Classic Tables: Mori Sushi

A sushi star still shines in West L.A.

Mori Sushi, the small, minimalist West L.A. spot that Morihiro Onodera opened in 2000, often feels more like a gallery than just another restaurant.

This is a sushi restaurant in the truest sense, serving only seafood, vegetables and few cooked dishes. But Onodera's artistry is what pulls you in, both on the plate and off–he even makes those one-of-a-kind serving vessels used for each course.

A quick sushi lunch is always delightful here, but the omakase ($75 to $130) showcases Mori's true talents and passion.

Ours recently began with a square of silky homemade tofu, slightly fermented and tangy, crowned with just-grated bright green wasabi. Other memorable bites included tender slivers of steamed abalone speckled with yuzu-chile paste, and fish gelatin atop microscopic–and delicious–roe.

The kelp-broth soup brimming with a tangle of soy-milk skin, eggplant and steamed fish was delicate, yet robust in flavor.

Of course, the nigiri is always sublime. Onodera seasons each piece himself, brushing the silver-skinned baby barracuda or pale pink Tai snapper with house-made soy sauce, as only an artist would.

Even the rice, grown exclusively for Mori and polished by the chef daily, is exquisite; you can practically taste each individual grain.

Mori Sushi, 11500 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A.; 310-479-3939 or morisushi.org