Sunday, March 2, 2014


I'm no connoisseur regarding sushi. I just know I fell in love with the cuisine when I moved to LA. I used to go to a fun place called Sushi 101 in the valley in North Hollywood. The chef there, Toshi, was a great guy and those were the halcyon days of sushi, shrimp heads, sake and Sapporo. It was a wonderful introduction. But then I moved and when I did, someone, at some point, introduced me to Ike on Hollywood and Gower. Not the nicest section but man, did I chow down.

Oh how I loved Chef Ike - he always bought the freshest fish and always kept the rolls pure. But then he left to go to Japan.  Eventually I heard he opened a new restaurant, Kimagure, in Pasadena on Raymond. I wanted to go but didn't make it there. Money got tight. We moved ourselves. Life got busy. It was as if I forgot sushi even existed. 

Then yesterday for some weird reason I said I wanted sushi. Every now and again it's a part of living in LA: you have to go out for sushi. It's a treat, to be certain, but it's as much a part of the LA experience as going to the beach once in awhile or getting an In and Out Burger.

Oh my God. Had I known I live only 15 minutes from Kimagure I would have gone much sooner. I might go to the beach twice a year but I'll sell my kidney for every other weekend at Kimagure.

Here's some photos. I went a la carte, as I always do:

I never eat grilled octopus. My fear always is it'll be chewy and one of those suckers will adhere to the roof of mouth. Not so here. It was delicious, succulent and I could taste that grilled crispness.
The grilled salmon, no lie, was like butta. Unbelievable. One of the best things I've ever eaten. So tender, melts in your mouth, and presents a fine smoky touch. Oy gavult konichiwa!
Of course the shrimp was lovely, so fresh I think it was wiggling and I ate it just as he served it, straight up, no extra sauce or b.s. mishigas. In fact what I like most about Chef Ike are that his recipes are pure and simple. The fish is the seafood is the star, not the sauces to cover up the ocean. He doesn't load you up with unnecessary calories, fried slivers of this and that and vegetables hardly resembling their original state. He assumes if you're there you like these tastes, you like fish, you like real sushi. When you step into Kimagure, it's as if you're walking to the Metro in Tokyo and just stopped in somewhere to get a quick bite before a long trip.

That being said, check out the generous ginger. Ike don't skimp and I like a little palate cleanser from dish to dish.

Much is not pictured. I was busy eating. Chef Ike made us a nice tuna roll, a kanpyo roll which I'm sure very few people get but I kind of like it for my last thing. It's a gourd soaked in sweet stuff and then wrapped in rice, of course. But the thing he started me with - and trust me - this guy and I go waaaaaaaaaaay back, is my favorite. Halibut sashimi with his perfect semi-sweet silky sauce that is so bright it almost has a hint of citrus. I never asked.

Here's the menu in case you want to have the chef choose for you:
It'll probably look something like this:
But I'm an a la cart-er. I'm very picky and adventurous in doses. Besides Ike knows me. Knows what I like. And what I like is the freshest sushi prepared by a real master. There might be plenty of sushi spots in LA but when you find what you like, and a chef who cares this much about the food -- with a smile he puts together my sashimi -- who wouldn't want to go back?

Ike-san! I salute you!
Kimagure is at 220 South Raymond, Pasadena, CA 91105. Reservations recommended: 626-535-0880. Park at the Del Mar Metro Station. First 90 minutes are free.