tasted deliciously fresh to me) for the $35 set, and I can't think of a more gorgeous space for sushi lunch in West LA! 

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6 bites
Presentation - 6.5 bites
Originality - 5.5 bites
Ambience - 7 stars
Service - 6.5 stars
Overall experience - 6.5 bites
Price - $$$ (3 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100% 

Sushi Tsujita

2006 Sawtelle Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90025
Ph: 310.231.1177


Look for reservations, and OpenTable points, here


Sushi Tsujita on Urbanspoon     


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