The Wednesday Restaurant Review: Kiku Sushi, Los Angeles

Dad’s day with Desmond turned into a mid-day sushi experiment. Bear in mind the little one hasn’t sat still at a restaurant for more than 7 minutes in the past year, which is how we found ourselves saving 50 dollars a weekend (read: no more saturday brunch out) totalling, by our estimates, $1400.

So, why, you may wonder, would I risk such a thing? Risk my own sanity. Risk the increasingly depleted global fish stocks? Risk my reputation at the local sushi joint? (well, one of many local sushi joints, but, more importantly, the one closest to my house.) Because Desi didn’t want to go home and I had a jones for raw fish.

It was 1:30 and the lunch crowd was thinning. There were people outside, but none inside. Good sign. We walked in and sat at the bar. The waitress promptly brought Des a booster seat and the sushi chef said “Hi Sweetheart” to Des. Excellent signs. They then brought Des a paper cup of water with a lid and straw. Clearly this wasn’t the first toddler they’d served at the bar.

I knew the window of opportunity was descending rapidly, so I clicked into g-kid smart ordering mode: nothing elaborate to make. Nothing elaborate to eat. I ordered a bowl of chirashi (sashimi strewn on rice; a low prep dish requiring no rolling or other time-consuming assembly). I asked the chef what he thought Des could eat. He said California hand roll. I wasn’t about deny the man the attempt and there’s no way I’d indulge my irrational impulse to order my boy an a la carte piece of uni.

Still, Des (ever the picky one) didn’t like the Cali roll, though I thought it was lovely, the pseudo crab dressed in some sweet mayo-based sauce, it seemed. There’s nothing like some super processed surimi when you’re ravenous. The chirashi was simple and satisfying, not overloaded nor too cold (a common sushi bar misstep, stifling the flavor of the fish with overzealous refrigeration. It’s a fine line, but a good one to walk correctly). Desi loved the vinagered rice, which was a tad sweet.

I can’t say I paid the strictest of attention to my sushi, but I did stop at the tuna: it was dark and rich, marbled just so. This wasn’t the standard stuff. I said “great tuna” to the chef. He said: “You know your tuna.” I fished: “Is it chu toro?” He said: “Almost. But it’s blue fin.” Okay, I know it’s overfished, on the verge of endangerment. But it was delicious, my guilt assuaged by the fact that I hadn’t requested it. I was also impressed that the chef would serve such high grade tuna as a matter of course.

23 minutes later, Desi and I walked out. That’s a record for me and my little man. We got out clean, he had a great time. I had my sushi. And I trust it’s the first of many satisfying sushi dates to come.

Rating: 3 Gs (out of a possible 4)
Kiku Sushi, 246 North Larchmont Blvd. Los Angeles, California, 323-464-1200
Kid favorites: chirashi rice (though gyoza, shumai, and the scallop dynamite looked awesome)
Grownup favorites: Chirashi, simple but correct and fresh
Service: efficient, warm, curious, and very accomodating
Kid tolerance: High

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