Mori Sushi, West LA – Quiet is Classic

Mori Sushi - Mackerel

Mori Sushi

11500 Pico Boulevard (at Gateway)
West Los Angeles, CA 90064

When I am overcome with extreme emotion that comes from a flavor or taste experience, one of two things could happen. Most often, opinions and thoughts tumble all over each other in a rolling boil, faster than I can type or speak, so they just come spilling out in a chaotic emotional hurricane. Sometimes I gush because I loved it so much that it hurt, and sometimes I rant in a vitriolic rage because it hurt so much that I hated it. Whichever it is, it is a passionate outpouring. It may take many words, but eventually, I will express the taste, the flavor, the emotion that it evokes, the feeling that floods over me.

It will take many, many, many words. Lots.

Every once in a while, though, extreme emotion manifests itself differently. Words are waiting right there at the edge, pressed up against each other in anxious heat, right there on the verge of exploding out of my mouth. But the words do not register, as if a different language. I cannot translate the feelings into English, I cannot communicate. My mouth is paralyzed by perfect flavors and I just don’t know what to say, or it’s so ridiculously bad, I just don’t know what to say. I have been shocked and awed into a strange silence.

Whether effusive or hushed, one does not indicate passion better than the other. They’re just different; which one comes out is based entirely on…hormones? Phases of the moon? Which team wins the Super Bowl? No, there is neither rhyme nor reason. Most of the time the emotions come shouting out loud, enthusiastic, overflowing. But every once in a while, it’s a silent scream of pure passion that no one will ever know because I am that good at quietly containing myself during lunch at Mori Sushi in West LA.

There have been many sushi restaurants between the first time Mori Sushi left me virtually speechless and now. Some old ones that I finally tried. Some new ones that caught my attention at the right time. All of them were good and will receive their fair share of gushy lovey words here on The Delicious Life. At some point. Uh, when I get my sh!t together. (I will. No really, I will.) For most of the restaurants, though, that will be all – I will get to say that I went there, ate this and that, but they aren’t worth a repeat visit. I have visited Mori more than once, but also have not written about each visit; not for the same reason as the others, but because Mori leave me without adequate words.

The restaurant is situated on the corner of Gateway and Pico, a seedy stretch of road in West Los Angeles that is an unlikely setting for what anyone would imagine Mori Sushi to be. Everything around it, like a couple of “dance” clubs (yes, that kind of *ahem* “dance” club), the saloon across the street, and auto body shops, appear a little run-down, a little crusty and crumbly. Those places needed a paint job about fifteen years ago, but decided not to waste the money. Their original 1920s leases will likely be ending soon so why bother?

You would think, then, that Mori Sushi would be conspicuous in its clean. It is not. It doesn’t state its name in words outside. There is just a a simple sage green and white sign with a stick drawing of a fish posted high above the building, the loudest softest hint you’ll ever get at either sushi or salvation. Maybe both. When I walked through the doorway, the bright white walls and light wood furniture were familiar and refreshing. Though tiny, with a modest sushi bar and a few tables in the main dining area, the room feels open and airy. Other than a set of giant white paper globe lanterns hanging from the high ceiling, there is no real decor. It is clean, almost to the point of starkly minimalist.

When I sat down at the sushi bar in the seat that had been saved for me, there was a bottle of sake already open. Lunch. A bottle. Confidently chosen without consultation. I was impressed. I could hardly stumble through the requisite reciprocal introductions to take a ladylike shot that would take the awkward edge off. The sake went down, I relaxed in a chair that wouldn’t otherwise allow it, and was ready for lunch.

I didn’t love the dishes that were something other than sushi or sashimi. Grilled Prawn with a Sea Urchin Sauce, Miso Squid, Seafood Soup, Tempura with Gingko Nuts were good, but nothing I’d order myself. But the sushi and sashimi? Thank God a picture is worth a thousand tasteful words.

Tuna and Tofu “Caprese” Salad:

Hamachi, Kanpachi, Toro Sashimi:

Grilled Prawn with Uni Sauce:

Miso Squid:

Seafood Soup:

Tempura with Gingko:

Toro Sushi (OMG):

Mackerel (OMG again):
Mori Sushi, West LA - Mackerel


I am sure I will go back to Mori Sushi a half dozen times before I blog about it again.

More on Mori Sushi Around the Web:

~ S. Irene Virbila rates Mori Sushi three stars out of four (Feb 2004)
~ 76 Yelp reviews average four out of five stars
~ three and a half stars out of five makes me wonder about Citysearch’s cred (eh)
~ Gayot calls Mori Sushi “purist sushi for all
~ GourmetPigs will be “coming back to Zo more than Mori” (Nov 2008)

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 samkimsamkim July 28, 2009 at 12:03 am

purist sushi? don’t think so. but it’s damn good.


2 Sarah J. Gim July 28, 2009 at 12:07 am

wait…did i say it was “purist?” ack! i have no idea what purist sushi is. i just like fish and maybe some simple flavor enhancers (grated yuzu make me cry), but no rolls, not too many other accessories.


3 babamoto July 28, 2009 at 12:18 am

“…it’s a silent scream of pure passion that no one will ever know because I am that good at quietly containing myself…”

I’ll have what she’s having.


4 wotv July 28, 2009 at 7:37 am

This post says exactly the many times that I just don’t blog about something because there are no words to describe it (or at least I feel like my writing will NEVER adequately describe the feeling). But what drives the “writer” to keep going is to keep practicing, and go in for that description until you get as close as possible, like sharpening your knife until you draw blood! Anyway what a great post! What great writing! The sushi looks OMG indeed with your words!! Keep going, Sarah!!!


5 kneejerk July 28, 2009 at 8:55 am

Mori is good, but the atmosphere is a bit too “much”- especially at dinner with a room full of expense accounts…

Now Urasawa on the other hand- that is truly speechless dining.


6 Sarah J. Gim July 28, 2009 at 9:00 am

baba: am i sally to your harry?

wotv: thank you. thank you! though this post is more about Mori being so good that there are no words to describe, I know what you’re saying about blogging/writing in general. it is taking a LONG time and HUGE effort for me to get back into blogging. i am not sure what it is for me. i think i have…performance anxiety.

kneejerk: i have yet to try urasawa. i am scared that after i eat there, i will never be able to eat sushi anywhere else again.


7 Anonymous July 28, 2009 at 9:10 am

Geezus. Get over yourself.


8 SinoSoul July 28, 2009 at 11:20 am

speechless is great but.. did you cry? Please call me when you cry. Women who can get melo-emo over uni are.. kinda hot.


9 No-L July 28, 2009 at 11:21 am

I LOVE sashimi more than rolls or sushi, even, but OMG, those pictures are pure yumminess. Now I want sashimi for lunch. That wasn’t part of the plan. Damn you Sarah. :)


10 Sarah J. Gim July 28, 2009 at 11:43 am

Anonymous: never.

SinoSoul: I have only cried three times in my life over food, and one of those episodes was, indeed, over sushi. a virgin experience with toro. more recently…shed a tear over a short rib grilled cheese sandwich at what used to be Table8. then again, it coulda just been the sight of hellooooo hotness Govind Armstrong ;)

Noe: sashimi should be a persistent part of the plan.


11 SmokeyDoke July 28, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Oh Mori Sushi, how I love you so.
Great post! It couldn’t have been more apropos, I’m on a sushi diet right now. The post reminded me why I thought it was a good idea. LOL.


12 macha July 28, 2009 at 5:22 pm

whew .. wouldn’t mind a taste @ the uni sauce & the uni looks incredible … !


13 Al August 20, 2009 at 4:28 pm

I eat here every time I am in LA; at least for the last six or seven years. There was a small blurb about it in Travel + Leisure when it first opened; that is how I found out about it. A great experience. Love the sign too.


14 Melanie August 26, 2009 at 2:37 am

Mh, that looks like it HAS to be delicious!


15 Hillary August 28, 2009 at 2:22 pm

That is some extremely quality sushi! I especially like the idea of the tofu and tuna caprese salad. Wow!!


16 joanh September 11, 2009 at 11:36 pm

your pictures look so awesome!! what camera are you using? sorry- i’ll dig around and see if you mention it elsewhere.


17 Hungry Huy October 24, 2009 at 4:57 am

Joanh: to a certain extent, it doesn’t really matter what camera you use. The most important functions for me are focus control, aperture control, and simple post processing. You can get by with a point and shoot too if you know what you’re doing. :)

Anyways the Mackerel looks AMAZING! I need to drive out to LA for some new sushi restaurants.


18 luci October 27, 2009 at 1:22 am

o my god , that was fantastic , it looks like a fiction, lol…….now i know my plans for tomorrow ———- go to sushi w my bf :)


19 Ingo October 4, 2010 at 6:52 am

Mh, that looks like it HAS to be delicious! Greate pictures :-)


20 Berlin December 1, 2010 at 5:18 am

That is some extremely quality sushi! I especially like the idea of the tofu and tuna caprese salad. Wow!!


21 jugenreisen January 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm

speechless is great but.. did you cry? Please call me when you cry. Women who can get melo-emo over uni are.. kinda hot.


22 Markisen January 21, 2011 at 2:02 am

I love your style of writing! And cool pictures!


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: