11656 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Executive Chef / Owner: Takao Izumida
It is interesting to compare our favorite neighborhood sushi bar Takao, not to be confused with the Japanese noodle bar also located in Brentwood called Taiko, with our experience at Urasawa. This actually is an unfair comparison as to style, price and ambiance. The price point is 5 times more expensive at Urasawa, the style is not based on kaiseki at Takao as it is with Urasawa, and it is much more a typical sushi bar experience. Seats turn often and the ambiance is bustling. The quality of the fish exceeds that of the normal neighborhood sushi bar though, but in no way is the equal of Urasawa’s.
We arrive at Urasawa at 7:30 and leave after midnight with only 10 diners the entire night. At Takao, we arrive at 5:30 and we are normally finished by 7:30. Obviously, this is an apple and orange comparison between the two sushi experiences.
The “kitchen” at Takao is “open” with a bustle, although not harried – 5 “chefs” work the stations.
Given the above, I still think Takao is a wonderful neighborhood sushi bar.
Hama Hama Oysters on the half shell with ponzu sauce and green onions. The oysters were excellent and there was a nice ratio of sauce to oysters.
Toro Tatake with Caviar
Baby Sweet Shrimp with uni sauce, cavair and pea tendrils – Takao knows that I love uni and he uses it often.
Giant Spanish Mackerel from Japan with ponzu, green onions, ginger and baby shiso sprouts
Toro quickly seared – 3 ways
From left to right, toro with soy and wasabe, toro with sweet and spicy miso and daikon tendrils, toro with avocado, onion, garlic and chili pepper
Grilled Duck Skewer with Tamari Soy sauce
Maine Lobster stuffed with Tomalley and Uni served with spicy lobster sauce and Shitake mushrooms
Tempura – Takao is a master at tempura – never greasy, always made moments before being served.
Uni and Squid Roll
Salmon Skin Hand Roll.
Toro Hand Roll.
Conclusion: I still enjoy Takao and think it is one of the better sushi bars in Los Angeles. Urasawa is not an everyday experience – it is the equivalent of haute Japanese cuisine and as such is not the type of place you go to when you are craving some sushi.