R23 – Love the Cardboard Chairs. The Sushi? Not What I Was Expecting

So I keep this database of LA restaurants that includes those I want to get to at some point.  Part of it consists of all the so-called “premium” sushi places in LA.  I have been to many of them with different degrees of success. My favorite is probably Shibucho off Beverly, but that is for another review. For my husband’s birthday, we decided to finally hit R23.  Scary valet parking, Really cool decor, great art, funky cardboard chairs. But who called this place premium? Maybe the prices. A lot of the fish is not even from Japan, they serve stuff like Ama ebi (sweet shrimp) that was clearly not from a tank, they do “round-eye” rolls with avocado and mayo, and I saw them making spicy tuna with Korean hot sauce.  Was I in one of the many non-descript strip-mall sushi places around town, or a premium Japanese establishment? You couldn’t tell one from the other just from the fish.  I have since heard that the cooked items are supposed to be better than the sushi, but we were trying to get premium sushi, not go to an izakaya.  We did not really try any hot items with two exceptions: one was a roasted oyster topped with uni.  It was a roasted whole pacific oyster topped with a non-premium uni slice.  $8.  It was drizzled with an ordinary ponzu-like sauce and had some grated carrot on it.  At least if they used a kumomoto or miyagi or something it would have had better flavor and texture. Oh well.  As for the sushi, it was ok. No complaints, but nothing to write home about, either.  Actually, my favorite item was the other hot item: roasted gingko nuts, which came cracked on a bed of sea salt.  We had two orders of those.  There are plenty of local strip-mall places in Torrance and other parts of LA that have sushi at least as good for much less money.  I think we will try Nishimura next time.

R-23
923 E 2nd St Ste 109
Los Angeles, CA
90012
Phone: (213) 687-7178
http://www.r23.com/

2 thoughts on “R23 – Love the Cardboard Chairs. The Sushi? Not What I Was Expecting

  1. The reviewer is surprised that the fish is not from Japan? Apparently she is not aware that most “Japanese” fish served as sushi comes out of the same oceans as “American” fish and that Japan buys a great deal of their sushi quality fish from American and Europe. I have had dinner at excellent sushi bars in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Niigata and I can tell the readers that R23 serves very good sushi. My wife (Japanese) also thinks the sushi is *very* good. None of the Japanese I know who have eaten there have anything but great things to say about their hamachi or toro, or in fact their sushi in general. If the fish were “Japanese” it would mean that they were first flown to Japan and *then* to L.A. and would not be fresh. The reviewer favors Nishimura? Wow. The fish is mediocre (my wife agrees) and the prices sky high. The atmosphere at Nishimura is strictly for the highly-pretentious class.

  2. Actually, never been to Nishimura. I meant that I should have tried that one instead of R23 b/c of the poor fish quality. I haven’t been to Nishimura or the Hump for the exact reason you mention, I typically get annoyed by pretentious sushi places. I am not a fan of Matsuhisa and Sushi Roku is one of the worst. We did not care for Morimoto in philly, either. I will still stand by Shibucho and they are anything but pretentious. Urasawa was great (see earlier blog posting) but not worth the money. We also spend a lot of time at many of the hole in the wall but very authentic sushi places in Torrance and Gardena near the Japanese auto headquarters that cater to nationals. We have really come to appreciate authentic Tokyo-style Edo Sushi, which has the purist of flavors and texture, and is unadulterated with mayo, jalapenos, and fried junk. Also, you might be interested to know what goes into high quality fish. Part of the reason the stuff from japan is (often but not always) better despite “being from the same ocean” is how the fish lives, it’s diet, how it is killed, stored, frozen, and how old it is before it is served. Many people do not know that with certain fish like tuna, it is similar to beef steak in that it has to be aged to let the best flavor and texture come to light. This is because as the enzymes break down and actually make it more flavorful. When you go into a fine sushi establishment and order the freshest daily fish, you aren’t eating fish that was caught the same day, or even the day before. If you’re eating good sushi, the fish is at least a few days old. Excellent sushi chefs know all this, and will only serve what meets the highest standards. When people complain that fish tastes “flat” it could actually be caused by being too fresh. (Or by being farm raised, another problem)

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