Omakase Is Japanese For “My Way, Or The Highway”

by anna on November 20, 2009

Maybe you don’t know it, but many of the best restaurants in Los Angeles are located in strip malls. Somebody should really write something about it. It might be because if you look at Los Angeles real estate from a strict locations-per-capita standpoint, then you pretty much have to have good restaurants in strip malls, because there are so many damn strip malls. If you did not put good restaurants in them, then there would not be enough good restaurants.

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For some reason, the strip mall rule is particularly true for good Japanese restaurants. In Hollywood, at the corner of Highland and Franklin is a great sushi bar where I once saw Whoopi Goldberg eating. Also, Madonna used to get takeout there. There is another strip mall sushi joint on Gower and Sunset, and those are just the ones I can think of off hand.

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Right-Click and I tried out a new strip mall sushi joint on date night. The chef’s policy was Omakase, which as far as I can tell is Japanese for “My Way Or The Highway.” This particular sushi chef was kind of nice about his Omakase policy, actually. I once went to a strip-mall Omakase joint in Sherman Oaks where the chef was like the Soup Nazi, only about Sushi. This chef, in contrast, was almost apologetic in his institution of a fascist sushi regime.

Well, almost. His signage was admittedly less subtle.

Apparently, they feel strongly that you should only have hand rolls, that tuna is, more or less, a waste of time. And that Tamago must never, never be ordered. And as it happens, I have to say I agree on the Tamago — I must admit I have never understood that whole Tamago thing. Why would it ever occur to somebody to strap a piece of egg to rice, I like to think that, even if I liked eggs, I would never want to strap them on the back of rice like a beast of burden. And by the way, in almost 34 years of eating sushi, I have never once seen somebody order Tamago, either. In fact, I’ve always kind of wondered why it’s on there — was it an addition made to try to appeal to Western tastes? Or do real Japanese people like egg strapped to rice with a piece of seaweed? I remain skeptical.

But this made me think — this is a sushi chef I can get behind. This is a sushi chef who wants to protect us from ourselves. He knows Tamago is an absurd sushi choice, that California rolls are made with fake crab, and that hand rolls are way, way better than six pieces cut up. He assumes that only crazy people would order such things, but even so, he’s not going to stand back and let you destroy yourself with egg strapped to rice with seaweed. Not on his watch, pal.


Jenni November 20, 2009 at 6:27 am

respect the sushi! *raises fist*

anna November 20, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Or, HEIL SUSHI, perhaps!

beth aka confusedhomemaker November 20, 2009 at 6:57 am

I have to agree on multiple levels. I can’t stand California rolls & so I have a similar food philosophy at my house, no California rolls allowed. And strip mall food is amazing when you are looking for authentic ethnic food.

anna November 20, 2009 at 6:47 pm

I like California rolls, but I hardly ever eat them unless I'm grabbing sushi at the supermarket or something. I think they're the safe one when you're not sure about your sushi source. Also, Mini will eat them. But yeah, not exactly authentic sushi experience there.

Gretchen November 20, 2009 at 10:54 am

As a fellow sushi-eating Los Angeleno, you MUST try Noshi Sushi on Beverly, just east of Western. We actually bought our house based on proximity to the place. It’s like the home-cooking of sushi. Looks like a Denny’s. Huge FAT rolls. Good prices. Go for it! BTW, I agree about that egg on rice thing. Hmmm.

anna November 20, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Ooooh! Thanks for the tip. That's like Hancock Park-ish, right?

Alias Mother November 20, 2009 at 7:49 pm

I live in the New England boonies. My sushi options are the Chinese place or the Thai place.

Send sushi. Now.

anna November 20, 2009 at 8:45 pm

I would, but I'm not sure if it will keep in the mail!


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