Los Angeles is a goldmine for sushi lovers, but with Japanese restaurants on almost every block, it’s not always easy to choose where to go. To help you out, here is our list of some of L.A.’s best spots for your sushi fix.
This small gem is one of Los Angeles’ best kept secrets. Tucked away next to a laundromat in the corner of a strip mall in Glendale, this humble 20-seat restaurant proves that location doesn’t matter. Although you can sit at a table and order à la carte, the best option is the omakase-only sushi bar, where chef Nishi can show you the best of what he has to offer. One especially notable treat is his signature marinated tuna; two bites of umami perfection served in an almost peanut-butter-rich sesame sauce. Omakase meals usually run around $100 per person, but Nishi-san will serve you until you tell him to stop.
Great sushi can often be expensive, so it’s no wonder that this solid restaurant in Little Tokyo is always packed. Diners line up an hour before opening to make sure they get a seat to enjoy the $20 sashimi lunch special, probably the best sushi deal in the city. The wait can be grueling, but you’re guaranteed to forget about it when you’re presented with a plentiful plate of tuna, salmon collar, yellowtail, crab, and other delicacies.
Roughly a block away from Sushi Gen, this venerable and cramped restaurant may draw some detractors, but generous (albeit sometimes sloppy) cuts of fish and fair prices keep it full every day of the week. The spicy tuna roll is unlike just about any other in the city. Komasa trades the usual tuna and chile oil purée for thick cubes of ruby-red tuna tossed with spicy mayo for a truly decadent bite. Komasa has a few dinner specials, but most meals are à la carte, with each piece of sushi ranging from roughly $3.50 to $6.00.
According to Jonathan Gold, the restaurant critic for the L.A. Times, “you do expect expensive wild sea bream to be treated reverently at a sushi bar. You do not expect the same care to be taken with a carrot.” Truly, Shunji is one of L.A.’s more distinctive sushi spots. Focusing on a variety of vegetable dishes as well as fresh fish, one can expect to see inventive courses that highlight the best of the season. Watch out for the restaurant’s signature tomato agedashi tofu, a dish as unique and delicious as it sounds. Full omakase meals run from around $90 to $150 per person.
A relative newcomer to the L.A. sushi scene, Q is an oasis of tranquility in the heart of bustling Downtown L.A. Chefs serve traditional Edomae-style appetizers and sushi to discerning customers, and buzz is quickly spreading. Recently, Q was nominated as one of Bon Appétit’s 50 best new restaurants in the U.S. for 2014, and it’s not hard to see why. Sparing no expense, Q treats diners to perfect cuts of blue fin tuna and creamy San Diego uni, a welcome departure from the popular Santa Barbara variety. Those who are feeling flush might opt for the full $165 dinner, but the $75 lunch is certainly worth the splurge.
Hidden in the back of the Beverly Hills branch of Sugarfish, this eight-seat omakase mecca is a love letter to expertly prepared sushi. Headed by sushi master Osamu Fujita, diners experience just over 20 courses of some of the best sushi and sashimi in the U.S. Totally shut off from the hustle and bustle of Beverly Hills, one can completely relax and become mesmerized by the expert hands and knives at work just inches away. That said, the atmosphere is anything but stuffy. Fujita-san is one of the most amiable itamae around, and loves to joke and talk with diners. All served with the signature Nozawa-style warm rice, look out for the refreshing Yamaimo (Japanese mountain yam) hand roll with shiso leaf and ume (pickled plum), as well as unique bites of nigiri like Maine lobster and Japanese spear squid. Dinner is $150 per person, and reservations must be made online in advance.