Sushi Gen

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Fortune has taken me to Los Angeles a few times this year and undoubtedly one of the best trips has been to stay with jeweler friend Rose. Being compatriots in a great love of sushi, she and her boyfriend, Andrew, insisted on sharing her personal favorite, Sushi Gen at 422 East Second Street in downtown. I think Rose has a personal “in” with head-chef Masa, but I’m not complaining. We had to wait a long time to get in and apparently that is not unusual for the following this place has. We waited a good 45 minutes for the coveted seats in front of Masa’s station and it was well worth it.

We started with a bottle of Kubota Senjyu which worked well for the entire evening’s offerings. To sort of “cleanse our palate,” our first offering was halibut sashimi in ponzu, with just a touch of yuzu and the fresh green onions, this awakened our mouths with an immediate demonstration of a respect for the fish and how it is best showcased. Not wanting to get too full on rice, I requested more sashimi than nigiri and fatty tuna was the next presentation; so rich and satisfying. There were presentations of both Japanese and Spanish mackeral (I think I liked the Spanish a bit better), sweet shrimp with fried heads (yeah!), and red snapper.

Rose knows of my willingness to try anything new or different and we asked Mas for the most unusual ingredient of the evening. In this, Sea Cucumber to which his sous chef (sorry, didn’t get his name) gave us a little dance on what sea cucumbers look like in the water. I’m just thankful I got pictures documenting that hilarious demonstration! The salmon had perfect marbling and the dressing on the albacore was just enticing enough to bring out its delicacy. Another juxtaposition which was offered was the Ankimo; Rose likes it with miso while Andrew prefers it with ponzu. I got to taste both and I’m still not sure which is my favorite, both worked so very well and it was thrilling to have great ankimo as lately, so much of the livers I’ve been eating have been grainy and not fresh.

We should have been full, but we couldn’t stop ourselves, continuing with some shared nigiri; scallops, unagi, squid with uni, and yellowtail. Rose and I also shared some oysters and then we culminated on a roll that Masa makes for Rose specially: a toro maki that is topped with more chopped toro and green onion. That was about my breaking point – we were too full for words and quite ecstatic. I don’t get this quality of sushi in San Francisco, that I have been able to find. The freshness of fish and its presentation was very reminiscent of Urasawa at a fraction of the price. So glad to have a new destination restaurant in Los Angeles and great friends to share it with!

Sushi Gen on Urbanspoon

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