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Jan 26, 2012 11:08 AM

Sushi Nozawa Closing!

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    1. That is big news. However, I'm surprised he's managed in that location for so long. He's such a curmudgeon-- I'd have thought that he would have had his fill years ago of the cell phone yakking, photo snapping, brown rice requesting, soy allergic hipsters and obnoxious entertainment execs. (Although it was, after all, his ultimate decision to open in Studio City.) I imagine he'd probably have been a great deal happier over the last couple of decades had he run a little shop somewhere in Gardena. Maybe that's what he'll do now, and open a Sugarfish in the old Nozawa location? Seems like a better fit for him.

      Mr Taster

      1. I discovered Nozawa back when he first opened in the mid-80s when I was still in high school and just getting over my fear of raw fish. It was a revelatory experience back then. I have only been a couple of times in the last 10-15 years or so, but sounds like it's time to get over there one more time.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Jack Flash

          Nozawa also was one of my gateway sushi places, though for me that was shortly after I arrived in LA in 1997.

          Although I have always enjoyed his warm rice sushi, I see no joy in what he does, or how he executes it. I've wondered if he gets any personal satisfaction out of the job. It has been observed many times before: the way he conveyor belts out the same "trust me" lineup to almost all of his patrons, and has been doing for as long as I've been going there (granted it's been a few years for me, though I doubt much has changed.)

          My understanding is that omakase is meant to take into account the tastes of the diner, paired with the best of what the sushi chef has available-- not the same damned thing to everyone who orders. (Although to be fair, Nozawa is hardly unique among LA sushi chefs in executing this "chef decides what's best for the patron" version of omakase.)

          Having said this, I am sad to see him go and will have to give him one last shot before he closes for good (or for now-- guys like him tend to have difficulty retiring permanently).

          Mr Taster

          1. re: Mr Taster

            When he first started, he didn't have a helper/assistant behind the bar; it was just Nozawa. It was a much slower paced experience, too, with a lot more interaction. Although it was "trust me," he'd still give one an opportunity to reject something, ask for something else, etc. I really wish everyone could have experienced it back then. The place wasn't mobbed, either. I can remember going with my dad, and we wouldn't have to wait for a seat because the restaurant was only half-full. The experience has changed a lot over the years. But I still intend to go back once more for old time's sake.

            1. re: Jack Flash

              Same here. But I started going there (I think) when it was already quite busy in the late 90s, i think.

              i'll prolly get down there for one last time. but seeing as he's closed on the weekends it may be difficult.

              1. re: kevin

                Same here-- I "discovered" him shortly after my arrival in LA through the Zagat guide, and I remember lines out the door at lunch (this would probably have been around 1997-1998).

                Strange to think back so far, to BCE days (Before Chowhound Era)

                Mr Taster

        2. Damn. I've also been going there for years. At least until Zo and the other acolytes as well as sugarfish arrived on the scene.

          I think he introduced me to raw fish sushi along with Katsu Michite.

          In my opinion, zo, echigo, nishiya, et al were all heavily influenced and representative of nozawas style.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kevin

            you can definitely see the influence in sasabune and echigo from nozawa.

            still one of my favorite places for sushi. sad news indeed.

            i do remember being at sugarfish once when nozawa was there. he seemed happier and was interacting with customers pretty well. maybe the sugarfish model was more to his liking. either way, i'll miss it.

          2. i've never been to nozawa, and did not enjoy my experience at sugarfish downtown. while the sushi was good, i felt so rushed, more rushed than i've ever felt dining anywhere. i counted, and it took 58 seconds to get our check. i would have loved to have had more sake too that night but it was impossible with how rushed we were. if nozawa is anything like this, i guess it's just not for me. but if i'm truly missing out, let me know and i'll see about giving it a shot before it's gone.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Clyde

              Trust are missing nothing. I used to go for lunch on a fairly regular basis around wasn't too crowded, and the food was good (but not mindblowing)...also, not too expensive...i don't think i ever spent over $30 at lunch. It was a good, local, quick place for lunch.

              I recall having dinner with some out of town friends there about 10 years ago...packed, waited in line for at least 30 minutes, and then rushed through our omakase at the bar in less than 45 minutes, more likely nearly 150/head. The presentation was sloppy, and while the quality of the fish was high, there is more to good sushi than just good fish.

              Virtually the same culinary experience (actually a little better, IMHO) can be had at Sasabune...again, I don't go often because of the the speed/assembly line environment. Sushi Zo has better sushi, but the awful location and surly attitude turned me off right away (and that's when it it's triple the price!).

              1. re: manku

                Speed/assembly line treatment is why I stopped going to Gen. I HATE that treatment, esp. when paying 150/head.

                1. re: ns1

                  As in Sushi Gen? Then get the sashimi deluxe platter and pay ~$16 for lunch (or ~$25 for dinner) and do special orders a la carte. You'll come in WAY below $150, and you can eat at your own pace.

                  Mr Taster

                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    That's exactly what I do when I go to Gen.

                    I'm just saying I'm very turned off by the omakase experience at record there was 210/pp and I was not a happy camper.

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      Yes I get the sashimi deluxe and then get some uni and amaebi too!

                  2. re: manku

                    Worth noting that your $30 in 1992 dollars is worth $46 today.


                    Mr Taster

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      I remember my bill being about 23 bucks without tax and tip in the summer of 1999.