Just a quick heads-up – no ESPN chat this week. I expect to do another one next week, on the 14th.
I had a short and uneventful trip to LA earlier this week, but I did manage to find one absolute gem of a restaurant, a sushi place in West Hollywood called Ajisai, right off of Santa Monica. It’s a tiny place, with maybe ten tables and a small sushi bar, but the fish is out of sight, to the point where I left thinking, “I wish I’d been hungrier, so I could have eaten more.” The salmon looked fabulous and was incredibly smooth and fresh. I tend to avoid fancy rolls, since they’re a bad value and inauthentic, but I was sucked in by the Dragon Roll, which was a shrimp tempura roll topped with spicy tuna and a bit of salmon roe. It turned out to be a great choice, at least taste-wise (as it wasn’t cheap at $14, and I’m sure it’s not an authentic dish), because the spicy tuna itself was just about perfect, with larger chunks of tuna than I’ve ever found in that dish, and sparing use of the very spicy sauce that let the texture and flavor of the fish come through. The only sour note was the unagi; one of the two pieces I ordered had a distinctly fishy taste.
Ajisai was a welcome improvement over the previous night’s sushi at Geisha House, on Hollywood Boulevard right in downtown Hollywood. It was late and I was exhausted, so I asked at the hotel about the nearest good sushi place, and of course, I was directed to a place that was pushing atmosphere over food and that probably has a deal with the hotel, since I was handed a preprinted card with directions. Geisha House’s sushi cost more and had far less flavor than Ajisai’s, and their special-roll menu was loaded with junk ingredients and ridiculous sauces. I ordered green tea when I sat down, and was brought a pot with fresh leaves in it, but when I took a sip of the brew, it was black tea that tasted of flowers. So when the bill came, and I saw $6 for “Kyoto Rice” (which, it turns out, was the tea), I pointed out that the tea wasn’t even what I’d ordered, saying, “I asked you for green tea.” Her response: “Oh, we don’t have green tea, we have other tea.” So if you’re in the mood for other tea, Geisha House is the place for you.
I had one other meal of note, at Lucky Devil’s, a high-end burger (and panini) place on Hollywood owned by Lucky Vanous, best known for his appearance in a Diet Coke commercial back when people actually watched commercials. The burgers are all made from Kobe beef, which is probably something of a waste. I ordered mine medium-well, which is also probably something of a waste, and it arrived well-done, which was definitely a waste, since the burger was dry. The potato roll it was served on was the star of the show, while the “crispy fries” were pre-cut and coated, which means I could have had better fries if I’d walked five minutes in the other direction and gone to In-n-Out. But I will say that a medium or medium-rare burger at Lucky Devil’s is probably a much better experience than what I had, since good-quality beef probably shouldn’t be cooked too much past medium.