A Legend Survives - The Return of the Master Class in Wonderful Sushi - Mori Sushi [Thoughts + Pics]

To say that 2020 was a tough year would be an understatement. The world is still in the midst of a global pandemic, but slowly recovering. Locally, numerous businesses were broken into, burned down, etc., last year when riots broke out during protests. While it may seem like a distant memory, all these things came back to light when we arrived at Mori Sushi for the first time in 2 years, since before COVID-19.

Walking up to the entrance, we noticed all of the windows and the door was boarded up:

Once inside, we were relieved to see everything immaculate and with no damage.

We were greeted by the ever welcoming Chef-Owner Masanori “Maru” Nagano. Concerned about the boarding up, Maru-san explained that Mori Sushi was also a victim of rioting and vandalism during 2020. The restaurant was broken into, windows smashed (as were neighboring stores as well). :frowning: Maru-san explained that 2020 was a tough year for Mori Sushi, as unlike other top Sushi restaurants locally, they decided not to do any takeout (except for a brief period, but ultimately decided that they couldn’t keep up their standards with to-go options, so they stopped).

Thankfully the breaking in and vandalism, along with zero income didn’t defeat Maru-san and Mori Sushi. They persevered and now with the state officially re-opening, they survived the lockdown and 2020, and are now re-open! :slight_smile:

Currently, Mori Sushi is running on a skeleton crew of Chef-Owner Maru-san and 1 front of the house staff. That’s it. They are 100% vaccinated, and only doing 2 seatings a night, socially distanced at the Sushi Bar. For this dinner, we were the only party, so this was almost like a private dining event just for us. :slight_smile:

Mori Sushi has been the pinnacle of Omakase Sushi in L.A. for many years. From the time of original Owner and Chef Morihiro Onodera (during the Chowhound days), to when he sold his eponymous restaurant to his protégé, Chef Masanori “Maru” Nagano and beyond, Mori Sushi has always represented the best in L.A. In fact the last few dinners we had with Maru-san prior to the pandemic just reinforced how the student has surpassed the master; he’s been nothing short of fantastic.

First, it was time for a celebration: A celebration of surviving 2020, of welcoming back one of L.A.'s great treasures (Maru-san and Mori Sushi), supporting the Sake industry again, and just enjoying some darn good Sake. :wink:

Kokuryu - Shizuku - Daiginjo Special Limited Sake (Fukui, Japan):

We have always enjoyed Kokuryu (“Black Dragon”) Sake, but this Shizuku Limited Edition bottling is on another level. Per the name, this particular Sake release is done by the Shizuku method, gravity-pressed, instead of hand-pressed. I’ve had Shizuku-style Sake before, but this Kokuryu Shizuku Limited is stunning:

Delicate fruity aromas, only lightly sweet, a round mouthfeel, and super clean, crisp finish. Wow! Absolutely lovely! :heart: (@ipsedixit @ColinMorey)

Kegani “Tartare”:

The opening course was beautifully presented. Maru-san de-shells Kegani (Japanese Hairy Crab), whips it with finely ground Okra(!) to create a similar mouthfeel to mixing Beef Tartare with an Egg Yolk, but here, it’s combined with his special Shoyu (Soy Sauce), Housemade Dashi, and topped with Ikura (Salmon Roe). Outstanding! :heart:

(Zensai Course) Hanasaki Crab; Mentaiko (Spicy Cod Roe) with Yama Imo (Grated Mountain Yam); Shishamo (Sweet Smelt); Toro to Takuan no Kunsei (Smoked Fatty Tuna Belly, Smoked Pickled Daikon); Umaki (Fresh Water Eel with Egg); Tomato & Baby Peach:

The Zensai Course is a signature highlight for Mori Sushi. Maru-san continues to celebrate the season and delight with this beautiful presentation. More importantly is the taste…

Hanasaki Crab (Hokkaido, Japan):

Maru-san explains that Hanasaki Crab is a very limited type of Crab each season (especially trying to get it outside of Japan). It’s sort of like a King Crab (in size), but different. I’ve never had this type of Crab before and was so excited to try this! :slight_smile:

The first bite:

Absolutely ridiculous.

First, this tastes super fresh. I have a feeling Maru-san flew this one live from Japan, because the Hanasaki Crab meat is so sweet and bright and fresh! :open_mouth: It has the sweetness of Dungeness Crab, but has better texture! It’s better than King Crab and Kegani (Japanese Hairy Crab). A real treat, and one of the Highlights of the Meal! :heart: :blush: :heart:

Mentaiko to Yama Imo (Spicy Cod Roe with Freshly Grated Mountain Yam):

Outstanding! Normally consuming a nice mouthful of Mentaiko straight up (with no Rice, Noodles, etc.) might be overwhelming, but here it’s masterfully tempered by freshly grated Mountain Yam, which quells and balances the entire bite. It’s got the gorgeous oceanic salinity and flavors, but melded and smoothed out by the sticky, silky Grated Mountain Yam. :blush:

The Kokuryu Shizuku Daiginjo Sake pairs beautifully with each bite in this Zensai Course. :slight_smile:

Shishamo Age (Deep Fried Sweet Smelt Fish) (Hokkaido, Japan):

Delicious. Perfectly fried, not greasy, Shishamo (Sweet Smelt Fish) are always a treat when cooked right, and Maru-san shows off great frying skills here.

Toro to Takuan no Kunsei (Smoked Fatty Tuna Belly with Smoked Pickled Daikon Radish):

Maru-san uses Apple Wood to smoke some Toro (Fatty Tuna Belly) and Takuan (Pickled Daikon Radish) in-house. This bite of Toro no Kunsei has an amazing deep smokiness that doesn’t overwhelm the palate, and it retains a real pleasing fattiness in each bite. It is incredible! :heart:

The Takuan no Kunsei is also really enjoyable, deeply smoky but taking on a fun texture (still some of that signature crunch), but softer and meatier. :slight_smile:

Umaki (Unagi Tamago Maki) (Fresh Water Eel with Japanese Egg Omelet):

This Umaki was a fun little bite: You get the almost creamy, rich Unagi (Fresh Water Eel) flavor, but complemented quite nicely by Maru-san’s Tamago (Egg).

Farmers Market Cherry Tomato with Wakamomo (Japanese Baby Peach):

And to finish things off, it might seem like a simple bite, but it celebrates the season: The Farmers Market Cherry Tomato is perfectly ripe. True, in-season, ripe Tomatoes are such a beautiful bite to eat (nothing like the mass-produced, tasteless, watery Tomatoes seen year round). This bite is sweet, tart, real umami flavor coming through. and the Wakamomo (Japanese Baby Peach) is also quite sweet and tasty.

(Osuimono Course) Amaebi Shinjo (Sweet Shrimp Cake in Housemade Clear Dashi Broth):

While a standard Ebi Shinjo (Shrimp Meatball) is tasty and a common occurrence, Maru-san decides to take fresh Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp) from Japan, grinds it up to make his own Housemade “Amaebi Shinjo” (or Sweet Shrimp Meatball), topping it with Sakura Zuke (Pickled Japanese Cherry Blossoms) in a glorious crystal clear Housemade Dashi Broth with Avocado (to reflect local seasonal produce). The result?

Stupid good. :blush:

The Amaebi Shinjo is super fluffy, genuinely inherently sweet(ish) (from the fresh Sweet Shrimp from Japan), the Sakura Zuke (Pickled Japanese Cherry Blossom) is a beautiful touch visually, but more importantly, has a lovely pop of floral, piquant flavor, reflecting the Sakura (Cherry Blossom) season that just wrapped up in Japan. The Broth is incredible, super light but complementing each bite and the fresh, ripe Avocado slices work: It may not be “traditional” in Japan, but this is reflecting California’s in-season produce and it really works. It adds this lovely creaminess. :heart:

What’s this? We’re out of Sake already?! :open_mouth: :sweat_smile:

We’re only on the opening appetizer courses and we’ve killed the outstanding Kokuryu Shizuku Sake already. I think we did a little too much celebrating. :sweat: What to do?

Tatsuriki - Akitsu - Junmai Daiginjo Sake (Hyogo, Japan):

I had remembered @ColinMorey’s recommendation for other stellar Tatsuriki Sake offerings after their Nihon no Sakura (Cherry Blossoms of Japan) Sake blew me away a few years ago! They were sold out of Tatsuriki’s Yokawa Yoneda Sake (darn), but it was time for celebrating! Let’s just go one step up with the Akitsu. :slight_smile:

The box and presentation alone is ridiculous. You can tell Tatsuriki cares about each of their bottles. The wooden box that this comes in is beautifully sanded down, soft on the touch, but humble at the same time.

Maru-san also pointed out the Sanada Himo strings that were used to tie this Sake box together. He mentioned it has cultural and historical significance and it’s not just for looks and to throw away later. We kept the box and Sanada Himo strings. :slight_smile:

Gorgeous packaging, bottle and label, but thankfully the taste was even better! Using 100% Yamada Nishiki Rice, this is quite a bit more complex, floral and dry compared to the Kokuryu Shizuku Daiginjo we just had. The finish is gorgeous and this is one of the best Sake I’ve ever had in my life! :heart: :blush: :heart: Thanks @ColinMorey. Do not miss this all you Sake lovers out there! :slight_smile: (@ipsedixit @A5KOBE @Porthos @attran99 and all.)

Time for Sushi! :slight_smile:

Tai no Kobujime - Wild Red Snapper wrapped in Konbu - Kochi, Japan:

A favorite starter for Mori Sushi, the Tai is lightly meaty, delicate, clean, but also there’s a pleasing rich flavor backnote coming through.

But more importantly, from the very first piece of Sushi, the strength of Mori Sushi appears loud and clear:

The Shari (Sushi Rice) is stunning! Maru-san uses Sasanishiki Rice from Japan for his Shari. It is toothsome, there’s real structure, it’s not overly mushy, nor too dry. You can taste the individual grains of Rice. It is considered the most important part of Sushi for a reason and Maru-san’s Sushi Rice is easily the best in L.A. :heart:

Hotate - Scallop - Hokkaido, Japan:

There’s nostalgia, there’s happiness, a feeling of gratitude that we got through 2020 and are fortunate enough to enjoy this absolutely stunning, silky, flawless Hotategai (Scallop) from Hokkaido. It is one of the best Hotate offerings that I can remember. Another highlight of the evening! :heart: :blush: :heart:

Mizu Tako - Mizu Octopus - Hokkaido, Japan:

Maru-san shares that he spent about 40 minutes straight tenderizing the Mizu Tako (Mizu Octopus) from Hokkaido in preparation of this piece of Sushi. :open_mouth: It is soft and tender, with only a slight meaty chew. Pleasant.

Aji - Horse Mackerel - Kyushu, Japan:

Inherently oily (but not overwhelmingly so), rich, lovely flavor. Loved this! :heart:

Amadai - Tilefish - Ehime, Japan:

Beautiful texture and mouthfeel. It’s got a little bit of fattiness but remains on the leaner side. :slight_smile:

Hata - Grouper - Kyushu, Japan:

There’s a bit of meatiness and slight chew, leading to some tenderness but a nice deep flavor as well (not oiliness).

Kanpachi - Great Amberjack - Kyushu, Japan:

Robust flavor, some fattiness with lean, lovely. Another highlight of the evening! :heart: :blush:

Maguro Zuke - Marinated Bluefin Tuna - North Carolina, U.S.A.:

Stellar! Maru-san transforms this Maguro (Tuna) with the in-house marination, creating a deeply savory bite.

Masu - Ocean Trout - Tasmania:

Just look at the gorgeous color (above)! :slight_smile: Fatty, creamy, but not overwhelmingly so. :heart:

At this point, our server gently mentions that we were out of Sake. What the… ?! :open_mouth: :sweat_smile: How did a 2nd bottle of Sake disappear this fast?

It was really pleasant to catch up with Maru-san and hear about how Mori Sushi was doing, what he did to overcome 2020 and just chat about various topics on Fish, Sushi and beyond. Well, I guess we still had more Sushi and more celebrating to do so…

Tatsuriki - Nihon no Sakura (Cherry Blossoms of Japan) - Junmai Daiginjo Sake (Hyogo, Japan):

One of our favorite Sake, this is the bottle that made us fall in love with Tatsuriki Sake in the first place. Nihon no Sakura features 24k Gold Sakura-shaped flowers that are hand cut and placed into each bottle(!). Obviously overlooking the bling factor, the Sake itself is wonderful. But having it back-to-back-to-back with 2 very good Sake, and I’d have to say our beloved Nihon no Sakura might be in 3rd place (but still SO tasty!). :slight_smile:

The immediate mouthfeel is smooth and round, but it’s richer, a bit more floral and punchier than both the Kokuryu Shizuku Daiginjo Limited, and the Tatsuriki Akitsu. It was still lovely to drink, but then we tried it with the Sushi coming next and it paired beautifully! It fit this next section so well… :heart:

Nodoguro - Blackthroat Sea Perch - Shimane, Japan:

One of Maru-san’s favorite Fish, it was thanks to Maru-san years ago that we got introduced to Nodoguro and fell in love with it as well. I had very high expectations. Taking a bite:

Truly luscious. Fatty, creamy, absolutely beautiful and beyond the best bite I’ve ever had for Nodoguro! #1 Highlight of the Evening! :heart: :heart: :heart: (@paranoidgarliclover @foodshutterbug @ColinMorey @ipsedixit and all!) Do not miss this.

Maru-san said he sourced a hyper seasonal offering for this Nodoguro (it’s a special type that’s very hard to get). And given the taste, I can believe it. Wow. :heart:

Saba - Mackerel - Nagasaki, Japan:

Naturally oily, rich, oceanic, lovely! :heart: And this paired beautifully with the Tatsuriki Nihon no Sakura Sake. I couldn’t believe how well this tasted! :blush:

Ohtoro - Fattiest Tuna Belly - North Carolina, U.S.A.:

Ultra fatty and luscious. :heart:

Iwashi - Sardine - Hokkaido, Japan:

Maru-san’s Iwashi (Sardine) offerings are legendary. He manages to source great quality Iwashi but also manages to coax ridiculous flavor from them as well. Today’s Iwashi was outstanding: Deep flavor, inherently oily, but less pungent than Saba (Mackerel). It’s got some fattiness and is SO good! :heart: :blush:

It can never be overstated, but Maru-san’s Shari (Rice) continues to do the heavy lifting in the background, elevating each piece of Sushi and really allowing you to enjoy each bite even more.

Kamasu - Barracuda - Oita, Japan:

Beautiful smokiness, tender, creamy within. :heart:

Amaebi - Sweet Shrimp - Kagoshima, Japan:

Plump, meaty, firm but yielding. How I missed Amaebi! :heart:

Kinmedai - Splendid Alfonsino - Chiba, Japan:

Maru-san does a quick grill to impart some gentle smokiness, but keeps it intact otherwise. The Kinmedai has some nice meatiness, but tender and has some richness.

Kurodai - Black Snapper - Seattle, U.S.A.:

It is at once meaty, but still lush tender. It is incredible. :heart: :blush: :heart:

Bafun Uni to Yama Imo - Bafun Sea Urchin with Fresh Grated Mountain Yam - Hokkaido, Japan:

The Bafun Uni is flawless. Sweet, vibrant, zero bad oceanic aftertaste that comes with Uni that’s not fresh (which plagues far too many Uni offerings out there)). The Yama Imo (Freshly Grated Mountain Yam) adds more silky creaminess, the Shiso Leaf is gorgeous and fragrant, but it’s the special Nori (Seaweed) that Maru-san gets from Saga, Japan that needs to be celebrated.

Seriously, it is the BEST Nori out of any Sushi-ya in town. It’s not even close. Crispy, crunchy it is absurd! :heart: :blush: :heart: Another highlight of the evening!

We reached the normal end of the Omakase meal, but we still had more conversations and celebrating to do so, time for the bonus round! :slight_smile:

Hotate - Scallop - Hokkaido, Japan:

As great as the 1st round. Silky, tender, it was no fluke. :heart:

Iwashi - Sardine - Hokkaido, Japan:

I kept thinking, “How could this be even better than the 1st round Iwashi?!” Incredible! Oily, fatty, SO GOOD! :heart: :blush: :heart:

Nodoguro - Blackthroat Sea Perch - Shimane, Japan:

And of course we had to get one more round of the best piece of the night: Nodoguro (Blackthroat Sea Pearch). It was just as luxurious, creamy, fatty and flawless as the first time! :heart: :heart: :heart:

Warabi Mochi - Pounded Bracken Flour Dessert with Sweet Matcha:

Maru-san makes his Warabi Mochi by hand, pounding Warabiko (Bracken Starch) to create a tender, lightly chewy, but yielding dessert covered in a fragrant sweet and earthy Matcha Green Tea powder. A nice way to finish the evening.

The pandemic saw the closure of countless restaurants around the world. Mori Sushi could’ve been one of the casualties, not only because they weren’t offering any takeout (given the quality standards Maru-san wanted to maintain), but also because the restaurant got broken into and vandalized during the rioting. But Chef-Owner Masanori “Maru” Nagano perservered, and Mori Sushi survived and is now back, and we are all the better for it.

Dining with Maru-san is like taking a master class in Sushi, but without the pressure of taking finals. :wink: You are treated to outstanding knife skills, excellent quality seafood, and the best Shari (Sushi Rice) in town. The Sake list is outstanding and we had some of the best Sake we’ve ever had on this evening. But more importantly, beyond that, you’re treated to an affable, inviting Sushi Chef in Maru-san, who is more than happy to chat with you about Sushi, various seasonal patterns of Fish, or just life in general. Here’s to many more wonderful dinners in the future.

Mori Sushi
11500 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tel: (310) 479-3939


Update 1: A Return Visit in early 2022. Spectacular!

Update 2: More wonderful eats for start of Spring 2022.

Update 3: The best Aji I’ve ever had; Jikinme, Albacore Belly and more - Summer 2022!


Just beautiful. May I ask which omakase this was (I was just checking Mori’s website)?

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Nice in depth report and update on Mori Sushi! Thank you for your support of them, and for sake! I’m sure Maru san appreciated the support a lot.

Yeah, businesses have been hit hard up here in Northern California too. One ramen restaurant in our Mitsuwa plaza had their front door smashed, iPads and phones/ordering system stolen, then a week before, their outdoor dining tent stolen… all happened a few months ago.

How much was the premium omakase per person and were any of the nigiri add on’s?
Surprised you didn’t get tamagoyaki (or did you cry uncle after nodoguro, that’s quite a bit of food?)

Mori Sushi is a huge supporter for Tatsuriki sake, and Honda Shoten knows this for sure, they will be very happy of your support of their sake as well.
Glad you enjoyed those bottles!

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Hi @paranoidgarliclover,

Thank you. :slight_smile: This was the Premium Omakase. I think Maru-san is only offering either Premium versions right now (but check with the staff when you call). I think it’s more so that he can have a consistent menu / workflow as the business is slowly opening back up (as opposed to juggling 4 different Omakase branches each evening when he has no chef assistants working right now (just himself)).

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Hi @ColinMorey,

Thanks, and thank you for the great Sake recommendations. :blush:

I’m so sorry to hear about the businesses in Northern California also hit by riots and vandalism. :frowning: That’s just awful to hear about (even their outdoor dining tent was stolen?!). So sad. It must be demoralizing. :frowning:

Mori Sushi’s Premium Omakase usually starts at $275 / person. We let him know way ahead of time that we wanted to celebrate Mori Sushi re-opening, Maru-san himself and all of us getting through 2020, so we told him any extra surprises are fine. :wink: (Probably how we get Hanasaki Crab showing up - I had no idea.) All the nigiri after the Bafun Uni & Yama Imo w/ Nori were Bonus Round. :slight_smile:

The Sake bottles made the math hard :sweat_smile: (I didn’t keep the itemized receipt), but I think it ended up being roughly $325 per person before tax & tip (and we left a generous tip).

Tamagoyaki: Oh I think that had to do with the more casual / welcoming “private dinner” (since there was no reservation for the other seating at the other end of the bar). So we were treating Maru-san to all 3 bottles throughout the night, and when he was about to wrap up, I think I might have blurted out “Nodoguro kudasai!” :sweat_smile:, so he kept the nigiri sushi flowing (skipping the Tamagoyaki), going into Bonus Round.

And yes, we were so beyond full before the Bonus Round (in hindsight), but I blame the Sake. We just wanted to keep supporting this small business and the Sake industry. Darn you @ColinMorey! :wink: :stuck_out_tongue: The Tatsuriki Akitsu was amazing! :heart:

Now that we’ve tried the Nihon no Sakura and Akitsu bottles, is the Yokawa Yoneda still worth trying next time? Thanks!


Thank you! I doubt I will ever enjoy eating this IRL, but it was amazing to look at and read!

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Tatsuriki Yokawa Yoneda Junmai Daiginjo is actually the better sake for sushi pairing. I love Nihon No Sakura, but for me it works better with lighter flavored fish.

I’m told the aging on the Yokawa Yoneda prior to release is a bit longer, but have also heard rumors it might not be exported, though Maru san can probably confirm with the distributor for you.

Also Yokawa Yoneda is a different plot of Yamada Nishiki. So the quality and taste of the sake is different in a great way. They use organic fertilizer for cultivation.

You can also perhaps ask to special order Tatsuriki Kinkai and Tatsuriki Kami Tojo, which will be a bit cheaper than Yokawa and maybe $100 cheaper than Akitsu, just ask Maru san for availability and pricing. These are niche/regional Junmai Daiginjo that are limited but they are possibly older bottlings, worth a try. Have fun!

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Thanks @shrinkrap. :slight_smile: If you ever end up visiting LA and feel like great sushi, then this is the place you need to visit. :wink:

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Hi @ColinMorey,

Oh wow, so Yokawa Yoneda might not even be exported normally? You called it then, since Maru-san has it on his Sake Menu. I’m guessing he has a great relationship with the brewery. He did mention to us a few years ago (when he introduced Nihon no Sakura to us) that he had visited the brewery and saw them making Nihon no Sakura (including hand cutting the Gold Sakura flowers). :sweat_smile:

I will definitely try Yokawa Yoneda next time then! I haven’t forgotten. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the recommendation on Kinkai and Kami Tojo. These sound distinct as well. Would you say Tatsuriki has one of the strongest lineups that you’ve tried? (I really liked Akitsu, Nihon no Sakura already…)

Oh yah, and what did you think of Akitsu? :slight_smile:

Thanks again. My brother lives there, and I lived there for a bit. I’m now in Nor Cal and have to think about why I don’t go more often. Could this be a reason to go? Even for just a day or two? And my brother, if course.


@Chowseeker1999 have you tried OG Mori’s new place in Silver Lake?

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Hi @Sgee,

I have tried it twice for Takeout during 2020. You might have noticed I didn’t post about it; or to follow in @ipsedixit’s footsteps, “I liked the decor of the place.” :stuck_out_tongue: :sweat_smile:

In all seriousness, we weren’t going to hold Mori’s new place under scrutiny during the height of the pandemic for Takeout only, but it was… not so good. We love Mori-san (he’s so nice and a great itamae), but after the Takeout experience (twice) and the fact his Omakase starts at $350 - 400 per person minimum? I’m not in a hurry to try it yet.

Did you try it? What did you think?

And lastly, even when Mori-san returned out of retirement (at Shiki Beverly Hills), we felt his student, Maru-san at Mori Sushi, has surpassed him.

I’m in the same boat following my experience during his Japan house stint :laughing:

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Sounds like a lovely meal. I am looking forward to an omakase sushi meal after having takeout for a year and half. When you mentioned since the chow hound days I recall one long time poster there who I have not seen post in quite a while, silverjay, was very knowledgeable about Japanese food. After one thread where I had written about sushi and sake pairings, he weighed in by noting that the Japanese don’t have sake with sushi. Apparently this is viewed as having rice with rice. Americans are used to doing this because the only place you ever see good sake is in sushi places so we developed the association. I was told more traditional to have tea or beer. So now I have sake at times but more often go with a crisp Japanese lager. Actually goes quite nicely.

If you have a link to that post of his I would love to read it.

If coming from a historical context, I am not entirely sure about that. If we are talking about nigiri starting off as a street food snack during the Edo period then of course it was likely not served together then. You would go to some izakaya for that (yes even during the Edo period, they had izakaya that focused on drinking and food was served).

But it is inaccurate to say Japanese do not have sake with sushi, because sake is prevalent at literally any sushi restaurant in Tokyo, even in some of the most traditional Edomae sushi restaurants that are not Michelin rated. Some chefs have been known in circles to show some judgement to those who want to drink wine (although that has changed recently, you may find places that will also sell wine, shochu (either rice based shochu or sweet potato base).

The iconic Sushi Sho in Tokyo when Nakazawa san was at Yotsuya (now in Waikiki), he came up with the concept of interspersing appetizers with nigiri, so to facilitate beverage pairings that included sake. The other caveat to that concept is that Nakazawa san may even have also worked in a sake brewery in the past, not sure but his disciple Shingo of Takumi Shingo did for sure. There are actual proven sake pairings with sushi/nigiri, and even Japanese youtube videos of sake sommliers doing single shot sake pairings for each course including soup at the end.

Sake is also a vital ingredient used in cooking, in the reduction in cooking anago (as well as bones/carcass), and the flavor profiles are designed to pair even better with sake. You are not pairing sake with the flavor of the rice, but certain vinegared sushi rice profiles will facilitate that with a mix of salt, sour, and some umami and/or sweetness depending on the recipe and outcome).


Hi @BKeats,

Thanks. Yah I’d agree with @ColinMorey’s excellent post. I’m not sure the concept of only Americans drink sake with sushi. Every single sushi restaurant we visited in Japan served sake and the chefs were encouraging it, from high end Michelin 3 Star to hole-in-the-wall mom & pop shops.

Add in the fact that I’ve experienced numerous omakase meals curated by very serious, talented itamae (all trained in Japan) who actually also have sake pairings and recommendations, and I don’t think they’re trying to sell only to Americans for the sake of money. The pairings were genuinely spot on and they partake with us as well. :slight_smile:

But yes, I enjoy a crisp lager with sushi as well. :blush: Enjoy!

Maybe not the CH thread @BKeats is referring to, but:

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Thanks for the link. As much as I respect SilverJay for his in depth historical knowledge, I would have to respectfully disagree with the statement.

Sushi restaurants pretty much always offer sake (even Sukiyabashi Jiro has one single sake offering), and even the most traditional old school shops in Tokyo have one (or more) offerings even if the sake could be unmarked on the menu. Now in terms of the preference of the customer, that is also changing as even some random shops carry wine as well (even if it might not match properly). There is a youtube vlogger of sushi in Tokyo, he orders and gets sake during lunch or dinner, and he could also be starting with a beer to refresh and set his own tone and pacing for the meal. If this has actually changed in the last 15 or so years then that’s not something that’s publicized. Though it could also be certain age demographics that do not drink sake with sushi, but that could also be an inaccurate portrayal or summary.

Sushi Sho Yotsuya (and the founder’s numerous disciples who have become independent since then) serve small bites/appetizers interspersed with sushi to facilitate pairings with sake, shochu, beer (or champagne in some cases). The original Sushi Sho Yotsuya has been around since the Iron Chef competition (or a bit earlier), so that pre-dates the comment SJ made. So with that said, these points all contradict the generalization.


I’ll add the otsumami courses at higher end sushi bars tend to be very sake friendly. Here in the US, Noz in NYC IMO is notably sake friendly and they’ve got a great sommelier for pairing assistance. I always get wasted here :disappointed:

Additionally I find the aged neta you’re starting to see more of in the US is also sake friendly IMO. I too read the myth many years ago about the no sake pairing and think there is absolutely no truth to that

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And that’s wrong, how?

I mean, I have to admit, I love me some Karelian paired with a bowl of Risalamande. It’s like a Scandinavian dessert daily-double.

And really, nothing is as comforting as a warm bowl of congee with a big overstuffed zongzi.