Sunday, April 15, 2007

Taste test: Takumi is Little Tokyo's newest sushi surprise

hirami or halibut sushi

After weeks of sad little rushed lunches of supermarket sushi at my desk, I was starting to crave the real thing. I knew that somewhere out there people weren't eating ice-cold rice topped with completely tasteless tuna. But where to go? The Westside is bursting with great sushi bars, but that's not an alternative on a Friday night after work. Saito is good, but perhaps a bit claustrophobic. I love Sushi Gen, but I'm not willing to fight the crowds on a weekend evening.
So it was off to Takumi, where Hiro from Sushi Gen set up shop a few months ago with the former owner of Shin on Hillhurst. We snagged seats at the bar and watched as our neighbors inhaled quantities of uni and live scallops. Everyone was also ordering sea snail served in a giant shell. We went a little more subdued and started with lovely halibut sushi topped with a bit of red pepper, a beautiful huge bowl of ankimo (monkfish liver) with seaweed, a rich, melty plate of grilled butterfish, breathlessly fresh snapper with real wasabi and lemon and a trio of small, briny yet mild Kumamoto oysters from Washington state. We finished with orders of excellent toro sushi.
Takumi doesn't seem nearly as crowded as it should be for sushi of that quality, so get there now before the hordes from Sushi Gen figure it out. It's not cheap, though -- the toro helped bump our total up to $80 with two large beers. It wasn't a huge quantity of food but it was a completely satisfying meal. The room is pleasant and quiet, with soft jazz accompanying some serious fish-eating. I got a peek at the bill of the couple next to me, and it was $230 -- now that must have been a lot of sushi (omakase is $80 per person).
333 E. 2nd St.
Little Tokyo


poopycat said...

Oh, my! Can't wait to try this.

LYT said...

$80 for two isn't bad -- I've spent that much on sushi just for myself in one sitting.

Pat said...

I guess you're right. I'm just so used to spending $20 or $30 for two at Thai, middle eastern, Chinese, Mexican, etc. places that it comes as a bit of a surprise. But definitely worth it.

Silverlake Bodhisattva said...

Great place on two out of four visits, only "meh" on two more, and I REALLY want Hiro to do well! (I believe that all business owners who expose their patrons to early Coltrane records while serving them good food deserve my business!) The miso eggplant, which on the first visit I described as "brilliant" and "better than in Kyoto!" was, on the third visit, only OK. Others (Modernist among them, I believe) have noted the same thing.

Ala-carte sushi can always set you back a chunk-a-change, (heck, I took the Cam-man to Gen one fine day, couldn't get table seating for the lunch special, sat at the bar and the next thing I knew, we'd gone through $70...) but his prices are competitive for J-town, and his lunch and dinner special prices come close to Gen's.