UNPARALLELED DINING GETS AN “A” ALL THE WAY
There are so many ways to enjoy sushi, especially in Los Angeles, which is considered the second most sushi-obsessed city in the world. When I first tried sushi it was the simple California Roll that I started with. Then I became a fan of all things tempura (you can never go wrong with fried) as well as creative rolls, which I learned later were hardly authentic Japanese sushi. That’s when I adopted the notion that simple is better. Now, I prefer light, fresh and clean-tasting Nigiri (sushi made of thin slices of raw fish over pressed vinegared rice).
My sushi appreciation really graduated with my visit to Japan last year where I enjoyed the best sushi meal of my life. And my obsession for quality sushi really went up another notch when I was fortunate enough to dine at Q Sushi in downtown Los Angeles. Q Sushi offers one of the finest high-end omakase style dining experiences in the city serving over 20 courses curated daily utilizing only the freshest ingredients served in an intimate dining room.
Nondescript from the outside, Q Sushi is located on the new burgeoning Restaurant Row on 7th Street, home to Bottega Louie, Más Malo, and B.S. Taqueria. Walk in and you’ll be taken but its simplicity and wood décor. Cozy with only 26 seats, ten at the sushi bar, your experience begins as you are handed a hot towel as is the custom in Japan. Then master chef Hiroyuki Naruke gives you a nod and your experience has begun.
“Until Q opened, there had been nothing like real edomae sushi in Los Angeles — plain-looking sushi that accentuates the flavor of the fish rather than of the rice or condiments, a universe of pickling and curing and aging whose culture may edge closer to a great charcuterie counter than to the sushi floor show at a place like Koi, but so subtly as to be almost imperceptible to a senior accountant stopping by for a quick expense-account lunch,” Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold wrote.
The setting is inviting and relaxing although it is a little intimidating as you are fully aware that this is a high-end dining experience. There’s no soy sauce or extra wasabi offered. While you are given chopsticks proper etiquette says you use your fingers to pick up the sushi while at the sushi bar. And of course don't worry about ordering as the meal is omakase, which means it’s chef's choice.
During our recent visit for dinner our meal began with half a dozen courses of tsumami (small appetizers) before delving into a dozen or so items of sushi. We paired our meal with some fine junmai daiginjo sake (Q Sushi offers some fine sakes, beers and wines).
Many of the typical sushi favorites weren’t part of our tasting. There was no shrimp sushi offered. In fact, there were a couple of Nigiri that were new to me.
Our meal started with South Korean fluke, followed by butterfly squid from Japan with miso vinaigrette. Other favorites included the Bluefin tuna from Spain; Toro (sea urchin);
Scallop from Hokkaido, Japan; and New Zealand Black Snapper—a first for me and let me tell you it puts red snapper to shame.
The Striped Jack (think Yellowtail) was very lean and melted in your mouth like butter. There was also Buri (wild yellowtail from Hokkaido, Japan), which was fluke infused with dry kelp for a couple of days and tasted absolutely amazing. Likewise, for the Bluefin tuna from Spain.
The Otoro, the fatty part of the belly, is melts in your mouth good. The fermented sardine was new to me and I loved it, just as I did the sea salt cured mackerel; Scottish salmon was one of the best salmon I’ve ever had; the cured Japanese oyster was simply delicious; as was the Hanako (sea eel). While eel is one of my favorites, the seared flavor was just terrific. The Alaskan salmon roe so hit the spot and the Uni from Hokkaido, Japan was so rich and flavorful. There’s no real dessert but the Shrimp Cake to finish was a nice touch.
Beware eating this good does come with a heft price tag. Lunch features about about eight pieces of sushi for $75 while dinner omakase features approximately 16 pieces for $165. Whether your experience at Q Sushi is a celebration or simply an indulgence, this is not a cheap meal but it is first rate dining that you won’t soon forget.
Q Sushi is located at 521 W. 7th Street. Open for lunch noon to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday; dinner, 6pm-9:30 pm Monday-Thursday, and 6pm-10 pm Friday and Saturday. Valet parking after 6:30 pm. Call (213) 225-6285.
Photography Courtesy Of: Q Sushi
Story by Jose Martinez