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Help - Casual sushi on the West Side

Hi There,

Former LA resident coming back to down for business. Trying to find a casual, but solid sushi spot on the west side. Doesn't need to be out of this world good. Just fresh, tasty sushi in a relaxed atmosphere. Sakura on Centinela was my old standby. Are there others in that vein nearby?


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  1. k-zo in culver city.
    on washington blvd shares bldg and pkg lot with trader joes.
    they take reservations

    1. Hamakaze on Washington on the culver city / venice line, near costco, is supposed to be decent.

      1. masu on westwood blvd.

        1. I like going to Sushi Karen, which is Culver City on Washington, just west of Overland on the south side of the street. Low key atmosphere with a very nice wait staff (I'm partial to them because they like and welcome my kids). Not world class sushi, but it is always solid, the fish is always fresh, and it always scratches the itch. They always have some nice sashimi specials going.

          The only negative I have about the place is that it can smell a little fishy some times, which almost caused me to walk out the first time I went in there, but I'm glad I stayed. I've never had a less than fresh piece of fish there and they actually serve really good uni.

          2 Replies
          1. re: GuidoTKP

            i respectfully disagree with the sushi karen recommendation.
            went there once.
            the fish was awful/not fresh and the place itself had a weird smell.

            i will not set foot in there again. borderline between bad and disgusting.. .

            1. re: westsidegal

              Sorry you had a bad experience there. I eat there a lot and just haven't had anything like that experience (other than the smell issue, which I kind of agree with).

              I'm a pretty serious sushi hound. I've done a lot of omakase at Hiko Sushi, Sushi Zo, Mori, Teru Sushi, Katsu-Ya, etc. My favorite sushi hang when I lived in the valley was Omino Sushi. I've eaten at Urasawa. I wouldn't put Sushi Karen on par with any of those places, but I certainly put it in the category of "Quality Good Enough For Me To Frequent Often" for a quick, low-fuss meal with my wife and small kids who are not serious sushi fanatics (although, their cravings for the raw fish are growing).

              I do wish they would address the slight funk you can frequently detect when you walk in. It is not confidence building. ;-)

          2. I second Sushi Masu. It is the definition of casual and cool. Masu is unpretentious and the focus is on the fish - fresh and delicious rather than on rolls. Give it a try (it's not too expensive either for the quality)! Plus, Masu himself is hilarious, so be sure to sit at the bar.

            Sushi Masu
            1911 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

            13 Replies
            1. re: bucktown

              We loved Sushi Masu -- but be prepared to spend.
              It is "casual, solid, on the West side, fresh, tasty and relaxed" as the original poster, rskubic, has requested, but it is not inexpensive. You will, however, find the experience to be really good!

              1. re: liu

                my last few meals at masu were roughly $90 for two, pre tip. not too shabby.

                1. re: wilafur

                  wilafur, I believe that is about what we spent -- with perhaps one sake or beer (I don't recall).
                  For the quality of sushi and the overall experience, we did not consider Masu to be way overpriced. However, I would not place it in a list of inexpensive sushi bars.

                  1. re: liu

                    compared to what?
                    i don't believe that sakura on centinela, to which the op referred, is any less expensive.
                    although i am not a fan of masu, certainly the prices were in line.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Sorry, westsidegal, I'm not sure what you are asking.
                      Also, what is it about Sushi Masu that you don't like?

                      We were there only once. It is not the prettiest bar; I do prefer a more modern, better lit open space, but the sushi was very good-to-really good! It was a Saturday night, the bar was full and the chef was excited to serve us some very fine fish.

                      1. re: liu

                        i was primarily responding to liu; i was trying to say that i didn't feel that the prices at masu were at all high, i thought that they were very reasonable.

                        my feeling about masu was that the quality of the fish and the pricing associated with it wasn't good enough to motivate me to drive there from playa del rey. i don't dislike the place, if they were located near me, i'd probably be there regularly.

                        fwiw, to me, the fish and deal offered at hide is definitely worth the drive
                        and the fish and deal offered at k-zo is definitely worth the drive, although it should be mentioned that k-zo is more expensive than hide and a bit more expensive than masu.

                        1. re: westsidegal

                          Thanks, westsidegal, for all your clarifications!

                          I did not think the prices at Masu were high for the quality of fish that was served us. However, I must add here that I originally (maybe a year ago) saw Masu written up in a post seeking inexpensive sushi. When we went there, we were half-expecting (although we have learned from experience not even to half-expect when the subject is sushi!) that the pricing at Masu was on the order of Noshi or the Hide on Sawtelle of years ago. Thus is my comment about not placing it on a list with other inexpensive sushi restaurants -- of which there are many, some better than others.

                          I completely understand your comments about having to factor in the driving distance when considering your target restaurant. Yes, Zo is worth the drive. We used to enjoy Hide many years ago as a destination sushi bar; recently we have found it to be inconsistent. When Hide is good, it is still very good; yet, Hide is not as inexpensive as it used to be. I don't mind paying when it is good, but I sometimes leave Hide feeling as though I should have gone elsewhere for the dollar.

                          1. re: liu

                            Liu, one comment. When you say "Yes, Zo is worth the drive." be aware that Westsidegal is recommending K-Zo, which is a completely different and unrelated restaurant to Sushi Zo (even though they are roughly in the same general area - geographically speaking).

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Whoops...thanks, Servorg, for pointing this out.

                              1. re: liu

                                No worries. I am willing to bet that you'll get the chance to correct someone else at a future point making the same (easy to make) mistake. What are the odds of two sushi places in close proximity with only one letter difference in their names? Talk about built in confusion.

              2. re: bucktown

                3rd the rec for Sushi Masu. Laid back, awesome service and excellent fish at a reasonable price.

                Kiriko has incredible food, but the service is so poor (based on multiple meals) I can't recommend it.

                1. re: vinosnob

                  Yeah, what is with the service at Kiriko? It's like they employ a team of autistics.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    Strange, I've never had service issues at Kiriko. And I've gone there like 10+ times!

              3. Kiriko on Sawtelle might fit the bill. I was a little put off by the awkward service and high price. But it's super casual and the quality of the fish is clear.

                1. Not sure how far east your definition of westside extends and at risk of getting into a tiresome debate, if you go by the west of La Cienega rule, may I suggest Ajisai which is at 809 Palm--just north of Santa Monica Blvd between San Vicente and la Cienega. It is a lovely, tiny place with excellent fresh fish and perfect suchi rice.

                  1. we've eaten sushi at the finest joints in japan and stateside. we were pleasantly surprised by how good SUGARFISH by Nozawa was in brentwood. $35 omakase. it was a deal and the fish was great.


                    8 Replies
                    1. re: revets2

                      that surprises me because their marina del rey deal was awful.
                      unless you like your tuna to be shot through with white, dental-floss-like connective tissue that gets in between your teeth and, in addition, have them use a fire hose to douse this dental-floss-tuna with ponzu sauce, and unless you like to be forced to order a package of items that is filled with filler stuff in which you probably have no interest, you may want to rethink sugarfish.

                      in the package deal that i had, only one item was actually good.

                      1. re: revets2

                        For something casual, I agree that Sugarfish isn't a bad value. Like westsidegal mentions, the tuna appetizer can be heavy on the ponzu, but overall I thought it was decent quality fish at a fair price. I've been to both the MDR and Brentwood locations. I've been to Urasawa, I'm a regular at Zo, and I've been to Kiriko (which wasn't bad either) - but when I don't feel like dropping $100+ on sushi, lately I often end up here. They have a somewhat regimented ordering system (basically three pre-set choices), but you can also add things a la carte (at least in Brentwood).

                        1. re: pointone

                          fwiw, i believe that the price/quality ratios are far superior at hide in west LA and at k-zo in culver city.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            so i assume you make your judgment based upon the MDR location and that you have NOT been to the SUGARFISH in brentwood. i have not been to the MDR location in two years, but was at the brentwood location last week. not heavy on the ponzu, no blood lines or connective tissue. don't knock it til you try it!

                            1. re: revets2

                              it's a chain.
                              both locations are owned and run by the same people.
                              as far as i know the fish is procured for both locations by the exact same person.
                              not unreasonable to think that the standards in place in mdr would be essentially similar to the standards at brentwood.
                              the 'trust me package deal' that they served me contained 5 or 6 items, only one of which was actually good (as opposed to fair or poor).

                              don't care to risk throwing out any more money on restaurants run by these folks.
                              on top of that, i would have to drive past hide on the way to brentwood.
                              i go to hide regularly.
                              the fish i've been served at hide has been FAR superior to any of the fish that showed up in front of me at sugarfish.
                              my addiction to eating out is costly enough, would rather spend my money on restaurants that have a higher probability of getting it right.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                nozawa-san procures the fish from the same sources (largely IMP if not flown from japan) for both SUSHI NOZAWA and SUGARFISH. is your opinion based upon a single visit?

                                it's entirely reasonable to want to spend money on the devil you know, but perhaps it's not entirely fair or reasonable to extend such a public judgment if you have not returned to see if it was an anomaly at one location and you have never been to the other. also, the assumption that if one location is poor, so are all the others; that's just not true. there are several restaurants with more than one location where the food can vary widely in quality and execution from location to location (think CRAFT). don't think we'd even be replying to your post except that, given our quality sushi experience at SUGARFISH brentwood and the fact you've never been there feels unfair and unjust to the restaurateur, their employees, and any reader that may not go because of your above post.

                                we're not huge SUSHI NOZAWA fans. went three times - not really our thing. we're at SUSHI ZO twice a month, URASAWA four times a year, and have been to SUKIYABASHI JIRO (both Ginza & Roppongi) and SUSHI MIZUTANI as well as other very good well known and less well known sushi restaurants in japan. we have no problem with HIDE.

                                the OP asked for casual, solid, fresh, tasty sushi in a relaxed atmosphere on the westside. this is not a SUGARFISH vs. HIDE contest. both meet the OP's criteria. hope the above post has not deterred you from going to either.

                                1. re: revets2

                                  it is reasonable to me to tell my fellow hounds about my restaurant experiences on this board-- that is the whole point of the board.
                                  your agreement with my assessment of the restaurant , doesn't affect the legitimacy of my post.

                                  when an experience is SO poor that there will not be a repeat visit, such as the sugarfish experience, it is especially important to warn others.

                                  1. re: revets2

                                    then maybe they are serving the leftover scraps from nozawa at the marina sugarfish. that would explain the very low quality.

                        2. Place Yuu (SW corner of Mississippi & Sawtelle)
                          2101 Sawtelle

                          casual, open til 1AM(!)

                          1 Reply
                          1. Kiyokawa on Robertson south of Wilshire is quite good. Not super cheap, but not very expensive either. Omakase sets you back about 55 bucks. I've been going there lately.

                            Speaking of Masu, I went there for about 1 year twice a month, The last time I went was 3 weeks ago, and noticed a "B" rating. I'm not going to judge that rating as it could be for anything. But sitting right in front of him, where I always do, I noticed some very "tired" looking uni, as well as a few other fish. I'll still go, as I really enjoy his service and general disposition, but I think his quality has dropped slightly.

                            By the way, I asked for Uni and he opened a fresh box for me.

                            1. Irori in MDR. Never been to Sakura but fits the rest of your description exactly.

                              1. stumbled upon Sushi King on Wilshire, near 14st friday night. Very solid. Very casual. Very Good.

                                1. For good sushi at reasonable prices on the west side I really like the relatively new BiMi and the old standby Nagao in brentwood.

                                  13050 San Vicente Blvd Ste 110, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                                  11917 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                                  1. We love Kaya Sushi (one on Washington Blvd in MDR and one in El Segundo), but we also often end up at Kabuki on the top floor of the Howard Hughes Promenade in Westchester.

                                    2 Replies
                                      1. re: wilafur

                                        imho, kabuki is superior to sugarfish and sushi karen.

                                      1. re: alliebear

                                        Are you talking about the one on Centinela over by Gilmore in Mar Vista/Marina del Rey? If so it's still there and as busy as ever. Just dinner on the weekends.

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          Oh, OK. Thanks. I was talking about that one.

                                          The OP mentioned it was his/her old standby, so I was just wondering if it was no longer acceptable or if it had closed.

                                      2. Thing about the California Roll Factory on Santa Monica near Barrington is people either love it or hate it. One could argue it's not a sushi restaurant at all - certainly no purist would be caught dead there - but I happen to like to big roll creations loaded with spicy tuna or scallop filling, with maybe some tempura shrimp or fish and dripping with eel sauce or garlic sauce and fish eggs. I have out-of-town friends who insist on this place being their first stop when they come to visit. And if 'casual' and 'relaxed' are your criteria - why not check it out.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: BIM

                                          California Roll Factory - cheap but passable rolls - there is definitely a niche for this in its neighborhood. BUT not a birthday occasion place, in my opinion.

                                        2. looks like you have more replies than you could ever deal with. in addition to the usual favorites on this board (Zo, Urasawa,K-Zo,Mori) permit me to add a less known, neighborhood place, which this request seems to speak directly to:

                                          Ninjin- 607 Colorado Ave, Santa Monica. Reliable, good, pleasant, neighborhhod. I've had some better sushi there than some I have had at more "prestigious" sushi bars, and in downtown santa monica, with street parking.