Wednesday, January 27, 2010

#18 Sushi Eyaki

#30 Hollywood Walk of Fame
#29 Yamashiro
#28 Hollywood Billiards
#27 Genghis Cohen
#26 Piano Bar
#25 Shmutzville
# 24 Loteria
# 23 The Griddle
# 22 Proximity
# 21 Hollywood Freeway
#20 Kitchen 24
# 19 The People

# 18 Sushi Eyaki

People that live outside of LA (especially New Yorkers), like the think LA is a shitty food town. I can say this: It is no San Francisco. That is the truth. And if you are looking for super high-end chef driven motif restaurants, we are strong but well behind New York. Well behind. (though we are catching up) But what's quickly being learned around the country is that where people thought LA lacked, we're actually quite strong. See, unlike real metropolises like Chicago and New York, LA is just too spread out to form a coherent food community. To find the good places in LA, you have to search for them, like hard. Case in point, anyone that thinks that LA has no delis has never been to Langer's. Langer's is hidden away in a shitty neighborhood in MacAurthur Park and recently has propelled LA to the number 1 deli city in the country per David Sax's bestselling book, Save the Deli. The point isn't that we have great deli (which we do), the point is that people complain about our lack of deli after going to Jerry's and Canter's and nothing else. You just have to look.

One of the food groups that I think LA is a dominant force within is sushi. I'm sure that there are great sushi places in Seattle and San Francisco, and I'm sure NYC would have a few hats to throw in the sushi ring, but what LA has is special: quality and quantity. Almost every one of those LA-only corner strip malls has a non-descript sushi place hiding inside. Every neighborhood has every different kind of sushi, from 'spensive to dirt-cheap. And in my experience, they're all pretty good. Personally, I tend to get similar things wherever I go: Albacore, Ahi, Shrimp, Octopus, Yellowtail…and maybe a roll or two. That's generally it, and 95% of the time, LA sushi comes through. Now consider this fact, Yelp! lists 496 sushi places within driving distance (5 miles) from my house. That's almost six-and-a-half sushi places per square mile. That's insane. But as I mentioned earlier, it presents an interesting challenge: the search. The Search For Great Sushi (starring Matt Glassman and Katy Abramson – due out in March 2011 on Fox Searchlight) culminated in a trip to Sushi Eyaki, a tiny little strip-mall sushi place on the corner of Highland and Wilshire.

Completely non-descript and mildly uninviting, Sushi Eyaki is one of the 496 within driving distance and it instantly became our favorite. The place is maybe 650 square feet, it seats, at most, 25 people, and the parking lot (that it shares with a Starbucks) is constantly full. It is our own little sushi secret. Large pieces of fish, not that much rice, fair prices, good sake, extremely friendly service (every time we're there, the sushi chef gives us free shit), and the best seaweed salad in Los Angeles.

And there's something special about finding your own little sushi secret in a town without any sushi-tact. We eat a lot of raw fish in this town, and we eat it almost everywhere. So, like uncovering the Shins eight years ago and treating them like my own band, I have a kinship with Sushi Eyaki that goes beyond the large portions of fish and unreal seaweed salad. I, and Katy, feel a sense of ownership with Eyaki, from the moment we decide to go there, to the moment we pick out our steel chopsticks. It is our little secret and I love it for that.

Now, our new place is within walking distance to Little Tokyo, an incredible 217 sushi places within walking distance. I will be exploring these ones. However, I already have a relationship, a very good one at that, with a place that we searched and subsequently conquered. I do take solace in knowing that Katy's new place is a scant 2.1 miles to Sushi Eyaki, and I will not be leaving it by the wayside, but as I begin to explore a new realm of LA sushi, I will miss that chase. I will miss seeking out the diamond in the rough, and finding it amongst the craziness of Wilshire in the sushi hotbed of Hollywood.

1 comment:

steven said...

I can't believe no one else reads this blog. Am I so bias and that is the reason I love it, or is it really good. At any rate Iam sad thinking that it's over at #1. I guess you will have to create a new list re: your new dwelling