HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

Discussion

Solo Traveler Seeking Amazing Sushi in LA at non-Astronomical Prices

Hi all -- I'm heading to LA for business three days next week (from SF), and I'm hoping to locate two sushi destinations. I know there's a lot of boards on LA sushi, but I have some specific needs:

(1) I'm going solo, and I don't do tables alone. So sushi bar required.
(2) One night, it'd be nice to do omakaze for around $100, but that could creep up a bit if the quality really warrants it. $200 is a firm max, so no Urasawa for me. I'm carless in downtown; I could cab out as far as Santa Monica, but don't want to head much further afield than that. Minimal bonus points for nice ambiance and good service, zero bonus points for hipness or celebrity - my focus is on the fish!
(3) Another night, I'd like to wander over to Japantown, and find a place there. A bit higher premium on ambiance and service for this night (but still, no credit for hipness).

Thanks in advance!

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

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I'd go to Sushi-Gen and R-23, but there are other downtown spots.

    -----
    Sushi-Gen
    422 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

    R23
    923 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

    1. Thanks for defining your parameters so succinctly. A few thoughts on your points:

      (1) Good. Sitting at the sushi bar is the best way to go at most sushi places anyways.

      (2) Your price point of $200 will get you a great omakaSe (spelled not with a 'z', but with an 's') at most of the Chowhound-worthy sushi joints around town (yes, Urasawa is costlier, but technically it's sushi kaiseki, and not a traditional omakase anyways).

      (3) Little Tokyo is also known to many Angelenos as J-town. This area is located in Downtown LA. There is another food-centric Japanese enclave known as "Little Osaka" in West LA, centered on Sawtelle Blvd. I tell you this because some of my following recommendations will be in/near that area. Surprisingly, Little Tokyo has only one very good sushi joint (Sushi Gen).

      Now, onwards to my recs:

      Mori Sushi (West LA) - Superb offerings, outstanding quality control, and you'll walk away knowing that great sushi is not just about the fish... It's also about its interplay with the RICE. The typical omakase there runs $135-$150+, and worth every dime. Currently, I feel that Mori is the top non-Urasawa place in my book, in terms of your specific needs.

      Sushi Zo (West LA) - Zo-san is a dour itamae, but a good one. Don't expect banter, or even a smile on your first visit. But DO expect extremely fresh nigiri. No cooked foods in the omakase, but there is a heavenly yuzu juice to drink at the end of the typical Zo meal. The price for Zo's omkase (and they ONLY do omakase at Zo) is a tad less than Mori.

      Go's Mart (Canoga Park, San Fernando Valley) - This is a most delicious omakase in perhaps the most unexpected, ANTI-hip (if there was ever such a phrase) of establishments: A mini-mall in the Valley. Again, omakase runs around $100-$140+. Note: Go's Mart is beyond your maximum acceptable cab ride distance.

      Kiriko (Sawtelle) - Ken-san knows his fish. His family runs a seafood stall at Tsukiji Market in Tokyo (I've visited it and met his family members there!) Kiriko's seasonally-inspired omakase is one of my favorite indulgences in L.A. Price, again, is in the same neighborhood as Sushi Zo, BUT the fantastic cooked dishes at Kiriko (often included in the omakase) alone make it worth the trip. AND his homemade desserts, while not strictly in keeping with Edomae-style tradition, are phenomenal.

      If you MUST eat sushi in Little Tokyo, go to Sushi Gen (in Honda Plaza, at 2nd & Central)... Good to very good sushi, and very crowded (though I suspect a lone wolf requesting a bar seat should be no problem). If you're a true sushi-phile, then try the konowata (fermented sea cucumber innards) nigiri at Sushi Gen... available nowhere else in L.A., to the best of my knowledge.

      Honorable mentions:

      Shibucho (on Beverly, in Mid-city) - Old school sushi-ya in a working-class neighborhood, with an amazing wine selection (the chef is a true oenophile). Shibucho offers the city's best tamago (omelette cake).

      Kiyokawa (Beverly Hills) - More of a kaiseki, and always a good meal.

      n/naka (West LA) - Fantastic Japanese-inspired kaiseki with a modern twist, Chef Niki Nakayama's exemplary, seasonal tasting menu will run you $165. n/naka is definitely worthy of a food pilgrimage, though it doesn't formally fit within your criteria.

      Warning: R-23 (in Downtown's Artists' District) has slid downhill in my book on the last few visits, and I no longer recommend it.

      Enjoy L.A., and please report back!

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

      Sushi Zo
      9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

      Kiriko
      11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064

      Shibucho
      3114 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

      Go's Mart
      22330 Sherman Way # C12, Canoga Park, CA

      Mori Sushi
      34320 Pacific Coast Hwy Ste B, Dana Point, CA 92629

      n/naka
      3455 S. Overland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034

      38 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        I agree with virtually everything in this post, except i haven't been to Shibucho, Kiyokawa, or n/naka.

        -----
        Shibucho
        3114 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

        n/naka
        3455 S. Overland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034

        1. re: J.L.

          This very informative and conprehensive reply needs to be made into a "sticky" and placed on the top of the LA boards under "FAQ LA Sushi and Answers"

          Seriously. Mods?

            1. re: Porthos

              We specifically don't sticky or recommend specific threads or restaurants, but rather give search tips so people can find the most up-to-date information as things change.

            2. re: J.L.

              I would add Mako sushi as one of the better Little Tokyo options. Also, a round trip cab ride to Santa Monica/WLA from downtown might cost you as much as an omakase meal.

              1. re: E Eto

                A huge +1 on Mako for Little Tokyo. For $100, you will get a very very nice omakase that meets 100% of your requirements. It's the perfect rec and you'll avoid the cow pen that is Sushi Gen *shudder*

                +2 on the taxi cost to SaMo. Ouch.

                Distance wise, carless in downtown, the only option that'd make sense is Shibucho. Old school itamae, dingy room, in the middle of nowhere. For good times, bring Napa red.

                -----
                Shibucho
                3114 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

                1. re: E Eto

                  I'd forgotten about Mako Sushi in Weller Court. I used to go there for their lunch special but now they are only open in the evenings.
                  Another lesser possibility (no frills atmosphere) is Saito's Sushi in Silver Lake.

                  -----
                  Saito's Sushi
                  4339 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029

                  Mako Sushi
                  123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St Ste 307, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                2. re: J.L.

                  Excellent report. Last time I was at R23, I thought the sushi had declined a little (but still good) but curiously the crab salad was better than before. Go figure.

                  -----
                  R23
                  923 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                  1. re: J.L.

                    Thanks for that awesome post. I look forward to trying them all.

                    Kiyokawa is the only place on the list I have visited. Excellent review is here: http://www.laweekly.com/2009-11-13/ea...

                    1. re: J.L.

                      Agree with pretty much everything J.L. posted... EXCEPT I was never too enamored with R23 in the first place. I've never recommended it to anyone, and it doesn't sound like I should now anyway.

                      -----
                      R23
                      923 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                      1. re: andytseng

                        FWIW, R23 was first rec'd to me by Shiro many moons ago. I've never had bad sushi there. And some has been very good. And the atmosphere is cool. I do agree it has declined some in the last year or two (change of ownership?).

                        -----
                        Shiro Restaurant
                        1505 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030

                        R23
                        923 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                        1. re: mc michael

                          Yeah, R23 hasn't been the same since Jake left.

                          -----
                          R23
                          923 E. 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                          1. re: J.L.

                            Do you know where Jake went?

                      2. re: J.L.

                        So what happened to old stand bys like Matsuhisa, Nobu, Sushi Sushi, Takao, Sushi Sasabune? Last year Sushi Zo was in the dog house, are they out now?

                        -----
                        Sushi Zo
                        9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                        Matsuhisa
                        129 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

                        Sushi Sasabune
                        12400 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                        Nobu
                        11357 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

                        Sushi Sushi
                        326 1/2 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212

                        Takao
                        11656 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                        1. re: scottca075

                          Not all restaurants with a Japanese name are sushi joints. I think Matsuhisa is a great Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant which happens to serve just OK straight-up sushi. The true forte of Matsuhisa is their fusion dishes, not their sushi.

                          The rest weren't mentioned because I simply don't think they would fit the OP's request for "Amazing Sushi". In my opinion, they simply didn't make my cut. Notice I didn't mention Sushi Dokoro Ki Ra La as well.

                          Not sure I understand the Zo comment. I included Zo because his nirigi is faultless and is amazing, for what it is. I personally don't go to Zo anymore because I don't like Zo's cold attitude, and he serves no cooked dishes at all. But Zo technically DOES fit the OP's request.

                          Aburiya Toranoko is an izakaya which happens to serve sushi. I love going there for their cooked dishes, but again, I fell their sushi is just a tad below "Amazing".

                          -----
                          Matsuhisa
                          129 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

                          Aburiya Toranoko
                          243 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

                          1. re: J.L.

                            I agree on Zo, but I also will never go there again.

                            1. re: kevin

                              Went last week. It was great, as J.L.. says, nigiri. Just perfect. I go rarely these days because I prefer low-carb sashimi I can get elsewhere.

                        2. re: J.L.

                          Exceptinal list jl. Of all the places. Go's mart and Shibucho are my favorites.

                          -----
                          Shibucho
                          3114 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057

                          1. re: J.L.

                            On the Go's Mart rec: Although it is definitely beyond the acceptable cab distance, it's not far at all from the 2nd to the last stop on the Orange Line in Canoga Park (I believe just about a quarter mile). As the OP is from The City - my former home as well - the issue of using Public Transit shouldn't be prohibitive.

                            -----
                            Go's Mart
                            22330 Sherman Way # C12, Canoga Park, CA

                            1. re: FranklinJefferson

                              though a 1/4 mile in this perhaps 100 degree weather might be too much.

                              anyway a few words: kawaigishi, kawagishi, kawagishi, how sweet are thee????

                            2. re: J.L.

                              Very good list. I would add that Kiriko does a very good lunch omakase with a fixed rate of $38 that is a great value, and worth a bus ride. They also do a more expensive version if you ask them.

                              -----
                              Kiriko
                              11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                              1. re: JudiAU

                                FYI: According to Mr. JudiAU, a man who rides the bus for pleasure, you can take the Rush "Rapid" 728 pretty quickly from downtown.

                                1. re: JudiAU

                                  if you go to Kiriko for their fixed price lunch, be sure to ask them to let you know when they have converted you from the fixed price to charging additional money for additional food. when i was there with a friend for lunch, we were not told that we were exceeding the fixed price lunch and ended up with a tab that was much higher than we expected.

                                  just a heads up

                                  -----
                                  Kiriko
                                  11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                    pardon the obvious, but doesn't the fish simply stop when the fixed price stops?

                                    1. re: ns1

                                      no.
                                      they kept on serving us.
                                      that's why it was such a surprise when we got the tab.

                                        1. re: ns1

                                          That's not ridiculous. That's what omakase is.

                                          One could say it's ridiculous to have a fixed priced omakase...

                                          1. re: Porthos

                                            uh it's ridiculous that fixed price omakase turns into normal omakase without any input from the customer

                                            if they keep on serving you after the fixed price omakase stops, what's the point of ordering a fixed price omakase to begin with?

                                            if i were to sit down an order a $75 fixed price omakase, i'd expect to get $75 worth of whatever the sushi chef thinks is best for the day.

                                            1. re: ns1

                                              This deceased horse has been flogged many times over in the past 5-8 years. Feel free to search "How much does omakase cost". Add Yasuda for the discussion on Manhattan boards. Add Mori for the LA discussion. Look for responses from Silverjay amongst others.

                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                i have been to more than my share of omakase meals. i'm just sayin, fixed price omakase that keeps on going without any input from the customer aint no fixed price omakase.

                                                1. re: ns1

                                                  Ordinary, the chef asks whether you're still hungry, whether you still want more, something like that. It's a polite way of notifying you that the prix fixe is over without discussing money. If your answer is "yum, oh yes," then you've assented to pay more. This is the way it is at Mori, Zo, Sushi Gen, Go's Mart, every place I've ever been.

                                                  1. re: sushigirlie

                                                    the difference, for me, is that when i'm at zo, i know in advance, that the ending price is a wildcard. i expect and accept that set-up at the outset.

                                                    when i was at kiriko, i incorrectly thought that i was having a fixed price meal.

                                                    1. re: sushigirlie

                                                      "Ordinary, the chef asks whether you're still hungry, whether you still want more, something like that. ...This is the way it is at Mori, Zo, Sushi Gen, Go's Mart, every place I've ever been."

                                                      my understanding of the situation at hand is that no such question was ever asked, and that is what i have an issue with. if i misunderstood the situation then my bad, can we just move on.

                                                      1. re: ns1

                                                        Not to speak for sushigirlie, but I think she was trying to convey that sushi chefs are sometimes so discrete with the way they ask that it can slip by people without notice.

                                                        When I brought one of my friends to Urasawa, chef Hiro asked if my friend was full and she said yes. She didn't know that he would take that to mean to stop serving her. Luckily, I cleared it up before she missed any courses.

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

                                                      2. re: sushigirlie

                                                        That's been my experience.

                                                        I'm a big fan of Mori, but the last time I went I had an odd experience - I went two times (for omakase) in a week (taking friends for birthdays) and I got less fish and a bigger bill the 2nd time. And the 2nd time no Santa Barbara sweet shrimp either. I'm a little perplexed about the disparity. Haven't been back since. So, I wish there were some hard and fast rules about omakase. You get a prix fixe at a French restaurant and you know EXACTLY what you're going to get and EXACTLY how much it's going to cost you.

                                        2. re: westsidegal

                                          They offer two options, one of which is the menu fixed omakase with a set number of pieces listed on the menu. Ends with a blue crab roll. They also offer traditional omakase which is not fixed. Sounds like a misscommunication because I've ordered it many times and never had an issue.

                                          And yes, the one time I said regular it was much fancier, much more, and quite expensive as I would expect.

                                        3. re: JudiAU

                                          wow, and it's gone up in price, just a few years ago, it was firmly esconced at about 24.50 with the ice cream.

                                        4. re: J.L.

                                          Great list from J.L.

                                          Based on proximity I'd suggest Sushi-Gen and Sushi Zo for (3) and (2) needs respectively.

                                          Good luck and report back, I definitely think we have the leg up on SF when it comes to sushi.

                                          -----
                                          Sushi-Gen
                                          422 E 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                                          Sushi Zo
                                          9824 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034

                                        5. Hamasaku and Crazy Fish, both on the west side.

                                          -----
                                          Hamasaku
                                          8360 Melrose Ave Ste 100, West Hollywood, CA 90069

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Jodie

                                            respectfully disagree with the Crazy Fish recommendation.
                                            have been dragged there many, many, times.
                                            Hamasaku, imho, is not worth the cab ride from downtown.

                                            1. Sushi Nishiya in Glendale has great sushi (traditional only, no rolls), well-priced (~$100 & up for omakase but they also have a sushi menu that you can order from so you can moderate the cost), utter lack of hipness. Downside: if you wanted to go for a walk or something afterwards, it is in the middle of nowhere so you'd be out of luck.

                                              1712 Victory Blvd, Glendale

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: soniabegonia

                                                yep, nishi-ya is one of my favorites!!! however i am hesitant to recommend it or kiriko or zo, because of the distance. taxi's cost a fortune!!! downtown, sushi gen is really good. don't think you'll be disappointed there.

                                                1. re: Clyde

                                                  I'm a Nishi-Ya fan too, and Glendale is only something like 7 miles north of downtown, much closer than many of the places on the westside.

                                                  But totally agree about Sushi Gen being really good right downtown.

                                                  -----
                                                  Nishi-Ya
                                                  1712 Victory Blvd, Glendale, CA 91201

                                              2. I echo the recommendations for Mako Sushi in Weller Court.

                                                More recently, though, I have been enjoying great sushi at Aburiya Toranoko along with excellent service and nice ambiance. Couple of nice pix to be found here http://la.eater.com/tags/aburiya-tora... and here http://www.zagat.com/buzz/aburiya-tor...

                                                -----
                                                Aburiya Toranoko
                                                243 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012