3/20/2013 02:55:00 PM

Best Thing We Ate: Omakase at Sushi Kumigare Ike

When the owner of Hollywood's Sushi Ike moved on from his eponymous restaurant, those of us who favored the quick smile of Ike-san, his slightly seared salmon and the grilled octopus were left in the dust. Sure, his manager took over the strip-mall sushi spot, but it has never been quite the same. Ike thought he was getting out of the game until the developer of the large apartment and retail complex at Pasadena's Del Mar Gold Line station asked if he'd open a restaurant there. The deal was obviously too much to refuse because he opened Sushi Kumigare Ike a little more than a year ago, serving mostly omakase using the freshest fish possible. The room is small and serene. The staff friendly (even telling us the best angle to photograph one dish.) It is undeniably the best sushi experience in Pasadena, and definitely one of the tops around LA.

We made reservations for the sushi bar - a must if you want to sit in front of Ike-san and his co-chef - but there are a smattering of tables throughout the room. While we thought it was omakase-only, you can actually order any nigiri or sashimi a la carte. Yes, that's right, no rolls. But if you have the deniro, go ahead and let them choose. We went with the $85 per person omakase expecting to be there for hours; they in fact had us out in less than 90 minutes, which makes us wonder if we got the full menu or if we were cut short. And with a bottle of sake and a few extras added on, we spent much more than $85 per person.

Still, get the omakase and you may find yourself with a bowl of seaweed tossed with a slightly sweet dressing and topped with beautiful shrimp a sliver of salmon and scallop; some of the most exquisit toro we've had in awhile; beautiful halibut topped with the smallest snip of chives; grilled octopus; salmon roe; gorgeous silky uni that melts to the touch; and clams in miso broth. Some of our sushi was handed to us with a stern "no soy" or "no wasabi" when warranted; don't fight it. There were a few more dishes, but we almost can't remember everything as each bite made our eyes roll back and tongue do a happy dance. We were definitely having a moment.

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