Eating sushi and sashimi every day is probably not a good thing, lest you want to contract Jeremy Piven Disease. But it is something most of us wish we could eat more frequently than we actually do. Money, unfortunately, is required, and going for the cheap stuff is not recommended. Sure, places like Hide Sushi offer edible and relatively inexpensive versions, but do that too frequently and you'll forget what the good stuff actually tastes like. That's where lunch comes in. The fish is fresher in the afternoon, and some of the best spots in the city have some surprisingly affordable lunch specials. One interesting way to go is chirashi, a bowl of seasoned sushi rice topped with an assortment of sashimi and other enjoyable bits. Today, we look at two versions of the dish, via highly regarded spots Kiyokawa and Mori.
Kiyokawa, an unassuming organic sushi restaurant on Robertson, received a much appreciated (and very warranted) boost from our own Mr. Gold recently. It also doesn't' hurt that Satoshi Kiyokawa is one of the nicest and most sincere sushi chefs around, making it all the more confusing to read the odd tale of his arrest. While they have a delicious and immensely affordable omakase, their chirashi is cheaper and faster. The variety is nice, with four kinds of fresh, tender fish, along with scallops, shrimp, eel and the delightful addition of uni. The shiso leaf, a popular addition to chirashi, is enjoyed here as well. The dish feels simultaneously upscale and oddly working class, delicate and hearty, with thick cuts of fish supported by a mound of fan-cooled rice grains. At $17 the amount of care, and quality seafood, feels like a steal.
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Mori received a Michelin star in both 2008 and 2009, and an omakase here can set you back a pretty penny. Thus it is surprising to find that their chirashi lunch special is priced the same as Kiyokawa's (though Mori also includes a "Chirashi Deluxe" for $23). Both Kiyokawa and Mori start you off with miso soup, but Mori's also includes a refreshing salad. Artfully arranged pieces of fish, octopus, tamago, cucumber, shiso and radish pop vibrantly. The salmon is luscious, but really, every piece consumed is a delight. Then you reach the rice, topped with bits of seaweed, flavored expertly and quickly convincing you that the addition of soy sauce would be a near tragedy.
The winner then? Let's just say that if Kiyokawa's chirashi is a steal, Mori's is grand theft.
Kiyokawa: 265 S. Robertson Ave., Beverly Hills, (310) 358-1900.,
Mori: 11500 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A., (310) 479-3939.