Taisho Debuts in Sherman Oaks with Sushi Plus a Twist

It is one of a kind.

After years of opening restaurants for other companies, Christian Corben and Paul Carroll decided to launch one of their own. Their concept—which combines sushi and robata, the Japanese technique of slow grilling—came to life with the opening of Taisho this summer.

After years of opening restaurants for other companies, Christian Corben and Paul Carroll decided to launch one of their own. Their concept—which combines sushi and robata, the Japanese technique of slow grilling—came to life with the opening of Taisho this summer.

Taisho is as much a restaurant as it is a bar. Behind its unassuming facade of Brazilian walnut panels lies a hidden, renovated space that last housed the long-standing French restaurant Café Bizou.

“The vibe we’re going for is we’re on Ventura Boulevard, but we really want to have that Soho House-meets-Nobu Malibu feel.”

Instead of a sushi bar, a drinking bar topped with white quartz serves as the restaurant’s centerpiece and is situated under a vaulted ceiling lined with complementing light-hued oak. The back patio has black-and-white tiles imported from Italy, a living plant wall, and a 45-year-old bonsai tree.

“The vibe we’re going for is we’re on Ventura Boulevard, but we really want to have that Soho House-meets-Nobu Malibu feel,” Christian says.

Taisho, originally scheduled to open in May 2020 but delayed by the pandemic, has been a long time coming for the partners. Christian, who worked for over 20 years at Innovative Dining Group (IDG) and spearheaded restaurants like Sushi Roku and Katana, was hesitant at first to launch his own venture.

“I was doing so well at that company for so long, I was scared to branch off and really do it,” Christian says. “My wife’s the one that really pushed me to make it happen.” His wife, Pilates instructor Alexxa Corben, designed the space with Cristoph Kapeller of CK Architecture.

Christian and Paul met in 2006 at IDG and worked together for nearly a decade. Paul says they decided on opening Taisho together because they’ve “never had more fun than working in a Japanese restaurant.”

The convivial restaurant can be packed on a weeknight, filled with conversations and music loud enough that diners may have to raise their voices to get a word in.

Taisho has playful dishes from executive chef Macario Torres, formerly at Sushi Roku Santa Monica. Take his rendition of crispy Brussels sprouts: the hand-peeled leaves are lightly dusted with tempura flour, fried, and tossed with truffle oil and salt. His sashimi is dressed with toppings like shiso chimichurri, dried miso and yuzu kosho.

For the robata, the restaurant uses two custom-made grills with binchotan charcoal imported from Japan. The smoky flavor seeps into sea bass skewers and A-5 Wagyu beef short ribs.

Lead mixologist Elizabeth Strano features a humble selection of smooth and balanced cocktails, such as a ginger lychee mojito and a yuzu margarita. The majority of the robust drinks menu is filled with wine, beer and sake options.

It’s not uncommon for the two partners to stop by tables and pour samples of chilled sake while casually explaining their flavor profiles to the uninitiated. It may have something to do with the restaurant’s name, which translates to “leader.”

“We want to focus on genuine hospitality from the heart, like a commanding general leading hospitality,” notes Christian.

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