Sushi Showman

“Oh, it’s on. Get in there right now,” says a friend stumbling out of Kifune, a sushi restaurant off Washington Boulevard in Marina del Rey.

“Is he back on the Jack?” we ask.

“He is! And he’s peaking.”

For a while, sushi chef Hide (like Hee-day) stopped drinking Jack Daniel’s, limiting himself to just a few “Japanese mineral waters” (Sapporo) and some hot sake. But Jack-and-Coke is his poison, and after he’s had three or four, you’re in for a show miles more entertaining than any at Benihana.

Hide starts off with a little Elvis — it’s always the same: “Wise men say, onry fools rush in . . .”

Hide has a partner, Shoe (like shoe), who smiles and his eyes become two half-moons. Though Shoe’s side of the bar is quieter, like he is, every now and then Shoe pipes in with something that takes you by surprise. Together, they’re like a Japanese Laurel and Hardy, some kind of sushi vaudeville team.

One night, a burly man in leather pants, with solid-silver skull rings on every finger and a motorcycle chain for a bracelet, sat next to me and recounted the days when Hide was a busboy at Kifune, more than 20 years ago. Now Hide, nearly 50, is the head sushi chef and beloved by Venice locals.

As Hide gets deeper into his Jack-and-Cokes, it’s common for free bits of raw fish to fall from the sky onto your plate.

Hide usually ends with his grand finale, the “Bad Ass Mutherfucker Huge Dick Roll.” And when the restaurant closes, those left standing make their way into the main bar area, where Hide pours free Sapporos and keeps the party going. If you’re really lucky, Hide might flash his “shocking pink” (his nipples) at you.


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