|Review:||"The definition of freshness, this small hole in the wall in the high desert north of Los Angeles is a surprising treat for any sushi lover. The secret is Masa-san, owner and sushi master of this family run restaurant. Early each morning around 5am, six days a week, Masa treks 'down below' 75 miles to the San Pedro fish market to survey and purchase the daily fare for his sushi offerings. Extremely demanding of only top quality items, often is the time that what is normally a menu item at his place is ordered by a diner, only to be told 'no good today'.
Although his overall selection has expanded over the years, don't expect the large 40+ item menu and specials you would find in the more glamorous sushi bars of metro LA. Shogun is not large enough to ever support the traffic to justify such extravagance. But don't despair, the selection here is quite good, and you can be sure the quality will be incomparable to anything in 'the city'. There is a decent selection of rolls, which themselves are delicious, but what shines is the sushi and what sends one to heaven is the sashimi. There is the usual selection of beer and a great selection of cold sake, my personal preference.
Service is efficient and friendly. Most of the staff is part of Masa's extended family and has been there since the beginning. When busy, the sushi becomes slow paced because almost all of it is prepared by Masa only. But sushi is best savored at a leisurely pace, so this is not a big problem. It is best to arrive near closing time to avoid the crowd that invariably collects around traditional dinner times.
The prices at Shogun are a bit steep for the location, but quality has a price. In this community there has been a trend towards the 'all you can eat' sushi places for around $25. But after several visits to these places, I've always been left disappointed and wanting. I have walked out of Masa's Shogun with $150 bills for two (with drinks) and have always left with the feeling that I got more than my moneys worth.
For 18 years I have held Masa's Shogun as the standard for comparison of the many sushi bars I have dined at around North America. The only sushi experience that ever exceeded this standard, not in freshness which was equal, but variety and ingenuity, was a wonderful evening at Tojo's in Vancouver, BC.