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Jonathan Gold Reviews Shunji Japanese Cuisine in West LA

The Goldster can't get enough of Shunji Japanese Cuisine, an unassuming newish restaurant from original Matsuhisa sushi chef Shunji Nakao. Right off the bat he deems the restaurant "not an ordinary sushi bar" for more reasons than one:

So the last thing I was expecting on my first visit to Shunji Japanese Cuisine, the Westside restaurant that is the newest darling of local raw-fish cognoscenti, was a bowl of vegetables, served at the sushi bar, at the point in the meal where you might be expecting an elaborate sea urchin presentation or a saucer of tuna nuta.
This is a chef whose most famous dish is something he calls tomato tofu, a cube of tomatoes compressed into the size of a toddler's building block, lightly cooked, and bathed in fragrant dashi. Nakao's sushi is excellent — the lightly pickled salmon is especially nice, and he is not immune to the charms of a well-made Dungeness crab roll — but you can get through a meal here without seeing sushi at all.
And back to those vegetables. Goldy describes them as a "Noguchi sculpture ... each vegetable is cooked or not cooked to the point where it expresses its optimal sweetness ..." Such care is expected with raw fish but not necessarily with vegetables. [LAT]

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Shunji Japanese Cuisine

12244 W Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

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