Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa??
Anyone have any info on the new Sugarfish storefront that's gone in in the Marina Del Rey shopping center (next to Le Marmiton)?
Is this the much-rumored collaboration between Nozawa and David Myers?
Yup, I came across that too -- but all it told me was what I already knew: they have a sign! What I really want to know is what the restaurant is going to be -- another Nozawa, or a variation on the theme -- and if it's just Nozawa operating it, or if there are others collaborating with him.
MARINA DEL REY: Looks like the "sushi nazi" is taking it west. According to the Waterside shopping center website (a Caruso property, if you didn't know) Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa should open this summer. Although they aren't giving many details yet, we understand Kazunori Nozawa will be the president of this new concept, which will have "the best attributes of the original restaurant with some new things added." Look for a June debut. [EaterWire]
My very first review at CH.
Went on Friday for lunch. They are still in their soft-opening stage. It is owned by Nozawa. Nozawa is not cooking there, but he supposedly hand-picks the fish everyday. They are trying a new concept at this sushi joint: no sushi chef with sushi on the counter; they are behind at the kitchen. You get to pick from 3 "Trust-Me" menus, again, with Nozawa picking the best fish for the day. The Trust Me menus differ in portion, but they all have a Sashimi portion, sushi portion, roll portion, and edamame.
My foodmate and I both ordered Trust Me 1, or the cheapest package: edamame, tuna for the sashimi, hamachi and I believe albacore (can't remember the second sushi for the life of me) for sushi, and 4 kappa maki and 4 blue crab maki.
The edamame came piping hot with the right amount of salt.
Tuna was fresh, chopped up in nice cube-size bites, and with the right consistency of tender yet chewy, but being tuna, well, I always prefer toro. (came with some chopped up negi and light soy-based sauce.) But for what it was, I give it a B+. The hamachi came with it's own sauce and negi, and it was fresh and tasty. The other fish, which I want to say was albacore, was dull, and that's probably why I can't remember which fish it was. The makis - kappa was, well, kappa. No big deal. The blue crab, which is supposed to be one of Nozawa's signature rolls, was no big deal. I had better like at Echigo. I also wasn't happy that the makis' nori was already soft when it was served to us, so you can tell they were made a while back. That's a big no no to me. The soy sauce is supposed to be made by Nozawa himself. I'm not no shoyu connosieur, but it was awight, maybe lighter than the standards served at sushi joints (the green one).
The fish can change daily, based on Nozawa's selection of what's fresh and tasty, but the menu will always have a sashimi, sushi and roll portion, just more selection as the Trust Me menu gets more expensive. You can also order a la carte different fish and rolls.
Service was very friendly and prompt, with good looking boys and girls. Almost no Asian service at least at lunch on a Friday as well. Do whatever you'd like to do with this comment...
I won't be running to this joint all the time, but I'd come back again because like their mission, you don't have to "think" to eat, but just eat, because they make it easy for you. Just order an omakase package, and voila, the food will come out. It is fresh and for the most part, awight. The prices, ranging from $20-40, is also very do-able for sushi. It includes tax and tip, so the bill you get is just that, no calculations for tip or anything. Our Trust Me #1 was $21.95 I believe. There is no Lunch or Dinner menu. It's the same for both. So for lunch, it can be an expensive lunch if you go for #2 (in the $30 range) or #3 ($40 range), but for dinner, it would be a killer deal.
With #1, I did leave a little hungry, though...
The interior reminded me a lot of pinkberry, with its light green, yellow and soft brown colors, as well as IKEA style lamps. Got a groovy feel inside with its wavy counter. They also have screens on the wall to help you choose the menus.
i tried the place today.
won't be going back. not awful, just not very good.
had the #1 combination
the edamame was good, not great
the tuna sashimi was not good. it came drowned in a ponzu sauce. couldn't tell what the tuna tasted like because of the sauce (maybe that's what they had in mind), however the sauce couldn't cover up all the white connective tissue in the tuna that made this a 'get-inbetween-your-teeth' experience. maybe i've been spoiled by hide.
the albacore nigri was good, it also came with ponzu sauce, but not as much
the yellowtail nigri was the only excellent piece of sushi we were served.
the 4 pieces of cucumber roll were a waste of time, energy, and calories--not bad, but not anything good either.
the 4 pieces of toro roll were meh. altogether the toro portion of the rolls may have amounted to less than a tablespoon worth of fish. the ratio of rice to toro was so high, that you really didn't taste the toro. (maybe this is what he does with the toro scraps from his other restaurant).
all in all, we spent ~$21/pp for one good piece of sushi and one really excellent piece of sushi; the rest was just window dressing and filler imho.
This is not a collaboration with David Meyer but Nozawa's national (hopeful) concept with non restaurant backer. I think Nozawa's sushi is poor at best and it does not change at sugarfish. All you Nozawa fans have ever noticed there are very few Japanese customers at Nozawa? It's because people who know sushi will not eat at Nozawa for poor quality fish, preparation & bad service. Nozawa's antics might have worked in the valley but it will not translate to westside or regionally.
Just got back and I am disappointed. You cannot go to this place and have an authentic "trust me" experience. Trust me is based on trusting the best catch of the day not a pre fix menu. The other thing that I could not get past were all the white people working in the place. I could barely see a Japanese person back in the kitchen. This just doesn't seem right. There's something about the cultural experience one has at an authentic sushi place and this is like pinkberry but with sushi instead. I like the customs, ettiquette, etc of Japanese sushi bars. Although I can do without the attitude of nozawas place in studio city. It will be interesting to see what happens here- maybe the majority of westsiders will like the concept and the cucumber rolls. I ordered #3, the biggest and most expensive. Started with good tuna sashimi but very small portion. Then had 5 pieces of sushi- all good but not over the top. Then, the worst of all- an overwhelming amount of cut rolls. 4 big pieces of each: toro(could have been basic tuna for all I could tell), yellowtail, cucumber and crab. The crab roll is Nozawa's signature roll and only 4 pieces? along with all the rest? Maybe they are marketing themselves to sushi newbies or perhaps as sushi fast food. The big plate of cut rolls was too much. How about 1 crab roll like Nozawa normally would do?
re: Amanda Enclade
Westsidegal and Amanda said it...
In my humble opinion, doesn't really compare to the places that Felix29 mentions.
The rolls were a bust, except for the fact they filled my belly (and the crab filling is tasty for sure).
I do like that tax and tip are included.
My hunch is that this place will do pretty well and I hope they do. It's good,but not for a sushi snob like me.
Just to add a bit more wasabi to this fish tale, I had mixed feelings about my experience:
Pros: Good quality, tasty fish (the shrimp and halibut were particularly good). Friendly, efficient service. Reasonable price point, particularly as tax and tip are already included (no extra gratuity permitted, which can't thrill the wait staff) with three set menus to choose from (difference is the number/variety of pieces of nigiri and rolls) at $21.60, $29.60, and $36.60 the night I was there. Ability to add on extra items a la carte. Nice home-made soy sauce. The usual Nozawa rice.
Cons: Limited selection of fish (only 5 types for sushi but will change depending on market). Had to request wasabi (although some of the fish was sauced, none had any wasabi pre-added) and ginger rather than having it come with the food. No miso soup. Decor (as noted by others, reminds me of a Pinkberry). No interaction with the sushi chefs. Small, cut rolls so, on some of them, it was hard to taste the filling for the rice.
Odd: The business card is a cool but non-rolodex/wallet friendly circle.
I will go back as it is convenient but Sugarfish will not come near to replacing Kiriko, Mori or Zo in my heart or belly.
Went to check it out for the first time today, and was surprised at how fresh the fish actually was. I'm a huge Nozawa fan and generally find sushi to be sub par anywhere other than Mori, Echigo and Sushi Nozawa. I like the concept of "Trust Me's" where the menu includes the freshest fish of the day. I ordered Trust Me # 3 which had the most variety, including tuna sashimi, albacore, yellowtail, shrimp and salmon nigiri, crab, toro, hamachi and cucumber rolls. I thought the yellowtail and albacore were incredible...melt in your mouth! Everything else was very tasty. Loved the fact that the rice was hot and falls apart easily....signature Nozawa. The rolls were really good, but could have used more fish, less rice. I could have done without the cucumber roll altogether. It seemed like a filler.
My friend ordered the "Surprise Me" after seeing it at the table next t us. Apparently Nozawa brings in "something new" on a daily basis. It included " Spanish Mackeral, Uni, shrimp, albacore, yellowtail, halibut and a crab roll. He said Uni and Mackeral were amazing. Halibut was good too. THIS is what I'll be ordering next time!
Our overall experience was great. We would definitely go back. Wait staff was really nice. We were greeted at the front by the hostess who gave us the low down on ordering "Trust Me" style. I have to say that Pink Berryish or not, the place is comfortable and has a good vibe. I'm personally tired of eating great sushi in strip mall hell with posters on the wall and black lacquer furniture. A little decor to go with my sushi please.
I have been really curious about Nozawa's new restaurant, since I am a big fan of his sushi. I went last night, and was pleasantly suprised. The decor- so not typical of a sushi restaurant, but I was expecting that. I got the Trust Me 2 and it was outstanding (loved the albacore and halibut!!). I asked for my rolls to be uncut, which were toro and crab, and they tasted exactly like Nozawa's hand rolls. I thought there was a ton of fish, and I love the Nori that they use (same as Nozawa's). The service was great, and our food came out so fast! Anyways, out the door in 40 minutes for under $70 for 2 people. I think people need to appreciate it for what it is- quick, cheap, and amazing fresh fish. I'll definitely be back!
I haven't eaten at Nozawa, but we ate at SugarFish today. I love sushi, but I'm not a snob, I'll eat fast-food sushi and blow a couple hundred on a transcendent sushi meal. People who like steaks still eat burgers. Anywhoo.
The decor is far from traditional (It's Pinkberry Sushi). It's pretty simple, more or less traditional sushi and decently priced. If you're looking for experimental sushi, it's probably not going to be your style.
We had the "Trust me #3" (we were hungry, and it was a lot of food). Worth noting is that there is apparently a "Surprise me" that isn't listed, but you can ask for. It's like In-N-Out style ordering, I guess. We had the standard #3.
The fish was mostly good:
Tuna (maguro) Sashimi (in ponzu): good, not astounding, but serviceable.
Yellowtail: meh, just ok, not horrible
Salmon (with sesame seeds): Actually quite good, I'm not generally a fan of salmon but this was good quality fish.
Halibut (with ponzu): not bad, a little chewy.
Bonito (with ponzu): not bad, but didn't go well with the Ponzu sauce
Albacore (with ponzu): good, for albacore, but still mealy like most places
Spanish Mackerel (with ponzu): good, this one is hard to get right and the quality of the fish shows here.
Crab Roll: Ok, a little warm
Toro Roll: quite tasty
The rice, as I've heard is Nozawa's style, was loosely packed, a little too warm, and difficult to eat properly (falls apart).
Overall, it wasn't bad, you're paying $38 for a large amount of pretty good sushi and a drink. Tax and tip are included (odd, but fine with me).
It's not going to compete with the really good sushi places, but I think for the price it could definitely compete with the places near Marina Del Rey.
One thing that irritated me is that the bar just seems vestigial. At a normal sushi bar you can watch the chef and the bar is the best seat in the house, but here you're just staring at a wall or looking at the menu-tv. Definitely opt for a table.
Yow, I just tried Sugarfish for the first time today. The food was pretty solid and the space was beautiful, but the service was so obnoxious that it could be a long time before I return.
We got 'tude from the moment we walked in, as if we were just lucky to be allowed to eat there. The waiter seemed to assume that we'd never eaten Japanese food of any kind before, lecturing us that it was okay to pick up the nigiri with our hands. Gee, no kiddin'?
It's entirely possible to deliver a "We're different, and we want to make sure you understand why that's good," lecture without being a condescending prick, but this guy couldn't manage it. Heck, I might deal with that condescension from an elderly sushi chef, but I don't need it or want it from my otherwise-slack waiter.
For all that, the fish itself was pretty solid. The tuna sashimi didn't rock my world, but we had generous, tasty cuts of nigiri. I found the loose, dry rice kind of off-putting, although perhaps I just need to get used to it. The rice seemed perfect for the cucumber roll, which seemed subtle and interesting. The toro roll, however, had so little flavor that it was really hard to make heads or tails of it. While I would have assumed that it was the toro flavor that I so loved, maybe I'm just addicted to the texture.
The facilities were beautiful, with elegantly designed booths and chairs and stools; I loved the idea of the video menus -- it's great that they can change the offerings on the fly to adjust to the available ingredients.
$20 for a sushi lunch is pretty reasonable, since that includes tax and tip. I usually spend a few dollars less at the other Japanese places in the area, but none of them are nearly as ambitious as Sugarfish. OTOH, all of them are more pleasant experiences; while I'm sure I'll be back eventually for the fish, I'm certainly not ready to give up my Bento lunch (there's more to Japanese than sushi!) at Irori a few blocks down the street.
went today and had #1 and #3. thought the fish quality was very good (thurs is a good day for sushi). i really enjoyed the toro roll, not something i normally order, but it was really fresh and fatty. the crab roll was a little bit fishier than usual, but still good. the ikura was a little bit on the salty side, but tasty. thought overall, it was a little bit pricey, but we did enjoy it. wasn't a huge fan of the cooked shrimp . . . they could probably do away with that. decent nozawa style fix for the westside. i'd definitely go back for a quick sushi fix. had pinkberry afterwards. =)