Has anyone ever asked you “If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?” I’m sure they have, it’s a road trip classic. I don’t get asked by friends anymore, because my answer was always the same: sushi. And it’s absolutely true; I could eat only sushi for the rest of my life and be very happy. But just any sushi will no longer do. My standards where recently elevated exponentially.
Q Sushi has made me into a sushi snob.
It began the moment I walked into the downtown LA location, a white building marked with a stripe of gold and a script “Q.” The intimate 26-seat dining room is minimalist but warm. Dimly-lit (dare I say sexy?) by small glowing orbs hanging from long cords, the mostly wood interior is welcoming and calm.
Lead to the bar by what turned out to be a very attentive staff member (really, I didn’t pull out one chair my entire time there), I prepared myself for my first omakase dining experience – a meal consisting only of dishes selected by the chef. And if there was a chef whose selections I’d trust, it’s Tokyo-born Chef Hiroyuki Naruke, with 25 years of experience in the field. With a quiet yet gracious hello, the journey began.
I knew in advance that the meal would be about 20 courses. Chef Hiro would begin with tsumami (small appetizers), before moving into multiple sashimi and nigiri sushi courses. I also knew that he considers the rice to be as important as the fish. But I had no idea just how delicious that rice would be.
The rice was served slightly warm, seasoned with a perfect balance of red vinegar (brewed from aged sake cakes) and sea salt. It was mesmerizing to watch Chef Hiro work the rice in his hands, gently and expertly cradling it from one hand to the other. It remains loosely packed and it’s the ultimate companion to the fresh fish. And oh, the fish…
The menu varies seasonally and features that day’s highest quality selections from the fish market. My 20 selections spanned the globe; Scottish salmon, Santa Barbara uni and Japanese sardine being just a few of the stops. They came out one by one like a beautifully-orchestrated sushi ballet, artistically presented on a different plate for each. Some paired house-pickled ginger, salts, garnishes or sauce, but nothing overly so. It was all delicate. And it was all beyond delicious.
Two of my favorites of the night (shown above) were preparations of fatty tuna. The first seared carefully before our eyes with a butane torch and served with shishito pepper. The second was sushi, marbled with fat and quite possibly the most tender piece of fish I’ve ever had.
Course after course, we cooed and groaned (it probably sounded downright erotic.) Just as we’d think we’d found a favorite, out would come something else that was somehow more incredible than the previous selection. We also barely spoke.
I can say without hesitation that this was the best sushi I’ve had in my life. A true sushi experience. And while it tasted delicious, it’s truly about the flavor: the smell, texture and expectation of each new dish.
Spending time in DTLA? Plan a visit, you won’t regret it.
521 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014