The beverly blvd sushi joint. (somewhat long) (and that ain't no joke)

A miniature sushi shoppe that would not feel out of place Tokyo’s Ginza district does its traditional thing exceptionally well in a nondescript, down at it’s heels neighborhood, stuck somewhat halfway between the eastern fringes of Koreatown and the commencement of Downtown LA. Shige-san has been making sushi here for close to four decades, after putting some serious time at the original Shibucho in Yahoan Plaza under the expert tutelage of Shibutani-san in the early 1970s, which delicately shines through in his utterly pristine morsels of fresh fish.

The cantankerous, curmudgeonly, verging on authoritarian cum despotic sushi chef (in some sushi circles) keeps going about his creative endeavor in his own idosyncratic fashion. That is serving simple cuts of fish and shellfish the traditional way, which also means two pieces of nigir-zushi at a time. Deceptively simple yet transcendental.

Suffice to say the price of entry for newbies and other novices is quite dear. First timers may be turned away before stepping inside depending on various factors such as believing the joint to be a Sirachi cream cheese inflected roll and sake bomb joint. Or if one only wants to devour oodles of fusion inspired and overly sauced junk.

Shige even goes to the lengths of placing myriad of RESERVATION placards along the length of the sushi bar to scare away potential customers when the occasion should be deemed necessary. Furthermore, he will turn down your request for an omakase meal at a first timer. Because after all, “how do I know what they want to eat ?”, he gruffly tells a obsequious patron when the request is put in.

When the sushi chef was asked what his favorite sushi was he stated bluntly, “I don’t eat sushi.” After a lifetime of cutting fresh fish, even the veteran master desires other bites to eat in his off hours. (Urban legend has it that he frequents his friend’s Southern Italian restaurant on Beverly Blvd: Madeo Ristorante, which also is the tip off to his olive oil-sauced albacore salad as well as his morsel of eggplant parmigiano (heavy on the finely sourced Parmigiana-Reggiana) that puts many a red-sauce Italian trattoria to shame.

He told one customer who inquired about whether the uni was from Santa Barbara with “How should I know ? I just cut fish. Maybe the fisherman knows.” However, he does pride himself on sourcing his fish from Tokyo, Spain, Italay, and even Norway (Norway ? Yes, Norway).

The soundtrack ranges from smooth jazz to Andre Bocelli (i.e. “time to say goodnight”) to the Pink Panther theme (yes, that iconic, groundbreaking ditty) each and every night.

Shige has a sideline in bottles of ultra-expensive Bordeaux and Burgundy from the 1950s to 60s though caveat emptor if you deign to order a bottle on a whim. An insidious sticker shock would not begin to describe your imminent troubles.

Working primarily alone, he sculpts each piece to order in the traditional bite-size pieces unique to the edo-mae roots.

His maguro sushi is like slices of ruby hewed steaks snatched from the sea. His yellowtail is quite toothsome in its way to reinforce its structural integrity. It must be said that not all fish should be mushy. The toro sushi melts in your mouth, as it usually does, though its heavily streaked with that ultra-pinkish hue that is highly prized to toro connoisseurs. His kanpachi and kinmedai have always been exceptional. And the obligatory toro hand roll filled to the brim with chopped toro and crunchy pickles is exactly what the doctor ordered to end this repast.

Even his wines by the glass works in conjunction with the meatier fishes.

And to end the meal ? What else by a pillowy, airy slab of tiramisu (Other desserts include panna cotta, poached pear in red wine with creme anglaise, a fruit tart, and chocolate tart).

You pay the usually excessive bill and then saunter out to your car to visit Los Angeles once again.

A paragon of perfection.


I haven’t been ruby hewed for years.

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I’m guessing he didn’t get insidious sticker shock…

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Though I did the last time I considered buying a ticket to one of his geriatric band’s shows.


Damn, Kevin. When you write like this I feel like I’m there (and I’m not a sushi-eating-person!). Thank you!

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what a dick.

y’know, it’s funny, everyone talks about how rude this guy is to newcomers.

when i went there, he just said, what can i serve you, or some such thing, and
we talked a bit, and we had at it. seemed a perfectly pleasant enough fellow.

sure, the wine list is ridiculous, but we drank the cheap bottle, and learned red wine
is darned good with sushi. and the sushi was excellent.

this was a few years back.

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Linus you’re pretty much on the fucking money.

Now Zo is a different story.

Had my first time here tonight.

Frankly it was a very lovely meal. Shige-san warmed up very quickly. The one flaw was the overly-heavy use of wasabi for the first few pieces of fish, he either toned it down or my palate adjusted soon after. There were a couple of very interesting bites, like the marinated scottish salmon, and a certain section of the aoyagi (which I can’t recall the name of) that was very tender.

In the end the bill was very reasonable, tapping in at $87 before tax and tip (with a hot green tea). Pretty sure Shige undercharged me as I went 12 rounds of fish (24 pc) rather than the base 10.

Definitely planning on coming back here again when I have more stomach space (and a new job).


24 pieces for $87? Are you missing a 1 there?

Might’ve been 22; I could have miscounted.

2 pieces each of bluefin, toro, suzuki, kinmedai, seki aji, marinated scottish salmon, yellowtail, that aforementioned aoyagi, amaebi, uni, anago. That’s 22, might have been something I forgot.

And, nope, it was definitely $87. ($87.50, ok.) Is it usually near $200 a head for that amount of food?

Considering Mori gives 15 pieces of nigiri for $80 at lunch it doesn’t seem out of whack. But is it common to get doubles as part of a omakase? Or was this not omakase?

Shige-san, in his boundless orneriness, is unlikely to serve omakase for a first timer since, as he puts it, “how do I know what you like?” So instead he’ll serve you two pieces of whatever you ask for in a succession so rapid that you’ll feel like an unwitting participant in a speed eating competition. At least this was my experience on the three occasions I visited. Three was enough.

The sushi is damn good though, even if the wasabi is sometimes applied with too heavy a hand as T3t mentioned.

So I guess it’s best to go in multiples of two if you want to eat a broader range of what he has on hand.

It was very fast paced, but he also didn’t ask me what I wanted. I’d heard about him not serving omakase to first-timers but that wasn’t the case with me. Not sure if he keeps serving doubles to regulars, obviously. I was the only person there (at 6:30). Also remembered he also served me squid, which was very tender and not chewy.

i was served omakase my first time there.



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Returned for a repeat performance.

Lineup was fairly similar, though this time I tapped out at 10 rounds, but also with a freshly cooked salmon skin handroll. Toro was outstanding - and he began marinating the magurozuke as soon as I sat down; it was served near the end. Also outstanding. Uni was once again extremely good.

Thankfully I was served the marinated scottish salmon again, and I made sure to note the flavor profile. It reminded me of a very mildly smoked salmon, both in flavor and in texture… but it was clearly not smoked salmon. Bizarre, but good.

In truth the highlight of this meal was the dessert - four panna cotta rectangles topped with shiso and halved raspberries glazed with sugar, then torched. The quality of whatever chef he has stashed in the back is ridiculous. I don’t know how this place stays in business, I was there at 10 pm and was once again the only customer the whole time.

We’ll definitely start patronizing. It’s hard to find a good Sushi place in L.A. that doesn’t cost a fortune. I want to retire while I still have teeth in my head.

The harsh truth is LA doesn’t support high end traditional sushi. Most people (not here obviously) prefer that hot rice, ponzu sauce, creative topping stuff.