By: Enzo di Bonaventura
Opening on September 26th of 1991, Asanebo took the LA food scene by storm. With his younger brother Chef Shunji by his side, Chef Tetsuya Nakao made Asanebo critically acclaimed as one of the top Japanese restaurants in LA from Zagat, LA Times, LA Weekly, and many more.
Asanebo achieved its first Michelin Star in 2008 and by 2009 it received a two Michelin Star rating. It became a must go experience.
As someone who grew up in LA and is a lover of sushi, I was shocked that I had never heard of Asanebo. You bet, I was extremely excited for the experience.
Walking into the restaurant, I got hit with a very traditional Japanese vibe. You can either sit at the bar or at a table (we had a table). In understanding the menu they offer three different versions. Each varies in price by the quality of the produce used. When writing a review for a restaurant I like to try them at their best. It's only fair. You could feel their pride in their culture and in every dish that they served us. Treating every plate with the utmost care and respect.
We started with an Uni and Caviar Hors-d’oeuvre with gold flakes on top. Delicious.
From there dishes kept flying out...you’re not waiting 15 minutes between dishes and the service was top notch. Four dishes later I realized we’d only had sashimi and specialty dishes. Having gone to Shunji a ton growing up I was expecting more Nigiri. So, I had to change my expectations.
Out comes a lobster tempura dish that absolutely took the night. It is a beautiful dish with a slightly acidic broth to balance the richness in every bite of the lobster.
"It was HEAVENLY!"
Reaching the end of our meal they finally brought out the Nigiri, 5 pieces of the best fish around. I of course had to order more.
Desert comes out as if it's art on a plate, a little taste of everything. The mango mochi is to die for.
All in all I had a wonderful experience at Asanebo and would go back again. To be honest though, I don’t know if I would call it a two Michelin Star restaurant. If you’re craving a very traditional Japanese specialty dish experience, then I would say this is the place for you! Definitely deserving of one Michelin Star. However if you are a fan of sushi/nigiri to be specific, it may disappoint you. Their fish quality is great, but there was nothing special about any of the pieces I tried, and I have tried a lot. I can confidently say that I’ve had much better Nigiri for a lot less price wise.