Yet another adventure in Little Osaka lies in this hole-in-the-wall joint Hide (pronounced hee-day) Sushi. I must have driven by it hundreds of times since moving to the Westside. It’s in an unassuming little corner near Tsujita Annex and gr/eats, immediately across the street from the Giant Robot Store. The perfect little meeting place for me and S to rendezvous for her belated birthday dinner.
Hide Sushi has a sizable a la carte menu, but S and I love going out for omakase when we can get it. Luckily, the chefs behind the counter were happy to oblige. Omakase here is generally $40, very affordable for the amount and quality of fish we would receive. Since we were celebrating, I requested a $50 per person “budget” instead (boy – that turned out to be a TON of food!). There were 3 or 4 sushi chefs behind the counter, but our chef was very excited and S even commented at the end of the night that he seemed to like me and my use of Japanese. (Funny, just when I think my Japanese has all but disappeared, I manage to carry on a coherent conversation without even thinking about the sentences — what’s that saying about riding a bike?)
Before we started, he asked me just one question, Nan de mo ii? (Is anything okay?) Hai, iin desu, I replied in response. With a knowing smile, he focused on his craft.
First up, maguro (tuna; not pictured — we were too excited… a theme throughout the evening, actually) and hamachi (yellowtail). Generous cuts of familiar fish — a simple, delicious start.
Tai (red snapper): Dipped in a citrus-y ponzu sauce, the red snapper tasted slightly fishy (in a very, very good way).
Amaebi (sweet shrimp): The shrimp were HUGE, probably the largest amaebi I’d ever had, but oh so sweet and succulent. Our chef made a hilarious gesture to inform us that the fried shrimp heads were forthcoming. I can’t even begin to describe it — the next time you see me, remind me of this story and I’ll have to demonstrate for you. :)
Amaebi no atama (fried shrimp heads): Just as promised, one of the servers brought out a magnificent plate of crispy fried shrimp heads. Some places prepare them tempura-style, but these were au naturale and ever so simply salted. Every single part is edible, even the “skull” and eyeballs – and check out the marvelous height on those antennae! Don’t be shy.
Aji (Spanish mackerel): One of S’ favorites, this fishy, oily cut was excellent and dressed with just a touch of ponzu.
Uni (sea urchin): Sweet and creamy, the sea urchin was silky smooth with just the right touch of briny, rich flavor.
Ankimo (monkfish liver): This has to be one of my absolute favorite pieces of sushi – the must-have any time I see it on the menu or specials board at a sushi restaurant. I had asked our chef specifically if he had fresh ankimo today, and his eyes lit up as he answered with a definitive YES! The nigiri was PILED HIGH and it was so good. The foie gras of the sea…
Ikura (salmon roe): Pop pop pop! I thought we were near the end when we were served those rich pieces of sushi, but we were just getting started! These salmon roe were briny and bright. great to wash down the creamy uni and ankimo that preceded it.
Ebi (shrimp) and Tobiko & Uzura (flying fish roe with quail egg): The steamed shrimp nigiri was not particularly special, but fresh nonetheless. But the “double egg”… this was the most unique presentation of nigiri we had today, And it was utterly delicious and thoughtful. The tobiko were crunchy and briny, while the creaminess of the quail egg yolk mellowed out the flavors nicely. Loved it.
Hokkigai (surf clam) and Sake (salmon): The surf clam was huge, enveloping the rice as if it were a sleeve of inari. Crazy! The salmon was sweet and glistening with its natural fattiness, a very reliable standby.
— Not pictured because we were too excited and dug in right away —
Tako (octopus): A thick and generous slice that was tender in the center but a bit chewy on the edges. Sadly, not our favorite.
Unagi (freshwater eel): Drenched in its sweet caramelized sauce and toasted just a tad, this was a delectable morsel and one of my favorites of the evening.
Tamago (sweet egg): Like “sushi dessert,” this was our final piece of the night. Funny story — just before it, the chef looked over at me inquisitively and I responded “onaka ippasugi!” (we’re too full!). He chuckled and then said, just one more! This was the one he presented to us to end the night, and boy were we pleased.
By the end of the experience, we were so full! The total came out to just over $92, and it’s cash only so be sure to visit your local bank beforehand (but in case you forget or spontaneously decided to visit, they do have an ATM right when you walk in). Also, when ordering omakase for two, the chef will ask if you would like one piece each type of fish or a full pair per person (nigiri sushi, I’ve learned, is always made in pairs). We were glad we opted for one piece per; this way, we get to try a large variety of fish without getting too full off duplicate pieces.
Two more things. One – when you first enter, hug the right wall as you walk toward the side of the restaurant where the whiteboard is. Most places have a clipboard for waiting lists, but Hide Sushi has a whole whiteboard. Add your name, party size, and seating preference (S for sushi bar, T for table). Easy peasy. And two – unlike other places on Sawtelle, Hide Sushi has its own (free!) parking lot.
So if you’re wandering around in Little Osaka and craving sushi, definitely make a stop at Sawtelle’s best kept secret and let the Chef choose your adventure. Whatever it is, it will be hontou ni oishii (really delicious)!
Check out Hide Sushi: hidesushi.com
2040 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
See their Yelp reviews here!