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Valley’s Only Michelin Star Restaurant

When it comes to commercial real estate, Encino has an idiosyncratic energy. There’s the mini-Caruso entity called Encino Marketplace. There’s the unrelated Encino Place, a retail center which actually borders Sherman Oaks at Ventura Boulevard and Woodley Avenue. And then there’s Rubio Plaza Center at 16545-16575 Ventura Blvd., an unassuming 12-tenant shopping center which houses, of all things, a Michelin-star restaurant. In fact, it is the only Michelin star-rated restaurant in the greater Los Angeles market north of the 101 freeway. Opened in July 2018, the unflashy Shin Sushi occupies just 900 square feet of space in a multi-storefront property. From the rear corner of the 4-acre lot that also hosts such tenants as a Poquito Mas restaurant and a Happy Nail salon, chef and restaurant owner Taketoshi Azumi runs his stripped sushi endeavor. It’s minimalist in décor but also in his approach to sushi-making that flouts the purveyors of more ornate, often sauce- and sometimes non-seafood-laden Americanized sushi. A second-generation sushi maker whose father ran a Tokyo restaurant, Azumi loves to chat and share stories as he prepares his program of 12 to 14 pieces of nigiri (traditional fish and rice) — plus a mid-course bowl of miso soup — for $100 to $120 per person. During a recent omakase meal, in which one pays a fixed price and allows the chef to serve a menu of his choice specialties, Azumi launched his program with a mushroom, monk liver fish and Washington oyster called the “Fat Bastard.” He then began serving nigiri employing various types of snapper, scallops from Hokkaido, in the north of Japan; a butter fish (ibodia); a bonito from the island of Kyushu; and bluefin tuna (maruga). At certain points, he employed a blowtorch to sear a morsel of fish such as iwashi, a seasonal sardine, or king salmon, or bluefin toro (tuna belly), a meal highlight, towards the evening’s culinary climax. Azumi caps off the 90-minute meal – which may only be five customers on any given night — with a grouping of sea urchin from Mexico. As Azumi explained, normally his sea urchin is sourced from Santa Barbara, but seaweed damage this season curtailed the crop in Santa Barbara, and so he turned to Baja California suppliers.

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.
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