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We Go to Echigo
I love the idea of tapas--the leisure of sitting down to a meal, getting a good drink and having someone bring you small yummy things to eat. But somehow, tapas never turns out to be as good as it sounds. In fact, my husband has declared that tapas are “crapas” and refuses to go. So when I get in that mood, we go to Echigo.
Echigo’s not for everyone. It’s one of those no salad, no soup, no teriyaki places. So don’t meet your non-sushi eating friends there. In fact, it’s very much in the tradition of Nozawa – great fish, often served up with a little soy sauce and vinegar (and the waitresses advise you gently, “No soy sauce, please.”) I cut my teeth at Nozawa’s, and never found him as disagreeable as he’s reputed to be, but at Echigo, they are utterly attitude free. They have a sign stating the rules at the front. The sushi bar is “Omakase” (which for you sushi virgins, means chef’s choice) so we usually snake a table so we can have our favorites.
I find that the best looking most decked out sushi places are usually not that great. They are these little places that are socked away in mini malls. They’re spare, black and white affairs, with little decoration and bad music, but the food is sublime. Echigo is one of these, tucked under a glass turret of a two-story mall on Santa Monica Boulevard.
The first two courses we usually get, tuna and yellow tail, are sometimes cut a little weird, and occasionally the tuna is a little fishy, but often it’s great. Everything else is melt-in-your-mouth excellent; beautifully cut fish and warm, vinegary rice. A real treat. Butterfish, monkfish liver, halibut, and my favorite, salmon with clear seaweed and sesame seeds is always a highlight. The meal always ends with a blue crab roll. The seaweed is crisp and the rice is warm. There’s no sauce to wash out the subtle flavors.
Echigo has a good lunch special for around twenty bucks and they fill the sake carafes VERY full. ( Just so you know.)
12217 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Photos by Jacy for LAist