Sushi bars, like Ramen shops, have become ubiquitous, with the news of a new Sushi bar opening up being met with more yawns than excitement most of the time. But for Sushi Kaneyoshi, reading how they wanted to present an Edomae Sushi restaurant, along with the austere, but beautiful Sushi bar, built from scratch, and genuine inviting words on their website, that made it stand out from most news stories of Sushi bar openings and got our attention.
Sushi Kaneyoshi is the first independent endeavor from Chef-Owner Yoshiyuki Inoue. Chatting with Inoue-san (or Yoshi-san as he encouraged us to call him), he had previously worked at Mori Sushi, during the earlier years when OG Chef Morihiro Onodera was there. He said he learned a lot from Mori-san, and he also mentioned working at some mom and pop restaurants around the South Bay, and prior to that, in Tokyo, at a few “small restaurants.” Looking at their website, it seems one of those “small” Tokyo restaurants was Sushi Kuwano (Michelin 1 Star), interesting.
Walking into the Sushi bar for dine-in, Kaneyoshi has created transparent plexiglass dividers, not only between customer and Itamae, but also between every 2 seats to help minimize exposure between customers (although the dividers are rather short).
Beyond that, the Sushi bar itself is beautiful and minimalist. Clean lines, some under lighting, and it was just the bar, with no tables. It reminded us of some of the old-school, high end Sushi bars in Tokyo.
Perusing the Sake menu, it’s a rather limited selection, but we were hopeful that there’d be some nice bottles to pair with our food this evening.
Kamoshibito Kuheiji - Eau du Desir - Junmai Daiginjo Sake (Aichi, Japan):
We liked that they let you choose your own ochoko for drinking, a nice touch:
The Kuheiji was something we brought in ($50 corkage fee), and this was a fun “sparkling” Sake, that was rather unique. The effervescence was fantastic, even more fizzy than a great Spring Muroka Nama Genshu like Shichida’s seasonal offering, but here, in a Junmai Daiginjo from Aichi. Refreshing, delicate, not overly floral, this actually turned out to to pair quite nicely with the first two courses.
Tachiuo - Beltfish - Tempura + Caviar (Chiba, Japan):
Perfectly fried, light, crispy, airy, the Tachiuo was tender and moist, with the Caviar adding just the right amount of salinity to balance out the bite.
Kegani Chawanmushi with Crab “Butter” - Japanese Hairy Crab Steamed Egg (Hokkaido, Japan):
The one disappointing dish on this visit, the Kegani (Japanese Hairy Crab) Chawanmushi was delicious on the first bite: Extremely silky smooth, tender, supple Steamed Egg, the Kegani was bright and fresh-tasting.
However, the “Crab Butter” (basically Tomalley) used here threw off the balance (and I like Tomalley in general): This particular bit was extremely pungent, off-putting oceanic flavors that really overpowered this dish (it tasted like perhaps a bit of bad luck / a piece of Tomalley from a section that was starting to age too quickly perhaps?). But otherwise, the Chawamushi was truly outstanding!
In addition, 2 big pieces of Crab Shell (nearly cut my mouth, I caught it in time before I bit down too hard) were in my portion. Our friends didn’t have any shell in their portions, so I’m sure it was just bad luck on my part.
(Note: Using Chef Inoue’s naming convention for all fish to keep it consistent with reporting on the experience he was serving to us.)
Smoked Katsuo - Skipjack (Bonito) (Mie, Japan):
Inoue-san said that this was Katsuo (“Skipjack”) smoked in Cherry Wood with a Plum Sauce and Shiso Flowers. This was a lightly smoky bite, nice meaty, yet soft texture.
Nodoguro - Ocean Perch (Blackthroat Sea Perch) (Nagasaki, Japan):
First, the Nori (Seaweed) wrapper that Inoue-san uses is fantastic! Super crispy-crunchy, it is amazing and on par with Maru-san’s Nori at Mori Sushi. It makes a huge difference.
Second, the Nodoguro was nothing short of outstanding. Just enough fattiness, delicate smoke from the light sear on top. I wanted to order another one immediately.
Chiyomusubi - Shizuku - Daiginjo Sake (Tottori, Japan):
Chatting it up with Inoue-san, it turns out his favorite Sake on his menu (and the one he strongly recommended to pair with most of the courses coming up) was Chiyomusubi Daiginjo. Far be it for us to second guess the Itamae, so we ordered this (our first time trying it).
It turns out this Sake is very round, very floral, light fruity notes, with a lingering finish that was smooth and clean, but the aroma was still there for quite a while. It’s a good Sake, but it didn’t seem to pair that well with the upcoming bites surprisingly (just for our palates). On its own, it felt like a quintessential “great Daiginjo Sake”. And that was great.
Ankimo - Monkfish Liver:
Absurd. One of the best preparations of Ankimo I’ve ever had! Super silky, almost the texture of Flan, so delicate. This was more enjoyable than many Foie Gras dishes. Highlight of the evening!
The Chiyomusubi Daiginjo paired fantastically with the Ankimo.
Time for Sushi!
Note: Inoue-san’s Ginger is standout. Bracing salinity and just enough piquant, it was a real palate cleanser.
Kasugodai - Baby Red Snapper:
Tender, delicate fleshed fish, the standout here was the Shari (Sushi Rice): Wow, this was very close to the greatness that is Maru-san’s Shari at Mori Sushi. You could taste each grain, it was toothsome, not overly mushy, nor too dry, just the right amount of seasoning to accentuate the fish. Wonderful!
Ajj - Spanish Mackerel (Kyushu, Japan):
One thing that stood out for Sushi Kaneyoshi and Inoue-san’s style was his Nikiri (the Sauce used to finish various pieces of Sushi at a Sushi bar). Every Itamae has their own style, and Inoue-san’s is definitely on the savory / saline side, which reminded us of Sushi Yoshizumi’s style, which was quite pleasant to find here in So Cal, as it’s a rarer style seen locally.
As a pairing note, the Chiyomusubi Sake did not pair well with the Kasugodai nor the Aji, but was still enjoyable on its own.
Kamasu - Barracuda (Kanegawa, Japan):
The direct searing of the Kamasu (Barracuda) by charcoal was a nice touch. This lent a beautiful delicate smokiness, activating the oils / fat and really enhancing this piece.
Kanpachi - Amberjack (Kyushu, Japan):
This was fine. Some meatiness, some inherent fattiness to the bite as well.
Amaebi - Sweet Shrimp (Hokkaido, Japan):
The Amaebi was served with a bit of Miso marinade, and overall it was a pleasing bite, but we preferred the Amaebi texture and preparation we had recently at Mori Sushi more.
Kokuryu - Ryu - Gold Dragon - Daiginjo Sake (Fukui, Japan):
With the limited Sake menu, Inoue-san recommended Kokuryu “Ryu” - Gold Dragon Daiginjo Sake next. We were hoping this was a bit better (for pairing) than the Chiyomusubi. We’ve had Kokuryu (which means “Black Dragon”) many times before, but not the Gold Dragon. This was less round, sharper, more minerality, but smooth and with a cleaner finish. This was more enjoyable on its own, and it paired decently with the next few bites.
Hotate - Scallop (Aomori, Japan):
A rather unusual offering for Hotate: Usually Hotate (Scallop) served from most of our local high end shops are from Hokkaido, Japan. Today’s Hotate was actually from Aomori, which I’ve never had before. Neat.
This had some of the soft, Scallop-like textures, but it lacked the silky vibrancy of the best Hokkaido offerings. A different preparation for sure, but appreciated.
Hon Maguro - Bluefin Tuna (Boston, U.S.A.):
Inoue-san ages this Hon Maguro (Bluefin Tuna) for 8-9 days before serving. This had great texture, and a richer, deeper, more savory flavor than usual Tuna Sushi offerings. Excellent!
The Shari (Rice) continues to stand out, and this paired well with the Kokuryu Gold Dragon.
Ohtoro - Fattiest Tuna Belly (Boston, U.S.A.):
Luscious, fatty, rich, outstanding.
Iwashi - Sardine (Chiba, Japan):
I love a good Iwashi (Sardine) prep, and Inoue-san’s is very good. Inherently oily, lightly pungent (in a good way), this wasn’t as enjoyable as the best Iwashi preparations from Maru-san at Mori Sushi, but still quite wonderful.
Uni - Sea Urchin, Two Ways:
(Right) Bafun Uni - Bafun Sea Urchin (Iwate, Japan):
The sweeter, richer of the two types of Uni, this was our favorite between both.
(Left) Murasaki Uni (Hokkaido, Japan):
We’ve had Murasaki Uni (Hokkaido) many times before at various restaurants. Today’s offering was a bit more briny (in a bad way) than we’d prefer. Uni’s shelf life is very limited, and today’s Murasaki was a miss.
Anago - Sea Eel:
Perfectly cooked, lovely texture, not overly sweet.
Ankimo Maki - Monkfish Liver Roll:
A rather unusual, but so delicious Handroll, this was the delicate Ankimo (Monkfish Liver) mixed with Rice and that super crunchy Nori (Seaweed) wrapper. Highlight!
Chirashi Futomaki (Everything Roll):
In a really neat way to wrap up the evening, Inoue-san creates a sort of “Everything Roll”, taking a cut of almost every single fish that was served and rolling it up (along with his Tamago (Egg)). It’s a filling, tasty bite.
Amadai Dashi - Beltfish Soup:
A beautiful, warming, delicate Amadai (Beltfish) Soup was a nice accompaniment to the Futomaki at the end.
In a bit of a surprise and slight disappointment, but totally understandable, Sushi Kaneyoshi has no “extra fish” for any “bonus round” Sushi at the end of your Omakase. It seems Inoue-san adheres to a strict, and old-school mentality of stocking just enough fish for the exact # of customers that evening. It actually reminded me of a few Sushi bars we tried in Tokyo, where they had a set course, and they had exactly the right amount of pieces of each fish for that evening, nothing more, nothing less.
So that’s actually normal and expected in places like Tokyo, and I totally respect that methodology, but for local expectations for Omakase, this may be a bit of a surprise and initially disappointing that there are no other fish to add-on, nor seconds of previous fish. But no matter, as we were stuffed by the end of the evening regardless.
(Bonus) Kappa Temaki - Cucumber Handroll:
Even asking for an extra Handroll wasn’t possible, however, in our conversations with Inoue-san, it turns out, he loves a good Kappa Temaki (Cucumber Handroll), so we asked if he could make us one. He happily obliged.
It may seem a bit “basic,” but Inoue-san’s Cucumber Handroll was absolutely delicious! Superbly, thinly sliced Cucumber, so fresh and bright, Sesame Seeds, his Nikiri Sauce, freshly-grated Wasabi, his excellent Sushi Rice and the crispy-crunchy Nori? Fantastic!
Service at Sushi Kaneyoshi was fine: Our Sake was constantly refilled quickly, a nice touch, but our Tea, and Ginger never were. Even Inoue-san, setting down our Sushi as he finished making it, never noticed that we didn’t have any more Ginger. It’s a minor quibble, but worth noting for those wondering how service was for this fine dining experience. At $250 (+ tax & tip) per person just for the Omakase Sushi, it’s on the pricier side, but in line with many of the top end Sushi joints around town.
Sushi Kaneyoshi for dine-in Omakase is nothing short of outstanding: Chef-Owner Yoshiyuki Inoue may not have a super showy pedigree, but what matters is his skill and dedication to the craft, and it shows in spades here. There is definitely a more austere, Edomae-quality to Kaneyoshi’s Sushi, and this is a good thing. The sourcing of the fish, the preparation and dining experience all stand out.
Inoue-san is quiet, humble, but open and glad to answer questions and chat if you wish to engage. His Shari (Sushi Rice) is standout besting local favorites like Shunji and Shin Sushi. The Nikiri is unique and leans towards the school of Yoshizumi.
In the future, seeing the limited Sake menu expand with more selections would be nice. The hiccup with the Kegani Chawanmushi was noteworthy, but it was only one dish. The lack of any bonus round fish might put off some bigger eaters who want extra rounds for Omakase.
But at the end of the day, those are minor quibbles. The skill, dedication and inviting experience from Chef-Owner Inoue, from the outstanding Shari (Rice), to the knife skills and preparation of the various Fish, to the little touches like the super-crisp-crunchy Nori (Seaweed) all add up to Sushi Kaneyoshi being a standout experience, easily rocketing to the top tier for Sushi in L.A.
250 E 1st Street, B1
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 277-2388