Ahi Sushi

Other than Japan or Hawaii, as I've been told, there is no better place for sushi than the city of Los Angeles.  And within that microcosm, Ventura Boulevard, otherwise known as Sushi Row, has so many various offerings of the stuff it's a wonder they all stay in business.  (Except of course that sushi is more important than oxygen to most Angelenos, and it's f***ing delicious.)

Halibut sashimi with hot oil.
Of all the gin joints, new and old, famous and trendy, fusion and traditional, one of my consistent favorites has always been Ahi Sushi at the corner of Coldwater Canyon and Ventura.  Quit your hollerin' — I know the original Katsu-ya and its offshoot Kiwami are also located on Ventura, and that both restaurants serve some of the best fish on the planet.  Crispy rice spicy tuna.  Kill me.  I get it.

Barracuda sashimi.
But ... where Katsu-ya is genius and trendsetting, it is also overly popular and crowded.  Kiwami, additionally, is extremely expensive.  A friend and I dropped $300 for lunch recently (um...yes, we must factor in the bottles of sake and rare ocean trout, of which we had two wallet-busting plates), and tabs that high are easy to achieve at Kiwami (I regret nothing).

The Toro Roll: Jalapeno tempura and avocado, topped with chopped toro, dry onions and caviar.
On the flip side, Ahi has less pomp and circumstance and less fusion, yet it's always reassuringly busy, I never have trouble getting a table, parking is free (good God, that's critical in LA), and the fish ... is ... breathtaking.  Still pricey, yes, but I've never in my life had better pink snapper or shima-aji — a fish most other sushi places rarely serve.  (And by the way, cheap + sushi is never a wise equation.)

Albacore sushi with crispy onions.
Clean, pure, straightforward fish.  It's simple, and makes up in freshness and taste what some may think it lacks in showmanship (and those people can suck it).  As far as I'm concerned, when it's that fresh, and that delicious, you don't need to mess with it.  

LEFT: Salmon sushi with truffle oil.  RIGHT: Pink snapper with yuzo pepper and sea salt.
Wild king salmon with a drizzle of truffle oil.  It's magical.  I'm not kidding.  I have introduced no less than a dozen people to this experience and every one of them (except Tim, damn you), nearly fell out of the chair.  My first experience with it was a single bite on an Omakase plate.  I almost started crying.  That salmon, along with the blow-torched halibut fin, were nothing I'd ever had or even seen before, and what amazes me is, no one else seems to be copying them.

The Lobster Roll: Baked lobster topped with dynamite sauce (and their's isn't overly rich).
For every crap fish house trying to duplicate Katsu-ya's brilliant baked crab rolls, no one is dousing salmon in truffle oil à la Ahi.  And maybe that's a sign of how singular Ahi really is.  They fly under the radar with a loyal following and routinely impress everyone with whom I choose to share the bliss.

Hmm.  Maybe this post was a bad idea.  ;)


thewocky at: April 10, 2012 at 9:08 AM said...

Nice pics! That salmon with the truffle oil really was incredible....ditto the halibut and hot oil....

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