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Japanese - Pasadena area?

SF CH visiting Pasadena looking for great fresh sushi. (Will travel but prefer less driving if possible)

All the SF chowhounds are always saying sushi is better in LA than what we usually get here (and cheaper?)....so could I please get some recommendations - but not for places that are "the scene" or impossible to get in to. I'm interested in the food!

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  1. You're not going to find great sushi in the Pasadena area.

    Most of the better sushi spots are west of downtown LA, in Hollywood, WeHo, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, etc.

    Some noteworthy spots incl., but are NOT limited to, the following:

    Sushi Ike
    Sushi Zo

    And, of course, there's the grandfather of them all ... Urasawa.

    By the way, sticking in the Pasadena-area, try Hayakawa Restaurant in Covina (which is further east of Pasadena). Very good sushi and cooked dishes.

    Hayakawa Restaurant
    750 Terrado Plaza
    (626) 332-8288

    1. yoshida in san marino. Always very good!

      Yoshida Sushi Bar
      2026 Huntington Dr, San Marino, CA 91108

      3 Replies
      1. re: cincyn

        i've always had good sushi at yoshida's. nothing earth shattering but good nonetheless.

        1. re: wilafur

          What would be disappointing, is if this CHer sampled some Pasadena offerings, and returned home to report that LA sushi sucks. Visitors should realize that most of the top notch dining in LA is in a certain area, and Pasadena is about 20 minutes away from there. It would be like asking, "Hey, I hear San Francisco has great fine dining, so what can I get in Millbrae that won't disappoint."

          Anyway, I replied to the Yoshida post because I think that's probably the best bet if you're stuck in the Pasadena area, but like others have mentioned, you really need to go to a different part of the city to get the best sushi.

          1. re: andytseng

            What would be even more disappointing would be if he made the long drive to Nozawa, Sasabune or Nishimura, emptied his bank account and still had mediocre sushi. Or even Zo, really.

            Kiriko is probably the best in terms of price/quality. In Pasadena, as much as I loathe the restaurant, the sushi at the dread Roku is actually better than solid.

      2. Hi estnet,

        ipsedixit's post says it all; there's really no *great* Sushi in Pasadena.

        If you're willing to travel a bit to sample L.A.'s best Sushi, then I highly recommend:

        1. Urasawa (Beverly Hills) - Don't be put off by its location (it's not "trendy" or "scene-driven" at all). Do a search on this restaurant and you'll come up with lots of reviews and recommendations. IMHO, L.A.'s best.

        2. Sushi Zo (West L.A. area)
        3. Mori Sushi (West L.A. area)
        4. Sasabune (West L.A. area)
        5. Nozawa (Studio City)

        and many others.

        If you're here in L.A. to truly sample great Sushi, those would be some of the best in L.A.

        Urasawa Restaurant
        218 N Rodeo Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

        Sushi Zo
        9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

        Sushi Nozawa
        11288 Ventura Blvd Ste C, Studio City, CA 91604

        Mori Sushi
        11500 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

        Sushi Sasabune
        12400 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

        2 Replies
          1. re: dreamcast18

            Let's play SAT game ...

            Sakana is to sushi as Denny's is to __________.

            a. Fine dining
            b. Fine dining
            c. Fine dining
            d. All of the above

            Answer: __

        1. I would recommend Hanabi in the Shops on Lake. It's local and very good.


          1 Reply
          1. re: crystaw

            Definitely not. We went there a couple of weeks ago; it was OK, perfectly fine for a neighborhood joint, but by no means would I send anyone there who's looking for exceptional sushi or is from out-of-town. Z Sushi in Alhambra is far superior, IMHO, and if the OP cannot make it either to Little Tokyo or to Studio City, then Z is hands-down a better option for someone looking for an exceptional sushi experience that cannot be duplicated at home in SF.

          2. Try Sushi Gen in Little Toyko. I also like Jinpachi in West Hollywood.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mbh65

              I second Sushi Gen, and it's closer than we usually think from Pasadena (Little Tokyo is on the East side of downtown). It takes me about 20 minutes to get there from Pasadena, and I take the back streets and don't even bother with the 110 which is presumably faster.

              422 E Second St
              Los Angeles, CA 90012-4209
              Phone: (213) 617-0552
              Hours: Mon-Fri 11:15am-2pm, 5:30pm-10pm, Sat 5pm-10pm

              If you have to stay in Pasadena, I usually go to Sachi Sushi or Japon Bistro.

            2. Several people have mentioned Urusawa. While it seems to be universally loved, please be aware that it is not in the same universe, price-wise, as any other place mentioned. We're talking literally several hundred dollars PER PERSON. It's a disservice for people to be recommending this place without that caveat.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jack Flash

                Yes - I am aware Urusawa is in another universe - and unfortunately both b/c of my limited time in LA and b/c I'll be hosting a few others - that particular one will have to wait for another visit :), but thanks for the warning.

              2. We really like both Maki & Sushi in Arcadia and Sachi Sushi in Pasadena.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Michelle

                  This place is either loved or reviled -- sometimes by the same person: A'Float Sushi (87 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91105, 626-792-9779).

                  No, it's not the Ultimate Sushi Experience, but, for the price, you definitely get your money's worth. Plus it's mildly entertaining.

                  Best to go when it's busy as the sushi -- which floats around the bar in little wooden ships, from which discriminating diners serve themselves -- is refreshed/replaced quickly. If you go during slow times, definitely special-order the sushi from the wait-staff as the items on the boats can get dry and, frankly, warm-ish.

                  I've always found a nice, ever-evolving variety of items to choose from, and, almost every time, I discover something new. You can't go wrong with the standards (yellowtail, tuna, salmon, eel, octopus, various rolls, etc.) but try some of the weirder looking concoctions -- you might be surprised.

                  Feeling strangely,


                2. I have been searching for good sushi in the Pasadena area....and was very impressed with Maru in Arcadia. We had very interesting sashimi as well as our usual standards. The tuna carpaccio was fabulous!

                  1. Why go all the way to the West Side when Little Tokyo is so close, and probably overall more authentic, and certainly cheaper. I agree with the person who suggested Japon Bistro and Sachi Sushi right here near Lake Avenue.

                    1. The sushi's not great in Pasadena, but I just went to Oba 181 East Glenarm Pasadena 626.799.8543, and had some terrific fish. A lot of the crew is from Sushi of Naples, before it was sold. The fish tasted fresh, the service was cheerful and helpful, and there were lots of dishes besides sushi. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I think it's the best sushi I've had in Pasadena. Funny enough, I just went to Sushi Gen for the first time, and was very disappointed. Perhaps it was just because I had the lunch special, but the fish was flat and uninteresting. The table next to me had a special sashimi plate that looked good, but it was awfully expensive for lunch. Go figure.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: gr8_food

                        I've been wondering about that place (Oba). There was a sushi place in that spot previously, Komeyoshi (or something closet to that), which was unremarkable.

                      2. For unpretentious, good quality sushi in Pasadena, go to Matsuri Sushi on Green St. It's a cozy neighborhood restaurant with consistently fresh fish. Order off the specials board or ask the chef at the bar what's fresh, I've always been pleasantly surprised. It's higher quality than Sushi Roku and you're not paying for the atmosphere. Japon Bistro would be a good second choice.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: sadjeans

                          Thanks for mentioning Matsuri. My family has really enjoyed that place for other types of Japanese food. Wife loves their tempura, and I like their tonkatsu. If I remember, though, their hours were not convenient, like not open on Sundays?

                          1. re: Ogawak

                            most sushi joints worth their mettle do not open on sunday due to the inavailability of fresh fish. so that is a good thing. =)

                            1. re: wilafur

                              That's true of good sushi bars, but I thought of Matsuri less as a sushi bar and MORE of a Japanese restaurant that had a sushi bar, although their nigiri was very good.

                        2. I have to jump in here b/c from my experiences living in LA/Pasadena and in SF, Pasadena sushi=Ebisu in the Inner Sunset. There was a tiny place in the Richmond which had a Japanese only menu but ! forgot the name of it. Anyway I digress, and I do suggest sushi Gen in Little Tokyo. Otherwise, I'd take it over to the westside to Zo, Mori, or Kiriko. Or go to the valley on ventura to Asanebo or Nozawa. Tama used to be good but I haven't been there in a while. If you have $$$ the people say Urasawa but I've never been there b/c i do not have $$$.

                          Some of the place mentioned are fine like Matsuri, Hanabi or Sachi (the latter i do not go to bad fish experience) if you live in the hood and it's a week day dinner, but I wouldn't go to them to experience superior sushi of LA. I would just go to those places to eat average sushi. I don't think sushi is cheaper in LA just better quality overall in some of the places mentioned.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: trolley

                            I think you're exactly right. I wouldn't recommend any of the Pasadena/SGV area places to an out-of-towner looking for a sushi experience they cannot get at home (especially when home is SF, which should be able to provide decent fresh seafood for its restaurants). The OP was looking for something better than what's available at home. I really don't think any of the Pasadena places qualifies in that regard. Even Z sushi, which would be my choice in the area, doesn't live up to Nozawa standards, or even Tama, IMHO.

                          2. Another place worth mentioning if you're going to be able to leave the Pasadena area is Shibucho, which is pretty mention the same distance from Pasadena as Little Tokyo is.

                            It's on the expensive side, but not on the level that Urasawa is.

                            3114 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

                            1. I would second a few themes in this thread.

                              1) Pasadena is not great for sushi. I'm a Pasadena native, part Japanese, and a sushi lover, so it pains me to say this, but it's true.

                              2) Make your way to Little Tokyo to Sushi Gen or to the SFV or Hollywood for top quality stuff.

                              3) If you must stay in the Pasadena area, my favorite is Z Sushi. No, it isn't the BEST in LA, but it's walking distance from my house, and I feel lucky for that. Definitely very good quality food. (The cooked dishes can be excellent also.)

                              4) There are good restaurants in Pasadena and plenty of them, but sushi is just not one of the highlights.

                              p.s. Please don't go to Afloat Sushi. Actually, none of the places listed in Pasadena propery are worth your time, imo. Yoshida in San Marino is decent, but Z is better.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: socal

                                agreed! please don't go to Alfloat sushi. You'll walk away from your trip thinking everyone in LA is crazy for saying LA has better sushi than SF. i'd really avoid sachi too. I had gristled boney fish on my nigiri once. the chef gave me end pieces of fish for my entire dish. gross! it's really a lunch spot for healthy bento boxes but you will definitely not experience the superior sushi people talk about if you go there.

                                1. The best in the Pasadena 'area' is in Alhambra: Toro's Japanese Fusion. I thought Z's was the best in the area, until I went to Toros. Every visit has been consistently good and impressive.

                                  Toros Japanese Fusion Seafood
                                  500 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: The Oracle

                                    I like Toros as well, but they're really only good for their rolls, and not nigri or other sashimi items, which is what I took the OP to be asking for.


                                    1. re: The Oracle

                                      That sounds interesting and it's right down the street from me.

                                      But it's not really "sushi".

                                      1. re: socal

                                        Check it out sometime... I typically only eat their nigri. Good oysters, too.

                                    2. locally, i would head to mako sushi in arcadia. it's not REALLY close to pasadena but closer than the westside...
                                      Mako Sushi

                                      Los Angeles Area - 506 E Live Oak Ave, Arcadia, CA 91006, USA

                                      (626) 447-6150

                                      1. I love Shaab, which is located on Raymond just north of Union.