Asakuma – Sushi in a Strip Maul

asakuma sushi, los angeles, ca - sushi
Aside from good, but ridiculously expensive sushi at Takao on San Vicente in Brentwood or a last resort clear plastic top snapped onto a black plastic tray from the refrigerated case at the supermarket with cucumber rolls that have been mechanically punch-clocked together by Gertie and Manuel in hair nets and latex gloves, Asakuma is the only other sushi option near my house.

There is nothing particularly remarkable about Asakuma, either positive or negative, which mathemetically, implies that Asakuma=0, but since my Asian exterior belies my mathemetical abilities, zero is actually negative if we’re talking about football, and positive if we’re talking about dress sizes, so let’s just say that Asakuma is…median.

Ha! I bet you thought I was going to say “average!” I’m not as stupid as I blog, and I know that “average’ has nothing to do with sushi.

But let’s just use average anyway.

Based on the weighted average score of all the factors that contribute to The Overall Score, Asakuma always ends up like Louisiana. Quality of food, atmosphere, swimsuit, and private interviews with the five judges are good enough to make the Top 10 Finalists, but a risqué evening gown choice means conservative Texas wins the title and Asakuma is shoved backstage with a tiny tiara made of diamonique zirconium that can only ever be used for a future naughty fairy Halloween costume. 1st Loser-up is a high price to pay for a plunging neckline and cheap plastic sequins.

(Incidentally, I could have punned California (Roll) in there somewhere, but Clever is on vacation this week.)

asakuma sushi, brentwood, los angeles, ca - chopsticks
diy chopstick rest for splinters

High price. Though Asakuma is shoved into a lower-rent space on the second floor of a strip mall and is basically average on all other counts including splintery disposable chopsticks, its prices are somewhat unnecessarily high. Granted, the dining atmosphere is nicer than the soiled curb on a rainy day next to a greasy taco truck in the ghetto, but light wood walls, white table cloths, tiny bright halogen bulbs, and colorful abstract accents and artwork are an opening sunk cost that I’m sure the restaurant has recovered by now.

I’ve never sat in Asakuma’s sushi bar, the first space inside the front door, even though my life’s sushi philosophy is to always sit at the bar, within the chef’s field of vision, superficial freshness of the fish gaugable in plain sight through the glass front refrigerated case. Barring the fact that it is full every time I’ve gone so I couldn’t sit there anyway, the bar area gives off a chill, slightly severe, vibe. The chefs look pleasant enough, but I think it’s the awkward presentation of a row of diners’ backsides upon immediate entrance that isn’t openly welcoming. Yes, I am picky and weird and I notice stupid weird small things like that.

asakuma sushi, brentwood, los angeles, ca - hamachi sashimi
jamachi and jalapeno sashimi
asakuma sushi, brentwood, los angeles, ca - nigiri sushi
a rainbow of fish flavors

The fish in our hamachi sashimi was not bad tasting, and I certainly can’t argue the pairing with tiny slices of jalapeno peppers (maybe they were serrano?), but the presentation of the plate was a little too dressy, a little too messy. I am always a girl about brains over beauty and function over fashion (who said 4″ stiletto heels aren’t functional?!?) but I also am training myself in the appreciation of achieving intended objectives. I am quite sure that one goal of sushi is aesthetic appeal to the eye before the pleasure on the palate. Non-uniform slices of hamachi looked like they had been haphazardly arranged on the plate. There was far too much sauce, and the radish and cilantro had been hastily tossed into a tangle that was in desperate need of a comb and some hairspray. The nigiri sushi was better – slices of ruby red tuna and salmon draped over rice, simply placed in even intervals along a long plate.

asakuma sushi, brentwood, los angeles, ca - hamachi nigiri
no diggity, hamachi nigiri
asakuma sushi, brentwood, los angeles, ca - unagi roll

If the sashimi was a tiny bit below average in the beauty competition, the hamachi as nigiri sushi was better. The microscopic marbling of fat (i think the creamy marbling is fat, but i can’t be sure) wasn’t drowned out by too-much too-tart sauce or hidden under gaudy adornments. I kind of wished we had ordered hamachi sashimi, fish only.

Eating unagi as my last piece is a habit I picked up from Mom. The fattiness of the eel’s flesh and skin combined with a syrupy sweet sauce always makes it dessert. I didn’t like it as much in a roll format as I do when it’s strapped onto a ball of rice with a nori belt, but it was certainlt first runner-up quality.

Dinner wasn’t bad, but I doubt I will go back to Asakuma any time soon, despite its proximity to my house and my favorite therapist. Don’t want to artificially boost Asakuma’s chance at being the mathematical mode, you know.

Asakuma Restaurant
11701 Wilshire Blvd (@ Barrington)
Los Angeles, CA 90025

** a year ago today, bacon-wrapped green beans temporarily cured me of the casserole **

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 JF January 20, 2007 at 7:41 pm

looking sexy with that new profile pic! And the sushi ain’t bad either.


2 Deke Babamoto January 20, 2007 at 8:13 pm

Nice P-shop, Delicious!
c( `_’ )o

Your Friend,
Deke Babamoto


3 Andreea January 21, 2007 at 6:17 pm

love the sushi. great new photo!


4 rugenius January 22, 2007 at 4:55 pm

omg, i havent back to LA in ages, and that shot makes me homesick…or whatever the gluttonous equivalent is.


5 Anonymous January 23, 2007 at 1:38 am

Why oh why, the talentless writers and food people of Food TV network like Rachel Ray appear on TV and do nothing but annoy the hell out of people, while you, Sarah, the great photographer of food are stuck with us, the bloggy bunch, writing for the internet free blogsite. Girl, you really ought to submit some of this stuff to Oprah, and see if they don’t hire you. They need someone to write a food and love column. An asian american writer would definitely make me buy the magazine more often, and you know, this demographic is blessed with disposable income!


6 Jay January 26, 2007 at 5:37 pm

What kind of camera are you using? Great shots!


7 sarah January 30, 2007 at 8:11 pm

julian, deke, andreea: thanks for the kind words about the profile pic! (no photoshop – that’s a shadow from my shoulder, lol!) however, i am thinking about switching it back.

rugenius: aw, you’re sushi-sick! and i am betting that tastespotting isn’t making it any better!

anonymous: i agree! oprah should hire me! and pay me a million dollars a story! food – yes! love? hm. i think bitter is more fun ;)

jay: i use a very basic point and shoot compact digital cam – canon sd500. not too bad for a three year old camera, huh?


8 Sean January 31, 2007 at 11:18 pm

Funny, I always go with tamago for dessert. I like the mildly sweet, cool egginess as a finisher.

And next time I’m in la la land, let’s do sushi. I’ll show you my chopstick holder origami.


9 san February 1, 2007 at 2:20 pm

nice post sushi for every day


10 Sven Vollmer May 18, 2007 at 12:15 pm

i love sushi!

could die for it! i always enjoy eating sushi in my wintergarten!!!

keep on!!!


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