We love sushi, nigiri, and sashimi. For those unaware of the difference, sushi has a smaller cut of either raw or cooked fish and vegetables in-between a bed of rice and wrapped with seaweed. Nigiri is similar to sushi, with the exception that the bed of rice lies underneath the slice of fish, vegetable, or egg. Sashimi refers to just a sliver of thinly-cut raw fish. Out of all three, we prefer sashimi. Nothing beats the taste and experience of a well-prepared slice of meat almost disappearing on your tongue with each bite. One of the many things we love about sushi, nigiri, and sashimi is that you can really taste the quality of each selected protein since there’s no added ingredients that a poorly prepared protein could hide behind.
We were anxious to try Sushi Gen. With over 3000 reviews and rated highly on Yelp, we expected nothing less than extraordinary. We deliberately went during lunch, knowing that the prices would be significantly lower than if we came during dinner. Unfortunately, it seemed that everyone else figured this out too. We waited anxiously in a long line for what seemed to be an hour. Once our table was ready we bolted through the glass doors of this hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the outskirts of LA’s Little Tokyo and made our way through the minimalistic Japanese decor to our seats.
Our first dish was the salmon skin salad. On first glance it looked like a glistening bed of greens devoid of any seafood. Upon closer examination, we saw small shards of salmon skin scattered scarcely throughout the plate. Although we were disappointed visually, we hoped that the taste would win us over. It didn’t. It ultimately tasted like a bed of greens with light vinaigrette.
Although disappointed by the appetizer, we were excited when the main dish came out: the sushi deluxe. The sushi deluxe is one of the most popular entrees ordered. The presentation is carefully put together with a half-portion of tuna rolls and half-portion of cucumber rolls facing a four-piece line-up of raw fish nigiri, shrimp nigiri, and tomago (egg nigiri). We anxiously grabbed our chopsticks and dived straight into the plate. As soon as the fish nigiri hit our palate, we looked at each other in disgust. Unlike the usual clean and fresh bite nigiri provides, the slices of fish were incredibly warm and the bed of rice tasted stale. We proceeded to try the sushi pieces, hopeful that the promised melt-in-your-mouth fatty tuna would be delivered in our bite. Unfortunately, it was almost as inedible as the nigiri. While we do acknowledge that we came at 2 pm, almost at the end of lunch service, it was still unacceptable to serve sub-par food to hungry customers. We called the waiter over to politely question why our slices of fish appeared to have been placed in a fire pit, so to speak. She was unable to answer our query due to language barriers and we were already too exhausted at that point to press the question any further.
We left Sushi Gen disappointed. Little Tokyo is bustling with many mom-and-pop sushi restaurants that are undoubtedly cheaper and tastier than Sushi Gen. This is why we try to travel on our own rather than listen to Yelp reviews. Often, people feel obliged to rate restaurants higher due to its popularity, price, and wait time to make their experience seem worth it without considering the actual taste of the food. It is also possible that we had a bad dish amongst the hundreds Sushi Gen serves per day.
Or maybe our high expectations got the best of us.
Overall Rating: 9.5/15
422 E 2nd Street Los Angeles, CA, 90012