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Is Sugarfish Over-Rated?

I take my sushi/Japanese pretty seriously. I don't care about trendy crap. I order boatloads of sashimi and small plates when i go for sushi. I don't get sauced-out "special rolls" or those kind of overblown, overdone things. Favorite Sushi spots are Nagao (Brentwood), Matsuhisa (La cienega), Izaka-ya (on 3rd), and Wa (La Cienega & Holloway).

A lot of my self-proclaimed "foodie" friends (aka they're NOT foodies) have raved about SugarFish. My gut feeling, combined with what I've seen here on Chowhound, is that it's overrated.

To my fellow hounds who have been, WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH SUGARFISH?

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  1. Here is just one of the "spirited" previous threads that have popped up on the LA board discussing that very question: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/857460 I still haven't been so don't have a dog (chow hound?) in the fight as yet...

    1. IMO both Matsuhisa, and Wa both fall into the "sauced out, overblown, and overdone" category.
      Sugrafish is all that and more.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cls

        Sure certain things on their menus fall into that category, but not all of them. I appreciate Nobu's South American fusion dishes (at Matsu), but I have always stayed away from dishes with too many ingredients. I want the flavor of the fish to come through, not a load of spicy mayo or truffle ponzu haha.

      2. I'm not sure what you mean by overrated, since most Chowhounds feel that Sugarfish has always been inferior to the former Sushi Nozawa, and even Nozawa had plenty of detractors after his three decades in that Studio City strip mall. (He never enjoyed the universal lovefest that Urasawa enjoys.) Although I'd been to Nozawa a dozen times or so, I still have yet to try Sugarfish.

        Mr Taster

        3 Replies
        1. re: Mr Taster

          could you give me a quick run-down of Nozawa? I don't ever go to Studio City.

          1. re: Mr Taster

            and I mean overrated in the context of the general, sushi-enjoying--not Chowhound level--populace. I've heard rave reviews from lots of them. I'd like to think I have a more sophisticated palate (sp?) than they do, which is why I'm here asking all my fellow food worshipers on CH.

            I get the sense that my friends rate SugarFish highly because it is trendy and good, but not great, quality--something they wouldn't know the difference between.

            1. re: beaubourne

              Nozawa's preparation of sushi (warm rice that falls apart) was controversial, as was his "my way or the highway" method of preparing sushi. Controversial or not, he gained a reputation that got people flocking to his sushi bar. Eventually he established Sugarfish, closed his small sushi shop of ~30 years, and is no doubt retiring comfortably on Sugarfish income.

              Mr Taster

          2. If you take your sushi/Japanese seriously, you should try Shunji, Mori, Kiriko, n/naka and Sushi Zo.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Porthos

              SugarFish is very good for the price. If you like Sasabone (and I do) it is comparable for half the price.

              1. re: Thor123

                I agree that Sugar Fish is very good for the price. I always leave feeling quite satisfied with the food and the bottom line on the check. Service is also very good (I go to the Brentwood location).

                1. re: Thor123

                  If you like Sasabone (and I do) it is comparable for half the price.
                  =============================
                  Never tried Sasabone ;) but I do not like Sasabune. I tried it for almost half the price back in the Sawtelle days when it was "better". Didn't like it then either.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    I knew I was going to get called out on the spelling! I liked it better on Sawtelle, but I dont think it was appreciably less money, especially for the time. It is a style that one generally likes or does not. Not a ton of middle ground on SASABUNE or SUGARFISH.

                    1. re: Thor123

                      This brings to mind the dinner we had the other night at the place that came in behind the old Sas-a-Cinn-a-Bun location on the corner of Nebraska and Sawtelle across the street from Plan Check and Nora Sterry Elementary, Bar-Hayama http://www.bar-hayama.com/ A beautiful space, and the food while generally good and offering a broad range of choices, just doesn't quite cut it. I'd rather eat at Kiriko (with a similar menu in some respects) at the price. Although for a "date night" Bar-Hayama would be a good choice, just so long as food is of secondary importance. And some many recall that the space that Sasa was in was a Mexican place at one time that made their own tortillas and sold great tacos out of them? I'm thinking it was called Baustista? Maybe?

                  2. re: Thor123

                    imho, both sasabune and sugarfish are places to be avoided.

                    1. re: Thor123

                      How expensive is it? How does the PRICE (not food) compare to, say, Katsuya?

                  3. Sugarfish is good for what it is. It is not a high end sushi bar, so judging as one is going to throw you off track.

                    It has a limited menu of good sushi options, more like a grab and go sushi spot, except here you stay a while. I definitely would not make it a destination, but if I were in the area and wanted some good basic sushi, it would be a good option.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ocshooter

                      Be that as it may, the OP has stated they take sushi "pretty seriously" so by most of our understanding, Sugarfish should be avoided.
                      Also to be avoided for the serious sushi fan are: Sasabune, Matsuhisa, Wa, etc.
                      They may be fine for what they are, but serious sushi (or even good basic sushi) they are not.

                      1. re: cls

                        Sorry if I wasn't specific enough. I guess I mean Japanese, more than the specific term "sushi." I don't mean this post in terms of looking for good sushi specifically, I just used it as a qualifier to indicate that quality is important to me.

                    2. I think it's all marketing. A perceived deal. I work near the MDR location and CWs go nuts for it. I would rather spend a little more for lunch at Kiriko. But the way they see it... they get the cache of a super expensive sushi restaurant for cheap. It's the same reason that drives the masses to Costco...

                      --Dommy!

                      32 Replies
                      1. re: Dommy

                        Comparing SugarFish to Costco? Give me a break. I disagree with your "perceived deal" analysis. I know a lot of folks with very sophisticated palates who enjoy SugarFish. BTW, not everyone can afford a "super expensive sushi restaurant."

                        1. re: maudies5

                          BTW, not everyone can afford a "super expensive sushi restaurant."
                          =======================
                          I agree. Which is why I deliberately did not include Urasawa. I would hate to imply that one cannot be "serious" about sushi without having gone to Urasawa. And frankly, on sushi alone, I thought Mori was better than Urasawa back when Mori was at the helm (have not been since).

                          However, OP did list Matsuhisa which is as expensive if not more so than any of the ones I listed...and much less traditional.

                          1. re: Porthos

                            "I would hate to imply that one cannot be "serious" about sushi without having gone to Urasawa."

                            Or at least feel guilty about not going to Urasawa. The most ardent sushi fanatic I know has not been there. But he talks about it. And clearly feels a bit guilty for not going. He's waiting to win the lottery, or have me take him there. I think he'll cave eventually. But probably not this year.

                            And yes, if your foodie (aka they're NOT foodies - which I don't quite understand) friends are raving - yes, it is over-rated. Not bad though.

                            1. re: foodiemahoodie

                              Re: the foodie thing, search the site talk board. There's lots of threads debating what "foodies" are, and whether it's actually a pejorative term for someone who likes food (or the idea/scene associated with food/restaurants) but doesn't really know much about food, or goes where they're told.

                              Chowhound splash screen from 2002:

                              "We're not talking about foodies. Foodies eat where they're told; they eagerly follow trends and rarely go where Zagat hasn't gone before. Chowhounds, on the other hand, blaze trails, combing gleefully through neighborhoods for hidden culinary treasure. They despise hype, and while they appreciate refined ambiance and service, they can't be fooled by mere flash."

                              http://web.archive.org/web/2002032913...

                              Responses to this should me made on the Site Talk board.

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                I think what confused me was the use of "aka" - "aka they're not foodies".

                                But I see your point. Thanks.

                              2. re: foodiemahoodie

                                THANK YOU! Why can't one be serious about something even if they can't afford the very very best? I'm passionate about cars. Am I a poser because I don't have/can't afford a Ferrari? Of course not. It's a load of crap.

                                Obviously the better quality places will have higher prices. I'm not arguing this point. I just hate the impression I get from so many sushi posts on this site that one cannot be serious about sushi just because he/she hasn't been to one of these places (you know those which I speak of). Wealth and higher appreciation for food are not directly related.

                                1. re: beaubourne

                                  > Wealth and higher appreciation for food are not directly related.

                                  Well, certainly wealth doesn't dictate a personal passion for any one thing, but it does afford one the luxury to have a wider breadth of experiences. Ultimately, personal taste is developed when you make decisions among those choices available to you. A wealthier person is going to have more (and/or different) options available from which they can draw comparisons and develop a personal taste.

                                  So it's not that wealth directly creates taste or passion for food, but indirectly it affords one the opportunity to taste more and different kinds of things more frequently than someone with limited resources.

                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: beaubourne

                                    not a direct answer to your question, but:
                                    imho the best "bargain" sushi can be found at Hide.
                                    (caveats: 1) they only take cash, and 2) this is not a secret so they are often crowded.

                                    1. re: beaubourne

                                      doesn't seem to me that that is what is being said.
                                      methinks that people are saying that it is not good sushi if 1) ponzo sauce is applied with a fire hose to the fish and 2) "good" sushi should not contain copious amount of mayonnaise.

                                      try going to Hide on sawtelle.

                                2. re: maudies5

                                  If there ever was a food example of the law of diminishing returns, it's sushi.

                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                    This would be one of the rare times I would have to disagree with you, respectively of
                                    course.

                                    I would rather eat sushi half as frequently so I can go to some place twice as expensive and only 60-80% better.

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      Hi Porthos,

                                      I should have explained myself further (which I tend to do too much). The issue with sushi in SoCal is a quirky one. The sushi economy here is broad and complex. While I don't declare to have a firm grasp of it, here's how I see it. Rarely do I observe a supermarket not offer "sushi" of different sorts. Sushi has become such a pedestrian food item and the supermarket version is at the beginning ($) of the x-axis. Five, maybe 10 bucks max and your meal is in tow. The quality differs and varies somewhat depending on the market (think non-Japanese markets - markets like Nijiya are exceptions), the time, and the day. But all in all, I think it registers equally on the y-axis (quality). In some way, shape or form, the majority of consumers have tried sushi. In terms of quantity and dollars, this is the broadest segment of the sushi economy.

                                      Because the demand for sushi ingredients has sky-rocketed over the past two decades, strains have been put on the supply of many of the fundamental ingredients, mainly seafood. Bluefin tuna imho is the poster child in the world of sushi economics. The better seafood specimens from the most desirable areas that are in season will command premiums.

                                      Prices have obviously reflected the imbalance of supply/demand. What might be the silver lining of sorts to this issue is a more varied supply of ingredients are being offered at the supply-end and utilized at all levels of the sushi kingdom.

                                      Like any other consumer segment, the sophistication, knowledge and tastes of sushi eaters varies widely. I'd say the vast majority of consumers are perfectly fine eating take-out sushi. To this segment, this is sushi. Battera sushi is said to have originated in Osaka and was one of the earlier renditions of broad consumer sushiism. It's one of my favorite forms of sushi, so I am somewhat guilty of this (Nijiya does a pretty good rendition). A dear friend from Osaka tells me that one of her first and frequent stops upon returning home is a sushi shop (not counter) that specializes in battera sushi. Only in Japan could such a place exist.

                                      Because many of the ingredients going into sushi are sourced far from SoCal and some are very perishable and geographically specific, supply becomes even a bigger issue, especially for the upper echelon of the sushi kingdom. Dealing with perishability constraints makes air freight essential - this becomes a major component in the pricing structure. Throw in a cut for all who handle the ingredients at either end of the Pacific (or Atlantic/Mediterranean) as well. Even rice, the right rice, the best rice for sushi can be an issue. Rice is a major crop in the US - much is grown here in California, but aside from those who can specifically source/grow their own (like Mori), most prefer to source specific rices from Japan. Nori seems generic enough to most, but nori considered to be of the better qualities can fetch a hefty sum. The list goes on. Sourcing, sourcing, sourcing. And obviously, the etamae - the really good ones - they won't be settling in behind the sushi counter at Whole Foods. Their talents command a high premium, and if they market themselves appropriately, they can showcase their talents and fetch that premium. Specialized labor/talent typically commands a premium.

                                      The supermarket-level sushi providers will use basic consumer-quality ingredients, and preparation is performed by either in-house kitchen staff with basic training; or made en-mass by a third party and transported to the markets. Relatively generic ingredients and marginally specialized labor.

                                      Going to the northern extreme on the y-axis of quality are places like Mori, Urasawa, Kiriko, et al. Their quality is supreme in every way. Consumers who eat at such places typically are far more sophisticated in sushi culture. The etamae are masters at sourcing, preparation, technique, execution, and presentation. Whatever leaps in incremental price one has to pay for this experience, there is definitely a market for it. The price range for this experience is around $100-$200, depending on one's tastes, appetite, drinks, etc. Urasawa (kind of a mixed bag r.e. sushi) would be all the way out on the x-axis at $500+. I think most consumers would argue that the upper echelon of places are not a viable option (out of their price range, don't understand the finer points of enjoying sushi in its finest form, or just not worth the price).

                                      Part of this segment who don't bite on the high-end places are Japanese immigrants. To them, partaking in sushi of this level is, "bakarashii," meaning absurd or foolish in regards to the prices (not saying that they NEVER do). Most expat housewives are perfectly comfortable going through the processes of making simple to moderately complex sushi at home (I refer to battera again. As basic as it seems at first glance, the processes involved in making it are not). I think this notion is reflected in the locations of the above-mentioned sushi houses - none are in the Torrance/Gardena area. I think the vantage point of most Japan expats is relating to this food in Japan. As I referred to above, even battera sushi can thrive via shop form in Osaka. Sushi can thrive at a more pedestrian level in Japan, but the curve for quality is much higher, the culture is different (Japan's the mothership) and the prices tend to be more in line with Japanese consumers' pocketbooks (not saying it's a bargain there in our eyes vis-a-vis dollar/yen). Fresh seafood is also far more accessible in most areas of Japan.

                                      The bulk of sushi options at actual eateries are probably around the $30-$50 range, which includes Sugarfish (which seems to hit that sweet spot of $40 for dinner). Where the quality of such places sit on the y-axis will be scattered all over the midrange. Since I consider you to have a PhD in food with a strong emphasis in sushi, your perspective would be particularly valid. But I think many who would be working with a GED in "food" (at best) would beg to differ for many reasons - validity aside. And because you are extremely passionate about sushi, your tolerance for paying more for the better if not best examples is high. Most others, not so. And that is why places like Sugarfish and the huge numbers of others that fall in that $30-$50 range (Sushi-Go, Irori, Hide, Sushi Masu, et al) represent that fat middle of the sushi economy. In terms of price sensitivity, quality (again very subjective), and quantity, places like these are considered a square deal for many who go out to eat sushi. To get to that upper range of sushi experiences imho requires at least 100-300% more investment to derive a level of satisfaction that most would argue not being worth it - except of course those who truly appreciate it and/or not so sensitive to price.

                                      >>I would rather eat sushi half as frequently so I can go to some place twice as expensive and only 60-80% better.<<

                                      I think this statement lends to my perception that diminishing returns is a major factor in the sushi economy. I'm not arguing whether or not it's worth it. I am a firm believer in the free market. If the upper echelon of sushi houses offer premium levels of quality in so many aspects of the experience, then they should charge a premium for it. Specialized talents coupled with premium ingredients are scarce. But to make that leap from mid-range to premium is huge for most consumers (for so many reasons) when considering it in terms of incremental dollar outlay relative to perceived return.

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        I much prefer your detailed explanations over your recent attempts of abbreviated responses. It is much more enriching for the board and for me personally. You can read The Count of Monte Cristo or you can read the Cliffs Notes version. The former is a much more satisfying and valuable account of the tale.

                                        After I responded I realized you did not make the "worth it" qualifier.

                                        Regarding diminishing returns, that can be said of paying the premium for any good be it sushi, wine, clothing, etc. Paying twice as much will almost never get you twice the quality. Pick any board favorite high end restaurant and now compare to say a bowl of ramen or a bowl of noodles from Saap or Trieu Chau. No high end place is 30-50x better than a bowl of those noodles. Maybe 10-20x tops. Exceptions being LQ's pop ups at $45 and Red Medicine's at $60-$100pp for 5-6 dishes.

                                        For me though, sushi is not a linear plot. It's more of an exponential function with a minimum cutoff or the beginning being a stepwise function using your analogy. I would love to pay less for high quality sushi or find that magical nexus where price and quality is optimized. But as you say, fish is expensive and no place will be able to offer high quality fish at discount rates.

                                        At lower priced and lower quality places, even the slight taint of a less than fresh piece here or there or a mushy piece of salmon or whitefish or poorly prepared rice really diminishes the experience for me. I don't get the same euphoria I get rolling that perfect grain of rice around in conjunction with that perfectly textured fish of perfect freshness. So even though the price is half, my enjoyment is also half or less.

                                        I understand that I am indeed not in the middle of your scatter plot. But again, the OP did mention that s/he was "serious" and had set a decently high price point with his mention of Matsuhisa.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          Fantastic, Bulavinaka. I love saba battera, which I believe I first had in LA in the mid-90's, not Japan, many years ago at one of the first less "Americanized" places that were opening then. I cannot recall the name of the place.

                                          <<sushi is not a linear plot>> Surely not.
                                          I guess it comes down to how one perceives the bend in the curve from the supermarket to the Zo/Kiriko/Mori level.
                                          If -- based on my own perception (on any particular day, since that will change based on how "flush" I feel) of the quality-to-price ratio -- I think it rises exponentially, I will skip Sugarfish; if I perceive the curve flattens asymptotically, I may choose Sugarfish. OTH, there are many other factors that come into play. Speed and not having to make lot of decisions, for instance - sometimes, for me, it is nice to get that Trust Me, real quick, at Sugarfish and be on my way.

                                          1. re: Porthos

                                            Did someone say Monte Cristo sandwiches?!

                                          2. re: bulavinaka

                                            Whew, if we average the words in your two posts, I think you're still within your general range for length! :-)

                                            As always a great read. While I've jumped into the deep end of the high end, recently I've had to pull back for financial reasons. I went to Irori recently and found it to be lacking, not just in comparison to the higher end places (which would be natural) but even in comparison to my go-to affordable sushi place, Ninjin, which price-wise I'd put below Irori and Hide and the ilk. So for me, I am basically cutting out all of the fat middle, and really jut sticking to Nijiya until I can return to Shunji or Kiriko...

                                            1. re: bulavinaka

                                              how do you have time to write such eloquent posts on CH?

                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                As an Economics major in college, I really appreciate this post. As Ciao Bob said, fantastic.

                                                I couldn't agree more with you on the diminishing returns theory of sushi. Perhaps the classic Chowhound Sushi Trio of Mori, Zo, and Kiriko are outliers, that truly sit above the curve. Urasawa MUST be an outlier, as its stratospheric price could only sustain itself with intense, constant demand for its quality product.

                                          3. re: maudies5

                                            Comparing SugarFish to Costco is beyond silly. Dismissing Sasabue and Matsuhisha is worse. Both have been top Zagat rated (27 and 29, respectively). To each his own. I know this board love Mori and I found it average at best. Let the attacks begin.

                                            1. re: Thor123

                                              >> Both have been top Zagat rated (27 and 29, respectively).

                                              See foodie response, above :)
                                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8686...

                                              Mr Taster
                                              (who likes Matsuhisa, and Urasawa)

                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                Personally, I think Zagat is usually pretty good. I find it rare that a highly rated restaurant on Zagat is poor quality.

                                                1. re: Thor123

                                                  zagat = manually curated yelp (not a slam)

                                              2. re: Thor123

                                                I agree Thor, some of the claims are pretty absurd. Costco. LMAO.

                                                There seems to be a lot of Matsu haters on here. I've never been to Mori, but I'm in my early 20s and cannot afford a $150 meal.

                                                I don't like how in the USA's second biggest city, one that I'd like to think has a strong sushi scene, there only seems to be 3 or 4 sushi spots that are "Chowhounder approved" AKA Mori, Zo, Urasawa, and Kiriko. I think people are WAY too quick to dismiss places that are friendlier on the wallet. If these places are the only truly great sushi spots, does this mean the LA sushi scene sucks?

                                                In any case, this discussion has been very interesting, but I don't want it to turn into the classic LA Chowhound sushi war, because the eternal winners are clearly listed above.

                                                1. re: beaubourne

                                                  "If these places are the only truly great sushi spots, does this mean the LA sushi scene sucks?"

                                                  Everything is relative. A C+ joint in LA is an A+ joint in Idaho.

                                                  1. re: beaubourne

                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/707464 (of course Sushi Nozawa has closed since this thread was put up). I like U-Zen for reasonably priced sushi.

                                                    1. re: beaubourne

                                                      If you haven't already, you should see "Hiro Dreams of Sushi". It explains how closely guarded relationships between sushi chefs and their fish and rice buyers are, and how mutual respect for their crafts engender loyalty to an insane degree. It's essentially a rigged game-- there are only a few sushi chefs that know how to get the prime grades of fish and rice.

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                        I think you meant Jiro, not Hiro. :-)

                                                        (If anyone has Amazon Prime, the included Prime Instant Video benefit just made Jiro Dreams of Sushi part of its available videos, so you can watch it for "free".)

                                                        1. re: PeterCC

                                                          Whoops! Well, I've got a feeling that much of the content of that film could have been transferred between the two chefs.

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                          1. re: PeterCC

                                                            It's also on Netflix Streaming, thankfully in HD.

                                                            1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                                                              It is also available in HD streaming with Amazon Prime to supported devices (not to a computer).

                                                              It would be a shame to have to watch food porn* in SD resolution! ;-)

                                                              *Meant in a non-insulting way.

                                                  2. Just wondering -- is the guy running Sugarfish named Satoh? Years ago in SF there was a place called Sugar's, and it was run by a guy named Satoh.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Tripeler

                                                      The restaurant group is owned by Kazunori Nozawa and several others (see Founders & Partners at the bottom of this page: http://sugarfishsushi.com/our-story-2...).

                                                      1. re: PeterCC

                                                        Thanks, Peter. This was fairly interesting. Now I am certain there is no chance of being served any Monster Truck Rolls there.

                                                    2. I have been to the Sugarfish in Santa Monica twice. (I live a block away.) My opinion is that it is terrible. It is bad sushi; it is bad value sushi; it is bad everything.

                                                      The fish is very poor quality. All of it tastes mealy. None of it has been thawed to a proper temperature. The chefs have poor knife skills. In side by side pieces of salmon nigiri, one piece was almost twice as big as the other. At even a low-budget sushi restaurant in Japan, such indifference and lack of skill would be considered appalling.

                                                      The rice is abysmal. The problem isn't simply that it's too hot, which it certainly is. The rice also tastes unusually chalky and starchy. I'm not sure it was rinsed.

                                                      The sauces are offensive. Every piece of sushi and the lamentable tuna sashimi were bathed in tangy sauces like ponzu. These sauces soaked the nigiri rice and caused every dish to reek.

                                                      Even the ginger was bad. It had inedible strings in it, which I have never encounted before at any sushi restaurant.

                                                      Green tea was a cup of hot water with a tea bag tied so tightly to to the handle that it was impossible to remove the tea bag when done steeping.

                                                      Sugarfish's website makes it seem like Sugarfish is an ultra-traditional restaurant obsessed with high-quality food. Sugarfish is nothing of the sort. It is pure commercial phoniness.

                                                      While I have eaten at some of the best sushi restaurants in the world, including in Japan, I also appreciate quick, budget sushi. Not every sushi meal should cost hundreds of dollars. Once in a while, I order sushi at Whole Foods, which can satisfy a craving. Sugarfish is worse than Whole Foods quality in my opinion. I see no redeeming quality whatsoever.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                        1. re: AlkieGourmand

                                                          Wow, your experience very much mirrored my first visit there (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/857460). I gave the place one more try a week later and my second visit was much improved but in the end it was still not for me. Haven't returned since, and really have no desire...

                                                        2. I like sugarfish, for what it is & for what the restaurant wants it to be. Decent sushi, not comparable to the best in LA, nor the worst...middle road sushi, that is very affordable. I stop in Brentwood sometimes instead of fighting traffic. The albacore belly is nice, but it's the rice and the style they serve it that makes them a bit different. The style is warm, loose rice as to let the flavor come through. It's sushi on a budget that is not too bad...

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: CharlesKochel

                                                            I think the biggest misnomer is that Sugarfish is "reasonable". To be quite honest - its not. If you order the lunch special at Kiriko its cheaper than the Trust Me. Same amount of food. Now that said, Sugarfish is king of like the Mcdonalds of sushi. Before you scream, let me explain. Basically it can be counted on for it consistency every visit. And it can be found at every location. I'm not calling SF a discount or fast food sushi place.

                                                            1. re: gordo26

                                                              Could you share with me your favorite "affordable" sushi joints in west LA or the woodland hills area, i live in Topanga and work in SM? Thanks in advance. ~ck

                                                              1. re: CharlesKochel

                                                                One "affordable" place we go to as part of our regular rotation is U-Zen http://www.u-zenrestaurant.com/ on Santa Monica Blvd. just one block east of Bundy on the N side of the street. They have some other really good small appetizer plates that I like, along with their sushi, like the spicy tofu dish or their shrimp with garlic sprouts or the baked green mussels with crab...

                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                  Thanks, the menu just made me smile out loud. Wish they'd hurry up and open this morning already.

                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                    i, too, have enjoyed U-Zen many times.
                                                                    also, i like Hide very much, but i try to time my visits to avoid crowds (i.e. avoid the very peak meal times). remember, too, that Hide only takes cash.

                                                                  2. re: CharlesKochel

                                                                    One of the better price-to-quality ratio sushi places on the Westside is Hide Sushi on Sawtelle. Be aware that it's cash only.

                                                                    My go-to affordable sushi joint is Ninjin in Santa Monica (on Colorado). The quality is very good, and if you have a KCRW fringe benefits, it'll get you 15% off the already decent prices.

                                                              2. I am not a fan of Sugarfish. Nor do I understand its popularity. If price point is the attraction, i would go to Gelson's where the quality is much better for the same dollar.
                                                                I am a fan of Kiriko. If I could afford it, I would eat there more often.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: cujo

                                                                  while it's not sushi, the sashimi lunch special at Sushi Gen blows Sugarfish out the water for quality and value.

                                                                  Not a fan of Sugarfish AT ALL. My mom lives right near the MDR location. We've gone twice and it's not a value meal for what they offer. Fish is ok. hamachi roll is chopped up hamachi which is suspect already.