Mori Sushi – A Top Contender

Restaurant: Mori Sushi

Location: 11500 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. 310.479.3939

Date: September 14, 2011

Cuisine: Japanese / Sushi

Rating: Top sushi, but not cheap

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In a town full of top grade sushi, Mori Sushi is consistently regarded as one of the best. It has it’s own particular style, somewhere between the Osaka school types like Sasabune and the classic Sushi Sushi.


The interior and sushi bar.

The following meal represents the “Omakase” the largest and most expensive ($170) of the chef’s options. Several truncated or more sushi centric variants are available. This is basically a series of hot dishes followed by flights of sushi.


Kohlrabi greens.


Housemade tofu, with homemade wasabi and soy. This is the soft silken tofu that I’ve had a number of times recently, like at Moko and Ozumo. This particular example was very nice and light.


Sashimi. Left to right: marinated sardines, abalone liver, baby abalone with yuzu/pepper sauce, shitake mushroom, pike eel jelly, marinated Japanese onion, and Japanese okra. The sardines were really good and sweet. The liver reach, like an ugly blob of chicken liver. The abalone tender. And the jelly like a cube of flavorless jello.


One of those subtle Japanese soups. Pike eel (the white stuff), yuzu (the green sliver), and Japanese eggplant.


Santa Barbara sweet shrimp (with the roe), red peppercorns, and in front: scallop, halibut, and octopus sashimi. All this is dressed “new style” with a bit of olive oil and pepper. The shrimp was very sweet and tasty.


Uni (sea urchin) tempura with salt. I forgot to photo it, but this photo is of the same dish at a different restaurant. It was nearly identical, and very good.


Halibut with kelp on the left. Seki buri (wild yellowtail) on the right. Both solid “normal” fishes of extremely high quality.


Big eye chu-toro on the left and blue-fun toro on the right. Yum!


Kohada (Shad gizzard) on the left, pickled in vinegar, and Spanish Mackerel on the right. Also very nice fish.


Grilled baby barracuda on the left with a really nice charred flavor and mirugai (geoduck jumbo clam) with miso sauce on the right.


An uni (sea urchin) duo. Santa Barbara on the left (sweeter), Hokkaido in the middle (very fine also) and very fresh Ikura (salmon roe) with yuzu zest on the right.


Tamago (sweet omelet) on the left and anago (sea eel) on the right, grilled, with a bit of BBQ sauce. The eel had strong grill flavors and less of the cloying (but yummy) sweet sauce than usual.


Toro cut roll. Soft and velvety.


A pair of homemade ice creams for dessert. This is sesame, which tasted it but was a bit gritty and not very creamy.


And ginger ice cream which was very soft and pleasant, like a french vanilla with a ginger kick.


Hojicha, roasted green tea to finish.

Overall, I found Mori Sushi to be top notch. But it’s not cheap (not in the least). The ingredients are top notch and you pay for it. It has a subtle restrained style. I slightly prefer Sushi Sushi with it’s larger pieces or Go Sushi with it’s more over the top flavors. It hands down beats out Sushi Zo in my opinion. Certainly Mori is in the top five or so places in town — and that’s saying a lot as LA is unquestionably the best place in America for sushi.

For more LA sushi reviews click here.

Morihiro Onodera (old owner) in the palm shirt. Masanori Nagano left (new owner).

Moko

Restaurant: Moko

Location: 9540 Culver Blvd. Culver City, Ca. (310) 838-3131

Date: July 9, 2011

Cuisine: Modernized Korean

Rating: Very tasty — Spicy!

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Moko is a newly opened Korean bar/restaurant serving very modernized variants using a Korean palette of flavors. This is to Korean as Red Medicine is to Vietnamese.


The pleasant but industrial space in the heart of Culver City’s bustling downtown.


The have the BBQ in the table, and there is an extensive section of the menu for ordering meats and vegetables to cook here — we didn’t do that on this visit.


An amuse of three “salads.” Left to right: “Watermelon Namul with tasted almonds chile, shiso and ginger,” followed by “Kong Maul, mixed sporuts with spring onions sesame and soy,” and on the right “Market Radish Namul, sweet ginger and pineapple mint.”


“Spicy Smash, Tequila Silver, lime juice, agave & cucumber, Thai basil, serrano.” This is one of those spicy specialty cocktails that has popped up all over the place lately. It was good, with a long serrano burn.


“Tai Snapper, asian pear jus and pickled ginger.” Sweet and lovely.


“Big Eye Tuna, yuzu, soy, and blood orange.” Also a really good presentation of the fish with complex flavor profiles.


“Sesame Duck Confit, sweet lettuces and mango with ginger aioli and chipotle jang wrapped in jjin bahng.” This was amazingly tasty. The smokey duck, the sweet fruit, and the tang of some pickles paired perfectly — and there was all sorts of texture going on.


“Green Chili Pork Sausage, pineapple and butter lettuces with ssam jang wrapped in jjin bahang.” Also great. The sausage thing tasted amazing.


Asian Pear and Kholrabi Salad, pea shoots and perilla with mustard vinaigrette.” Pretty spicy!


Heirloom tomatos, green beans, soy ginger vinaigrette.”


Silken Tofu, ginger dashi broth.” Wasabi in the sauce was incredibly hot. Hotter even than atomic horseradish. My nose hurt for an hour. Each bite made me sneeze. I finished it all.


“Kimchi eggplat dumplings, mushrooms and silken tofu with pine-nut mustard dipping sauce.” Very tasty too, and not too spicy.


“Wagyu Beef Roseu Pyeonchae, truffle scented seared beef carpaccio with asian pear and arugula salad.” This was one of the blander dishes. The meat was succulent, but I felt the dish could use a little more zing.


“Pan Friend Duck and Foie Gras dumplings with sour cherry dipping sauce.” Incredible potstickers. Some of the best I’ve even had — foie gras! The sauce was really good too.


“Soju Cured Salmon, crisp potato pancakes with pickled onions and ginger cream.” Sort of a giant potato latke with salmon and creme fraiche. Pretty tasty.

Moko certainly had strong flavors, and I for the most part loved them. A lot of dishes were quite spicy, more than I would have expected (and I have a pretty high tolerance). So several hours later I’m still feeling the burn.

Check out some other modernized Asians like Red Medicine or Xino.

Quick Eats: Tofu Ya

Restaurant: Tofu Ya

Location: 2021 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, Ca 90025. 310-473-2627.

Date: Jan 06, 2011

Cuisine: Korean BBQ & Tofu Soup

 

Some friends of mine wanted Korean for lunch so I found this Westside place on Zagat (it was the best rated west of the 405 at 23 for food). Boy, is this place a great value! And good to boot. I’m not nearly as experienced a Korean eater as I am at Japanese, but this was certainly very tasty.

The tiny little Sawtelle shop front. Random Thursday afternoon at 12:30 and there was a 20 minute wait. An excellent sign.

The simple menu. Besides the ubiquitous BBQ meats this place seems to specialize in “soft tofu.” I didn’t know it exactly by this name, but this is my favorite kind of tofu. I’ve often gotten this in Japan. Served differently, but the same tofu. We’ll see some of it in a bit.

Not a big joint. Smells like BBQ meat. Yum!

The usual spread of small Korean dishes. Kimchi, sprouts, noodles, spicy marinated cucumbers, marinated tofu, eggs, etc.

The spicy tofu soup. I should have gotten a picture after the bubbles settled down. The soup is filled with lots of “soft tofu,” beef, and various seafood. I ordered it medium spicy and it wasn’t very hot by my standards, pleasant though. The soft tofu is that kind of medium-firm off-white tofu that has a luscious smooth texture.

It comes out sizzling. Click on this picture above to see a video of it going nuts.

Steamed rice.

Bibimbap. I’ve always liked this dish. Various veggies and meats. You jump the above steamed rice in.

Then add korean red sauce and stir.

Looks like this. Tastes good.

Galbi. Beef ribs, marinated to perfection and BBQed.

Bulgogi. More or less the same thing, but with no bones, and onions. After awhile the onions caramelized. Beef and cooked onions always goes well together. Full as I was, I could have eaten two plates of this stuff.

Teriyaki Chicken.

The tiny prep area.