The first thing to know is Shunji is marvelous, the sort of restaurant Los Angeles so desperately needs more of. The second item to know is the bathroom situation. Which is marvelously horrible. Like a ghetto bathroom off a 76 Station on the turnpike from hell in West Virginia horrible.
Taking over the Mr. Cecil’s location in West LA, a few tables and a small sushi bar are the whole of the establishment. And as long as you don’t have to use the facilities this will be a jazz-inflected, gustatory delight. But should nature call you must endure the ignominy of being given a key on a long spatula and a trip outside the restaurant to a narrow bathroom (outhouse?). Handi-wipes and apologies should come with each trip. Better yet, just hold it and savor the epicurean treasures.
On this evening The Monster opts to order off the menu but the omakase on offer is already legendary so a return trip is in the offing.
Sunonomo with crab leads things off. It needs more vinegar but the lemon helps bring out the flavor. It is a refreshing start but not as tart and tangy as The Monster enjoys.
The seared albacore is awesome. Fresh and delicious.
Seared kanpachi is ridiculous. Hints of peanut, it is a smooth criminal in your mouth.
Eggplant with shrimp is good though a step down from the last two dishes. Sometimes Japanese eggplant can make your eyes smile and your mouth twinkle. Not the case here but as a starter this would be a better order.
The chicken wings prove hit or miss, some bites you get the marinade other you don’t. And when you don’t these border on ordinary. When you do they are tasty.
Rock shrimp tempura is the final call and another highlight. Spicy, not too fried, it’s a version of this classic that allows for a high gracenote to the evening.
With incredibly friendly service and fair prices The Monster is sure to be back.
Why go? You have a strong bladder.
Monster rating: 4/5 Monsters
12244 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90064