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Another One for the Valley Sushi Files: Asanebo

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We'll confess, Studio City's Asanebo was not our Plan A for sushi eating. Our visit to this small, strip-mall sushi spot located in the middle of the Valley's boulevard of sushi bars happened on the fly, a Plan B that was put into action when Plan A failed miserably. What was Plan A, you might ask? Well, we'd been plotting a trip to Hollywood's Sushi Ike for ages, only to discover that they'd opted to pull lunch service for the time being. So there we were, hungry for lunch, pouting outside a storefront barricaded by metal bars. It was a sad sight, indeed. But because we keep a running list of places we want to try (we've had to start an Excel spreadsheet out of sheer overwhelm, and for those of you who are keeping track, the words "Cheesecake Factory" do not make an appearance on that list) we remembered one place that had popped up in the September issue of Los Angeles Magazine in their feature on sushi: Asanebo. So it was back over the hill for us, and onward to what was feeling like a hard-won lunch.

When we arrived at Asanebo there wasn't much going on save for the chefs preparing orders that had been called in, and one poor lobster was put on the chopping blockfor one of the only tables of patrons in the place. We climbed up on the bar stools for prime viewing seats, and asked the chef what was good. He pointed us to the specials board behind us, and also began to make some suggestions. We're eager sushi eaters, so we wanted to let him know we were game to try just about anything. We started with Toro, and then some King Crab, which was a first for us in nigiri sushi form. The Toro melted in our mouth, and the Crab was tangy-sweet. We were ready for more, but our chef was knee-deep in a takeout sashimi order, so we had to bide our time. Meanwhile, the place started to fill up, and as our chef began to dole out our order we realized there was nary a free seat in the house. As we continued to taste the sushi--the requisite salmon, a zingy red snapper enlivened with lime juice and zest, mellow Kanpachi (yellowtail)--we knew why people were such fans. We bit in to a tantalizing piece of Saba (mackrel) that was served with mint leaf, and confessed it was the best Saba we'd ever had. Our chef was careful to tell us when he'd rather we not use soy sauce, which we appreciated, although we've become far less dependent on soy sauce since we've embarked on our personal sushi journey this year--why obscure the flavor? The attentive wait staff brought us our order of rock shrimp tempura (light and airy, the rock shrimp a nice switch from the usual long strips of shrimp in tempura) and never let our beverage glasses get empty. We went over the edge with our last sushi bite of Blue Fin Tuna, and our sushi-eating companion insisted on dessert, so we dove tiny spoons into a little pot of creme brulee, which was pleasantly creamy and sweet, and a nice mellow way to end the meal. We still have many places to go (including our Plan A spot, Sushi Ike) but are happy to report that Asanebo ranks high in our books, and is a good cross-the-street option when the line at Katsu-yais unbearable. We might even skip the line in the future, and head right to Asanebo.

11941 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City
(818) 760-3348