Monday, March 31, 2008

Hide Sushi

2040 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Adequately Fed: $25
-Hotate Special*****
-Spicy Tuna**
-Ume-shiso maki**
(Out of Five Stars)

First off, I'll note that the items I gave low star ratings to are only because of my personal dislike for that item, but in reality, everything was excellent. This was my first opportunity to order "omakase" myself, which is a term used in sushi restaurants roughly analogous to "chef's recommendation." The sushi chef chooses his best of show and places each sushi in front of you until you tell him to stop. The pricing is left entirely to the will of the chef, so only do this if you are willing to pay for it. If you refer to my photo album marked "Sushi in Taiwan," you will see another fancier omakase experience.

All the fish was fresh as you can tell by the popularity of the restaurant. Nightly, there is a sizable crowd waiting for seats either at the bar or in tables. I have frequently been asked for a sushi recommendation in the area, and of all the places on the West side, Hide has never disappointed me.

The staff is friendly and Japanese. Frankly, I never believed that being Japanese is necessarily a prerequisite to being a sushi chef, but there's something unsettling about being served tuna by a Mexican as once happened to me in Reno. Not only do the chef's serve you, but they also joke around and like to have a good time. I know that to many, the bar is intimidating to approach, but come up sometime and you can experience the way sushi was originally intended to be served. The interaction with the chef is an integral part of the dining experience, something too frequently neglected.

Hide does not feature any special rolls that have dominated the American sushi scene. You're not going to find elaborate monstrosities of fish, avocado, and tempura. The California rolls here are actually made from real crab. If you go to Hide, do it right and order sushi. This is not to say that they do not also have a fairly decent menu of non-fish staples like teriyaki and tempura. But once you step inside, you can tell by what's on the tables of the other clientele that sushi is really their specialty. Here, you're going to find many more traditional sushi items frequently left off other restaurant menus like Ankimo (monkfish liver) and ume-shiso (plum paste and perilla leaf).

There is valet parking behind the restaurant. If you come here, expect a long line. Yet sushi moves fast; you should be seated soon.

Recommended: Keep in mind that they only accept cash. Knowing that sushi can by pricey, bring a good sized wad or make use of their in-store ATM.

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