Most of you don’t know but I lived in Japan for a year when I was 21. So, to say I am a sushi junkie is an understatement. We used to have it literally every day. I made it and packed lunches of it. And even now, just a few years later, I still eat sushi easily once a week.
We need to do a sushi gourmet game night! On the list! Speaking of lists, I thought I’d create some favorite lists – as people are always asking – and keep them updated here on my site – as any get added or bumped. So, here’s my first list of favorite sushi places – off the top of my head (and now I’ll pay attention in the future to those that ought to make the list!)
#1 Nick-San in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
By far my favorite. Yes, beats any place (I remember) from Japan. It’s right on the harbor so the fish simply couldn’t be fresher. Ask for the Bisbee special 😉 or the “needle” – a little bird’s nest (made out of the most delicate fried onion rings, I think (?) twisted into a tiny bowl) filled with a salad of sashimi tossed in some delectable salmon roe dressing. Or something like that. Whatever it is: it’s delish. Clarifications welcome. (Carey!) I order it every time I’m there (which used to be every October for the Bisbee Tournament! I’ve had Marlin there, which is apparently wildly politically incorrect but I only had a bite (we were there for a tournament, so it does happen).
Used to be one of the Valley’s best kept secrets but now everyone knows and it’s spilled to Hollywood where its much more shi shi sibling is a hot spot for celebrity sightings. But personally? I favor the original location in Studio City, always packed and a tad noisy – but warm and fun. It’s so odd to see the line of high-end cars waiting in valet in front of the dog groomers next door as it sits in a humble little strip center. There’s always a line before it opens that results in a mad rush to sign the wait list on the clipboard (I don’t think they allow reservations). It’s no wonder the founder and executive chef Katsuya Uechi tied for #1 ranking for Top Food 2006 Zagat Los Angeles guide.
I have so many favorites here, don’t even get me started! But one of the most unique is what I call the Spicy Tuna Lollipop plate (you can see why). Another must order every time is the Seared Spicy Albacore Sashimi w/Crispy Onion, the Crispy Sesame Tuna that I think is on a hot sticky rice ball made crunchy in the oven, the baked crab roll wrapped warm in delicate soy paper. Okay, now I’m just getting hungry. Just order off the daily special board they bring to your table. Mnnn…
My newest find in the just newly re-opened Santa Monica Place Mall (thanks to reuniting with high school bud, Janene Mariani!) Toshio Sakamaki is the Executive Sushi Chef and I don’t think the picture we took on the phone does the food (or the sake flight) justice – but it was divine!
This one surprised me. I just waltzed into another strip mall sushi place near my pad in Marina Del Rey and who knew? The infamous sushi nazi, Chef Kazunori Nozawa, who’s been known to toss annoying tourists out on their ears for ordering too many California rolls, has opened this unobtrusive little gem. Updating the centuries-old Japanese tradition called “omakase,” where the master chef determines the menu, Nozawa’s menu beseeches his customers to just “trust me” – and leave the ordering up to him (and whatever’s freshest at that moment).
Trusting patrons are rewarded with the finest quality of ingredients – including their own house-made soy sauce and ponzu – in the right order – which must all be eaten immediately to enjoy its pinnacle of freshness.
No fan of ostentatious “fancy” sauces and rolls (see beloved favorites above, says she, guilty as charged but a lover of all), you’ll be delighted by the fine warm rice, loosely packed so as to melt in your mouth, sensational under the cool fish.
#5 Sushi Time (8103 1/2 Beverly Blvd)
Don’t laugh. To be fair, we can’t always afford the finest for our fixes and me and all my WeHo buds agree: this is the best VALUE for your money. Last I checked, you could get a California roll (Oh! Be still Nozawa’s heart!) and another roll of your choosing or some sashimi, a salad and a bowl of Miso for like $7 bucks. Fresh and delicious and fast. Its not fine dining but it makes for a hell of a great place to stop and read a script when you need a minute to yourself – and some decent sushi.