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enough is enough... WHATS THE BEST SUSHI IN LA??

I'm a sushi freak and being new to LA, all I hear about are the super popular and well known places that have the best sushi (Nobu, Matsuhisa, Urasawa, Katana, Koi, Geisha House) and I'm sure they are wonderful. They are also expensive no doubt (i've been to Koi - fantastic, their spicy crispy tuna roll is the best thing ive tasted and Geisha House, also good).

Please give me some help, so many options in LA I want to try all, but also want to have some guidance!! thanks

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    1. None of the places you mentioned get a lot of praise on these boards because most have more style than substance. I wouldn't order sushi at Koi, for instance.

      People mean a lot of things when they say "sushi" so if you explain what you are looking for in a sushi place (sashimi, purest nigiri, omakase, modern fusion done well, crazy rolls, cooked food, budget deals), give locations, and price ranges you'll get better suggestions.

      8 Replies
      1. re: JudiAU

        I could not agree more! None of those places have anything I would even remotely consider good or authentic sushi.
        For real omakase, and sashimi, go to Sasabune. It's listed in the phone book as Sushi Sasabune. It was once a hole in the wall little joint that only a lucky few knew about, but has expanded to a nice restaurant on Wilshire. Quality has amazingly stayed consistent.

        1. re: Aaron

          2nd Sasabune. For more casual, Taka-sushi on 2nd Street off Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.

          1. re: Aaron

            isn't that the place with the presliced fish?

          2. re: JudiAU

            purest nigiri is what im after

            1. re: ewrohde

              sushi zo is TOPS for the hard core, straight up edomae-style nigiri. not that they serve anything else, anyway. haha.

              1. re: ewrohde

                Try the omakase lunch special at Kiriko (open for lunches only on weekdays). You'll get nice pieces of incredible nigiri (including preparations of toro and other high-end fish depending on what is freshest), a blue crab roll, soup, salad, and homemade ice cream for $29.50. If there is something you don't like, Ken will take it into account.

                1. re: ewrohde

                  if purest nigiri is what you're after, go directly to zo.

                  Sushi Zo. 9824 National Blvd Unit C Los Angeles, CA 90034 Phone: (310) 842-3977

                  they are closed on sundays.

              2. sushi freaks know sushi chefs and stay away from places simply b/c they have
                publicists. drive down to lower Orange County or up to Ventura blvd. and explore.

                i wouldn't touch anything at geisha house. Koi is almost awful. much like hotel food.
                matsuhisa is mediocre sushi in an ugly environment. you'll see celebrities and wannabes.

                this sort of mentality amazes me as much as it bothers me

                7 Replies
                1. re: epop

                  whoah, whoah, whoah... slow down there. matsuhisa RULES. it's not a sushi restaurant, although they do have a counter. if you ever notice, the 'celebrities' are never sitting at the sushi counter, because they're not stupid. well, ok - maybe they are stupid, but no one really thinks this is a sushi place.

                  1. re: logan

                    Haha...oh, trust me, celebrities do sit at the sushi bar. ;-)

                    But I must say I love Matsuhisa, too! And in no way because of celebrities, although I don't mind chatting it up with a hot guy. I'm always delighted by the chef's novel creations, and their conversations. Service is always sweet, too. :)

                    1. re: chica

                      if you go with the prix fixe menu, best. meal. ever. (ok ok, one of the best). and if you see pacino there, so what.

                      1. re: logan

                        the last time i ordered omakase at matsuhisa, a dish arrived consisting of raw fish drowned in olive oil with sauteed garlic slices on top.
                        the taste was reminiscent of the garlic oil (raw minced garlic mixed with cheap olive oil) served at alejo's italien restaurant in westchester.

                        it was the last time i set foot in matsuhisa

                    2. re: logan

                      i won't go back there after all the rushed bad service i've gotten. i like space and time when i go somewhere.

                      the non-sushi is fine, certainly, but i'm only referring here to people like the original poster above who says matsuhisa is a great sushi place.

                      i constantly hear about it as a sushi place. they have good PR crews behind them. so we're sort of both right

                      1. re: logan

                        whoa, whoa.... the "sushi freak" above that started these posts referred to it as a sushi place. even below Condiment says it was one of the top 3 for sushi. it is very often described as a sushi place. people at tables order plenty of sushi. i agree with you that the cooked food can be good, but for me it isn't worth the cost. + by cost i mean yes the bill is large but the greater cost is the lousy and rushed service on cramped tables that they try to stuff as much food on as quickly as possible to get you out of there. the malibu branch is totally different, in my experience.

                        it is overrated, in my book. + yes it is a sushi restaurant

                        1. re: epop

                          i agree to disagree entirely.

                    3. I know people dislike the sushi chef, but Kazu in Studio has the best omakase IMHO.

                      1. Here's a very informative thread (see Bert's post) from earlier in the year.


                        1. the original poster mentioned urasawa. that is, far and away, the best sushi in LA. do not even mention geisha house, katana, etc. in the same breath - those are not real sushi restaurants, more like glorified corporate nightspots masquerading as "japanese" food!

                          for someething a little less astronomical in price, however, go to sushi zo and kiriko.

                          do a few searches and you'll find quite a few places defended vehemently by various hounds. but it's usually the same several names popping up. names like nozawa, nishimura, mori, shibucho, kiriko, zo, irori, etc. choose wisely.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: rameniac

                            I love Irori. I always go there to binge on the omasake. =D

                            1. re: mstinawu

                              i used to love irori, but now i've been spoiled at sushi zo.
                              the last time i went to irori, not only were the pieces of sushi ill-crafted, the fish was just ok (not excellent), and the sauces that were applied by the sushi chef probably were applied with a fire hose.

                              there was no delicacy of flavor whatsoever.

                          2. Let us agree to disagree on this matter. Every post on this Board about sushi elicits a huge number of responses -- each to his own.

                            I think JudiAU's approach explains what is going on; each of us has our own preferences. For me, the sushi experience is just that: it is more than just the food items. Going to a sushi bar excites all of the senses; so for me, I enjoy the total experience: the expertise of the chef, the presentation, the textures, the creativity, the dishes, the "vibe," the quality of the fish, the rice, the temperature contrasts, the decor... Surely, then, for me, every sushi bar has its own personality which is more than the sum of all of these parts.

                            Others, perhaps, as JudiAU points out, are focused on quantity or the rolls or the sauces, etc. etc. So, each of us will have our favorites; there just is no single answer to this question of "the best," given our variety and number of choices, and given our own preferences.

                            If one can prioritize his preferences, then perhaps respondents can come up with a short list of the best for that individual.

                            1. Best sushi and spicy crispy tuna roll????? It's not sushi you are after. That's American food. Sit at a sushi bar where you can talk to the chef (try to identify the head chef), order omakase, never question the chef, eat everything even if you don't like it, learn some sushi etiquette, go twice in the first week to let them know you are serious and there are many places in LA where you can have very good sushi. Or, on the other hand, Koi has a good yellowtail sashimi with ponzu and jalapeno...

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: cls

                                You know, this reply is a crystallised example of why people are so intimidated by a pile of vinegared rice and some fish or seafood.

                                With the possible exceptions of New York pizza and barbecue, I've never seen a topic on this L.A. board that occasions such rude responses. It's not just this thread -- I'll bet that if I did a search on the words "best sushi", nine out of the first ten threads would have someone talking about how if you like spicy tuna hand roll, you're not worthy of eating sushi; the rules you must follow so that you can pretend you're a Japanese person eating sushi in one of the temples of the cuisine in Japan; why you must never say anything about the sushi.

                                It's all, if you'll forgive my coarseness, a load of bullpucky.

                                This is food we are talking about here, not religion. Nothing kills a restaurant experience for me faster than people who are busy worshipping the chef instead of eating. One of the worst dining experiences I ever had was when I ate at the French Laundry for the first time and the room was full of wide-eyed disciples murmuring in hushed tones, with that G-d awful thoughtful nodding. "These people aren't having food, they're having a sacrament," was my dining companion's comment.

                                I agree with the idea of asking omakase, because you're likely to get a lot better food than if you order off a list. If you don't question the chef, if you don't provide any feedback other than "yes-man" moans of delight, you won't have as good an experience as you might if you let him know that you didn't love the uni, or didn't love the texture of the toro, or whatever. If you hate what you're eating (as I do with uni), why would you force yourself to continue?

                                Spicy tuna rolls are absolutely sushi. They're not high-end, but they are made with sushi rice, thus they are sushi. Just because someone considers them pedestrian doesn't mean they aren't sushi. There are places for great spicy tuna hand rolls and places where the tone is elevated beyond that, just as you wouldn't order a ham and cheese sandwich at L'Orangerie or shrimp scampi at the Tallyrand.

                                What's needed is clarification, not a blanket generalisation that the OP isn't looking for sushi worthy of the name. There's so much sushi on so many levels in this city; it's entirely possible that the OP didn't know that.

                                If the OP is looking for the best all-around sushi place, that's neither a Temple of Fish nor a supermarket take-out, Sasabune, Tama or Hide would be my votes. If the OP is looking for a place to get crazy rolls, it would have to be Chomp! in Fullerton.

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    Sasabune's "omakase" is just a preset sushi order, big deal - never anything seasonal
                                    Go to sushi go 55 and order a reasonably priced sushi combo or chirashi plate - or sit at the counter and learn something from kawasaki.
                                    Would onigiri made with sushi rice be sushi? If i take porcini in sauce and pour it over sushi rice would it be sushi?
                                    But yes I agree with D UberG - spicy tuna rolls are sushi - fusion notwithstanding. But maybe the OP would like to go to try places which take sushi seriously - the question was the best sushi restaurant, not the most fun loud hip place that serves sushi-like dishes. I can't believe that Das Ubergeek would think that Koi and Geisha House are anywhere near the best places to get sushi, although they are lovely places to get drinx and a snack, even sushi-reminiscent snax.

                                    1. re: Jerome

                                      Where did I say that Koi and Geisha House are the best places to get sushi? In point of fact, I mentioned Sasabune, Tama and Hide.

                                      Sushi refers to sushi meshi -- rice with the vinegar, sugar and salt. So yes, technically anything you put over that rice is sushi. Whether anyone would accept it as sushi is a horse of a different colour.

                                      1. re: Jerome

                                        I had not been to Go 55 for some time, but in the last 3 weeks I went once, and Kawasaki-San served me yamakaki and natto. About 16 days later I happened to be close, decided that the Japanese market had some stuff I needed, and I went again. I was seated in front of him. He looked at me hard for a moment, pointed at me and said "YAMAKAKE!" A remarkable memory and a truly good place. I tried to out-fox them with the most exotic fish I know and they have all of them, and then, not only some, but a whole lot. Too bad it's in downtown.

                                      2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                        I think you are missing the point. Sushi generally is served by a Japanese chef with years of training who takes his craft very seriously. Therefore in order to have good sushi you can go to any number of places in LA as long as you know the rules. You will get better sushi at the bar, by ordering omakase, etc. If you don't know the rules, chances are you will insult the chef numerous times during your meal and he will not take you very seriously. If you want to have the best sushi in LA, it takes some knowledge and commitment. You may get refused or at best scraps of bad tuna if you order a spicy tuna roll.

                                        1. re: cls

                                          You're still in this place where "good sushi" to you means high-end, fancy stuff. Sushi doesn't have to be Urasawa to be good. It doesn't have to be Nozawa or Sasabune to be good.

                                          You're right -- if you go to Nozawa and ask for spicy tuna roll, you'll get thrown out or at least humiliated, but that has nothing to do with whether a spicy tuna roll can be good sushi, it has to do with Nozawa thinking he is above that.

                                          This business of "you'll insult the chef" drives me crazy. If I ask for something the chef doesn't make, he just needs to say "no, I don't make that". Then, if I get all bent out of shape, it's my problem, not his (because it's his restaurant).

                                          I'm all for cultural sensitivity but it's unreasonable to expect everyone who walks into a sushi bar to know all the little ins and outs of etiquette. How do you think people learn? Did you know all the rules before you went to a sushi bar?

                                          If you go in and you honestly don't know, a sushi chef who really cares about people learning to love the output of his hands will teach them. This is predicated on consideration both ways -- both that the diner will not demand things the sushi chef doesn't make, and that the sushi chef won't be rude to the diner if the diner doesn't know.

                                          I do know a lot of the rules of "serious" sushi (though I still hate uni and won't eat it), but if I see a chef being rude to a newbie who genuinely doesn't know, I won't eat there anymore.

                                          Spicy tuna, by the way, was originally designed as a way to use the scraps that were unacceptable for maguro, the old adage that an ounce of sauce hides a pound of sins.

                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                            I agree totally. I don't worry about insulting the chef. I never order omakase. I know what I want and ususally get it. And I don't need your Urasawas and Geisha Houses when I can get great sushi without having to venture far from my neighborhood at a fraction of the price, such as:

                                            Little Tokyo in San Dimas
                                            Futami in Monrovia
                                            Z Sushi in Alhambra
                                            Kanpachi in Gardena(when I'm out there)

                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                              lol there's a restaurant called "little tokyo in san dimas?" z sushi is not bad, but not stellar either.

                                              i used to not order omakase and just go for say, 10 variations on on tuna. sometimes i still do when i'm craving the fleshy fish. but i'd say that omakase is worth it every once in a while because it's fun to let a good chef surprise you.

                                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                oh wait DUH. just "little tokyo" lol. i feel stupid now.

                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                  AS to omakase, I usually don't order omakase in a new place - new for me and my being new for the chef. If i like the place and go back a few times, then I'll try omakase. But as I saw at sasabune - the omakase is just a set of sushi that comes out no matter what's in season or not - at least so far as I saw.

                                                2. re: cls

                                                  OK. I understand that there are a range of cultures, each with its idea of what a chef is/knows and what a restaurant experience should be like. I also know which cultures make me comfortable as a patron - the Thai idea that the chef knows his/her stuff, but you know the way you like the food to taste (spiciness, sweetness, etc.) and you can use condiments to customize the food from a family style plate, that has always appealed to me.

                                                  So, with sushi, I understand the Japanese cultural respect for a chef's vision and for not messing with that vision. But you know what? I am not in Japan and I don't always want that kind of experience. And that is why Kiriko is one of my favorite places for sushi. Chef Ken does not look down on my girlfriend because she loves his spicy tuna rolls - he seems genuinely happy that someone enjoyed the food he worked hard to prepare. He doesn't look down on me because I don't really like mackerel - he just whips up some wonderful Japanese red snapper for me.

                                                  Kiriko has sushi for the purists and cooked dishes for those who don't want uni and it has a smile and friendly nod for the people who order what they like.

                                                  11301 Olympic Blvd #102 (entrance is on Sawtelle)

                                                  1. re: igj

                                                    OK, since this post won't die, let me try in a different way:

                                                    If you want the best sushi you can have it just about anywhere. You do not need to spend Urasawa money, or fight a Geisha house scene. Follow a couple of rules and most sushi chefs will respond and are capable of serving you the best sushi in LA. This is why good sushi bars have regulars, and why it seems everyone on this board is convinced they know who has the best sushi. Most chefs have worked for years perfecting their craft and have at some level a Japanese sensibility of etiquette. You would be wise to be sensitive to this if you want to be served the best sushi.

                                                    Whether we like it or not, we have the same rules here, we just intuitively understand them. Would anyone go to Providence and order fish and chips, or to Mastros and order well done top sirloin? Now, picture ordering directly from Cimarusti. Would you turn down anything he suggested? And if you think Cimarusti has pride...

                                                    Eat spicy tuna to your hearts content if that's what you want, but if it's the best sushi you are after, there is a good chance you will never get it if that's what you order.

                                                    1. re: cls

                                                      OK, I'll bite: what are these unwritten rules that will get me the best sushi ?

                                                3. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                  Once again, I bow to you Master Das. Ever so wise.

                                              2. Who's the most beautiful man/woman on earth?

                                                3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Noclue

                                                      About a friend: she is the spicy tuna roll of girlfriends.

                                                  1. For affordable, high quality, and great service, Yamato in Encino Town Centre.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Emme

                                                      Wow, I couldn't disagree more. Yamato is nothing special and isn't even the best sushi on that block. Hirosuke across the street is far superior. While it excels in the non-traditional category (i.e., crazy rolls with sauces), it's regular nigiri is better than Yamato's. However, for traditional nigiri, Sushi Iki in Tarzana is the best in the Encino/Tarzana/Sherman Oaks area (and, yes, I know I'm saying it's better than Katsu-Ya and Sushi 4-on-6). Iki is more expensive than Hirosuke and Yamato, and is on the same cost level as Nozawa. As a result, I find Hirosuke to be a pretty good option for people who are not insistent on having the absolute best quality (at the top prices).

                                                      As for LA generally, I have never been to Urusawa, but otherwise, I haven't had any fish as good as what I get at Kiriko.

                                                      1. re: Jwsel

                                                        Sushi IKI is pretty damn good. Spicy tuna hand roll there was the size of a small burrito.

                                                    2. The answer is a no-brainer, as long as we are talking about ``best'' sushi and not favorite sushi: Urasawa. The fish is of a quality not even approached by other sushi restaurants in Los Angeles, Urasawa gets an encyclopedic variety of seasonal Japanese produce that never makes it to other restaurants, and his virtuosity is second to none, although his presence isn't quite as commanding as Masa's was.

                                                      The second-best sushi is at Mori in West L.A., at least if you are diverting and discerning enough to catch the chef's attention. Both Mori and Urasawa are ruinously expensive.

                                                      At one point I would have put Matsuhisa in the top three, but even as a long-time regular, I have been getting assembly-line food for the last few years. There is a limit to the number of restaurants even the great Matsuhisa can run successfully. After that, it's a ten-way tie, with Kiriko, Shibucho, Tenn, Wa and Tama bubbling to the top, depending on mood.

                                                      Koi and Geisha House, btw, tend to have impeccably sourced traditional sushi and sashimi that is excellent to superb. Most of the people who damn the restaurants have either never been or have concentrated too much of their attention on the crispy-spicy end of the menu.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: condiment

                                                        Urasawa is worth every penny. 250- maybe a lot of $$ but all things considered it's a relative bargain for what you get. We are returning with 8 friends in early Oct (last visit May), nothing beats reserving the Whole Sushi Bar(total 10) and having Hiro's total attention.
                                                        To reproduce the URASAWA experience:
                                                        1000- ea Airfare to Tokyo (or more if you like 1st class)
                                                        500- ea Same Food
                                                        300- ea Hotel
                                                        500- misc
                                                        2300- ea
                                                        Priceless (Urasawa is a bargain)

                                                        1. re: russkar

                                                          we've done this:
                                                          450 - ea airfare to JFK
                                                          500 - ea lunch at MASA with drinks
                                                          250 - misc.
                                                          0 - hotel (same day trip)
                                                          1200 - ea

                                                          actually, russkar, value for the money, your trip to tokyo would be a better value!

                                                          makes URASAWA a bargain, but i do like MASA better.

                                                          1. re: revets2

                                                            You must've taken the redeye in order to get there in time for lunch. Your miscellaneous expenses are intriguing but I'm assuming not a proper topic for this board.

                                                            1. re: Debbie W

                                                              if anyone wants to do it from los angeles, the 11:45pm red eye would be the way to go. we surprised my brother for his birthday, so it was a special occasion.

                                                              misc. expenses were breakfast at bouley bakery and transportation.

                                                              that being said, for less than double the $$$, a night in tokyo would be the call, if only my brother was not in brooklyn.

                                                            2. re: revets2

                                                              Hiro Urasawa is Masa's Prized Pupil. Hiro can create miracles and his style is totally different as you know. We had the "Smarts & Duckets" from the moment Ginza(Masa) was on Wilshire to Rodeo to visit Masa several times, cheaper than flying(staying) to NYC? I think Masa is sharing an employee with Hiro at present but don't tell anyone?

                                                          2. re: condiment

                                                            i can almost agree with this. mori comes in just a notch under urusawa, but it sits in that pocket where i'm not likely to go there. if i'm gonna splurge on the whole experience, i'd just as well go to urusawa. if i want excellent but reasonable stuff, i'll go for one of the places in the ten-way tie (not sure i'd put Tama in there, which seemed pretty mediocre).

                                                            i'll admit that i take liberties with geisha house simply based on its name and image alone, which to me definitely can knock a restaurant down a few notches.

                                                            1. re: condiment

                                                              I have to disagree about the "excellent to superb" sashimi at Geisha House. Was there recently, had yellowtail and some other non-memorable dishes. It was some of the worst overpriced raw fish I've had in a long time. They have some great drinks, tho.

                                                            2. Geisha House has a few good rolls. I have had about every roll that place has and know what roll to get and which ones to avoid. The shrimp tempura roll (fried fresh) is my favorite, the Red Samurai is quite delicious with the combination of fresh tuna, spicy tuna and avocado,

                                                              1. The best sushi in L.A. is at a small neighborhood sushi shop that you go to at least once a week so that the owner/chef knows you personally, knows what you like, and keeps the best fish in a little refrigerator behind the sushi bar, out of sight of most of the diners.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Cucinamore

                                                                  I'd also like to throw NOSHI SUSHI on Beverly in Korea Town into the mix. With so many sushi places available this is always our first choice. Fresh clean fish, generous portions, perfectly seasoned rice, (no crazy rolls with creamcheese!) extremely reasonable prices (think $20-25 per person max) and the california rolls with real crab (imagine that) are completely addictive.
                                                                  They also introduced us to the delights of Ume Shiso Maki (Pickled Plum and Shiso Leaf).

                                                                  1. re: Bazza90036

                                                                    Noshi's spicy tuna handroll is really, really good!

                                                                  2. re: Cucinamore

                                                                    cucinamore, i agree with you. my 'little sushi shop' is Sushi Karen. Chef Toshi recognizes/acknowledges me everytime I go and makes it a point to talk to me. I know others haven't mentioned it in this thread, but i could care less. it's good to me.

                                                                  3. There is no such thing as "the best sushi in LA." These general and vague questions just lead to hundreds of opinions, all of them as passionate and valid as the next. Can we try to be a little more specific when posting on Chowhound? I don't know how many of these "what's the best [fill in the blank]" posts I've read...

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Clare K

                                                                      so true-- bad questions invite confused answers. wittgenstein. + so these endless
                                                                      1/2 debates about the best pizza or the best sushi

                                                                      1. re: epop

                                                                        epop - I love your very appropriate Wittgenstein quote! (Wittgenstein is currently in my nightstand drawer!)

                                                                      2. re: Clare K

                                                                        Is it always possible to posit something s the ``best?''
                                                                        Clearly, no. Aesthetics differ. But in cooking,
                                                                        it is possible to separate out those very few whose sourcing,
                                                                        technique, training and sensitivity are sufficient to
                                                                        let us consider aesthetics at all. And whether or not one
                                                                        admires the style of Mori or Urasawa, one must recognize that
                                                                        they take pains with sourcing and preparation that are several
                                                                        levels above what chefs who don't grow their own rice or
                                                                        don't have private buyers in Osaka manage to muster. And whether
                                                                        Mori's aesthetic is congruent with one's own - actually, I find
                                                                        his sensibility rather austere - the absolute quality of his
                                                                        sushi is empirically higher than it is in the hands of a chef
                                                                        whose style one may prefer, say the lush touch of Ken at Kiriko.

                                                                      3. Tier 1: Urasawa

                                                                        Tier 2: Hiko, Kiriko, R-23, Sasabune

                                                                        Tier 3: Sushi Zo, Noma, OK little nabe places like that

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: jcwla

                                                                          maybe you don't like it as much, but i'd definitely put zo up a level.

                                                                          1. re: jcwla

                                                                            This is exactly to the point that I was trying to make a few responses back. Perhaps we will all agree that Urasawa in Beverly Hills is in a category by itself. However, even Urasawa is not for everyone...for various reasons. And beyond that, we will agree to disagree without further specific information about what one is looking for in a sushi bar for a particular visit. And even with a list of the particulars, we can only come up with a short list -- but not a definitive list!

                                                                            1. re: jcwla

                                                                              this is the first post where i completely agree

                                                                            2. God -- it is impossible to reply where you're supposed to in a long thread in this new format.

                                                                              Anyway, the reason not to eat "spicy" anything is not that it doesn't conform to somebody's standard of "authenticity" but that "spicy" indicates the bad/old stuff that they disguise with the "spicy."

                                                                              1. cucinamore and clare k all make excellent points. I'm not saying I had the best sushi today for lunch but I had excellent omakase today at dylicios's recommendation sushi park. When I walked in I was accosted b the hostess as she pointed to a chalk board that read: "traditional sushi. No spicy tuna, tempura, terriyaki. Sushi bar chef's choice only." I knew I had came to the right place. I had a lot and it was delicious for only 100 bucks! I'll return.

                                                                                1. Did I just miss it, or did nobody mention NOZAWA in Studio City?!?!?

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: OliveBelle

                                                                                    for the price point, yes definitely. i wasn't sure if nozawa was what the o.p was looking for (no frills/service/decor, just plain old great sushi).

                                                                                      1. re: choctastic

                                                                                        We were at Nozawa yesterday for lunch for the Zillionth time and if it doesn't serve the Finest, Freshest Fish then I'm not sure who does, except Urasawa? We've eaten at most of the Sushi Restaurants in LA.

                                                                                        1. re: choctastic

                                                                                          i went there and the fish was ricockulously overpriced and not good...and i've eaten sushi at Kozue at the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku....Nozawa is wack

                                                                                          1. re: choctastic

                                                                                            This split sentiment on Nozawa is fascinating. The decor, etc. is poor, but, I have always found the fish to be excellent.

                                                                                        2. Hello I am gordita's son, i'm ten. A good sushi place is Kabuki. If you got there try the shrimp roll, it's very good and so is the other sushi.

                                                                                          1. you know, if we're gonna go the inauthnetic spicy-crispy-roll route, i'm gonna just throw caution (and um, aesthetics) to the wind and say go to California Roll Factory. where you can make up your own dang roll, name it, and plaster it on the wall. i don't know who "Scott" is/was, but he he put all my favorite junk into one roll - shrimp tempura, tuna, etc. and signed his name to it. ladies and gentlemen, the "Scott's Roll" at California Roll Factory in Santa Monica lol. god bless him and budget fish during my UCLA days...

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: rameniac

                                                                                              haha, i was at this one POS of joint called Kaya Sushi in the Marina. (god awful). they had rolls named after everyone in the world... scott, jeni, bill.

                                                                                              on the note about 'favorite junk into a roll'... i'm waiting for the day this happens to sushi rolls... http://youtube.com/watch?v=NEF-3PiQdq0

                                                                                              1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                                                                                                HaHAHahaHA~ That is halarious/frightingly true.

                                                                                                1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                                                                                                  Very, very funny! I was laughing in the beginning, and hysterical by the end!!! Ohhhh, the truth can be scary! It really reminds me of what happens every year with county fair food!

                                                                                                  1. re: liu

                                                                                                    At this year's county fair, don't be surprised if you see the World's Largest California roll. 50 yards of nori wrapped around 200 lbs. of rice, 2,657 crabs, an avocado orchard and bushels of hothouse cucumbers. Scary.

                                                                                              2. LA loves to beat this dead horse over and over again... it's Urasawa, nothing else is close. Don't go if you are expecting anything "spicy".

                                                                                                1. The best comment I have ever heard about Matsuhisa was from a Japanese man whose family now lives in the U.S. He said that when his mother has a craving for American food, she goes to Matsuhisa.

                                                                                                  I have eaten there numerous times, including with regulars who would order up $600 worth of food for the table and never, not one single time, have I enjoyed it. They disguise mediocre fish with spicy sauces.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: omotosando

                                                                                                    i agree with you, for the most part. somehow people defend the place. then again billions are served at MCD so all those people have opinions.

                                                                                                    not much is worse than an overhyped overpriced meal

                                                                                                  2. the original poster is asking for GUIDANCE, not the BEST. a good basic understanding can first be gained at places such as SUSHI GEN. someone else suggested SUSHI GO 55, but i've not been. try some omakase at friendly and helpful places such as AZAMI & SASABUNE. then move onto places such as NOSAWA and SUSHI ZO. take a lap around NISHIMURA, TAMA's omakase room with katsu, and MATSUHUISA's omakase room. then move onto the best in the southland; there's only one. next thing you know, you'll be off to masa in new york, jiro and kyubei in tokyo and koyoshi in osaka.

                                                                                                    enjoy your adventure!

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: revets2

                                                                                                      Extra kudos to Go 55. Amazing stuff.

                                                                                                    2. Geisha House is more for the scene than for the food (which actually is not bad, but far from being the best).

                                                                                                      I agree with going to Sushi Gen & Azami, both are good to get a basic understanding/appreciation for sushi. (definitely check out the omakase for the latter.)

                                                                                                      Almost all the places you hear as the best are really high-priced so I'd probably avoid until you get a feel for what you like & what you don't first before dropping so much dough.

                                                                                                      1. With over 70 responses in this thread, I'm sure this will get lost in the discussion, but here are my recs. Bear in mind, all japanese sushi restaurants are better when you let the chef choose the food ("omakase"). The chef's attitude changes, and you'll have a much better experience, and often better cuts of fish.

                                                                                                        Sushi Sushi - Small place on Beverly Drive & Olympic. Many perfect bites of both standard & rare fish. Can get pricey.
                                                                                                        Sushi Bizen - Hole in the wall on Ventura. Decent prices, quality increases exponentially when you get omakase.
                                                                                                        Azami - Great omakase. Chefs who will surprise you with their preparations and occasional rare breed of fish.
                                                                                                        Sushi Gen - Great prices for quality fish, nothing out of the ordinary.
                                                                                                        Take Sushi - On Sunset near Tower Records, looks silly from the outside but the fish is actually quite good. Has gone downhill a bit since owners changed.
                                                                                                        Takao - Brentwood. Not really good for straight nigiri sushi, but spectacular dishes when you order an omakase course.
                                                                                                        Nishimura - Place without a sign across from the Pacific Design Center. Only went once, spent a ton of money, and loved it. Almost every bite blew my mind. Specifically, there was saltwater eel that still haunts my dreams a year later.

                                                                                                        Nozawa & Sasabune are high-quality and tasty, but offer a very specific meal with little variation, and personally I'm not a huge fan of warm rice (although I know it's supposed to mimic the style of Tokyo street-vendors from years ago).

                                                                                                        And a couple of California-style places:
                                                                                                        Katsu-ya: Overhyped & overcrowded but delicious.
                                                                                                        Hamasaku: Overpriced but delicious.

                                                                                                        Special mention to Yagumo on Vanowen & Van Nuys Blvd. in the Valley. Cheap, fun, and surprisingly good fish. The owner/chef is Indian, but speaks fluent Japanese and has a very Japanese attitude about his restaurant. Nozawa it ain't, but even my Japanese wife has a great time there.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: alexfood

                                                                                                          Nishimura is uneven. I had a sushi dinner there that also blew my mind. Went back and for some reason was charged twice as much for sushi that didn't blow my mind. Haven't been back since. If I am going to spend big money on sushi, it had better be good.

                                                                                                        2. I really like Asanube on Ventura. Spendy but I've had great food there. My local is decent as well, Omino Sushi up in Chatsworth. Not amazing, but a couple blocks from my house and probably as good as Tama.

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: gideon

                                                                                                            Go Sushi (I haven't been in awhile, so I am trusting that it is still there and still good????) at Shoup and Sherman Way at least deserves mention. It can be extremely pricey and sloooow and even tedious, perhaps, but I remember the sushi to be really, really good.

                                                                                                            Maybe someone who has been there more recently than I can add an opinion on this bar.

                                                                                                            1. re: gideon

                                                                                                              Omino's pretty good, been a couple of times, it would be in our regular rotation if it was closer. But with so many good places on Ventura Blvd., we have to be motivated to drive to Chatsworth.

                                                                                                                1. re: revets2

                                                                                                                  Yeah, Asanebo is on Ventura in between Colfax and Laurel Canyon. I think it's Asanebo, that's what my cell says I entered at least. Spendy but I liked it.

                                                                                                              1. just ate a terrific omakase at SUSHI ZO. i don't typically post about a restaurant i haven't experienced at least twice, but my family members have also been more than once and also really like it and i trust their opinions

                                                                                                                my sister stated that although she loves urasawa for the food, atmosphere and experience, she might just like to eat at sushi zo three or four times vs. eating at urasawa once.

                                                                                                                i think, ewrohde, this may be a great place for you to try. top quality, sublime flavors and he also has tasteful literature on the menu and on the table for sushi etiquette and the proper way to eat sushi.

                                                                                                                i can't wait to go back.

                                                                                                                SUSHI ZO
                                                                                                                9824 National Blvd. just north of the I-10

                                                                                                                1. For Tier 2 sushi, just an everyday place that won't break the bank but still very good quality food/fish, I like Hamakawa, in Little Tokyo/Downtown. For a little bit more of a special occasion (more b/c it's kind of a pain to get there from Pasadena), I like Mori's. But I would put Mori at more like a 2.5. It's very good, but it's not so much an event as it is a very enjoyable meal. Have yet to try Urasawa, but am very much looking fwd to it.

                                                                                                                  on Sep 18, 2006 jcwla replied

                                                                                                                  Tier 1: Urasawa

                                                                                                                  Tier 2: Hiko, Kiriko, R-23, Sasabune

                                                                                                                  Tier 3: Sushi Zo, Noma, OK little nabe places like that

                                                                                                                  1. I had perhaps the worst restaurant experience I have had since moving to L.A. at En Sushi. Overcooked tuna (and tough) for a 'seared dish', nonexistent service. The sushi itself wasn't horrible, but possibly my least favorite restaurant in the city.

                                                                                                                    On another note - big fan of Kiriko

                                                                                                                    1. if the OP truly wants to find the best sushi in LA, Sushi Nozawa in studio city would not be a bad place to start. That's the place that made me first truly appreciate great sushi by a great chef about 10 years ago. i moved on to places closer to home since then, but my first meal there is still very memorable. Nozawa won't make a "spicy crispy tuna roll" as referenced by the OP (just sit at the bar and let him decide what you eat), but after eating there you will probably never want to eat a spicy crispy roll ever again.

                                                                                                                      i think the place gets a bad rap on this board because: it can be very crowded, it has no ambiance, and the sushi chef is not talkative and has probably offended many a patron by appearing unfriendly. plus, i think its not open on the weekends and their shared mini-mall parking lot is awful. but if you try it, you won't soon forget the first time that you put great sushi into your mouth.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: go_bears

                                                                                                                        Yes, a good answer to the mystery I have had about why Nozawa get such divided reviews. My experience was exactly like yours.

                                                                                                                      2. The latest newcomer, k-zo in Culver City, is the best. Great sushi, great service, great location, great ambience, great chef. Great great great.

                                                                                                                        1. The 'best' sushi in LA may be too open-ended and emotion-inspiring, as you've seen by the responses, but the 'freshest' I've had in LA is at The Hump in the Santa Monica airport. If you ask they will kill the fish at your table and leave its head, still breathing, next to the plate while you eat it. That same fish was flown from Japan within the last 24 hours.

                                                                                                                          I haven't been to many places that can say that.

                                                                                                                          Now back to 'Best'...luckily we live in one of the best sushi cities in North America so there are a number of 'Best' places. Matsuhisa is definitely great, but if you're willing to sacrifice on atmosphere and selection, you can find dozens of places with equal quality and half the price.

                                                                                                                          1. Not sure if you can define the BEST sushi - there are so many different kinds of experiences one can have at a sushi restaurant. Do you want pure sushi, nothing else, do you want clever concoctions?

                                                                                                                            NOZAWA (Studio City)- I'd say Nozawa-san has managed to corner the market on no-frills excellence. Here you're going to get fish and rice, nothing more. But the Albacore is melt in your mouth delicious, Iwashi fat, soft and tangy, Blue Crab Roll simply delicious. And his sushi rice is always WARM

                                                                                                                            ASANEBO (Studio City) - Great innovative dishes, great sushi. I'd go here for omakase, as I've consistently found it to be innovative, clever and delicious. Careful though - could spend upwards of $150/person

                                                                                                                            KATSU-YA - Great atmosphere, loud, boisterous, good dishes, sushi okay. This is a great place to go (either Studio City or Encino Location) if you're relatively new to sushi, you like your sushi a certain way, or you love ordering teh same thing every time you go back to a restaurant.

                                                                                                                            ITA-CHO (Beverly Blvd and La Brea) Trendy, tasty food. This place is more about the other plates like Ricon, Agedashi Tofu and Shishito thatn the sushi. Very popular joint for the Hollywood set

                                                                                                                            GEISHA HOUSE (Hollywood) - More of a nightclub than a sushi bar in my opinion - especially as they have no sushi bar! Sushi is good, plates are good, but nothing spectacular - this place is all about the atmosphere.

                                                                                                                            R23 (Downtown)- Great sushi, cool environment. Seasonal specials. Expensive. Great service. Also good omakase.

                                                                                                                            IZAYOI (Downtown) - Surprised this place doesn't get more press - this is my favorite place to go regularly - Junishi-san is an old friend from his days up in the old Ita Cho space on Highland and Santa Monica. Omakase is consistently good and he's always ttrying new things. Packed with Japanese people which I always find is a good sign. Great selection of Sake and Shoch (my favorite) and they have Kirin Ichiban on tap!

                                                                                                                            Kiriko (Sawtelle) - Great little joint, great sushi, great omakase. Small so make sure you make a reservation.

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: jrupert

                                                                                                                              Whoa, whoa. Did someone imply that Urasawa is not good or authentic? Blasphemy. If you can afford to splurge, Urasawa is superlative.

                                                                                                                              1. re: david t.

                                                                                                                                This is all so subjective. Some people like fancy rolls, some are suckers for atmosphere, some are fish quality freaks, and some won't like a place that serves very fresh fish because they aren't used to the stronger flavors. I don't want any creativity. All I want is super-fresh exotic fish sliced nicely and quality rice that isn't too vinegary.

                                                                                                                                Personally, I think Nozawa is gimmicky. The fish quality is good but not the very best. I don't like the way they drown every piece of sushi in sauce that makes it fall apart. I don't like the warm rice.

                                                                                                                                I like R23. My favorite is Sushi Gen.

                                                                                                                                1. re: aventinus

                                                                                                                                  Nozawa blows...not because the fish isn't good (it is), but every other part of the dining experience is awful.

                                                                                                                                  The crappy strip mall location and parking.
                                                                                                                                  The decor.
                                                                                                                                  The plating and the plates themselves.
                                                                                                                                  The attitude.
                                                                                                                                  The speed at which they serve you.
                                                                                                                                  The lack of "love" from the host...it's like they're doing YOU the favor!
                                                                                                                                  The, IMO, gross Albacore "sashimi" app...a bunch of poorly cut pieces of fish, tossed with a bunch of ponzu and scallions thrown on a plate. Sometimes it tastes like it was plated earlier in the day.

                                                                                                                                  I could go on, but you get the idea.

                                                                                                                                  I still go once in a while, just to remind myself what I'm not missing.

                                                                                                                                  However, when I drop $75+ on dinner PP, I want to feel good when the check arrives. At Nozawa (Sasabune as well), I don't get that...There is ZERO gratitude on the part of the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                  Rant over.

                                                                                                                            2. Nozowa in Studio City is THE BEST.