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A Taste for the Traditional: Sushi Gen

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We have a list about a mile long of sushi restaurants in Los Angeles that we want to hit up, and thankfully a gaggle of gal-pals who are game to try new places. Recently we rounded up the troops for a taste test-drive at Little Tokyo's Sushi Gen. We'd done just a tad of research--mainly noting that just about everyone had something positive to say about the high-quality of fish served at this popular, moderately priced sushi joint, including the LA Times, who listed Sushi Gen earlier this year in their feature on Advanced Sushi. Our visit was at lunch time, and even though it was barely noon, the wait was about twenty minutes for a table for four. Had it been less crowded, or fewer of us dining, we would have eagerly opted for the sushi bar. But a table it was to be, and so we sat down and dove into the menu.

We sipped on a steaming hot bowl of Miso soup while we waited for our order to appear, and noted that it was quite possibly the best Miso we'd ever had. We glanced around and saw that most patrons had ordered up combination plates centered around thick, colorful, generous cuts of sashimi. For us, old habits die hard, and we'd gone to town making Nigiri sushi selections from the checklist they'd provided. One of our dining companions is a devotee of the dolled up roll, and asked our server what came in the rolls on the list that only gave initials. Come to find out such rolls were specials available only to patrons sitting at the bar, and that Sushi Gen is firmly rooted in the traditional kind of sushi preparation--no fancy rolls. Admittedly, we like those frou frou rolls sometimes, but when in Rome...or Little Tokyo as it were. Besides, sushi eating is about the fish, and what better way to get your fish on then at a place well-reputed for just that. So out came our first order: Salmon, Fatty Tuna, Yellowtail, Shrimp, as well as spicy tuna and salmon skin rolls--the usual suspects. Each bite was exquisite. The Fatty Tuna blew us out of the water as it practically melted in our mouths. One round wasn't enough, so we ordered up another, this time opting to try the Snapper (pictured) as well as some favorites from the first round. We liked the traditional no-frills approach, which puts the spotlight on true quality, and not just flashy trends in sushi. For a crowded weekday lunch, the service was good, and the price quite reasonable ($35 each for four of us, including drinks, tax and tip and a whole lotta sushi). Next time we'll say "I'll have what she's having!" and try one of those beautiful sashimi combos. Another sushi place crossed off the list...and a so many more to try! Where should LAist go next?

Sushi Gen
422 East 2nd Street (in Honda Plaza)
(213) 617-0552