As a food pr firm, we love, well, food. And living in LA, sushi is one great food, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite dishes that can be had here.
I am still bemoaning the loss the original Nozawa over the hill on Ventura boulevard in the Valley. A solo operator with his wife manning the cash register, this Sushi leviathan was omakase only – meaning leave the choice of what to eat to Mr. Nozawa, if you know what’s good for you. A glance at the Today’s Specials sign behind him never changed. It reads, TRUST ME. The sparkling quality of his sushi, served up in his tiny strip mall location on plastic high school cafeteria plates will be sorely missed. As will the experience of tasting the best hand toasted melt in your mouth nori (seaweed wrap) you’re likely to have. Ever.
There was no malingering over your meal here either. Dishes would come out rapid-fire until you say surrender. Eat too slowly, and you’d be shooed off by the Mrs. to make room for those waiting in line outside.
Yes, the undeservedly popular SUGARFISH chain is “founded” by Nozawa and serves his signature warm rice sushi but is a far, far cry from the original.
But rest assured, there is still a truly memorable sushi meal still to be had in LA.The only thing is you’ll have to travel to several places to have it. Here is a list of my favorite sushi dishes and where to get them.
Warm Crab Hand Roll: Iroha. Our journey starts in Studio City, just a few blocks from the original Nozawa. The thing this place does better than anyone else is their warm crab hand roll. Large toaster-oven- warmed slabs of real crab (not krab) are spiked with Iroha’s special mayo, wrapped snugly in a white soy wrapper and dusted with salmon roe. Wow, is this good.
Stop! Now get back in the car, head west on Ventura Boulevard, turn left on Van Nuys and head up and over Beverly Glen to Westwood for…
Spicy Tuna with Crispy Sticky Rice: Sushi Maru. Almost every Sushi restaurant has a version of this dish – most are terrible. Not so here, thanks to Maru-san. His perfect rectilinear blocks of flash fried sticky rice are tender on the inside, delicately crispy with just the right amount of give on the outside. Topped with a generous amount of fantastic quality spicy tuna and crowned with a not too thick, not to thin slice of jalapeno, these squares of goodness will keep you from ordering just about anything else when you come here.
OK, now head northwest to the corner of San Vicente and 26th street in Brentwood for….
Cajun Sashimi: Nagao. Chef Nagao is always at the helm of his eponymously named neighborhood sushi joint. Giant slices of tuna and yellowtail with edges dusted in Cajun spices are seared slightly, fanned out and presented swimming in Nagao’s homemade ponzu sauce. You drag them through piles of radish/garlic sauce and finely shredded Sho-su, the Japanese herb that tastes like a combo of mint and basil (pronounced “She So”).