Sasabune

Photo credit: kevinEats

It was Lawrence’s last night as a Los Angeles resident one gloomy night last month, and we decide to have a man date right before I drove him to LAX. At first, we decided on Waterloo & City, since it’s near his (old) apartment and he still needed to finish packing. But in his heart, Lawrence really wanted to have sushi for his last meal. So last minute, he suggested Sasabune, since he hadn’t been back in years and I’ve never been.

I have to admit, I was a little hesitant at first, because from what I’ve heard/read, Sasabune has more of a “cold” demeanor with regards to how the sushi experience should be. The chefs have a mean look, they pre-slice their fish, the omakase is so scripted and never-changing, etc. I was just afraid that it was going to be like a high-class version of Sushi Mac. The restaurant itself is huge for a sushi place (used to be a Todai I think), located on the ground floor on an office building – not helping the cold demeanor image. Upon entering and requesting the bar, where the tables were far apart and the light dimmed ever so much, the server informed me that the bar is omakase-only. No problem!

Luckily, the bar had ample lighting (decent-looking photos for once). Our chef (whose name I forgot – sorry!), very reserved, asked us if there was anything we didn’t want. Me and Lawrence? BRING IT CHEF! We started with two plates of sashimi to share, one tairagai (pen shell) and one baby tuna tataki. The tairagai came with some Hawaiian salt and yuzukosho – nice complements to something I rarely have (only had it at Kiriko before). Good start, followed by what ended up being 26 different things served (mostly in pairs).

I didn’t stutter – we really had 26 pieces of sushi. Most of it was very good – not mind-blowing good, but familiar things that were executed well. Very satisfying. I didn’t even realize we had so much until writing the previous sentences. I think it was around piece #15 when our chef started opening up. I think he was probably just amazed that we ended up eating so much, but we did strike up some nice conversations during the last third of the meal, however brief they were. But he was very nice, and so were all the servers (probably the most alert staff I’ve seen at a sushi place since my visit to Sushi Zo).

Around piece #20 (the handroll), he asked if we wanted to continue. Seeing that we didn’t really have anything unique and too noteworthy, I asked if there was anything he recommended, to which he brought out stuff like halibut fin and ice toro (never had either in such a format). I think that this proves establishing a rapport with your sushi chef is essential in optimal experience, since they really try to feel you out first, therefore becoming more reserved with their progression. And by the end of the meal, no preconceived images of negativity lingered. I was very full, and satisfied with the dinner.

A minor negative, though, was the speed of progression of the omakase in general. Each plate of sushi was served very quickly. I didn’t really mind, since we were hungry, but it did remind me a bit of the factory-like attitude that first scared me. Still, I believe that it only gets better from here, and when the start is pretty damn good, it’s hard to complain. So in my sushi hierarchy, Sasabune currently sits third, behind Kiriko and Sushi Zo. I do hope they change the omakase a bit in the future.

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Pen Shell Sashimi

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Baby Tuna Sashimi

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Bigeye Tuna, Bigeye Toro

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Halibut, Ono

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Mussel, Oyster

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Yellowtail, Salmon

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Golden Eye Snapper, Scallop

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Butterfish

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Spanish Mackerel, Kanpachi

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Salmon Egg, Sea Urchin

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Bonito, Albacore Belly

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Monkfish Liver, Sea Eel

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Blue Crab Hand Roll

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Giant Clam, Orange Clam

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Mackerel, Red Snapper

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Halibut Fin, Ice Toro

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Chris Hei grade: B

Sushi Sasabune
12400 Wilshire Blvd, Ste 150
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 820-3596

Sushi Sasabune on Urbanspoon

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