HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

Love those Blue Crab Hand Rolls! Whose are the best?

degustateur Feb 19, 2010 03:09 PM

I first experienced the wonders of a Blue Crab Hand Roll at Sushi Nozawa many years ago. Nozawa-san’s may be the biggest, but not necessarily the best. Nobi at Sasabune offers a fine roll as do Hiro-san at Sushi Koyo and Go-san at Go’s Mart. Ken at Jubei also prepares a nice roll. However, for overall savor, texture and addictiveness, I find the rolls hand delivered by Katsu at Sushi Wasabi to reign above the rest. Notably, Katsu’s rolls are indeed the smallest I’ve had (ah, less may really be more). He uses Texas Blue Crab and a slightly different nori with a unique (toasted) crispiness to the bite.

Please note that I am not referring to a fried soft-shell crab or other cooked roll. I am only interested in the chopped fresh crab variety served slightly chilled over warm rice wrapped in nori.

I know of other sushi bars that serve them (Zo, Kiriko, Echigo, etc.), but I’ve yet to sample them. Your opinions as to who’s are the best and where I should seek to enjoy the finest of these delectable “cigars of the sea” would be greatly appreciated.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. J.L. RE: degustateur Feb 19, 2010 03:15 PM

    Kiriko & Zo get my vote (a tie for the best blue crab hand roll). Sasabune in second place.

    Echigo isn't even in the equation.

    7 Replies
    1. re: J.L.
      js76wisco RE: J.L. Feb 19, 2010 04:05 PM

      I would throw in my two cents for Dokoro Ki Ra La on lil Santa Monica. They use very little mayo, the size of the roll is very nice and the ratio of rice/crab is spot on. The rice is warm so you have to eat the roll right away.

      1. re: js76wisco
        Ciao Bob RE: js76wisco May 10, 2012 11:48 AM

        Hey, js76wisco - can you (or anyone) please tell me more about this Dokoro Ki Ra La?
        I am intrigued
        The Yelp pics look excellent.
        The website is notable for their piety to quality "[a]midst the declining quality of Japanese food in Los Angeles."
        Nice! Yet, I am sure that many truly terrible places offer similar homilies online.

        Is it really great?


      2. re: J.L.
        epop RE: J.L. Feb 19, 2010 07:31 PM

        ditto, J.L.

        1. re: J.L.
          Clyde RE: J.L. May 7, 2012 10:00 AM

          Kiriko is excellent but i think the best one i've ever had is at Nishi-Ya.

          1. re: Clyde
            Robert Thornton RE: Clyde May 8, 2012 06:16 PM

            I'm with you on the one at Nishi-Ya, really wonderful.

          2. re: J.L.
            jessejames RE: J.L. May 7, 2012 05:30 PM

            Kiriko makes this mayo-phobe happy by making it all crab inside no problem.

            1. re: J.L.
              bulavinaka RE: J.L. May 7, 2012 09:55 PM

              Another yes for Kiriko.

            2. ipsedixit RE: degustateur Feb 19, 2010 07:38 PM

              Sushi Ike

              3 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit
                kevin RE: ipsedixit Feb 19, 2010 09:39 PM

                I say Zo followed by the ones at Nozawa and the one at Go's Mart.

                Good good stuff.

                1. re: kevin
                  vajrini RE: kevin May 7, 2012 08:45 AM

                  Yabu on La Cienega in West Hollywood has THE BEST baked crab hand roll. It's dungeness crab and it is warm and super delicious...enjoy

                  1. re: vajrini
                    kevin RE: vajrini May 7, 2012 08:33 PM

                    I'm not a fan of any of that baked dynamite dishes.

              2. t
                Thor123 RE: degustateur May 7, 2012 10:26 AM

                Gotta go with Sasabune.

                1. n
                  namstermonster RE: degustateur May 7, 2012 04:47 PM

                  zo = perfect ratio of crab, mayo, wasabi, rice. i didn't like sushi wasabi's much but then again, i tried it several years back so perhaps it's much improved.

                  1. t
                    tastycakes RE: degustateur May 8, 2012 10:48 AM

                    sushi central does stellar blue crab hand rolls. also don't miss the bruleed ono.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: tastycakes
                      kevin RE: tastycakes May 8, 2012 03:43 PM

                      This the place on overland, near palms, i think right.


                      i've never been here before. can any other hound attest to the greatest of these crab rolls in comparision to zo or say sasabune???

                      thanks. maybe i'll have to try it too.

                      does the bruleed ono, have burned sugar crystalizzied on it like a creme brulee ???

                      1. re: kevin
                        tastycakes RE: kevin May 9, 2012 03:11 PM

                        no sugar, just succulent, warmed, smoky ono

                    2. k
                      kevin RE: degustateur May 8, 2012 03:42 PM

                      the one i had at sasabune earlier was great, i think that might be as good almost as zo.

                      and now that nozawa is closed i can't speak to it.

                      also, if you sit at a table you can probably go hog-wild a just order a half dozen of those crab roll suckers per person and maybe a few beers or some sake to wash it down. not half bad.

                      but at zo, you will have to go through the whole meal to get to those blue crab handrolls. i still think zo is the best for sushi though i prolly will not go there again ever due to a serious service issue, that being said, their sushi and blue crab handrolls are still great.

                      1. k
                        kevin RE: degustateur May 8, 2012 03:49 PM

                        On a side note, you get crab meal (the stuff inside the blue crab handrolls) at the tiny sectioned-off cafe within sasabune. they also carry turkey and egg salad sandwiches and cappachinos and all your other espresso drinks as well as baked goods. very weird stuff.

                        utimately too weird.

                        1. r
                          Robert Thornton RE: degustateur May 8, 2012 06:18 PM

                          The one at Sushi Ichi in Pasadena is almost all crab, with just a little rice, if there was mayo, it wasn't noticable. If you want a drier styled, crab heavy roll, that's one to try.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: Robert Thornton
                            maudies5 RE: Robert Thornton May 8, 2012 07:53 PM

                            I don't travel around looking for the best crab hand rolls. I eat crab rolls at Sugar Fish because it is near home and next door to where I have a manicure. Having said that, I can say that I love the crab rolls and can eat them while my nails are drying. Talking about Brentwood Sugarfish.

                            1. re: maudies5
                              Thor123 RE: maudies5 May 9, 2012 03:15 PM

                              You are sure to get blasted for saying anything positive about Sugar Fish on this site, but I totally agree that the Brentwood Sugar Fish does a very good crab hand roll. Much like Sausabune which is also tabo here.

                              1. re: Thor123
                                bulavinaka RE: Thor123 May 9, 2012 05:57 PM

                                >>You are sure to get blasted for saying anything positive about Sugar Fish on this site...<<

                                Actually Sugar Fish gets both + and -. Some find it to be consistent and a good deal, while others hold a grudge.

                                1. re: Thor123
                                  J.L. RE: Thor123 May 9, 2012 10:27 PM

                                  Not every dislikes sugarFISH on this board. I like it. In fact, I often do sushi takeout from them.

                                  Some people may dislike it because sugarFISH is a more "corporate" sushi experience, or maybe they feel that Nozawa-san has "sold out" to the almighty dollar.

                                  I simply go by how it tastes. Frankly, for now, I'm still impressed with the quality control sugarFISH has on their product, given that it's a far less "personal" sushi experience than with other sushi-yas. For example, the albacore sugarFISH had recently was as good as Mori's. And their hotate-gai was just as good as Kiriko's. And yes, the sugarFISH crab roll is among the best in the city.

                                  I could care less if the food comes out of a window in the back, or who's making it back there, or whether it's "pre-cut" or not. As long as my cranial nerves VII, IX & X tell me it's "Oishi", it's good.

                                  1. re: J.L.
                                    PeterCC RE: J.L. May 9, 2012 11:16 PM

                                    [Insert joke equating sitting at the sushi-ya interacting with the itamae to being intimate with someone one loves, and equating getting sushi from SUGARFISH to going to a prostitute.]

                                    (J.L, this is NOT a criticism of your pragmatism, which I agree with somewhat, just the first analogy that popped into my head. Yes, I am strange.)

                                    (Anyone who likes SUGARFISH, this is not a knock against SUGARFISH either.)

                                    Back to the OP's question, I've had blue crab handrolls at many places, but haven't started really paying attention to the quality until recently. I think Hide's and Irori's are competent, but you're asking for the best. I just had Kiriko's for the first time today and it easily blows those two places out of the water, but that's to be expected. Empirically, without being able to compare it to other high-end places that it gets compared to (like Zo), it's really damn good, but Kiriko already seems to be in the lead in the number of recs, so I'm not really adding anything to this thread, so I'll just slowly back out of it now...

                                    Also, cigars of the sea... really weird imagery. :-)

                                    1. re: PeterCC
                                      kevin RE: PeterCC May 10, 2012 07:19 AM

                                      Cigars of the sea?

                                      Sasabune does a really great blue crab handroll. And ther lunch special at a little under 20 bucks is not half bad.

                                      1. re: kevin
                                        PeterCC RE: kevin May 10, 2012 08:09 AM

                                        That's what the OP said:

                                        "Your opinions as to who’s are the best and where I should seek to enjoy the finest of these delectable 'cigars of the sea' would be greatly appreciated."

                                        1. re: PeterCC
                                          Servorg RE: PeterCC May 10, 2012 09:47 AM

                                          Maybe that will more properly be a "sea-gar"? ;-D>

                                          1. re: Servorg
                                            Ciao Bob RE: Servorg May 10, 2012 10:41 AM

                                            Ash-uredly, that is a fine pun, Servorg!

                                            1. re: Ciao Bob
                                              Servorg RE: Ciao Bob May 10, 2012 10:47 AM

                                              All punning aside I wonder how one of these puppies would taste with the addition of avocado? I love avocado and eel hand rolls. The avocado really brings out another taste dimension and I like the little crab and avocado "tower" appetizers that places do. This seems like it would be a good match.

                                              1. re: Servorg
                                                PeterCC RE: Servorg May 10, 2012 10:52 AM

                                                Wouldn't it taste like a California (hand) roll with real crab instead of surimi?

                                                Also, I can't read "sea-gar" without giving it a pirate accent: "sea-garrrr!"

                                                1. re: PeterCC
                                                  Servorg RE: PeterCC May 10, 2012 11:06 AM

                                                  I really find hand rolls to be different in terms of taste and texture than cut up rolls (given the large nori or other type of wrapper used and the greater volume of the main ingredient you get with every bite). And, because anytime I have a California roll it's cut I sort of think the hand roll version would be qualitatively different (to me) than the cut version.

                                                  1. re: Servorg
                                                    PeterCC RE: Servorg May 10, 2012 11:25 AM

                                                    Oh sure, I definitely think hand rolls taste different (and generally better IMO) than cut rolls, but a blue crab hand roll with avocado would probably taste most like a California roll than anything else were one to have to compare it to something.

                                                    (I'm pretty sure I've had a blue crab California hand roll, but it was a while ago. Nothing's jumping out at me about the memory though.)

                                                    What I like about temaki is that the experience eating one is generally not uniform, with the conical ones at least. The first bite and the last bite are quite different because of the change in ratio of nori-to-filling, and both ends of a great temaki are great in their own way (disregarding the hand rolls that actually look like cigars, of course).

                                                    1. re: PeterCC
                                                      kevin RE: PeterCC May 10, 2012 11:53 AM

                                                      Yea. Someone used to describe fatty blue crab handrolls in their rough hand-formed sizes to be similar to Jamaican splifs.

                            Show Hidden Posts