There's more expensive sushi than Shunji and there is certainly cheaper. But this Westside favorite falls somewhere in the middle, in a perfect sweet-spot where melt-in-your-mouth fish meets unpretentious service and spending a little extra on dinner is actually worth it. Shunji charms with easy parking in the adjacent lot and a welcome so warm you feel as if you've arrived at your best friend's house. Only this time your best friend is chef Shunji Nakao, who, after opening Matsuhisa and Asanebo, opened this endearing sushi spot in an oddly circular building (it was originally a restaurant named the Chili Bowl). Scan the room and notice guests' eyebrows lift as they place pieces of raw fish such as halibut, black snapper, beltfish, Scottish salmon, mackerel and scallop in their mouths. Order the live spot prawns and you will be served the tail raw, and offered the head fried or in miso soup — choose fried and finish with a blue crab hand roll. At the end of the meal, before the chef politely says goodnight to his guests, you might see him stretching his arms as though he just played a tennis match. If that were to be the case, he definitely won.
Credit: T. Tseng/FlickrLicense