Shunji | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Shunji

photo by Danny Liao

Once you’ve found your way inside the odd, round building on Pico Boulevard and made your way to your seat inside the sparse circular room, turn your attention to the blackboard on the wall. You’ll need some time to ponder — the daily specials list at Shunji can be a tad overwhelming. A waiter will bring a menu board to the sushi bar or your table and prop it on a chair so you can peruse the tiny handwriting that crams every corner of the board’s surface. Your mind will swim, trying to take in all the sushi and sashimi options, as well as numerous creative Japanese small plates. Don’t sweat it — instead, go ahead and order the omakase, which is the best expression of chef Shunji Nakao’s vision, and which will include much of the best of what’s on the board anyway. In the winter, that means soft persimmon in tofu paste, in summer the chef’s famed agedashi tomato tofu, which is not tofu at all but compressed tomato turned to a tofu-like texture, lightly fried and set in a dashi broth. And always, it means luxuries such as monkfish liver topped with caviar, and pristine, glistening raw fish, draped across barely warm rice.— Besha Rodell